US Hard Surface Flooring Demand to Reach 11.7 Billion Square Feet in 2009

US demand for hard surface flooring is projected to advance 5.5 percent per annum through 2009 to 11.7 billion square feet, a slight acceleration over the 1999 to 2004 period. Hard surface flooring is expected to gain significant market share from carpets and rugs going forward, driven by growing consumer preferences for high-end products such as laminates, ceramic and natural stone tile, and wood, as well as increasing interest in natural and environmentally responsible products such as natural stone, wood, cork and bamboo. These and other trends are presented in "Hard Surface Flooring," a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Trends toward high-end, value added products will help boost value gains, although price increases are expected to moderate going forward due to market maturity and intense price competition from imports. Additionally, costs for crude oil (an important raw material in vinyl and laminate flooring production) are anticipated to soften from recent historical highs, which will alleviate pressure on manufacturers to raise prices.

Through 2009, vinyl flooring will continue to be the leading hard surface flooring product, despite losing significant share to laminate flooring and ceramic tile. Vinyl will benefit from its low price and performance characteristics. Laminate flooring is expected to increase its share of the hard surface flooring market and provide the best opportunity for growth by far through 2009. Gains will be driven by continuing popularity and increasing consumer familiarity, as well as the product's attractive price point compared to the flooring choices that it mimics such as wood. Consumer interest in high-end flooring products will aid demand for wood and ceramic tile floor coverings.

The residential building market is expected to provide the best opportunities for hard surface flooring, with demand rising 6.9 percent per year through 2009 to 5.8 billion square feet. Despite a decline in single-family housing activity, gains in multifamily and manufactured housing construction will aid growth. Advances will also be supported by an acceleration in residential repair and improvement spending. The nonresidential market will see accelerating growth through 2009, bolstered by a significant rebound in new construction spending, particularly in the office and commercial segment.

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