One of the new interior design trends on international markets can be summarised by the English term “Urban Industrial Interior”: “Vintage” currents from urban and industrial fields, but also elements of timeless, modern country-house style merge into a pragmatic and casual living environment. At Domotex 2016 in Hanover, the EPLF’s European laminate flooring manufacturers and their suppliers will be presenting this attractive flooring style along with innovative pattern developments and special technical features.
The new, informal mélange of urban lifestyle and modern country style reflects the developments in the housing market. The continuing exodus from rural areas has meant significant population growth for metropolitan regions. In order to provide much-needed living space, even the smallest urban vacant plots are being creatively used in the form of overbuilding, or residential spaces are being created by gutting and converting vacant industrial buildings. The materials found in the existing stock, with its “processed” surfaces such as metal, concrete or stone, are then often deliberately utilised in the redesign concept.
The new surface finishes designed by laminate flooring manufacturers have been inspired by these characteristic structures, colours and effects, and once again they’re setting the trend on international flooring markets.
Natural play of colours and smoother surfaces
Old and new combine in a mix of styles, a rustic closeness to nature, Mediterranean-inspired lightness or Nordic clarity – anything goes currently, in terms of flooring. However, there is no compromise in the appearance: an authentic look and naturalness are de rigueur for all décors. Where the room size allows, classic laminate floorboards can show off their realistic imitation-wood effect in new, generously wide and longer formats. If the surface area is limited by structural conditions, multi-strip effects are increasingly being used. With a creative mixture of two-strip versions, with floorboards in different colours and wood finishes, individual floors can provide a special atmosphere.
In the main, oak remains the wood of choice in the laminate floor design, due to its versatility in terms of colour and shaping. However, traditional woods such as beech, walnut, pine, elm and ash are also maintaining their place in the current range of decors.Perfect structure reproduction and a natural play of colours have long been taken for granted in terms of these famous and classic wood species. Simple design and harmonious colour combinations determine the current laminate flooring look: natural shades in bright or soft muted colours such as white, white-glazed, cream, light beige and greige are frequently found in all contemporary furnishing styles. A bright, warm grey has established itself as a neutral, easily-combinable flooring colour. The darker laminate decors – with their warm nuances in many shades of brown – create a cosy atmosphere of understated elegance.
After the very rustic, significantly-textured surfaces of recent years, with their massive “cracks” and branches, it’s now time for calmer decors to take their place in the collections, although some vintage features such as the rough-sawn effect definitely still have their place.The printing techniques are being continuously developed. In particular, innovative, industrial digital printing onto decorative paper allows for a more varied, luminous and multicolour range. Using special press plates, material reproductions offer lifelike depictions – from the “patina” of old wooden floors to metallic effects. The experience of the surfaces has become more authentic and “holistic” thanks to the refined and technically complex manufacturing process: Structures seen on the ground can also be experienced on floorboards.
Laminate with the appearance of wood – also for kitchen, bathroom and non-residential buildings
With the appropriate equipment, low-maintenance, robust laminate floors are suitable for all living and working areas, and they also have new applications in commercial and office spaces and doctors’ surgeries. Manufacturers are also able to offer floorboards with integrated sound insulation and useful additional features: These include anti-static surfaces, increased protection against micro-scratches using electron-beam technology and special anti-slip surfaces for use in entrance areas and workspaces.
Innovative moisture-protection devices allow laminate flooring to be laid in bathrooms and kitchens: A special board formulation and a corresponding impregnation of the top layer reduce swelling, whilst the edges receive a special sealant for protection purposes. Finally, patented locking methods ensure that the joints are securely locked. Thus, laminate flooring can be employed as a warmer alternative to traditional tiling.
And don’t forget: The internationally recognised “EPD” environmental declarations offer certification that tested laminate flooring exhibits a very good ecological balance, with enormously positive values in terms of primary energy requirements and global-warming potential. The European laminate collections are thus leading the way on international markets also in terms of sustainability and environmental protection.