Changes Underfoot: How the Pandemic Will Shape 3 Flooring Markets for Years to Come

Changes Underfoot: How the Pandemic Will Shape 3 Flooring Markets for Years to Come

There is scarcely an industry that has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the US flooring market is no exception. Flooring demand declined during the early stages of the pandemic due to:

  • homeowners – concerned about the spread of disease – delaying or cancelling home improvement projects and not letting contractors and estimators into their homes
  • some state and local leaders declaring construction a “non-essential” business, stopping nearly all building construction activity
  • work continuing at a slower pace in other jurisdictions where construction continued, as contractors were adjusting to the new realities of social distancing, frequent work stoppages to sanitize equipment, delays in the shipments of building materials, and worker absenteeism for health reasons

After these initial shocks, flooring demand in the US posted recoveries as home building resumed, workers became more familiar with new routines, and a surge of homeowner DIY projects –including the installation of newer flooring – prompted a market recovery. The question remains, though, as to whether the flooring market will continue to recover after the threat of COVID-19 recedes.

Residential Market to Post Strong Future Growth

Residential demand for flooring is anticipated to continue the gains made in the period following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and to rise at an above-average pace through 2024. Advances will be spurred by a number of factors:

  • strong growth in single-family housing completions – all of these newly built homes will require flooring
  • continuing homeowner interest in DIY projects, such as laying down LVT, laminate, or hardwood flooring with tongue-and-groove installation systems
  • homeowners creating such spaces as home offices, home gyms, and “in-law” suites to accommodate changes in working, living, and travel patterns created by the pandemic

Commercial Market to Face Challenges and Opportunities

Compared to the residential market, commercial use of flooring is expected to remain a more complicated picture. Commercial demand for flooring is expected to advance at a less robust pace going forward due to:

  • business owners – having lost revenues during the pandemic – being less likely to undertake major renovation projects, such as flooring replacement (especially if the renovation does not help make their facility seem more hygienic in the aftermath of the pandemic)
  • an expected glut of office, retail, and restaurant space due to closures and changes in the way people work and shop – fewer new buildings will be erected until these empty spaces are filled
  • a tepid rebound in commercial construction activity, as banks and other commercial lenders will be leery of making large loans for commercial projects

However, growth opportunities will exist in a number of market segments:

  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities that put off renovations during the pandemic will undertake them going forward – flooring that saw extensive wear will require replacement.
  • Vacant office buildings and retail sites will be repurposed for other uses, with new flooring installed to better meet the new needs of the structure.
  • interest in re-shoring manufacturing plants and warehouses will promote demand for durable flooring materials needed for these high-traffic sites.

Transportation Equipment and Nonbuilding Construction Markets to Post Gains

While not as large as the residential and commercial construction equipment, transportation equipment – motor vehicles, RVs, recreational boats, and civilian aircraft – and nonbuilding construction (docks, utility structures, and other facilities) are important markets for flooring that will see increases in flooring demand going forward, boosted by:

  • increasing shipments of RVs as people and families look for ways to safely travel and enjoy outdoor activities
  • rising construction of server farms and other data centers as more and more people work remotely – spark-resistant hard surface flooring is almost always specified for these sites

For more information about the size and growth of the US hard surface flooring market, check out The Freedonia Group’s newly released Flooring study.

About the Author:

Matt Zielenski is a Senior Analyst at The Freedonia Group, where he covers trends in the use of building materials and related construction products in the US market.