The most popular resilient floor pattern of the 20th Century — is now coming back as a player in the 21st Century! Yes, in what’s sure to be the biggest product news of the year here, Armstrong Flooring is reintroducing its famous #5352 pattern – now dubbed “Heritage Brick” – in four colorways. Armstrong Flooring is in the process of rolling out the revived design through flooring retailers and expects it to be more widely available as the year progresses. I spoke with the designer, Mark Zeamer, in charge of the project last week. Above: One of the new colorways, Coral.
Thanks to readers Steve and Paul, who provided tips leading to this story. In particular, a shout-out to Paul’s link to this thread on the Professional Car Society Forum, which showed the first images for this product launch.
April 2021 update: Checking in with Armstrong for an update on this story, and hearing from a reader at the same time, I learned that the Coral and Camel colorways are no longer in production. I will add more information from my communication with Armstrong in a bit, meanwhile, I wanted to let readers interested in these two colorways know the status.
Note that Armstrong told me there IS limited inventory of these two designs, but availability and stock of these two colorways will vary on the region. Check with your local retailer.
The two other colors, Serene Blue and Dusk, which the company says have been a hit, are still in production.
Back to my original story:
Recreating Armstrong Flooring #5352, now known as “Heritage Brick”
Mark Zeamer, Digital Designer, Armstrong Flooring, was the lead designer who worked to recreate this pattern using modern technology.
“My residential sheet project manager David Bailey had gotten requests from our executives and from the field to bring this pattern back,” Mark said. Over the past few years, the company had received many requests from different customers and companies. “People just love that pattern, and they wanted to see it again.”
Yes: People loved that pattern! In 2013 I speculated that Armstrong Flooring’s 5352 was the best-selling resilient flooring pattern of the 20th Century. In our conversation, Mark agreed, and gave me more background on 5352 and its history, which I’ll feature in my next story. It’s gonna be Armstrong Flooring 5352 week on the blog!
Mark said he got started on the project in early Nov. 2019, and finished up in February 2020.
He started by combing the company for tooling — actual machinery — that could help verify the original design. But he didn’t find much: “When I went to look into it to find anything I could on pieces and parts, there was nothing saved. I found some miniature stencil plates, 20” x 20” plates.”
So, using old samples and pattern books as references, Mark recreated the pattern on a computer. Explaining his work process (which I found fascinating), Mark said, “I built a digital mask on the computer system that was exact to the repeat of the original pattern. I then created separations. I tried to get as close as I could to the consolidated stencil. Then it took time to go back and forth to get the image, the three-dimensionality, the lights and darks, the movement of original pattern – I didn’t want to lose that.”
Mark’s goal was to make the new pattern as close to the old pattern as possible. Did he accomplish this? Yes, he said, “It’s almost dead on!” Hooray!
How does Mark feel about the pattern itself, looking at it with a designer’s eyes? >>
“I think it’s a fantastic pattern and like how it comes to the forefront then fades away then comes back to the forefront again,” he said.
After the pattern was perfected, production could then be set up and launch. As I mentioned at the top, right now the company is in the process of getting the product to distributors. Next, distributors need to connect with retailers nationwide. This product is not yet on Armstrong Flooring’s website. There aren’t samples yet – when I asked Armstrong Flooring if they could send me some, they said they would have to get them cut from the rolls on the production floor!
So: Readers, be patient if your local store doesn’t have news of this new line yet. It’s still early days in the product’s launch. I did this story because the news was starting to get out — and I wanted you to know. But, Armstrong Flooring made a point to tell me they want customers to have a good experience. To have that good experience, you may need to sit tight a bit longer! The company has promised me updates on the national roll-out — I’ll aim to keep you up to date!
Details about Armstrong Flooring’s Heritage Brick flooring
- It is part of the company’s Cushion Step Better™line.
- 12-foot wide rolls, repeat is 54” height by 36” width
- The flooring is rotogravure-printed in four colors, then embossed, then finished with a sand texture on top. The texture knocks down the shine — I asked Mark if he’d call it a “satin” finish, and he said, yes.
Mark said, “It looks great coming down the line, there’s no tracking at all… there’s a continuous, smooth transgression of design.”
What’s tracking? Mark explained this means that no single design element sticks out over the other. The design is so good you don’t see the repeat. That’s one of the reasons that 5352 was popular for so many decades, I think. It’s just a flat-out perfect, random-mosaic floor design.
- Heritage Brick will be available in four colorways, chosen as trending today: Camel, Coral, Serene Blue, and Dusk. Above I show Coral and Camel — these would be the preferred colorways for a Retro Renovation, I think. Serene Blue (which looks gray to me, but I’ll report back) and Dusk: not so much.
Of course, I asked Mark why they company was not bringing back the original red. He told me that it felt that the original red – which he called ‘purple red’ – would not have enough appeal to today’s mainstream market. That said: Look at that coral colorway! I’m waiting to get a real-life sample, but from the photo, it looks pretty brick-colored to me. Just toned down from that old purple-red. I’ll take it!
Please, dear readers, no comments complaining that we don’t get the purple-red. Companies need to ensure a return on investment, and niche products (or colors) are hard to make money on. I’m super grateful we have these to choose from! This is big news in the history of Retro Renovation!
That said, would Armstrong Flooring ever consider reviving the original purple red? Mark said the company does sometimes do customer colors, for example, for the RV industry. Whether to go to the expense of customization would depend on the yardage run. Fingers crossed.
A storied history — continued
How does Mark feel about now becoming a part of 5352’s history?
“I felt right away that it was an honor to recreate it and work on the revival of it. That was a real challenge for me, having nothing to start with, and having to build everything on the computer.”
And there’s this: “We had it at home when I lived with my parents in the 60s, in the red,” Mark added. Of course he did!
The Heritage Brick flooring is made in the U.S., in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 2020 is the 160th anniversary of Armstrong Flooring as a brand: Thomas Armstrong started in the cork-making business in 1860.
Many thanks to the company’s excellent Communications Manager Steve Trapnell for his help, to Mark Zeamer for sharing his time and expertise, and again, to readers Kevin and Paul for the tip.
Where to get this flooring:
- If you are super hot to trot to get your hands on this NOW, Armstrong Flooring tells me that their Customer Service team could identify whichdistributors has Heritage Brick. (But the company’s Customer Service likely wouldn’t be able to directly identify individual flooring retailers who carry it — you would have to get that from the distributor.)
- If you can wait: As this rollout continues, the flooring will become more widely available — and Armstrong has promised to keep me posted. I, in turn, will share the updates with you!
- It’s early days so the flooring is not yet on Armstrong Flooring’s website — I’ll post about that, too, when the time comes.