In Review: Shaw Contract’s Concrete + Composed

We congregated at the Shaw Contract space in d3, where Christopher Champlin, Regional Vice President, proudly introduced us to Concrete + Composed, their latest collection in LVT tiles that is most certainly a wonderful departure from the norm. Joining us for the review were Zoe Burnett from RSP, and Lina Shehayeb from Wilson Associates. Here is what we learnt…



Concrete + Composed may be termed as an LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) product, but its visual appearance creates such a beautiful illusion that you could be entirely forgiven for mistaking it for a natural wood or concrete floor. Shaw Contract’s latest collection undoubtedly scores very high on the visual front, but its impressiveness goes a few levels deeper than that. While designed for high traffic areas, its qualities leave it available for so much more than that.

For those unaware, Shaw Contract has been a pioneer in sustainable manufacturing for over 20 years. It continues to make significant investments towards energy reduction and was one of the first GBCA members to support the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, while its Smarter Impact philosophy recognises design’s power to positively impact people and the planet.

The Review Crew

Above from left: Christopher Champlin, Regional Vice President, Shaw Contract; Zoë Burnett, Senior Interior Designer, RSP Architects; Lina Shehayeb, Project Designer, FF&E; James Coward, Sales Manager, Shaw Contract

Texturally Terrific, Functionally Fantastic

“Concrete + Composed solves a whole lot of challenges with flooring and LVT,” says Christopher. He goes on to explain how the latest collection is a result of years of improvement and digitisation in the printing and production capabilities of flooring products. In the case of LVT, there are other issues to consider in high traffic areas – environment friendliness and durability among those.

“There are a lot of challenges to face when applying concrete and wood flooring, especially wood. While there’s no denying we all love wood flooring, the challenge lies in getting that warm natural wood feeling inside while providing an easy to install and maintain product. That’s what Shaw Contract set out to solve with this new collection. In the Middle East, where temperatures can be extreme and budgets tight, we need something that is both economical and effective.”

At its ‘core’ is the innovative Rigid Core – a patented technology which, according to Shaw, provides ‘a dimensionally stable construction and high density core, ideal for high traffic commercial environments with low maintenance and quick installation’. With its rich wood grain visuals and textured concrete, this LVT product mimics natural materials exceptionally well, while remaining waterproof and highly durable. Rigid Core LVT delivers an exceptionally high quality texture and a tempting range of tones that are a visual treat. Plus, a high dimensional stability eliminates the need for expansion joints that account for expansion and contraction in certain weather conditions.

LVT products, in general, were created to solve problems related to longevity, moisture, durability, and acoustics. “Concrete + Composed does just that, while providing huge value to everyone invested in it,” says Christopher. The Rigid Core LVT construction enables it to be 100% waterproof from the top down as well as providing excellent acoustic qualities due to a cork underlay that absorbs footfall impact. The tiles are then finished with ExoGuard™ finish for a scratch and stain resistant finish. The beautiful finish and texture you finally see is in part due to the embossed-in-register process – a texturing process that provides a high degree of realism but closely follows natural prints during production.

Experienced interior designers and contractors know the value of a flooring product doesn’t end at the look and feel. Installation costs are also a huge component of the investment with flooring products. Fortunately, Shaw Contract has managed to significantly drive that down through a line that delivers 12 times the installation speed compared to similar products, with little acclimatisation or prep needed.

Lina Shehayeb: It’s such a great product in so many aspects, from the range of tones to the sustainability element of it. And it helps that it can be installed and maintained so easily, which is generally a concern for luxury products. What I truly love is how Shaw has thought of the product value in a holistic sense, from the aesthetics to the ease of installation cost. It really helps us designers make a strong case to our clients. The large variety of variations that we can configure, either homogeneous or mixed colours and tones, makes it even more tempting to use.

Zoe Burnett: I’m really impressed with the tones and texture, I could look at them for hours. The natural feel and the indentations in the concrete are so good. At least from an aesthetic point of view, you can tell it’s a high performing product. The print of the timber looks really natural. It’s technically an LVT but I can see it working in other areas besides high traffic zones, since it’s so versatile. The click system is a clever bit of design as well. I especially love how you can achieve different shapes, like chevron or herringbone cut on site, and it won’t affect the warranty.

Impressive Sustainability

As with other products from Shaw Contract, the Concrete + Composed sustainability aspects are truly admirable. Interestingly, the product has no recycled content. “We wanted to develop our own recycling process for this,” says Christopher. “That meant understanding and using materials that we truly know how to deconstruct.” That doesn’t mean the materials used aren’t sustainable or eco-friendly. Besides the usual sustainability attributes, such as low VOC, one attribute that caught our attention was the ortho-phthalate free claim, which is an endocrine disruptor and possible carcinogen.

Shaw Contract is mindful of the broader view of sustainability – a holistic approach. While known for its pioneering work on Cradle to Cradle carpet tile manufacturing and its re[TURN} takeback programme, today health and wellbeing are also at the forefront of sustainable considerations. Considerations around human impact are now critical as we spend as much as 90% of our time indoors.

For this product, the brand looked into considerations, such as ease of maintenance through cleanability, durability and resistance. What’s more, the components of the product were also evaluated for complete material transparency to ensure the health and safety of its users, not just now, but for generations to come.

Lina Shehayeb: It’s definitely in line with the latest design trends and sustainable practices. I personally always look for products that provide value throughout their life, not just from a visual angle. The sustainable cork backing avoids the need for additional backing layers and helps with acoustics, so we’re really hitting two birds with one stone.

Zoe Burnett: Sustainability is such a huge part of our industry today for everyone involved. You can tell that Shaw as a manufacturer really takes it seriously, right from production details to tracking where the product is and the approximate carbon footprint.

So What Do We Think?

We love it. It’s honestly hard to find fault with this collection. It looks great, performs well, is sustainable, and delivers an economic value that is hard to compete with. What remains to be seen is if, like any similar product, it can stand the test of time.

Lina Shehayeb: There’s so much value post installation, like the ease of maintenance and durability. The only suggestion I have would be to make available large single tiles. Besides the usual high traffic areas, I’d love to see this in gyms and certain F&B projects. Given its economic advantages and sustainable benefits, it makes it an easy sell for us.

Zoe Burnett: This is a very desirable product – the colours, ease of installation and maintenance, textures and acoustic properties really come together well. I’d love to use it in areas that blend hard flooring like concrete, with softer ones like carpet tiles. I think it would go great in retail areas too. Overall, both Concrete + Composed as well as Shaw Contract really do a good job of giving us designers the confidence in specifying their products for our clients. It’s a recipe for a good partnership.

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