Color trends: tugging at the emotions

color_trends_headerYou can’t talk about trends without talking about color. Color is a way to both evoke and express emotion, to make feelings visible.

“After a recession, the first indicator of recovery is color,” said Lindsey-Ann Waldrep, vice president, marketing for Crossville, Inc. “Next comes designers taking more risk.”

1-colortrendsOver the last few years, color choices have been starting to brighten and deepen and form a bridge into more inventive uses of hues.

“2015/2016 appears to be a period of some transition, as warmer colors are starting to creep into what has been a pretty cool, white world,” said Jared Becker, vice president of design and marketing for Walker Zanger. “Specific to tile and stone, this means that white marble will still be the most popular color, but that greys and warmer beige and cream tones are beginning to trend,” added Becker. “One can see this in the fixture world as well, with brass starting to trend for bathroom fixtures. Navy blue is becoming popular in ceramic tiles, and can be combined with both white and or beige for classic looks.”

As color has grown more daring, from last year’s brilliant and vibrant Radiant Orchid PANTONE® Color of the Year (COTY), to 2015’s deep, earthy, grounded Color of the Year, Marsala, color is literally on everyone’s lips – from cosmetics to clothing, to – of course – home furnishings and finishes like tile and stone.

“Color is a huge trend,” said Cindy Haley, store manager for the Albuquerque, N.M., Tile Shop, which boasts over 50 vignettes that showcase a range of tile and stone in classic and contemporary materials, applications and colors. “We are seeing a return back to green-blues, sky blues and red reds. “

PANTONE VIEW: 9 palettes that sizzle

2-colortrendsThe fascination with color is why there’s excitement bubbling around The PANTONE® VIEW home + interiors 2016 – Innovation and Impact, a trend forecast highlighting color trends for the home and interiors marketplace in 2016, that was unveiled at the International Home & Housewares Show 2015 last month in Chicago. These nine palettes are predicted to impact color and style directions in all facets of interior design into 2016 and beyond.

“As media continue to move toward more evocative, imaginative and innovative uses of color to woo consumers, unexpected color stories are emerging,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “To capture attention and keep product lines relevant in the consumer’s eye, it’s important to understand the impact that this always-morphing innovation will have on color and design trends for 2016.”

3-colortrendsThe nine palettes for 2016 are: Natural Forms, Dichotomy, Ephemera, Lineage, Soft Focus, Bijoux, Merriment, Footloose and Mixed Bag.

Unambiguous colors, including shades that are plumbed from natural sources such as warm rosy clay and sheepskin beige, give us Natural Forms.

Dichotomy reinforces the concept that opposites do and can attract as silver metallic, sunny yellow and bright cobalt blue combine with calmer versions of the hues.

Pastel-focused Ephemera blends delicate shades of wan blue, pale peach and tender yellow.

Lineage is a palette where shades of navy, black, tan and regimental green co-mingle with touches of brighter colors.

Soft Focus reveals subtle and/or muted colors, sometimes being described as “smoky” and always versatile.

In the French language, Bijoux means “jewelry” – a fitting title for this palette that gleams with drama and intensity across many jewel tones.

Merriment is full of joyful shades including vibrant greens and yellows contrasted with pinks and oranges.

Capricious color combinations with vacation-destination blues and blue-greens create Footloose – a palette that supports the idea of throwing off the constricting scheduling of everyday life and simply enjoying the freedom of the outdoors.

Mixed Bag is an assortment of eclectic patterns and prints, with exciting and unique colors like pirate black and mandarin red as well as violet and florid orange.


Color: enlivening the classics – inspiring choice

In an exclusive interview with TileLetter TRENDS, Eiseman told editor Lesley Goddin the forecast takes color influences and prevalent lifestyles and paints a macro picture that inspires, spurs emotion and generates fresh new ideas.



“What trends do is to help inspire you, and allow you to bring something in that might be a new touch – at retail level and display,” Eiseman said. “Maybe the customer will buy the grey slab again, but they might be able to use a pattern or new shade of yellow-green. It’s about how to engage your customer. “

Trends blossom from a myriad of sources – natural landscapes, flowers, cultural influences, said Eiseman, explaining that in addition to copious travel in the U.S. and Canada, she also travels to other countries where her group “gleans information from several levels of the marketplace and we try to relate that to lifestyle.”

6-colortrendsFor instance, in one of the 2016 palettes – Dichotomy, which juxtaposes opposites for stunning effect – there is the concept that “you can combine ancient artifacts with a pendant light on the interior that is very modern, but the colors are the same and tie the whole palette together,” she said. “Trends are inspired by nature, architecture, hot travel destinations – what colors are inspired by that location or even worldwide events celebrating sports, like the host country of the Olympics. People see the way colors are used in that area of the world.”

It all comes down to providing a range of choices that engage the emotion in a customer. “One direction will not suit everyone,” she said. “If everything in the showroom speaks to clean and modern and that person is traditional, there is nothing there to appeal to them. You must show a selection.”

7-colortrendsShowrooms that offer a range of vignettes – like the 50+ vignettes this writer recently experienced at a visit to the local Tile Shop – offer a fertile field of ideas, colors, shapes, sizes and combinations to tantalize the imagination and excite the customer into trying new blends of materials to enliven their surroundings.

“People won’t walk in and do a sweep with their eyes and decide this isn’t me,” Eiseman said. “If you have vignettes – there is something there that will give the emotions a tug.”

International Trends from Spain

spain-logoArtisanal know-how + high technology = stunning tile for  innovative uses

By Ryan Fasan, Technical Consultant  for Tile of Spain – USA

Design trends today shift as fast as prevailing hashtags on Twitter or Instagram. The global market has never been smaller or more connected and so, we are constantly bombarded with new ideas and innovations in staccato tempo. Macro design trends rule today – reaching for timeless interpretations that leave a lot of leeway for personal expression and creativity.

All of this is wonderful news for tile. With decades, if not centuries, of artisanal know-how alongside a highly innovative R&D sector, ceramics offer today’s consumer so many of the aesthetic answers we are looking for with the added value of unparalleled hygiene and durability. The ceramic industry today is like one of the giant cats, kings of the cladding domain, surveying the landscape with the supreme confidence that they have every answer to any challenge that may arise.


Even though trends are becoming more nebulous, there are some over-arching themes and innovations that are evident across multiple leaders in the industry.

Harmonious anarchy

Speaking of leeway for personal expression, this macro trend is evident across multiple collections within a manufacturer’s offering. We are seeing a unified color palette of contrasting but complementary tones flow through multiple collections with widely varying inspirations. We might see a classic hydraulic cement tile paired with a modern wood and a weathered metal to create a setting that looks harmonious, like they were meant to be together despite widely varying influences from material to time period.

spain-fanalAnother interpretation of this trend is the creation of wholly new stone looks that are only possible due to the digital decoration of ceramics. We are seeing new stone look collections that are taking a huge variety of images of multiple stone varietals and toning them to a unified palette to create something even more varied than Mother Nature can achieve.











Metallics are back with a vengeance! The advent of metallic inks utilized in HD inkjet printers is making metallic finishes much more cost effective, and allowing for precision accents in amazing new ways. Metallic additions wary widely in aspect but are frequent additions to add that little sheen to snag the eye and imagination for 2015. Metallic accents may be a mirrored finish across a heavily textured tile like a wave or sand dune, or it could be just a hint of oxidized metal fleck here and there in a stone or wood collection to create something surprising and new.

spain-grespaniaWith a vast array of revival metal finishes making their way back to faucets and lighting fixtures, there is almost no limit to the coordinating options in tile thanks to the new glaze and ink technologies.




spain-natucerGraphic Symmetry

Shapes, shapes, shapes! Hexagons, octagons and rhomboids are everywhere, on floors and walls and often paired with more traditional rectangular formats to coordinate and create even more dynamic spaces. Geometric shapes are so hot right now that they are seen in almost every collection of tile today from stone looks to traditional ceramics. Depending on the modernity of the collection, the shapes may be traditional or stretched and warped to create something new and edgy while retaining a calming comfort of something instantly recognizable.

spain-riftDecorative tiles are often found in these geometric collections, with an eclectic mix of patterns spanning florals, fabrics and organic patterns, often with a distinct feel of a graphic designer’s touch.









There’s a reason why 501s are an American icon. When something durable is built and designed well it only gets better with age. Tile is the perfect medium to embrace the vintage and revival trends thanks to it’s inert and nearly indestructible nature. Ceramic collections today are taking the perfect amount of distressing in stone, wood, metal or concrete and freezing it in time to remain forever captured.

Inspiration for these collections varies from ancient fishing wharves to Persian rugs to COR-TEN steel or even city cobblestones.


spain-allegraTiffany Timeless

There is no replacing classic elegance. Many of today’s polished porcelains even surpass the capabilities of the natural materials they emulate. Often porcelain sizes are bigger than natural stone available today due to degradation of quarry sites and over-harvesting of stones. Softer and more delicate stones like Crema Marfil, Calacatta and Onyx are created in some of the most technical porcelains available. In commercial or residential spaces, there’s no substitute for the gravitas and elegance of an exquisitely executed polished stone look.


spain-luxorThrough Thick and Thin

Ceramicists are always looking for ways to grow specifications beyond the bounds of showers and backsplashes. These new thick or thin formats create nearly limitless possibilities for expanded adoption of ceramics.

Thin formats of 4-6mm make a fantastic cladding material for cabinetry, millwork, doors and even drop ceilings. The production method of this material can create slabs of up to 5’x11’ and thicknesses up to 11mm, creating a whole new option for worktops that offer unmatched performance at a very competitive cost.

spain-inalkerThick formats of 20mm expand our specifications and lower installation costs for exteriors, especially decking situations. With the capability to be sand, grass or pedestal-set, these workhorse tiles offer the ability for seamless interior/exterior transitions at a much more approachable price.

For more information visit and @Tile_Trends on twitter.

Setting Materials

Following is an extensive list of products that represent the trends in setting materials, tools and sundries that we’ll see at Coverings and beyond. Coverings exhibitors include booth numbers.

Education and forensics


Ceramic Tile And Stone Consultants (CTaSC) provides expert witness, forensic investigations and inspections, testing, specifications, quality control, training, market research and business planning. A professional consulting company, CTaSC is led by industry expert Donato Pompo and includes a team of accomplished installers, architects, engineers, general contractors, construction scientists and other industry specialists. Services are available throughout North America and internationally. CTaSC inspectors are located in or near most major U.S. cities. CTaSC operates the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone ( UofCTS provides online tile and stone training courses and provides hands-on training to tile installers. The UofCTS online courses teach all the basics for understanding ceramic tile and natural stone, including product and technical information, and sales techniques. There is a four-hour ITS tile installer course for teaching tile installation standards and practices for adhered tile applications.

Floor Warming


MasterHeat floor warming mats are designed to warm tile and stone floors in bathrooms, kitchens, entries, and sunrooms of any size and layout. MasterHeat floor warming mats are rolled onto the subfloor, then the white mesh is cut to fit room dimensions. The mat can be fastened with tape or staples, then tile or stone can be installed with thin-set mortar. The kits include one of five thermostats, an installation warning monitor and instruction manual.


Booth #3843

Bostik has launched HXD™ Technology, which Bostik claims offers the highest performance resin system of any pre-mixed grout available. HXD (High Cross-Linking Density) polymer chemistry contains a high concentration of cross-linking molecules that create a unified polymer structure that is durable and resistant to penetration and staining from fluids. The technology is further enhanced by proprietary additives that repel stains. Initiated when Bostik launched its RapidCure™ formulations, HXD has been further refined over the past 12 months and Bostik has engineered this exclusive resin system, available in its TruColor™ RapidCure™, QuartzLock2™, RapidCure™, Dimension™ Rapid-Cure™ and Neverseal™ products.

Custom Building Products
Booth #3057

setting-customCUSTOM® recently unveiled a strategically-developed palette of 40 colors available in all its grouts along with the launch of eight specialty options in the new Fusion Pro® Designer Series, that feature reflective color accents. The refreshed collection of grout colors includes nine hues that were inspired by nature elements like water, sand and fog. The enhanced palette matches today’s tile trends, with darker brown tones that “complement wood-look tile, grey tones that blend well with weathered or distressed tile themes, and subtle blues and greens that harmonize with glass tile,” said director of marketing services, Tony Pasquarelli.

Booth #3635

setting-laticretePERMACOLOR® Select is a paradigm shift in both grout performance and in the business/logistics aspect of grout, offering the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution, which is separated into a bag of neutral Base (either 25 lbs. or 12.5 lbs.) and separate dispersable Color Kit pigment packets, drastically reducing the space needed to warehouse a full array of 40 LATICRETE colors, plus top-selling competitive colors. Each Color Kit contains two Color Packets – simply mix two Color Packets for one 25-lb. bag or one Color Packet for one 12.5-lb. bag. PERMACOLOR Select comes available with a physical performance and a Lifetime System warranty.

Booth #3042

setting-tecThe TEC® brand empowers people to create more functional and personal spaces, and continues to develop innovative new products for the tile and flooring industries. TEC serves its contractor customers by developing products that combine usability, convenience, performance and efficiency. The brand offers a full system, including surface preparation products, mortar, grout and caulks.

The Tile Doctor/STAINMASTER®
Booth #2859

etting-tiledrAlready sold in 90 countries worldwide, Tile Doctor is bringing a unique grout product to North America for the first time. Collaborating with a world leader in technology, the company is introducing the product to the market under the STAINMASTER® brand, aligning it with a true consumer brand – a rarity in the tile and stone industry. Designed to be easy to install, STAINMASTER grouts include more than 120 design elements including Classic Colors, High Chromatic Glamour Colors and Metallic Grouts. There is an option to add Shimmer Finishes to many colors. Crystal Glass Grout is available in translucent and now in five new colors.



Booth #3233

Ideal for large-and-heavy porcelain tile installations in the most demanding environments, ARDEX X 77 is a smooth, creamy and easy-to-trowel polymer-modified mortar formulated with MicroTec Technology that offers outstanding strength, flexibility and sag resistance. Ardex X 77 is a fiber-reinforced solution for the most difficult installations in any environment, including large-format thin tile installations. Offering true 60-minute open time, unmatched sag resistance, unique creamy consistency and ease of application, it’s ideal for high-traffic areas and exterior facades. It has a pot life of three hours, and offers outstanding coverage.

Booth #2835

setting-mapeiMAPEI’s new thin-set mortar for large thin-tile installations, MAPEI Ultralite™ S2, addresses the major issues involved in getting a perfect fit between large, thin tile and its substrate. MAPEI Ultralite S2 addresses main challenges of working with thin tile, as identified by contractors, including the need for: lighter setting materials to make the handling of large, thin tiles more controllable; mortars with more open time to accommodate needs of the installation environment associated with back-buttering tile and applying it to the substrate; and easier troweling and better wet-transfer properties to provide full coverage with improved bond. This highly deformable, polymer-modified mortar is formulated with Easy Glide Technology for ease of application. MAPEI Ultralite S2 features a long open time, extended coverage and superior transfer properties to enhance back-buttering. Ultralite Technology provides twice the coverage of a standard thin-set mortar per pound/kg and is manufactured with 20% recycled content.

Booth #2627 

setting-sgmWhen installing large format tiles, 100% coverage to both the panel and substrate is essential. Full-contact SGM Multi-Lite mortar is a premium, lightweight (40% lighter than traditional mortars) latex-Portland cement mortar for floors and walls in interior and exterior settings for residential, light commercial and light industrial applications. SGM Multi-Lite re-dispersible powder additives and plasticizers are used to improve adhesion, provide greater bond strength and resistance to impact and shock allowing for latitude in time, working conditions and temperature.


setting-merkreteMerkrete’s 720 Rapid Set mortar is a solution for large-and-heavy porcelain tiles. This premium grade, rapid setting, polymer modified medium bed mortar is specifically formulated for the installation of large-format ceramic tiles, gauged porcelain and irregular-thickness stones that require faster setting times of 90 minutes or less. Merkrete 720 Rapid Set is designed to be used for interior or exterior walls and floors, on either residential or commercial projects, and exceeds ANSI A118.4 and ANSI A118.11 standards.


Profiles and transitions

Ceramic Tool Co. 

setting-ceramictoolIn response to the upsurge in stainless steel trims, Ceramic Tool Company is able to fabricate thresholds, corner guards and wall wraps to order. CTC offers multiple gauges/thickness of material and will work with customers to design exactly what’s needed. The company can supply product information sheets, CAD drawings, and photos. Samples are available upon request.

Schluter Systems
Booth #3236

setting-schluterSCHIENE-Step is a finishing and edging profile for ceramic tile and natural stone installations on countertops, stairs, and tile-over-tile wall applications. The top of the profile features a vertical wall section that finishes and protects the tile from damage, while the vertical leg covers the edge of the sub-assembly, top of the riser, or existing wall tile edge. A stainless steel version is available in three vertical leg lengths to accommodate countertops, stairs and tile-over-tile installations. An anodized aluminum version is intended for light-traffic residential stair applications, available in two vertical leg lengths. The ribbed vertical leg covers the sub-assembly or top of the riser. An integrated joint spacer establishes a defined joint cavity between the tile and the profile.


Booth #4006

setting-filaThe company’s solvent-free, stain-proofing protector – FILAMP90 ECO PLUS – offers a high performance penetrating seal, with additional on-site benefits. Part of Fila’s Green Line, the sealant is designed for natural stone and polished porcelain surfaces, and contributes towards LEED credits. It can be applied in interior and exterior settings, and is suitable for use on food contact surfaces. The formula provides a safe, odor-free application and allows treatment of surfaces where residual moisture is present, cutting application time by up to 80%. FILAMP90 ECO PLUS is non-film forming and has a very low VOC content, providing lasting protection against water and oil-based stains, without altering a tile’s appearance, as well as protection against weather and outdoor graffiti. Available in 250ml, one liter and five liter containers; one liter provides approximately 322 square foot coverage on stone and 430 square foot coverage on porcelain.

Shower systems

Booth #2842

setting-finpanThe ClearPath® Curbless Shower Pan System offers a way to construct a barrier-free entry shower that requires no structural modifications to the existing floor joist system. The product is designed to maintain independence in life while offering fashionable and innovative designs in level-entry showers for new construction or remodels. The ClearPath drain plate comes with integrated drain assembly, waterproofing mat and is pre-pitched for proper sloping. TI-ProBoard® is a composite structural underlayment that offers the ability to install ClearPath directly on top of the floor joists. TI-ProBoard was originally developed for tiling exterior decks and offers a commercial floor rating.

NAC Products
Booth #3436

setting-nacThe Extreme Waterproofing System for bathroom applications combines an NAC sound control membrane with SubSeal® Liquid membrane for bathroom installations that require sound control and waterproofing protection. NAC has developed a series of drawings that show a variety of bathroom installation options and the specific products involved – just visit, click the Technical tab and select Membrane System images. An added benefit of the Extreme Waterproofing System for bathrooms is that the NAC sheet membranes also provide up to 3/8” crack isolation protection.

Noble Company
Booth #3049

setting-nobleValueSeal is a new thin-bed waterproofing sheet membrane that is thin, lightweight and flexible. ValueSeal can be applied with latex-modified thinset and is designed for commercial and residential applications. It is available in 3´ and 6´ foot widths.

Noble Company has also launched FreeStyle™ Linear Drains, featuring a clamping ring that creates watertight installation, is high capacity, low profile (36 GPM) and is designed to be ideal for barrier-free showers. The product also features an internal slope with flat bottom for easy installation.

Booth #3051

setting-usgThe USG Durock™ Brand Shower System is a fully bonded waterproofing system for tiled shower installations that controls moisture independently of the tile covering, while creating a solid base for the shower. It is built from high-performance components designed to work in harmony to stop moisture, thereby creating a shower that will last for years to come. The system features a proprietary drain assembly, interchangeable drain grates, a thin, durable membrane and a high-density pre-sloped shower tray. USG now offers a custom tray program that helps create various shower configurations by using optional benches and niches that deliver added flexibility, making it possible to create a more customized shower.;

wedi Corporation
Booth 3839

setting-wediFundo Ligno is a sloped shower base 3/4˝ thin at its perimeter and available in various sizes. Ligno can be field modified as needed. The installation within a 3/4˝ plywood structure requires no cutting into joists. Load-bearing plywood is simply re-installed between floor joists and over 2˝ x 6˝ or 2˝ x 4˝ blocking, then attached to the joists. This guarantees full support and protection of the tiled surface.

The wedi typically-strong, cement-based, reinforced surface is directly tileable with large- or small-format tile. Ligno interlocks with wedi building panels used as waterproof backer board on walls, as well as on the surrounding floor. Optionally, wedi’s Subliner sheet membrane can be used. Both options offer a complete and professional system installation.



Armaly Brands

Since sponges are the last tool used on a job, why not use the best? That’s the mantra at Armaly Brands, century-old producer of an extensive line of sponges. The company’s products have stood the test of time for over 100 years. The line started with Armaly natural sponges and today includes Armaly ProPlus HDQ grouting sponges, formulated to provide longer-lasting strength, a fast wiping and rinsing of excess grout. Made in the U.S.A.

Booth #3443

setting-bellotaThe company has introduced two series of manual tile cutters: PRO and POP. PRO is a versatile, heavy-duty use cutting tool for ceramic and porcelain up to 28˝ long. POP is for cutting common ceramic up to 25˝, as well as mosaic glass. PRO and POP are designed for maximum strength and stability with reinforced aluminum rail bar supports and solid base, including built-in cutting guides and easily- replaceable tungsten carbide cutting wheels with adaptors to accommodate most other tile cutters as well. They offer great precision with consistently clean, reliable cuts and smooth operation.

Lackmond Products
Booth #3036

setting-lackmondThe Beast™ BP10 Porcelain Tile Blade incorporates the most advanced technology available for cutting porcelain tile as well as ceramics, marble and granite tiles. The Beast BP10 is manufactured using the highest quality diamonds, and performs well on critically hard porcelains ranging from 500 to 1,000-lbs. break strength. It is engineered with a thin-kerf cutting edge that ensures a clean, fast cut while minimizing chipping. The BEAST BP10 utilizes a reinforced, silent core hub which ensures straight cuts and reduces noise. Small slots spaced evenly across the diamond rim reduce vibration and aid in cooling. The Beast BP10 is available in 4˝ through 10˝ diameters.

Master Wholesale

setting-mwThe company’s professional grade, variable speed 4˝ RockMaster wet-polishing kit has everything the flooring professional needs to wet-polish marble and get world class results. The kit contains the long-lasting Makita PW5001C 4˝ wet polisher, the RockMaster eight-piece Diamond Resin wet E-Pad set, the 4” wet Velcro® pad holder, and a quick-connect hose kit. The E-Pads provide great results and the set includes a black buff pad for a premium shine.

Primo Tools
Booth #2730

setting-primoWith all the large-format tiles and stones available in marketplace, Primo Tool (a BOE company), recently added a massive 53˝ size to its line of Big Red professional cutters. Now diagonal cuts of up to 37˝ can be made with ease. Like the 24˝-, 30˝-, 35˝-, and 40˝-sizes, the new 53˝ offering does an excellent job of cutting highly-durable and dense double-loaded/double-fired porcelains as well as 3/4” granite. The spring-loaded table makes breaking tile and stone easy and clean. The two separate breaker bars facilitate multiple cutting widths.” All Big Red cutters come with a swiveling gauge that allows angle cuts between -45 and +45 degrees, and a protractor is included.

RTC Products
Booth #3836

setting-rtcThe Great White portable saw is a new super-lightweight saw that allows the user to control the water spray and reduce noise that most typical wet saws in its class produce. Initially targeted for cutting backsplashes and smaller tiled areas, this saw can also cut larger materials, thanks to the optional water containment tub, which also acts as a perimeter support for cutting larger tiles. The new specialty blades are designed for cutting hard porcelain, granite and marble, and more. The new Glass Master blade is perfect for cutting the customized glass popular for today’s growing market.


Setting Material Trends

Trends – not just for tile and stone anymore

Developments in setting materials create options that are functional, fashionable and enable quicker installation of high-performance projects

By Lesley Goddin

If you’ve been paging through this magazine, you’ve seen many beautiful finishing materials of ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal and natural stone, and have gotten a sense of many of the hot styles. Hopefully by now, your brain is buzzing with new possibilities about how to enliven, enhance, refresh and transform your clients’ projects.

But beneath every beautiful project is a support system of underlayments, mortars, grouts and the tools and technologies that make the project secure and long-wearing. And behind this system is an installation contractor who knows best how finishing materials – as well as setting materials – will behave under a range of conditions. You’d do well to hire – or for our contractor readers: become – an industry-certified tile installer through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program or the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT)program. Comprehensive written and hands-on testing for both programs assures competent grasp of basic skills for CTIs and advanced skills like large-format tile installation, mud floors and showers, membranes and more for ACT- certified installers. Find out more at for CTIs and for ACT installers.

baldiniALL installers today have access to a range of ever-evolving products, many with high-tech properties that help speed or facilitate tile and stone installation. In the words of Rick Baldini, of BOE (Best of Everything) Companies, “the best products often come from the installers themselves” – and BOE is investing in ‘contractor-inspired’ products, from methods of back buttering tile, removing surface stains, cleaning buckets, controlling the level of stone enhancement, achieving desired tile spacing, and more.”

In this section we take a look at some of the trends we are seeing in the technical side of tile and stone installations today.

Underlayments, backers and membranes 

With tiles becoming larger – and thinner in many cases – flat, level support is a must for proper installation.

“We currently estimate that between 60-80% of tile installed on floors today is large-format tile, which means it is at least 15˝ on one or more sides,” said Custom Building Products’ Tony Pasquarelli. “This includes wood-look plank shaped tiles, popular 12˝ x 24˝ contemporary rectangular size tiles, as well as oversized and thin tile options. It is critical to begin with a level subfloor before installing large-format tile,” he said. “Self-leveling underlayments should be used to ensure the substrate has less than 1/8” variance in 10’.”

Backer boards are growing lighter, easing the burden on contractors who have to haul them as well as the load on the building structure itself. These lightweight boards offer “contractors speed and ease of installation,” said Lisa Shaffer, Fin Pan. “The technology allows a contractor to carry a whole shower’s worth of backer board to the second or upper floors in one trip without straining the back or knees. Waterproof, strong and lightweight, this newest class of backer board is gaining popularity and use.”

In fact, underlayments, backers and membranes aren’t just about accommodating large-format tile. Water migration in wet areas and showers is the nemesis of tile and stone. Another important material beneath the installation is the membrane, which can come in sheet or liquid-applied forms. These membranes can protect against cracks, waterproofing or noise.

Dave Hanna of NAC Products observed that “it is no longer sufficient to just provide waterproofing for bathrooms. We have received requests from customers, architects, specifiers and others looking for a solution that can provide sound control AND waterproofing in bathroom installations,” so double-duty materials are definitely in demand.

willetAt USG, director Rich Willett has observed the growing trend to use a fully bonded waterproof membrane with a traditional backerboard. “This controls moisture independently of the tile cover, providing added security against damaging shower leaks. Additionally, a waterproofed foam tray is used for the shower base as an easier-to-install alternative to a traditional mud bed system. Custom trays, benches, and curbs provide design flexibility.”

Keeping dry and going curbless

Indeed, modular, customizable systems provide fast waterproofing and structure in shower settings. wedi Corporation’s Bastian Lohmann sees a solution in “development of complete and modular, yet customizable, systems to build shower and wet room substrates prior to tiling. Substrates and installation systems in this application today should be naturally and entirely waterproof, mold proof, lightweight and easy and clean to work with,” – and, he said, adding strong adhesion through the use of cement-based mortars is key.  Success with these systems depends on R&D and engineering as well as enthusiastic acceptance of “new consumer trends such as accessible showers or linear drainage – and by a strong hands-on educational service program for our trades.”

Growing in popularity for aging populations, and openness of design as well as safe footing when using steam showers (no slippery curb to step over) as well as ADA compliance for commercial spaces are curbless showers. “10,000 people a day turn 65 and that will continue for the next 15 or so years,” Fin-Pan’s Shaffer said. “Technology has made barrier-free curbless showers easy to install, affordable and beautiful.”

Linear drains

Linear drains are now flooding the market (figuratively), bringing clean new looks and increased functionality to shower settings. “From a performance and reliability perspective, linear drains need to also be sturdy, functional, and compatible with contemporary installation and waterproofing methods,” said The Noble Company’s Dean Moilanen. “As the popularity and usage of linear drains continues to increase, architects, specification writers, and designers are starting to realize all linear drains are not created equal. As a result, linear drains are not being specified and installed, strictly on appearances. Functionality, durability, and performance are placed at premium. “

Moilanen recommended selecting beautiful drains and also paying attention to drain construction and how effectively they carry water out of the system. He suggested troubleshooting any possible waterproofing issues that might arise from a particular design, the nature of the tile installation and the required level of waterproofing. Choosing to work with a linear drain supplier who manufactures its own hardware may provide more flexibility in connecting the pieces of the system, he said.

Many drains today are also tileable, creating an invisible drain option for trench, traditional center or linear configurations.


No matter what your installation, you’re going to need an adhesive to stick the tile or stone down to the substrate.

There’s been a lot of development at all the setting materials manufacturers for creating large-and-heavy tile mortar (previously known as “medium bed mortar”) to support larger, heavier tiles that are in vogue – as well as larger tiles with reduced thicknesses.

“Adhesives that offer optimum physical performance such as high bond strength, non-slump performance and full bedding properties along with exceptional workability characteristics are desired by professional tile contractors,” said Ron Nash of LATICRETE.

“We continue to see a trend toward very large-format, thin, denser tiles with a variety of backing types requiring higher-performance polymer and cement technologies to improve bond, flexibility, open time, sag resistance and fast-drying properties,” added Harrison Gardner, ARDEX Americas Tile & Stone Installation Systems business manager.

MAPEI’s business manager for Tile & Stone Systems Brian Pistulka said these specialized mortars need to wet out the back of porcelain tile as well as the substrate, and offer “superior bond strengths while delivering the deformability to accommodate a higher degree of expansion and contraction experienced as the size of the [large thin porcelain tile] becomes larger and larger.” Other important properties are lightweight and easy-to-trowel formulations that offer extended open times for movement and placement of tile while the product is in the fresh state to accomplish the installation, attaining coverage without voids.”

CUSTOM’s Tony Pasquarelli is clear that these developments are necessary to minimize the risk of lippage, for safety on floors as well as for aesthetics. “From flowable mortars that reduce the need for backbuttering to rapid-setting, flexible and lightweight options, it is important to consider the right large-format tile mortar relative to the overall performance requirements of the job.

“In the end, the design professional wants to deliver a smooth, even, monolithic visual aesthetic that comes from an exceptionally even tile installation,” he added. “You need the right mortar in order to accomplish that goal, so design professionals and contractors should always consult together for the best results.

Another consideration for all building materials are LEED requirements for products that are healthier and kind to our planet while doing their job. Nash said that “the use of both pre and post-consumer recycled content” is receiving a lot of attention at LATICRETE to “yield the best balance between performance and ease of use.


Grout has grown from being a purely utilitarian substance to fill joints to one that offers color, sparkle and many degrees of style. While still a setting material, it’s a highly visible one, and offers aesthetic enhancements.

Curt Rapp of Tile Doctor said that grout is really becoming more of a “fashion choice rather than simply a utility decision. There is lots going on in the chemistry side of grout to produce higher-quality products with greater ease of application and more colorfast grout.

“Designer grouts have been evolving in Europe for years now, with many choices such as brighter colors, metallic effects and glass grout,” he added. “Embracing what is happening in grout can provide you fuel for growth in your business. I like to say, ‘Have you ever met a homeowner who loved their grout?’ It’s long been the most underserved product in our industry and was always the weakest link, but not any longer!”

And as a setting material, it’s got a functional job to do – likely spurning stains and sealing and being easy for contractors to work with and clean up. “End users want a grout that is stain proof and doesn’t need to be sealed or resealed from a maintenance standpoint,” said CUSTOM’s Pasquarelli. “Tile contractors want a grout that is smooth, with creamy, color consistentency, and is easy to install while drying very hard. When matched with the right selection of colors, the design community can specify tile confidently knowing that that the tile and grout will look great now and perform successfully over the long term.”

Profiles, trims; sealers and maintenance

Metal trims have long been used to enhance, protect and provide smooth transitions for tile and stone installations. From Schluter’s new SCHIENE-Step that provides multipurpose transitions for counters, walls and floors to more widespread use of trims, profiles that can add functionality, a finished look and glamour to the project.

“Stainless steel is trending not only in residential kitchens but also in commercial settings,” said Peggy Heuler of Ceramic Tool Company. “More and more we see stainless as the metal trim of choice for commercial projects – for function and design. Harder than aluminum, it can handle heavier loads with fewer scratches and dents. It is more hygienic and less susceptible to damage from harsh cleaners so it is ideal for restrooms, commercial kitchens, hospitals or wherever critical environments exist.” And stainless can be formed into custom shapes, she said.

Once the project is installed, how does one ensure it keeps looking beautiful for a lifetime? Porcelain tile rarely needs sealing, but stone surfaces still often require some TLC.

“The high-end light-colored limestones require special treatment to avoid contamination from hard water, grout and other construction perils,” said Jeff Moen, sales and marketing director for Fila Chemicals USA, Corp. That involves pre-sealing and a grout release, as well as post-grout clean-up with a neutral cleaner followed by a post-installation sealing with a natural-look, penetrating stain protector. Ongoing routine maintenance should also be carried out with a neutral cleaner, he recommended.

“The full-treatment cycle gives the end user – and the stone retailer – peace of mind that the stone system will perform as promised, for the lifetime of the project/home,” Moen said.

And Nash, speaking for STONETECH® by LATICRETE said his company is investing in sealers and cleaners for tile, stone and outdoor veneers, with “high-performance products to clean, protect and enhance the increased usage of large heavy and porcelain tile. New tile materials and designs are requiring that materials used to maintain them are formulated accordingly and are compatible.”

Tile Trends

Following is an extensive list of products that represent the trends in tile that we’ll see at Coverings and beyond. Coverings exhibitors include booth numbers.tile-AO

American Olean

A glazed porcelain featuring the company’s Reveal Imaging™ technology, Concrete Chic™ refreshes the popular stained cement aesthetic with updated graphics and a contemporary color palette in a product that is made in the U.S. with recycled content. Perfect for modern residential settings and commercial spaces, in five contemporary neutrals, including Current Cream, Trendy Tan, Elegant Gray, Stylish Charcoal and Vogue Brown, Concrete Chic’s floor sizes include a 12˝ x 24˝ and 12˝x 12˝, while coordinating trim sizes include a 6˝ x 12˝ cove base, 3˝ x 12˝ bullnose and 1˝ x 6˝ cove corner.

tile-artoArto Brick 

The Southern California-based creators of hand-crafted tiles and brick veneer have announced a collaboration with visual artist David Shipley. The collection of ceramic tiles feature Shipley’s abstract paintings, allowing customers to bring Shipley’s art into their homes. “I’m excited about my work being seen in people’s homes, on their floors and walls and not just on gallery walls,” Shipley said.


Best Tile

tile-bestMajestic and substantial, the company’s Trace collection is inspired by the aging materials of history’s great structures. By refashioning colors and textures, Trace combines bronzed metal and opaque cement screens to offer an industrial look with touches of oxidized copper. It employs a highly innovative approach to screen development and surface finish. A full range of contemporary sizes are available from 12˝ x 24˝ to 30˝ x 60,˝ all exceeding technical requirements.

Crossville, Inc.
Booth #3818

The Ready to Wear porcelain tile collection mimics the look of textiles, capturing the warp and weft of fabric in tactile and visual representation, and featuring “woven” detailing enhanced with strands of shimmer to achieve a dimensional appearance. It’s suited for interior walls and floors and exterior walls in commercial and residential applications. Ready to Wear can be dressed up or down. It has authentic details including an understated shimmer that follows the woven effects of the texture. Ready to Wear comes in eight colors, including cool and warm tones, and 12˝ x 24˝ field tiles are complemented by 2˝ x 6˝ tiles, as well as bullnose. Made in the U.S. utilizing Crossville’s EcoCycle Tile Process™, Ready to Wear contains a minimum 4% recycled content and is Green Squared Certified®.


Crystal Shores mosaics blend colored crystalized glass and blocks infused with metallic texture for truly radiant designs. An array of colors available in two sizes amplifies the ambience of relaxing bathrooms and dramatic accents.

tile-delconcaDel Conca
Booth #4815

Del Conca USA’s new Wine Barrel collection features a realistic, wood-look porcelain tile design with a contemporary spin, including authentic saw marks and watermarks. The collection’s “plank” sizes, 6˝ x 24˝ and 8˝ x 32˝, are offered in three colors: Noce, Gray and Bianco. Complementary mosaics are also available. The collection is suited for hospitality, retail and other installations.

tile-imolaImola Ceramica
Booth #5006

Inspired by the Pop Art movement and the work of Roy Lichtenstein, Imola Ceramica’s newest wall tile Pop Tile illustrates 10 different Pop Art images and tells a story: a glamorous policewoman is chasing a mysterious criminal around the walls of this new ImolaCeramica collection. Pop, a double-fired ceramic tile, is composed of 10 different illustrated tiles that alternate with a color range of 10 bright hues to recount this exciting adventure of facial close-ups, cult symbols and explosive exclamations. Imola Ceramica is a brand of Cooperativa Ceramica d’Imola North America.

Booth #1038

The Australian-based manufacturer of glass, stone and metal decorative tiles is bringing handmade Aussie Dream Glass™ to market. Available in 12 stylish colors, Aussie Dream Glassis offered in 2˝ x 2˝, 4˝ x 4˝ and 2˝ x 12˝ modular formats. Inventoried at the firm’s Dallas warehouse, the materials featured expedited delivery due to Maniscalco’s state-of-the-art shipping program. It’s ideal for vertical installations in residential and commercial environments, as well as wet areas.


Marazzi USA
Booth #5000

Knoxwood glazed porcelain tile makes a definitive statement with its hardwood graining, sumptuous colorations, authentic knots and variations from plank to plank, all showcasing random characteristics of wood, in a durable porcelain body.

tile-tileshopThe Tile Shop

Arte Gris is inspired from stamped concrete, but this porcelain tile provides a stylish twist on the industrial design trend, adding a modern ambiance to floors or walls. It embodies the popular color grey, and comes in six distinct patterns with a texture-like appearance. Each packaged box of Arte Gris tile includes a unique blend of patterns, so no two projects will look exactly alike.


President’s Letter – TRENDS 2015


Tile is the most exciting design element from my perspective, for there is nothing else that has such a powerful impact in transforming a space.

The first issue of TileLetter TRENDS as part of the TileLetter family of publications supports my belief. This year there’s just about everything designers and architects could hope for in the tile marketplace. What I’ve seen is big emphasis on geometrics like the hexagon; size and scale like thin porcelain tile; texture and pattern like we see in three-dimensional, uniquely-shaped and wood-look tile; and bling and shimmer like we find in the new metallic and glass products.

As a professional tile contractor, my job is to make sure the vision of the designer and architect come to life through a beautiful and technically-sound installation. When a client invests in a designer and/or architect they place a lot of trust in that individual’s team. Having qualified installers on the team means a designer or architect is placing their reputation in the hands of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Hoping to cut job costs by choosing non-certified installers indicates “quality-cutting” is acceptable, but such a decision often results in problem installations.

1-presQualified installers are CTEF- and ACT-certified. That means they are experienced. They stay on top of industry standards and methods. They know setting technology is an ever-changing part of their profession. They understand the nuances of working with contemporary tile products that have new handling and setting requirements because products are manufactured differently than they were in the past. Attitude is critical, too, because it means a professional contractor is committed to customer service and getting a job done right.

A highly qualified installer is a knowledgeable resource to designers and architects because he/she can, among other things: answer questions about where specific materials can and can’t be installed; explain why certain products shouldn’t be used in a wet area or high traffic area; and present what grouting options are available such as a simple sanded grout to a single-component grout with sparkles.

2-presSo it could be said that while designers and architects predominantly focus on the trends that deal with form, qualified installers focus on staying on the trends in function. It is through mutual respect and teamwork that the trends from each area meld to bring creative design concepts to life and transform spaces with installations that stay beautiful for many years to come.


[email protected]

Learn more about highly qualified tile installers at:

3-pres 4-pres

Editor’s Letter – TRENDS 2015

Lesley psf head shot“It is the old, the new, the made, the hand-me-down, the collected, the worn (but loved) things in your home that make it your own.” – Stacy Risenmay 

What’s new?

It’s one of the most popular questions we ask each other. It’s the reason we attend trade shows and conferences, read magazines and watch remodeling shows.

What’s new and fresh – or classic materials used in original ways – fuels us with passion to design, sell, create and install with excellence. A new product or a new perspective inspires us and invigorates us, and in turn our readers, customers, clients and colleagues.

With that in mind, we developed this special annual TRENDS issue of TileLetter magazine. We culled up-to-the-minute influences in color, style, materials, tile and stone designs, and emerging developments in setting materials that you will see here at COVERINGS ’15 and beyond. It’s our intention that this collage of the new – and redefined classics – will inspire and inform while giving you the tools to work smoothly and beautifully with tile and stone finishes, in addition to providing vital information about materials needed to install them to best effect.

Within these pages, you’ll read about color trends from Leatrice Eiseman and The Pantone Institute, view international tile trends from Italy and Spain, domestic trends from spokespeople in the U.S., and learn about innovations in stone use and application from CTaSC’s Donato Pompo. COVERING’s Industry Ambassador Alena Capra presents an A&D view of accessing and utilizing trends, and industry experts in setting material, sundries and maintenance products outline the direction many of these materials are taking to support today’s finishing materials. What’s novel is not the only thing on the radar screen – TRENDS also examines the tension between the timeless and the trendy.

To support each section – tile, stone and setting materials – we’ve included a product section that includes original introductions from industry suppliers, many of whom are showing at COVERINGS (look for their booth number in the blurb!) and web information to connect you if they are not.

NTCA supports the collaboration of the A&D, manufacturing, distributing and installation sectors working together for beautiful installations that perform flawlessly. Stop by NTCA booths 3830 or 3015 to find out more or visit the Installation Design Showcase in booth 461 to see that collaboration in action, as tile and stone for four locally-designed vignettes are installed in real time by NTCA Five Star Contractors.

The Coverings Installation Design Awards and Opening Night Reception also celebrate this collaboration. Come join the party at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 15 in room S310!

As always, we value your input and feedback. What did you see at the show that was a standout product or what trends did you sense emerging from the show floor? Email me at [email protected], and your comments may appear in an upcoming issue of TileLetter.

Enjoy the show, and be inspired!

Lesley – [email protected]


lat-perma-6LATICRETE’S PERMACOLOR® Select revolutionizes the business and logistics of grout

Premier dispersible dry-pigment grout solution provides more options for A&D professionals

lat-permacolorIn a world where warehouse and display space is at a premium, while the demand for an expanding palette of grout colors to augment and enhance tile and stone installations is growing, LATICRETE has developed an innovative solution that addresses both concerns.

LATICRETE recently introduced PERMACOLOR® Select, the industry’s first dry dispersible-pigment grout solution that separates colored pigment from the PERMACOLOR Select Base. This advanced, high-performance cement grout is designed for virtually all types of residential and commercial installations and offers optimum performance on the most demanding exterior and interior applications.

In addition to offering industry-leading performance, PERMACOLOR Select comes in the widest range of colors available. It also sets a new standard as the first product to innovate the business and logistics of grout–providing specific benefits to architects, design professionals, distributors and contractors alike.

lat-perma-1Two-part solution for A&D desires

The ground-breaking product comes in two parts: a Color Kit and the highly engineered Base powder. The process of preparing the grout begins with the dispersible-pigment packets included in the Color Kit. When added to water, these packets dissolve like laundry or dishwasher packets. When the neutrally colored Base is added to the pigment-water mix, a color-consistent grout is formed that does not require sealing.

The Color Kits come in all 40 existing LATICRETE grout color options as well as the top selling competitor colors. The Base powder comes in 12.5 lb. and 25 lb. options.

“Recently, we’ve seen architects and design professionals demand greater color choices and LATICRETE is getting ahead of this trend,” said Sean Boyle, director of Marketing and Product Management. “With PERMACOLOR Select, these professionals can offer clients the widest array of options while ensuring industry-leading performance.”

The innovations of PERMACOLOR Select allows architects and design professionals the ability to:

Offer expanded color availability and options – With PERMACOLOR Select Color Kits, architects and design professionals can offer clients the widest array of color choices from a single supplier. This includes the existing LATICRETE grout color options as well as the top-selling competitor colors.

Deliver industry-leading performance – PERMACOLOR Select exceeds ANSI A118.7 and achieves ISO 13007-4 CG2FAW. Equipped with STONETECH® Sealer Technology, PERMACOLOR Select offers enhanced stain resistance with no sealing required. PERMACOLOR Select offers anti-microbial protection and vibrant consistent color that resists efflorescence. PERMACOLOR Select is also reinforced with Kevlar® to resist cracks and shrinkage.

Virtually eliminate worries about color variation – The PERMACOLOR Select advanced-pigment technology is manufactured to tight standards and reduces variation between batches.


Two pallet spaces and one shelf is all it takes!

Distributors and contractors also benefit from the introduction of this pioneering product.

For example, PERMACOLOR Select is the first product to innovate the way grout is ordered, inventoried and sold – resulting in distributors running their businesses more efficiently and much more profitably. Only two pallet spaces are needed for the PERMACOLOR Select Base and one shelf for the PERMACOLOR Select Color Kits. This saves dozens of pallet spaces in a warehouse by eliminating inventory of individual bags per each color stocked. The logistical innovations of PERMACOLOR Select allow distributors to:

• Reduce grout pallet space requirements by 80%, grout inventory value by 50% and increase turns by 100% Distributors need only carry only the inventory they require.

• Improve order pick time and accuracy – Picking and packing orders is easier with PERMACOLOR Select. Warehouse personnel will not need to waste time searching for colors or move of bags and pallets.

• Fulfill orders quickly and directly to customers – If a distributor runs out of a particular color, Color Kits can be shipped directly to the customer through the
LATICRETE Rapid Fulfillment Center.

“Our Rapid Fulfillment Center drastically improves the ordering process,” said Boyle. “Through this new service, dealers, distributors, and contractors can rapidly and economically fulfill their customers’ needs.”


Fast-setting grout ready for feet in 3 hours

lat-perma-5Finally, the benefits for contractors are significant as PERMACOLOR Select is suitable for joints 1/16” to 1/2” wide on floors or walls. The fast-setting grout is ready for foot traffic in three hours. GREENGUARD® certified, PERMACOLOR Select is also low VOC. A lifetime warranty is available when used with other LATICRETE products.

The logistical innovations of PERMACOLOR Select also enhance the contractor’s business by:

• Reducing grout inventory value, waste and breakage – Contractors can carry only the inventory they need and greatly reduce grout breakage through less handling and moving of inventory.

• Reducing grout pallet space requirements – Leftover stock from previous jobs is virtually eliminated with PERMACOLOR Select.

• Expanding color availability and options – Contractors can easily and inexpensively stock all 40 LATICRETE colors plus the top selling competitor colors.

For more information on PERMACOLOR Select, visit



International Trends from Italy

Italian style sets tile trends for 2015 and beyond

For those who missed this coverage in our TileLetter and TADA magazines at the end of 2014, following are some of the hottest trends by Italian manufacturers to come out of Cersaie 2014 as identified by Ceramics of Italy. As always, the Cersaie exhibit in Bologna, Italy showcases cutting-edge design, setting trends worldwide for the year to come.

italy-1Black & white: Classic black and white with added effects such as fading reliefs and op art graphics offered a timeless, fresh look.

italy-2Boom. Pop. Wow! Graphic, playful wall tiles reflect influences and images from comics such as Lupin the 3rd (Del Conca) and kings of pop art Roy Lichtenstein (Imola) and Keith Haring (Ascot).

italy-cementiCementine: The inherent charm and beauty of encaustic cement tiles from the turn of the 19th century inspired many collections. Putting a modern spin on the classic tiles, some were overlaid onto concrete, terra cotta and stone designs while others presented crisp or fading patterns.

italy-bordelliCustom made: Tile manufacturers partnered with designers to develop flexible systems for creating tailor-made compositions. Robert Dawson’s Arianna series for Bardelli features a silkscreened pattern that can be freely rotated and randomly combined, while Lavinia Modesti and Javier Deferrari developed hexagonal tiles line for Mirage’s Xgone that can be studded into each other or configured into countless combinations. Two tile lines developed by HOK for Lea can also be used in a myriad of layouts while Ornamenta’s Salepepe tiles offer customizable geometry and a range of 33 colors designed to match MAPEI’s Ultracolor Plus grouts. Tagina’s entire Atelier team creates custom-made ceramic products for architects, even on a large commercial scale.

italy-taginaHexalove: Contemporary hexagons include macro and micro sizes, rhombille tiling effects, irregular cutouts, and encaustic, concrete, marble, wood and brick designs.

italy-muralesHigh tech tiles: Advanced use of technology moved ceramic tiles from beautiful and functional to smart surfaces. ABK Group unveiled a revolutionary technology that adds elasticity to porcelain tile, ensuring perfectly flat installations, while Piemme launched a series of high-tech tiles with embedded photovoltaic cells to create self-illuminating outdoor flooring. Florim showcased some of the largest thin slabs in the industry (5.5´ x 11´ and only 6mm thick) and Faetano introduced a new tile specially designed to wrap corners.


italy-marvelproMarble 2.0: Luxurious white marbles such as Calacatta, Carrara and Statuario, creamy Travertine and darker hues like Saint Laurent and Berimbau were represented at the show. Novel hexagon and chevron shapes overlaid designs, with three-dimensional surfaces like pillowed edges and linear folds were added to the mix.


italy-fusionMetallized: Metallized tiles exhibited the sheen of platinum and bronze or the weathered effects of rusted steel and oxidized copper.


italy-aleaModern Mosaics: Mosaics reflected fresh treatments of traditional penny, hexagon and brick mosaics to completely new formats such as linear, diamond and organic-shaped tesserae.

Neu wood: Displays of ceramic wood ran the gamut from rustic and recycled lumber, charred wood, or the luster of a polished or glazed finish for a touch of sophistication and glamour.



A&D Q&A with Alena Capra

capraTapping into trends

A Q&A with Coverings’ Industry Ambassador, Alena Capra

Alena Capra is Coverings’ newly appointed Industry Ambassador, a liaison to the local industries related to tile and stone as well as media. Capra has been sharing her tile and stone trend insights through media interviews and presentations at trade association events for builders, contractors, installers, distributors, as well as architects and designers, leading up to the show.

Capra brings more than 12 years of experience as a residential designer to the role, and is accredited through the National Kitchen and Bath Association as a Certified Kitchen Designer and Certified Bath Designer. Capra’s design expertise has been leveraged by various design shows around the country as a speaker, and her work has been published in several national and regional media outlets. A proponent of developing healthy partnerships between the A&D community, suppliers and installation contractors, she also was enlisted as a designer for the inaugural Installation Design Showcase at Coverings 2010. Since then she has continued to expand her role with the event.

Being intimately familiar with Coverings and its exhibitors, education and special programs and a talented designer in her own right, she’s in a perfect position to provide an overview of tile and stone trends that will be evident at the show and how they can be best utilized by members of the A&D community.

capra-1Do you feel that the materials tile and stone companies are producing tend to follow design trends…or are they setting the trend?

I have spent a great deal of time attending design events around the country and around the world, and have seen a great deal of connection between what is trending in tile and overarching design trends for furniture, fixtures and decor. But, I would say that there are certain instances where tile and stone manufacturers have the opportunity to set trends for the industry, such as with the continued development of technology that creates wood porcelain tile.

capra-2What are some of the most inspiring or exciting trends you have encountered recently?

Across the board, metallic gold is making a strong return as an accent from fixtures to tiles. Hexagonal shapes are reemerging as a huge trend from tile to wall covering patterns, furniture designs, and fabrics. It’s a classic shape, and I love that it is a look that can be used in modern to traditional designs

I’m also very excited about using many of the new wood porcelain looks that have come out recently. This product has become a true staple in the tile industry, and the technology developments have allowed for the designs to be even more realistic and innovative. When sourcing wood porcelain tile there are so many amazing options to choose from now, from high gloss looks to printed designs, and an incredible variety of colors and textures. Every year there are more and more new wood porcelain looks to choose from, and the possibilities are really endless!

capra-3As a designer, how do you incorporate trends into a design while remaining true to a client’s style?

When incorporating trends into designs for my clients, I try to keep trendy products as accents. This allows the rest of the materials to be more timeless. For example, I may incorporate an accent or border in a trendier tile, and keep the main tile in a classic shape and color.

When specifying tile, a key rule to keep in mind is to look for shapes and materials that work best for the client’s personal sense of style. You should always be mindful of whether your client is comfortable with bold, trendy statements, or if they gravitate to more understated, classic pieces.

If a client loves a modern aesthetic, I will offer 3-D or textured pieces, or tile in bold colors and finishes with clean lines. If they are more traditional, I would show them hand-painted or natural stone options.

capra-4How do you recommend using trending products, colors, materials in projects in a way that will stay relevant or ‘timeless’, even as trends change or evolve?

Designing in a way that will stand the test of time is truly about executing a trend in whichever material that works best for your client, and using it in just the right amount. As I mentioned, I like to use trendier tile for accents in the overall design.

The key is mixing it up in just the right amount. By anchoring the entire look with tiles that are more classic, and adding that pop with something trendy, you will find a solid balance. I would say 75% classic sizes, shapes and colors and 25% trendy accent is a good ratio to consider with tile.

It’s also important to think of how classic shapes that have been around forever, like a 3˝ x 6˝ subway tile or a 1˝ x 1˝ or 1˝ x 2˝ mosaic, can be reinterpreted into trendy designs. Mixing materials, colors or sizes can create a look that is trendier than a traditional white subway tile backsplash.

What resources/sources do you rely on as a designer to keep up with trends?

I have found that visiting industry trade shows, like Coverings, is the best way to keep up with trends. Walking the show floor can keep you right on the front line of everything new. If you can’t make it to shows in person, design magazines are always great resources, as they are reporting from these shows and offering breakdowns of the “best of the best” seen there.

Blogs and social media are great resources. Be sure to follow your favorite designers or architects, your must-read design magazines, your vendor, manufacturer and showroom partners. Most share content on Twitter or Instagram live from trade shows, and always share great trend reports. There are so many great ways to stay connected!!


1 4 5 6 7