Just a little perspective

Discussion in 'Ceramic and Stone Q&A' started by Mike Antonetti, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. pulled in to Lowes with a rented dump trailer for some bulk gravel. Outside was this pallet. How can they charge 2,3,4,5 $ a Ft for vinyl plank, when ceramic can be .49cent per Ft.
     

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  2. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    The cost of labor and setting materials even the price out. Those tiles are warped just a little bit.
     
  3. Aren’t we all!

    If it’s set correctly they’ll last 12 years. Just saw floating vinyl plank in condotel elevator scratched all to hell in 3 months.
     
  4. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Trends and styles change too quickly these days. Old school proven methods are taking a back seat to time saving production methods. I think about what CFR said the cost to shut down an MRI machine for a day was. Ain’t nobody got time for that. LVP is quick. Tile is slow. They have LVP rejuvenation products coming on the market now to deal with those scratches. Mapei has a system that I’ve seen being marketed so it’s more than just another spray bottle off the shelf. The wave is growing.
     
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  5. Yeah the tile setters for the house being built across the street worked today(Sunday) it is a bit slower process.
     
  6. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Just installed a new (for us, maybe) sold by Mohawk. Uniclic joints, but very thin, floating LVP. No pad, just lay it. Hard to install without creating a raised edge of the groove side, just too thin. It's an "economy" product, but one job is enough for me to avoid it in the future. This is getting ridiculous.
     
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  7. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member Senior Member

    Yes, this other store here is selling 98 cents a foot LVP. 2mm junk from China.
     
  8. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    We have been doing a bunch of glue down lvp here that the store is buying for some ungodly low price like $0.78 a ft. I'm making more per foot to install it than they are selling it for, however, it's actually been pretty decent other than it's more prone to shrinkage than others. Our biggest account spec'd it for all their jobs (about 50 a year) and we've probably got at least 100k ft installed with few issues. I was highly opposed to it at first, but you can't get a better floor for the price.
     
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  9. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member Senior Member

    I told the client that the total price is the same with their product or ours. The only difference is the prep, less for ours more for theirs. Also ours is less smooth so better for non skid than the smooth cheap stuff.
     
  10. Mike you peaked my curiosity so I did a little research on this product. Which, by the way, is now .39 / sf if you buy the product online.

    • So, first thing is that it's not porcelain it's ceramic i.e. a much softer product.
    • It's a very plain design, with very little color variation (V2 color variation). This keeps production costs way down for whoever the manufacturer is.
    • If you notice on the box in the product name it's called a "promo" which means that Lowe's is having this product built for them exclusively. They are placing huge orders and splitting the product up at their distribution centers and shipping pallets to their 2000 + stores. This allows them to take advantage of some pretty significant economies of scale.
    • Another very very important bit of info that's buried in the specs is that there is absolutely NO product warranty. It's as is. Tile's warped - you accept it, tile's chipped - you accept it, tile doesn't match shade - you accept it.
    • It's pretty thin - 7mm which is approximately 1/4". Compared to most "real" tile products out there that are 9 - 12mm thick.
    Hard tile (Ceramic, Porcelain and I'll even add in stone) is a shrinking market. It's losing share everyday, as is pretty much every other type of flooring product, to LVT. There are a significant number of low end - mostly Asian - ceramic companies who have much lower overhead due to their fixed labor rates who can produce products like this for those who are willing to make large inventory purchases. Lowe's has a bit over 2100 stores. Let's just guestimate that there are approximately 800 sf on a pallet of the product. If each store only got one pallet of product that's a total square footage of 1.6 million square feet of tile in that color as an opening commitment. Then you look at usage. If each store sells only 4 pallets a year that's 6.4 million sf of tile per year in just that one sku.

    Manufacturers can really drive down costs when they can turn machines on and just let them run. When you factor in that the product is of very low quality, the tile market is a much more mature market than LVT meaning there are way less manufacturers but those remaining are huge and can control costs much better, they have no commitment to honoring any kind of warranty, and most importantly the great big factor that people outside our industry just don't understand the differences between this and what we would deem a "real" product that's how you get to .39 / sf. If you really look at this product it's not much better construction than the old 4 1/4" wall tile, just a bigger format a little but not much.

    LVT on the other hand is still a maturing market. The technologies are still evolving. Manufacturers are still building production facilities. While there has definitely been a "race to the bottom" on pricing, with the recent bout of tariffs this has shifted a little back the other way. The costs of producing LVT are also substantially different than the costs of producing ceramic. While it seems a bit counter intuitive, you're dealing with a multi-layered product that requires a much more complex manufacturing process to assemble. In addition, even the .79 LVT that's being sold out there still carries a warranty of sorts - all be it probably not one that's easily enforceable but a warranty none the less.

    So while I also think it's very odd to see where things have come to in comparing the two, if you really stop and think through it you can see it is at least plausible on how they are doing it.

    What bothers me more so is that these types of products, in my opinion, do more to harm us as an industry in the long run. We all know that inevitably this stuff, if used in any type of real setting (outside of an a multi-family setting where the flooring is replaced often) is going to fail. This gives an overall bad perception to someone that doesn't understand the differences between a "builder-grade" product and a normal flooring product that the entire category of flooring is problematic. I'm speaking here on behalf of both the ceramic and the LVT you mentioned.

    I liken it in many ways to raising children...if left to their own devices and to draw from their limited experience kids will almost always pick the path of least resistance. However, we as parents (read Flooring Professionals) have to correct them more times than not to keep them from harming themselves by making bad choices. I find that so many times the professional, for fear of losing the sale or quite often lack of knowledge on their own part, will not correct the poor choices or at least advise the consumer (child) of the problems that their choices may cause.

    So, when I see things like this it makes me want to do that much more when people come here to ask questions to keep them away from this kind of product and make every attempt to educate, educate, educate. Sometimes they still won't drink the Koolade, but at least they can't say they weren't warned.

    Thanks for the picture Mike and appreciate what you bring to the site!
     
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  11. epoxyman

    epoxyman Pro Member

    I’m so glad I do commercial work
    It’s a lot of dal tile or crossville tile
    And a lot of the time we have to show a master grade certificate on the tile.

    I’ve helped a few guys out with that so called cheaper tile what a mess chipped
    Crooked or hard to cut it even on a wet saw
     
  12. As an aside to the original post, this is also one of the issues that the TCNA is trying to stop. It wouldn't surprise me if they don't do something similar to the wood industry and try and get the US Trade Representative to initiate investigations and enact some sort of Tariffs similar to what the wood industry has done.

    Many times when the TCNA tests products like this they don't even conform to the low standards that they purport to conform with. It's basically just product dumping.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  13. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    wanna shut them down real fast?? Start testing the tile for LEAD content. We have been doing that up here, it is amazing what you find under a microscope (or whatever fancy thing they use)
     
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  14. I think it’s condoned in the industry. I had a feeling there was waste of some sort in Chinese tile, call me prejudice, there was something in the drywall!
     
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  15. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Well here is a thing to note....
    Up here in Canada and to the best of my knowledge down there in 'Meerica the FDA for you folks has very VERY low exposure limits for lead particulate. We just ran a test on some tile that had less than 1% lead content and when i ran the maths on it over a 4 hour exposure period it was over 12 times the exposure limits... Amazing!!
     
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  16. They've also found Cadmium and Cobalt which are slightly radioactive not only in the hard tile like we're talking about but also in the high-recycled content LVT's coming out of China. ;)

    The TCNA presented testimony recently for the current Chinese Tariff situation that is being negotiated and they cited these non-conforming low-end ceramics as significant issues and reasons to impose even higher tariffs on these products.

    To be fair though, it's not all bad. There are some quality porcelains coming out of China that are made well. Wonder is a company that makes a very good product and they have recently finished a plant here in the US in little Italy (down near Crossvile). Most of their management team are old Dal guys who left when Mohawk bought DalTile. They seem to have a pretty good quality and consistency in their product from what I've seen.

    I think FloorDaily or TalkFloor had the testimony transcripts from the hearing. I read through it and it was pretty interesting. If I find it, maybe Jim can help me get it linked in case anyone would be interested in reading it. It might also be on the USTR's site.
     
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  17. Not only China but some Brazilian, other South American Tile has some issues with expansion. Maybe not a problem when installed with soft expansion joints properly spaced but the job I removed the homeowner reset half his living room, then used that cartridge adhesive and injected his kitchen. My quote allowed for it, larger volume could’ve dropped somewhat but my equipment profit fund is low.
     
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  18. They’re all at Coverings now. Along with a bunch of Chinese product and manufacturers. They’re good people just hurting our economy but then again who isn’t.
     
  19. I do like their food! :)
     
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