The last few years has been anything but boring for the flooring industry and it seems that this momentum will continue with a flurry of new products being released across all the various applications. Throw back to a little past three years ago and most floor coverings comprised of different shades of beiges, creams and off whites, playing it safe with neutrals was the oder of the day and although a variety of textures were present, these too were discreet and relatively subtle. When it came to laminate flooring the beech tones dominated with Cherry being considered to be quite bold.

Roll on 2017 and shades of grey are dominating the flooring landscape leaving the older more subtle variations of beige in their tracks with sales declining in many of those once popular tones. Grey has certainly been making its mark over the years within other areas of design, interiors and architecture and is still a popular choice for upholstery. The beauty of using grey within an interior is that it compliments most colours and especially brighter and bolder accent colours. It also works exceptionally well with the harsh South African light and is very good choice for smaller spaces and rooms. Tones and shades of grey are being seen across all flooring from carpets through to engineered flooring and vinyl and LVT’s.

When it comes to vinyl and LVT’s, two of the biggest trends to emerge texture wise, is a  replication of aged timbers as well as stone and concrete. Concrete hit the design industry with force over recent years as the “industrial” trend became so popular in both commercial and domestic spaces. The biggest drawback for concrete flooring is that it is cold and whilst it can still work in restaurants and public spaces it is not the best option for corporate or domestic purposes. The vinyl and LVT market have been very quick in identifying this gap and producing flooring that is functional, even in areas with excessive moisture such as bathrooms, but also that looks like the real thing. Expect this trend to continue with some adventurous metallics hitting the market, which could also be popular based on the continuation of the “industrial” styling we continue to see.

Although carpeting has taken a knock over recent years, nothing beats the luxury and comfort of good a quality underfoot carpet. Expect to see many developments in this area especially when it comes to customization that is certainly the buzzword in the industry. The corporate market, as well as the hospitality industry, is continually looking for unique applications. A current development is carpet tiles in varying shapes and sizes that can be laid in different configurations creating a host of different and exciting effects. These carpet tiles even take inspiration from the LVT market with tiles being done in the form of long narrower planks which can be laid in a hounds tooth pattern.

One of the bolder flooring trends is the move towards very dark colours on the floor. From charcoal to dark browns, we are seeing unlikely areas take on this dark approach. The two areas specifically are kitchens and bathrooms, which have been traditionally very light in colour due to the space of these areas. This impactful turnaround comes as a move on from the industrial styling trend, as well as a direct reaction to the neutral palettes normally associated with these kinds of areas. Vinyl and LVT are currently leading the race with these dark tones and are certainly eating into the tile market, who started this trend with dark “wood look” tiles.

When it comes to laminates and engineered flooring there is still a big following towards the the reclaimed look as the genuine article tends to be very expensive and in many cases reclaimed wood is not practical for flooring applications. The replicated products bring durability and longevity whilst maintaining an authentic look and texture. A return to parquet is also gaining momentum in both these applications and seems to be a continuation of the retro trend that has been strengthening over the years especially in furniture and decor design.

There is certainly a newfound focus on pushing the boundaries with regards to flooring and it will be interesting to see exactly where things develop over the next couple of years. If I had to predict where things were headed, I would say that the combination of flooring and materials would be key. Expect to see a lot of experimentation as the flooring industry gets even more competitive and margins continually squeezed. Combining LVT’s, carpeting and even tiles and concrete will allow for endless possibilities and give both designers and architects new avenues of creativity. Expect to see this experimentation in the hospitality industry as well as in corporate spaces, especially in reception areas and general use areas. This could eventually lead to the domestic markets, with further developments in areas such as outdoor carpeting allowing for creative combinations occurring both internally and externally.

Whichever way it ends up going, the certainty is that exciting R&D (research and development) will continue and products will be anything but boring and mundane.

This article is courtesy of our exhibitor, Top Carpets and Floors. Visit their website for all the latest news and trends in carpets and flooring: www.topcarpetsandfloors.co.za