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Coverings 2017: What’s old is new again

April 10/17, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 22

By Nadia Ramlakhan


Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 9.33.33 AMOrlando—Coverings, the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America, returned to a familiar location earlier this month after being hosted in Chicago in 2016. Roughly 1,100 exhibitors from 40 countries showcased the latest trends, technologies and styling techniques in their respective categories across 400,000 square feet of exhibition space.

According to many show veterans, Orlando is an attraction unto itself. “You see a lot of international people,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “They make it a family trip; everyone comes for the house of [Mickey Mouse].”

Alena Capra, Coverings industry ambassador, noted the difference in introductions on the show floor due to the surrounding areas. “It’s a big draw—people from all over the country and globe come here. But a lot of what we’re seeing is appealing to the markets here. We’re so close to the Bahamas and all of the islands that exhibitors are showing some pinks and blues with that tropical feel. You also see a lot of terrazzo, and that’s because people in South Florida restore terrazzo all day long. It’s original to a lot of the older homes.”

The location of the show wasn’t the only thing that made a comeback this year. Exhibitors and attendees alike agreed that some familiar looks were coming back into play on the show floor, albeit with a few new twists.

“Just like everything I always relate it to fashion,” Capra explained. “I’ve seen trends come full circle so many times; I think about clothes my mom wore and I’m wearing them today. It comes back but it changes each time. For example, subway tiles have never gone away but they keep changing. The classic shape remains.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 9.33.27 AMSome of these re-emerging trends include warmer tones and industrial looks. Crossville’s Notorious is just one example. The collection comes in six neutral colors, in a range of sizes from 24 x 36 to 3 x 15, and coordinates with the company’s Surfaces wood-look launch: Nest.

“It’s a neutral industry, but what I like here is it’s a nice mix of warm and cool,” Waldrep said. “There are many rustic, carved-into-concrete looks. Ours is very soft, very uniform. There are a couple of marks in it to really suggest concrete.”

Another resurging trend is the return of the traditional cotto look with a little variation. That was evident in Dal-Tile’s Ragno Epoca collection, which comes in three colors. Micah Hand, brand marketing manager at Marazzi, Ragno’s sister brand, called it the “perfect mix of old and new. We saw a lot of cotto in Cersaie, but we’re mixing it with a lot of modern, sleek designs. That’s where I see this coming back in an updated way.”

Hand added that accessories such as furniture or countertops also play a big role in using cotto. “We want to make sure designers and consumers understand how to utilize tile in different ways to achieve a more modern or urban look.”

Beyond flooring
Crossville’s Laminam for the wall also showcased a similar style. Calce is a new cotto look that comes in five colors while Cava is a new stone look available in three colors. Both are 1m x 3m porcelain tile panels. Waldrep noted that although its large panels have given popularity to the Laminam collection in the past, inkjet technologies have allowed the products to advance in visuals as well.

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 9.33.07 AM“It’s just a resurgence of retro, and I think part of it is everything has a cycle. Cotto is a classic look and it’s time for it to raise its head again. As technology moves ahead, we think about how and where we can apply it.”

MS International focused largely on wall offerings as well. “While there is no reason a floor tile can’t go on the wall, there are a lot of cool design elements you can create with a wall tile,” said Emily Holle, director of trend and design, national marketing. The company’s Dymo is an upgraded subway tile and incorporates texture into three all-white patterns: wavy tile, stripes and a flat body tile. The tiles come in 12 x 24 with creative 3-D effects. “So if you weren’t so risky and you just want to do a strip of accents you could. However, you can always do a full accent wall of one of these three-dimensional looks.”

Larger formats prevail
In keeping with the trend toward bigger sizes, Marazzi introduced a number of large format collections including Classentino Marble and Château Reserve. Classentino Marble features five natural marble looks in 12 x 24, 24 x 24 and 24 x 48. The polished collection coordinates with a classic weave mosaic while an elongated hexagon mosaic accents the matte finish. Château Reserve is a wood look series that comes in 6 x 48, 8 x 48 and 12 x 48 planks in five colors, with printing technologies being used to target glossy areas for a real wood look.

Outdoor applications
Many exhibitors at the show turned their focus to outdoor flooring options. Ragno introduced Real Stone Quartzite, a drastic, rustic stone look that comes in Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 9.33.38 AMtwo colors and gives consumers the ability to achieve a natural stone look outside with the durability, cleanability and easy maintenance of porcelain tile. Hand explained that more and more outdoor hospitality commercial spaces are using the 2cm thick paper because it’s easy to install in different areas. On the other hand, it can be used to transition straight from inside to a patio, backyard, etc.

Del Conca USA’s Due2 is also a 2cm thick porcelain tile, with anti-slip and weather-resistant features. Its natural, curved edges are made for quick and easy installations over grass, sand and gravel. It is also suitable for terraces or rooftops because it allows rainwater to flow below the flooring where it is collected on a waterproof membrane.

“Outdoor flooring is a big trend we’re starting to see in the industry,” said Melissa Weisberg, representative for Ceramics of Italy. “We’re seeing flooring not just around pools, but also flooring systems that allow for installation over grass, pebbles or rocks. It allows for more of an authentic feel.”


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Surfaces tile coverage: Larger, bolder patterns define latest introductions

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

By Nicole Murray

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.14.00 PMThe bigger the pattern, the better. That pretty much sums up the overarching trend seen in tile introductions unveiled at Surfaces 2017.

Daltile, via its Panoramic collection, introduced a porcelain slab measuring 10½ ft x 51⁄3 feet. The products are available in eight colors in- thicknesses of 6mm and 12mm. According to Kim Albrecht, brand manager, the large slabs are ideal for floors, wall or countertops. “This is a testament to what can be done,” she explained. “We have never done anything this large. It is one thing to hear about it, it is quite another to actually see it. These looks have been popular in Europe and we now see it coming over to the U.S.”

The large-format theme was evident across the show floor, including the Marazzi space. The company’s signature product at Surfaces was Materika, which was displayed in a 16 x 48 wall format.

Materika is offered in four color options available in three styles—Flat, Linear and Wave. “Our focus is on high-end residential bold designs with a very fashion forward look,” said Micah Hand, brand manager. “As long as we are being innovative and think outside the box we can continue to create extraordinary products.”

Manufacturers attributed the move toward bigger formats and larger overall sizes to changing consumer tastes and preferences. “Everything is getting wider and longer, and people are loving it,” said Manny Llerena, director of sales and marketing, MS International (MSI). “As tile sizes expand, it is important to have every single size, style and width visibly available in your showrooms so consumers can visualize what they are going to end up with.”

In illustration, Llerena cited the company’s new porcelain wood plank waterfall display that showcases the various options for the consumer.

Beyond larger formats, suppliers also demonstrated their ability to develop a wide array of colors and styles. Take MSI’s Domino collection, which plays off black and white to give consumers flexibility when designing. The collection contains 3 x 6 wall tiles available in white, gray or almond paired with a glossy, flat or beveled design, which may be accented with black and white floor tiles measuring 12 x 24 or 24 x 24.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.14.08 PM“These colored tiles have been around forever because they are very style neutral,” said Emily Holle, creative director. MS International. “These colors can be applied to a traditional house as well as a modern house depending on how one’s style may adapt over time.”

Suppliers are also developing products and programs that give consumers and designers the ability to mix and match. Case in point is Emser Tile’s new CODE series, which features a variety of shapes, colors, dimensions and finishes.

“CODE lets consumers create their own aesthetics for endless looks and design flexibility,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing. “It is as if the consumer is using a set of puzzle pieces to get exactly what she wants. For example, she can use hexagons and trapezoids faced in multiple directions for different looking patterns. The customer can even add a three-dimensional effect as an accent line along the wall.”

Other suppliers focused on out-of-the-ordinary products. K Stone, for example, displayed a variety of onyx and marble tiles available in a wide array of colors and designs. “We specialize in products that your neighbor doesn’t have,” said Adam Anderson, president. “Depending on the customer’s preferences, we have an onyx or marble design that is for her. We have whites, golds and grays—just about everything.”

—Ken Ryan also contributed to this story.

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My take: Random ramblings from Surfaces 2017

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

By Steven Feldman

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.46.11 PMAnother year, another Surfaces in the books. No. 23 for me. Amazing how the show never gets old. We all dread in the days leading up to the show the exhaustion that is certain to ensue, but somehow we become human versions of the Energizer Bunny until we board the plane ride home.

So here is what I was left thinking about after the three most important days in flooring:

Every exhibitor with whom I spoke was pleased (with the exception of those who lost their space for next year because of Surfaces’ first-come, first-serve policy). Some thought attendance was down slightly; if that was indeed the case, attribute that to the Shaw Flooring Network convention, which attracted nearly 1,000 retailers on the other side of the country and didn’t wind down until the opening day of Surfaces.

Speaking of Shaw, I’m putting my money on its return to Surfaces in some capacity next year. I just can’t see how they can keep ceding the stage to its biggest competitor. Speaking of that competitor, a.k.a. Mohawk, its Airo demos were the talk of the show. A revolutionary way of manufacturing carpet with PET face fiber and cushion fused together, some focused on the groundbreaking aspect of it; others were concerned the installation ease and speed could lend itself to DIY and thus impact profits for some retailers.

What else? If there were 700 exhibitors at Surfaces, then 699 were showcasing their own spin on WPC. By the way, this magazine from here on out will define WPC as WaterProof Category. It’s just easier. Also, there may be 699 WPCs on the market now, but there is only one COREtec. Piet Dossche has taught us all how to create a brand.

I don’t know about you, but every year I am blown away by companies like Provenza and DuChâteau. Relatively new to the hardwood flooring scene, they just get it when it comes to style and design. The same can be said for Raskin on the LVT side—innovative with high style.

Other thoughts: If I had to pick the one company that has come such a long way in the last decade, it’s Inhaus. Lots of buzz surrounding its new Sono product… Remember the book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom? My version: “The Five People You Meet Every Single Night at Eye Candy.” …Weird seeing Mannington mainstay David Sheehan in his new digs at IVC. Congrats…While on the subject of Mannington, its booth is always clean, classy and jam packed with new products…Speaking of classy, year in and year out Stanton epitomizes the word—both in the manner in which it displays its products and the manner in which everyone presents themselves.

Interesting to see Forbo making a big push on the residential side. Soon when someone tells you she has linoleum in the kitchen, it actually will be linoleum and not sheet vinyl…I know it’s a busy show when I gamble less than 30 minutes for the entire week combined…When people ask me who the most significant player is in the LVT game, the answer could very well be Nox. Its private-label customers are too many to count, and the company blends experience with domestic production in Fostoria. Powerful.

It doesn’t matter what industry show you attend; there is always a crowd at the HF Design booth. The Flying Shaoulpour Brothers deserve all kinds of credit…I think we set a record for most parties attended at Skyfall Lounge (formerly Mix) at the top of the Delano…Kudos to Karndean and Metroflor for stepping up their annual parties with solid live entertainment…Why do Dustin Aaronson and I take the same 25,000 steps each day in Vegas and he loses weight while I gain?…Good to see old friend Bob Stone back in the game after all these years. Former Anso guy has resurfaced with Kaleen Rugs…Confucius say: Good company overcomes poor booth location.

Wickham, once one of the industry’s best-kept secrets, is a secret no more…Note to self: Next year to make a little extra cash on the side, I will bring translators to Vegas. I find it amazing how companies make the investment to show their wares at Surfaces but are unable to communicate with attendees…I’d like to see Tarkett back on the show floor.

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Suppliers pull out all the stops at Surfaces

Dealers, distributors applaud industry’s innovative offerings

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

By Nicole Murray

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.03.52 PM

Las Vegas—By most accounts the 2017 International Surface Event (TISE) was a success on several different fronts: Vendors witnessed brisk booth traffic, particularly on the first two days of the exhibition; retailers expressed genuine interest in the depth and variety of products unveiled at the show; and show management reported increased participation in terms of both exhibitors and attendees.

According to Informa Exhibitions, which manages the show, there was a 10% increase in exhibit space booked, with a total of 734 companies taking up 386,000 square feet. Amie Gilmore, TISE show director, was pleased with the final outcome of the show based on the positive feedback from exhibitors and attendees alike. “You can really feel the energy on the floor,” she told FCNews. “This show is indicative of the industry and sets the tone for the year in terms of new products and business. If the vendors have a good show it really motivates them for the year.”

For the most part, exhibitors and attendees interviewed by FCNews supported Gilmore’s observations. “There was a large increase in traffic this year, which has made people much more optimistic,” said Amir Majard, Aladdin Carpet, Rockville, Md. “My goal was to find new products and opportunities for my business, and I have accomplished both.”

Other dealers agreed, citing not only the many products on display but the high level of professionalism among attendees. “The quality has been amazing and the showroom is filled with friendly people simply trying to do business,” said Jorge Contreras of Unique Design Coverings, Chula Vista, Calif. “I am using this opportunity to improve and learn how to open up my own showroom floor with quality products based on the advice given by professionals.”

In addition to a welcoming environment, attendees easily managed to browse through the booths without feeling any pressure to finalize any purchases.

“I am impressed with all of the vendors and how they are not too pushy toward everyone who enters their booths,” said Deanna Turner of G & D Turner of Clamath Falls, Ore. “This gave us the opportunity to look around and purchase the product we truly wanted.”

Another helpful aspect of the show, attendees say, was the organizational layout, which eased logistical issues. “We were warned that our first year [at TISE] might be overwhelming but the format was very well done and a lot of information has been made easily available,” said Lake Killian of Applied Surfaces Technology, Clarkson, Wash. “They make everything easy, even for first-time attendees.”

Following is an overview of the major trends in the major product categories. (See each respective beat sections for more specific details on new product introductions.)

Manufacturers of LVT, LVP, WPC and sheet vinyl are all innovating and differentiating their products with the consumer in mind. With the hopes of cutting the number of customer calls post-installation, new products are marked by design with specific innovations in waterproof, scratch- and heat- resistant capabilities. In terms of style, newer tile patterns, improved wood looks and varying lengths and widths of planks were prevalent.

As the category continues to evolve companies are looking to keep resilient on par with the natural elements it mimics. This includes better wood, tile and stone visuals for consumers who want the look but are hesistant to spend more money.

Those who attended the show were intrigued by what they saw. “DreamWeaver has some new LVT products coming out and those are interesting because they provide the visuals that are nice but they also have the texture which we haven’t seen in much of the products out there,” said Rick Barton of M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif.

Florence Matthews of Imerys, Roswell Ga., was interested in the new WPC products. “I think there are some very unique designs and very creative ideas that are being presented so I’m very interested to see how they go in the marketplace.”

Bill Murray of Quality Flooring Co., Richfield, Ill., took note of the wide selection of new products both in hard surfaces and with respect to resilient. He also commented on the tension between resilient and laminate. “There seems to be a lot of competition between the new luxury vinyl products and the waterproof laminates so it’s kind of interesting to see those two and what they’re coming out with.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.04.08 PMWith respect to WPC, there was much talk at Surfaces about whether the category, which is dominated by COREtec and Shaw’s Floorte (some estimate their market share at 60%) is already saturated. Some dealers worry that WPC will follow the same path as laminate and will be cannibalized in a few years by sharp pricing degradation. However, others are not buying that argument, believing that as long as companies can bring innovative features to the market, the category can continue to grow and prosper for retailers.

In terms of unique offerings, Beauflor stood out with its rigid core product featuring a 360-degree profile, patented tongue-and-groove locking system. This specific locking system is exclusively Beauflor’s, and the company is not licensing it. The floor can be installed in multiple directions, starting from the center of the room if necessary, giving installers greater flexibility. Each plank is 6 feet long and 8 inches wide.

Mannington and Mohawk certainly have the marketing prowess to muscle its way into retail showrooms with its WPC products. Mannington showed three of them—DuraMax, Max Prime and a commercial WPC product, City Park, which includes a rigid design that passes all commercial specifications.

Mohawk SolidTech rigid core line uses the company’s Uniclic multifit technology in three collections. Mohawk demonstrated the products’ durability and waterproof qualities at the show.

The market shift change from soft surfaces to hard surfaces was noticeable at Surfaces, which has fewer carpet vendors on the show floor than existed 10 or even five years ago. Still, the soft surface products that were displayed never looked better or performed better, carpet executives said. Mohawk is a case in point. The company reported positive responses to SmartStrand Silk Reserve, its luxuriously soft carpet, and Airo, its carpet installation system. Flooring dealers also noted that Karastan had many stunning new introductions, along with the Dixie brands Fabrica and Masland launched at the show.

For Engineered Floors, Lexmark and Kane Carpet, Surfaces was as much about launching new displays into the market as it was offering new products. In a stagnant market, fresh innovative displays can prove effective in drawing consumer attention to the showroom. “We are not in the fixture business but we needed a vehicle to drive our message,” said Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Lexmark.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.04.18 PMMany of the dominant themes from Surfaces 2016—longer boards, wider widths, innovative surface texture treatments—carried over into 2017. Many suppliers also broadened their offering of species to provide variety.

At the Mannington space, for example, the latest introductions and product line extensions reflected wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette. Tracy Pennington, M&D Carpets, Vacaville, Calif., liked the new hardwood introductions. “Mannington is probably the most impressive,” she said.

It seems everywhere you looked, laminate suppliers were incorporating some new water-resistant or waterproof attributes in their product lines. In illustration, water-resistance tests were conducted at the Quick-Step booth as well as the Mannington space. From an aesthetic standpoint, many laminate suppliers took visual cues from their sister hardwood offerings.

The trend toward larger, more dramatic sizes was readily evident across the various tile booths at Surfaces. Suppliers also showcased their capabilities in the area of digital printing. This technology lets suppliers scan in virtually any image and reproduce that image on tile, allowing for the replication of virtually any visual on the surface.