By Louis Iannaco
When it comes to ceramic tile, state-of-the-art technology has raised the bar in recent years as mills seemingly are able to create any look or design they desire. Natural stone, travertine, slate and wood looks continue to proliferate in a category where porcelain has become king. This was evident once again at Surfaces and StonExpo/Marmo-macc Americas 2012 where both manufacturers and distributors strutted their stuff with the latest innovative offerings.
Surfaces proved to be a positive experience for the company, noted Jonathan McIntosh, president and CEO. “We’re here primarily to get meetings set up with our distributor partners. At this point, our goal isn’t necessarily to add more distributors or dealers; it’s to bolster the dealers we already have.”
And bolster the company did, with a slew of different designs featuring its innovative interlocking system. “We are going to a narrower grout line, something for which our customers have been asking for a while now. We are also showing some new tiles featuring ink jet-based technology as well as some new formats.”
Bedrosians Tile & Stone
“We’ve probably done more business in the first day here than at any other show,” said Gary Bedrosian, owner of the importer/distributor. In a sentiment seemingly shared by many, he noted while “attendance overall has been down from previous years, it’s been a good show for us.”
The hot items in the company’s booth were polished glazed offerings, such as Carrara, a combination floor and wall tile, as well as its porcelain wood look products. “The wood look was big last year and it’s still big this year. There’s been a huge interest in polished glazed, and that’s probably why sales have been so good for us.”
The new manufacturer/importer of glass and stone tile and setting systems demonstrated the latest DIY techniques designed to help dealers optimize selling directly to their customers.
“We offer a number of logical solutions to the consumer marketplace,” said Bill Reid, co-founder/vice president of sales. “The thin-body format of our tiles makes it possible to install them right over existing tile material. This saves time and money by eliminating the very messy process of tearing out old tiles. And, anybody can install them.”
The company’s Simply Put Technology program offers DIYers three options:
•Set ’N Grout setting material that combines thin-set and grout
•Two, they may select the SprayLock spray-on adhesive
•Self Stick peel and stick tiles, which can be installed in both wet or dry areas.
All of these methods were demonstrated at CoverQuik’s booth during Surfaces 2012. “We’re very aware the floor covering dealer community needs new products which will be easy to sell and keep their customers satisfied for a long time,” said Justin Malloy, channel manager. “Our products will also allow them to recognize strong, ongoing profits.”
The mill’s product introductions were highlighted by two offerings: Structure, a porcelain stone tile collection, and Origins, a glass mosaics line. Designed for commercial and residential installations, Structure contains a minimum of 20% pre-consumer recycled content, noted Lindsey Ann Waldrep, vice president of marketing. The line is offered in five colorways and in rectified, large format and plank-shaped sizes. Structure is part of Crossville’s Get Planked program, whereby additional plank shapes may be cut with no minimum order and a short lead time.
Origins Glass mosaics, a new take on Old World craftsmanship, is made of post-consumer recycled glass, she noted. “Origins requires a minimal amount of materials for production, yet its textured, swirled and iridized surfaces create great visual depth and give the appearance of handmade glass. The line comprises 20 colors designed by the industry’s most respected color forecasters, Barbara Schirmeister.”
Waldrep said Surfaces is primarily about relationships with Crossville’s West Coast retailers and distributors. “It’s been very positive. What are people saying? In our booth, it’s not cautiously optimistic; it’s optimistic. We ended 2011 well and are excited about 2012.”
Once again, one of the industry’s largest tile producers extended its portfolio of stylish floor and wall tile options with the introduction of several collections at Surfaces, including the well received Levaro and Yacht Club as well as several additions to its Veranda Tones and Solids colorbody porcelain tile collections. Levaro is a glazed porcelain offering featuring Dal-Tile’s Reveal Imaging technolo-gy, which is available in three natural colors.
“Levaro will create a look of seamless elegance from floor to ceiling,” noted Lori Kirk-Rolley, senior marketing director. The collection consists of porcelain floor tile, ceramic wall tile and ceramic mosaics. Levaro is also infused with Microban antimicrobial technology and contains both post- and pre-consumer rcycled material content.
“One of the trends that has been around for a while is the idea of producing ceramic tiles that look just like stone,” she said. “It’s a classic visual for this segment, and it’s still incredibly popular. With Levaro, we have a travertine look with a floor/wall combination. What differentiates from our competitors is that we are using Reveal Imaging not only on the floor but on the wall and the mosaic. Nobody else is doing that right now.”
With Yacht Club glazed porcelain, a natural wood plank visual is the featured attraction. Available in four colors, Yacht Club comes in 6 x 24 planks and coordinating trim package in four natural wood colors. The collection is suitable for both residential and commercial applications.
In the Veranda Tones color-Body porcelain collection, the line has been extended and is available in multiple sizes, as well as an organic color pallet. Three new colors are available, and coordinating accents and Veranda Solid colors are available. With Veranda Solids colorbody porcelain line, 11 new colors have been added.
And in order to capture what attendees want to really hear about, Dal-Tile provided a special kiosk at Surfaces. “They ask their questions in the kiosk,” she explained, “and we get some feedback from them as far as what is most important to them moving forward. So far, they have been asking some great questions about new products and trends.”
In the mill’s return to the Surfaces show floor, Mannington made quite an impression with attendees by way of five new patterns.
The five patterns included Acropolis, which taps into the growing re-emergence of marble visuals. Acropolis comes in three hues and four sizes, including bullnose and mesh-mounted mosaic sheets. The company refers to it as a low-end product with a high-end look, a monochromatic look that sets a nice tone for the room.
Babylon is designed to epitomize all the characteristics found in ancient stone. The digital printed product offers a rustic neutral travertine look with a subtle surface texture and clear glaze finish providing a smooth, natural touch. It comes in four sizes with a 3 x 12 bullnose and mesh-mounted mosaic sheets. Four colors are available.
A sophisticated sandstone look, La Jolla is clean and yet visually complex. The tight registration almost looks like digital printing, the result of which is a high-end look at a value price point. It comes in four colors and five sizes, including 3 x 12 bullnose and mesh-mounted mosaic sheets.
Slate Valley plays off the popular slate look but slightly softer—a blend of slate and stone, according to the company. A blend of color gives the consumer the option of decorating looks. Five colors and four sizes are available, including 3 x 13 bullnose and mesh-mounted mosaic sheets.
Depending on the angle from which it’s viewed, Strata resembles wood, petrified wood, stained concrete and even metallic, and due to its slip resistance is suitable for both residential and commercial use. Manufactured in Italy, Strata is available in five colors and five sizes.