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Tile: Innovations help category recoup share

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By K.J. Quinn

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.16.27 PMTile suppliers are not just applying advanced technologies for the sake of aesthetics. Experts say another goal is to bolster the category to help fend off competition from LVT, which in recent years has done a much better job in replicating tile and stone.

“The more  LVT and other similar lines mimic the real thing, the more customers will start to gravitate toward natural materials, such as ceramic, wood, brick, stone and marble,” said Katie Peralta, owner of Triton Stone Group of New Orleans.

Indeed, visual comparisons between LVT and ceramic are so similar that performance and value may tilt the scale one way or the other. “In this case, it’s an easy switch to tile because the performance, occupant health benefits and overall livability of a tile will outshine both LVT and most natural stones or woods, in most circumstances,” said Ryan Fasan, technical consultant with Tile of Spain.

Some industry members do not necessarily believe tile is the underdog when it comes to comparing styles with other flooring. “I feel, at this point, the LVT market is trying really hard to match what the tile world is doing, not vice versa,” said Sean Cilona, director of marketing and product development, Florida Tile. “The graphic can be similar, but the durability, believability and texture that comes with a porcelain tile is something the LVT producers are going to need to continue to work to match.”