If one of your new year's resolutions is to replace your dingy carpet with some new flooring, you probably have some questions about which types of treatments are both sustainable and affordable. Pratt alumni David Kim had many of those same questions when he saw a gap in the flooring industry that needed to be filled, which is why he started his eco-friendly flooring company NuClic. We caught up with David to share some of his wisdom about what to look for when shopping for green flooring, hear his tips on how to install flooring, and see how making sustainability the backbone of his business has affected his bottom line. Read on to see what he had to say!
INHABITAT: Why did you decide to start Nuclic?
David: I’ve always considered myself a creative person and having studied at Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY), I have surrounded myself with creative thinkers and innovative products for quite some time. What I admired most about these innovators was how they would create a solution to a problem in a way we failed to see before. We developed NuClic because it was just that: an innovative solution to the growing need for sustainable flooring. NuClic is one of the first floating vinyl flooring products to use the patented Unlin system which requires no adhesives, is durable enough for commercial applications, comes in sophisticated styles & designs, is completely waterproof, and, of course, uses recycled content. My past experiences have left me with a strong desire to start my own business, and by developing one of the first floating vinyl flooring products, starting NuClic was the next natural step. NuClic is the successful realization of that initial vision to create a product that was innovative, practical, and sustainable. I could not be happier with the results.
INHABITAT: What are some tips you can give our readers about shopping for new eco-friendly flooring. What should they check for?
David: There are many great options now for eco-friendly flooring and it really depends on what the consumer is using the flooring for. For example, if you were thinking of renovating your basement floors and wanted an eco-friendly option, our NuClic products would be great because they use up to 40-50% recycled content, require no adhesives which means no harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are 100% waterproof – all important qualities to look out for in a basement flooring product. A basement floor has certain needs which the consumer must take into account if they want a flooring solution that will last them a lifetime. These needs differ according to the specific space and so the options should be tailored to fit those needs.
However, let’s say you were looking to renovate your living room, an open space where aesthetics take a little higher priority than say, maintenance. Then you could pick an array of products like cork, reclaimed wood, and bamboo flooring which are all gorgeous alternatives and each has their own drawbacks and benefits. When shopping for new eco-friendly flooring, make sure to look for “Green” certifications. Some “Green” certifications to look out for include: Floorscore, Greenguard, and FSC Certified. And in case you were wondering, NuClic is 100% “Floorscore” certified and can receive 2-3 points in LEED Certification projects.
INHABITAT: Some of us have tried to install flooring ourselves and failed horribly. What are some of the most common mistakes people make and what are your tips?
David: The best advice I can give is to be patient and to make sure to follow the directions provided by the manufacturers. Every floor is different and so, accordingly, every floor will react to each space differently. Take the time to plan it out and visualize the completed space before tackling the project. Oftentimes what I find is that many consumers are a little too ambitious when it comes to Do-It-Yourself projects. Take your time. Pay close attention to measurements. Watch some youTube videos on installations. And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every flooring product is made up of different materials and so there is no sure-fire way of knowing how it will react without experiencing some early hiccups. I always advise consumers to buy a little extra material too, even if you don’t use it all, it may come in handy – even in the future.
INHABITAT: Where do you source the recycled vinyl to make Nuclic floors?
David: Without having to get into the intricacies of manufacturing the industry’s premier floating vinyl flooring product, we use post-industrial recycled content. This recycled content is generated during the manufacturing process of upstream polyester and plastic products. This can be from virgin fiber producers, tire cord manufacturers, polymerization plants, and many other plastic products. NuClic products help recycle a growing supply of plastics which continues to be a concern for the sustainable community.
INHABITAT: Are Nuclic floors more expensive than non-sustainable alternatives?
David: Thanks to our advances in technology, NuClic is an innovative installation system that makes the overall process of installing a floor that much easier and less stressful. Keep in mind that when considering the overall expense, NuClic is actually the more inexpensive option. Consider all the savings when it comes to removal of old flooring (if applicable), floor preparation, adhesives, and labor. The exceptional strength of the Unilin joint alleviates the inherent problems of adhesive-based floating systems currently on the market, and since it’s easy to install, no heavy tools, adhesives, or underlayments are required. Labor is oftentimes an overlooked aspect of any major rebuilding project, but with NuClic it almost becomes a non-issue. It’s easy enough to Do-It-Yourself and yet was made to withstand even the busiest of commercial spaces. Compare our benefits to our competitors’ and you’ll see the difference.
INHABITAT: From a business standpoint, has your commitment to sustainability paid off for your bottom line?
David: It definitely has. More and more you are finding consumers looking for environmentally friendly flooring options that don’t break the bank and yet look as gorgeous as natural hardwood — NuClic offers just that. We would not have started this business if we did not think it would have been successful, and our commitment to providing a sustainable option for consumers is a major factor in what drives our employees.
INHABITAT: In terms of sustainability, which types of flooring are the worst? Which are the best?
David: Like the earlier question, you would really have to define your own application before claiming to know what is the “best” or “worst” sustainable flooring solution. In my own personal experience, I would have to say that the worst option for a high-trafficked commercial floor would be any flooring that requires a lot of maintenance such as hardwood, laminates, and cork, just to name a few examples. You are most likely going to have to replace floors made of that material in a short period of time and so that would be the least sustainable option – something you wouldn’t have to worry about if you chose NuClic. We developed NuClic with sustainability as one of our most important pillars. NuClic is the most sustainable option for commercial applications such as hospitals, retail stores, restaurants, hospitality venues and a growing choice for consumers. Industry standards dictate what is sustainable now, but what NuClic does is build with the future in mind. Our 30mil wear-layer surface, backed by our 20 year commercial and lifetime residential warranties, give you a flooring solution that will hold up for a very long time. That is what sustainability is all about, right?