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Laminate Floors are steaming ahead! - The EPLF presents many new ideas and projects for 2005

19 January 2005

Let us present the best news at the very start! The markets for laminate flooring are growing strongly. Based on the sales statistics of 2004 from the EPLF European Producers of Laminate Flooring (Bielefeld/Germany) a strong sales growth will have been achieved by member companies for that year. In addition to Europe, the market in the US has also yielded a significant increase in 2004. 430 million m² were sold worldwide, this is an increase of the world market share of 13 percent. The largest single market in Western Europe is Germany, where, by the end of the third quarter, sales reached almost 60 million m². “Altogether we stated sales in Germany for the whole of 2004 about 84 million m²,” declared EPLF President, Ludger Schindler.

Great Britain and France represent established markets for laminate flooring in Western Europe and are ranked directly behind Germany in sales volume, while encouraging growth has been achieved in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. The new EU member, Poland, is one of the strongest markets for laminate flooring in Eastern Europe and Asian markets maintained a similar level of sales to the previous year. Most positively, the American market showed more dynamism than previously and, just as in Germany, the first three quarters have yielded figures comparable with the whole of the previous year and the EPLF’s estimate for the whole of 2004 stands at 60 million m², compared with 48 million m² the previous year. Individual South American markets like Argentina and Chile have also shown exhibited growth trends.

“We are obviously pleased with these developments” stated Ralf Eisermann, Board Member and Chairman of the EPLF’s marketing committee. “The sales figures of EPLF member companies in the marketing comitee are regularly monitored and evaluated, and they are combined with data collected worldwide from machinery suppliers to provide accurate market statistics that the various marketing departments can then use with confidence.”

A focus on trend identification in 2005

Further to the distribution and evaluation of market data, a key task of the association’s marketing committee is wider communication. One of 2004’s tasks was the re-launch of the EPLF website, with a complete revision of the layout, a restructuring of the contents and a broadening of the information base contained within ( Currently, the marketing committee is planning consumer research to explore ‘Trends in Laminate Flooring’. “We will ask our customers how and why they made their decisions for or against laminate flooring”, explained Eisermann. The results of the study will be fed back to the member companies for use in their marketing activities. With its participation in the European Laminate Congress in Berlin in May 2005, the EPLF will once again be on the international stage. This type of conference, together with international trade fairs, remain a central thrust of the association’s work.

In the light of all this activity, the links with NALFA North American Laminate Flooring Association (Washington/US) takes on new importance. At the start of 2004, the EPLF and NALFA had agreed to strengthen their cooperation. Behind this move was the desire by both associations to be able to analyse world market figures on laminate flooring in order to optimise marketing activity. The relationship is highly valued, such that NALFA President, Bill Dearing was a guest at the EPLF spring conference in Aalen (Germany) in May 2004 and EPLF President, Ludger Schindler, together with Dr. Theo Smet, chairman of the EPLF’s technical committee, visited the meeting of the American association in November in Key West, Florida (US). Above all, this has achieved a consideration of the possible unification of tests and standards applicable to laminate flooring, together with numerous other subjects for future collaboration.

Eco-Efficiency Study yields good results

Another hot topic for the association is an Eco-Efficiency Study of Floor Coverings, which the EPLF had commissioned BASF AG to undertake at the beginning of 2004. With three Centres of Excellence and over 250 environmental studies of all types from around the world at their disposal, the Ludwigshafen company can boast a high level of competence in this field. Ludger Schindler, Chairman of the EPLF states,” We wanted to know how our products fare when analysed critically against environmental factors and how they compare against other floor coverings”. The results are there for all to see. Against a wide range of other floor coverings, and particularly when assessed against the criteria of Energy Balance, Use of Resources and Ease of Re-cycling, laminate flooring performed very well indeed. (More information on the Eco-Efficiency Study is available on At the completion of this study BASF is developing special software, exclusively for use by EPLF members, which will enable members to review the eco-efficiency of their products and to use this information in their future product development.

The technical committee is involved with developments and introductions. Following the work by the association in developing a standard for the measurement of drum sound related to laminate flooring, the technical committee can confirm that this norm is established. This norm establishes how the drum sound level generated by treading on laminate flooring can be measured and graded. The drum sound levels are quoted in ‘Sone’ and describe the critical bandwidth of noise, which may be generated. The basis for measurement of the drum sound level is comparison with a reference floor with a foam underlay, with fixed parameters. After testing, products are given a classification of Sound-Loudness (SL). If the product is awarded an SL value higher than 0, it is considered better than the reference floor, if lower, then it is worse.

New Classification System for Drum Sound Levels

The system provides for the following classifications: SL0 (-5 to + 5), SL10 (+5 to +15), SL 20 (+15 to +25), SL30 (+25 to +35). Dr. Theo Smet, Chairman of the technical committee of the EPLF stated that: “With this system, we have established a measure that the trade and consumers can take advantage of.” All EPLF members have agreed to measure the noise levels of their floors according to this norm in future and to use the results in their promotions.

Lots of new ideas, lots of new projects. 2004 was an eventful year for the EPLF and its members. The challenges of 2005 will be soon be met with creativity and ingenuity. Now we look forward to Domotex 2005 and the latest products from our industry.

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Anne-Claude Martin

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