“Innovation”: no doubt an overused word but rest assured, the flooring industry is renowned for true innovation, whether it’s the first 18th Century wooden floorboards; the evolution of carpet; or today’s luxury vinyl tiles. And in recent years, the flooring industry has arguably become more innovative than ever with advancement in styles, versatility, luxury and aesthetics; advancements that have allowed manufacturers and retailers to offer better services, easier processes and more durable products to both consumers and businesses alike.
Advancements aplenty there might be, but are they as widely known and available as they ought to be? We caught up with IOBAC’s CEO, Paul Woolvine and its founder and director, Ian Spreadborough to discuss how their new venture, FloorPlay, aims to unshackle the industry’s latest advancements.
Paul, Ian, tell us about what led you to launch FloorPlay.
“It was the same philosophy that led us to set up IOBAC in the first place really – as a company, we are always looking for a better way, solving problems and challenging ourselves to rethink traditional flooring and heating solutions.
Our mission is to make the flooring process as simple, fast, cost-effective and hassle-free as possible for all involved, contractors and end-users alike.
To some, it’s just floors, but to us, it’s an opportunity for innovation; innovation at a level befitting an industry that’s integral to the revival of the residential and commercial sectors. But the industry is still hamstrung by how difficult it can be to get hold of the right product at the right time – and at the right price. It was from this problem that FloorPlay was born.”
“This all sounds simple enough,” continues Paul, “but in practice, it can be more difficult. And more often than not, flooring installers are the last to hear about what products are up and coming in the flooring industry. The advancements are there; they just need to be more easily available and known by all. That’s what FloorPlay aims to do. People need to know that there are better alternatives to traditional solutions, especially in today’s environmentally-conscious world.”
Ian and Paul, together boasting over 40 years’ experience in the flooring trade, launched FloorPlay earlier this year. It’s a site offering not only the “leading flooring products at great prices,” but “the very latest in new flooring and walling technologies.” FloorPlay is described as a “one-stop shop for what’s new in flooring”; a site to help those in the industry “stay a step ahead of the rest with cool new flooring and heating products.”
Ian comments: “From revolutionary underfloor heating to the latest award-winning flooring solutions, there’s some seriously cool stuff out there that’s still unknown by many in the industry. FloorPlay brings those new advancements – from IOBAC and others – to the masses at affordable prices.”
But you didn’t just stop at flooring, did you? There are walling technologies available as well.
“To us it was a natural step,” says Ian. “Simply put: floors and walls are both surfaces covering the largest square footage of any room, so why shouldn’t there be some commonality in how they’re covered? We’ve taken the fundamental technologies behind some of IOBAC’s innovative flooring solutions and applied them to walling.”
And where did this experimentation come from?
“This is where the ‘play’ element of FloorPlay comes in. The flooring industry is a truly innovative one and we’re always searching for the next innovation. A famous Swiss psychiatrist described the creation of something new as ‘not accomplished by intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity’. It’s from this approach that we discovered that the same technologies behind our flooring solutions can be applied to walling.”
The result of this ‘play’ is a number of products. Notably a heated walling solution that utilises the fundamental technology, including “wonder material” graphene, behind IOBAC’s underfloorheating solution. IOBAC’s magnetic flooring technology also lent itself to designer feature walls where magnetic luxury vinyl features can be affixed to a wall following two coats of magnetically-receptive paint.
And how about FloorPlay’s flooring solutions; what’s the thinking behind those?
“Again, there’s a real focus around what’s new and innovative, but it’s not innovation for innovation’s sake – these are products that we feel will genuinely improve the industry,” says Ian.
Paul continues: “The beauty of these two products is that they can work in isolation or in combination. They epitomise everything we’re trying to achieve with FloorPlay. Ezy-Install is what we call our dry-laid magnetically receptive underlay. It takes away the messy, time-consuming issues that come with traditional solutions. There’s minimal sub-floor preparation needed – simply roll out the underlay and cut to size. It’s waterproof, naturally anti-microbial, easily cleanable, durable and manufactured using recycled rubber from old tyres. Once it’s down, magnetic tiles, including timber, ceramic and LVT can be laid direct, or standard backed tiles, including carpet and +4mm LVT, can be fitted using MagTabs.”
To make it even easier for flooring contractors to trial Ezy-Install for themselves, a range of starter kits are available at FloorPlay containing everything needed to complete a 10m2 project.
Ian, explain a little more about MagTabs.
“MagTabs affix to any magnetically-receptive floor, whether that’s a metal raised access floor or a metallic base from the IOBAC magnetic flooring system. Magnetic on one side and self-adhesive on the other, they work by locking tiles tightly together. We truly believe that MagTabs, in combination with our magnetic flooring system, are the future of modular flooring. And importantly, like Ezy-Install, they offer not only a better way to do things, but a more sustainable way, too. They remove cleanly with no residue or contamination.”
There’s also a handy alternative to traditional herringbone floor installation as well…
“That’s right,” says Paul. “We’ve recently become the first UK reseller of EASYLOX®, a patented system that makes herringbone so much easier. It’s a universal connection without left or right parts, so every floorboard has the same profile without separate parts. It means installers will no longer have to adjust floorboards when installing herringbone floor, which will save on costs. And because EASYLOX is produced by a CNC-controlled machine, it creates a 100% perfect fit – perfect squareness, perfect sizes.”
And how about maintenance of these floors? How can we keep them looking fresh?
“Keeping hard flooring such as wood and Luxury Vinyl tile clean and well looked after can be problematic. But we’ve discovered a range of eco-friendly floor cleaning materials – OceanSaver®. These products are designed to tackle the toughest of stains without scratching or having to flood the floor – and they also result in zero waste. So it’s really goodbye to single use plastic, and hello to clean floors.”
A celebration of innovation
FloorPlay certainly seems an admirable pursuit, a platform committed to making new and exciting innovations accessible to all in the flooring (and walling) industry. And it’s this commitment to innovation that will continue to drive advancements in the industry. Ours is a truly innovative industry and we all have a part to play in celebrating its innovation, but this can only be achieved if those in it are aware of it – and have access to it – in the first place.
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