Another issue touched on in the FEP report is the challenge for real wood flooring from laminates and nonwood substitutes. The sheer scale of this challenge was made clear from data published in May 2017 for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Federation for European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF).
Laminate flooring composed of HDF with a high resolution printed image and embossed to provide texture has been substituting for hardwood flooring now for well over a decade.
However, the surface finishes continue to improve and have become so convincing that, as the FEP comments; “it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to differentiate parquet from competitive flooring alternatives with a wood look surface.”
In contrast to the generally static market for real wood flooring, EPLF members reported a 5.5% increase in sales in 2017. Sales by European laminate manufacturers, at 477 million sq.m last year, now dwarf those of the real wood flooring sector.
While EPLF members sales in Western Europe increased by only 0.5% in 2016, to 223 million m2, they increased 14% to 126 million m2 in Eastern Europe, with strong growth in Poland (+11%), Russia (+17%), Ukraine (+20%) and Romania (+27%),reports from ITTO.