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Tile of Spain unveils new designs at Coverings 2019

APARICI_Luxor2

Luxor by Aparici

Miami- Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer's Association (ASCER), exhibited a wide variety of new product innovations and trends from Spanish tile manufacturers at Coverings 2019. 

During the 4-day tile and stone exhibition, 98 Spanish ceramic and stone manufacturers showcased new lines. Highlights of the Spanish manufactures include:

Luxor by Aparici. Paying homage to glamour of the 20's with a current flair, this exquisite collection exhibits an abundance of veining and color variations within its design.

The Amazonia collection from Colorker. Encompassing the latest trends of graphic prints, geometric shapes and bold color, the Amazonian collection is full of vibrant details.

Dune brings to life a wide variety of decorative tile. Different linear designs and a play on light and shadows, the Deluxe collection modernizes the traditional crackle motif for a perfectly imperfect look. 

Equipe Ceramicas presents Village. Equipe is playing with new sizes in this collection (5 x 5 to 2 1/2 x 5, 2 1/2 x 8). Available in a range of colors from soft pastels to bold Mediterranean hues, Village is a collection of small sizes with big design.

Fanal introduces Heritage, a collection mimicking the look of natural wood, however presented in a glazed porcelain range that translates well to any aesthetic.

Harmony introduces Dash. With its grid-like pattern, ever-changing rectangular compositions can be created to combine different shapes and lengths both vertically or horizontally. This collection comes in a 20x20cm format and available in 6 different colors.

A leader in the arena of large formats is Inalco. Senda features grey brushstrokes on a gentle stone-like relief. Delicate, versatile and designed to appeal to all, Senda is ideal for both commercial and residential use.

Living Ceramics introduces Allure, a collection of ceramic tile that conveys the strength, character and temperament of the stone on which it is inspired. Veins are carefully treated to highlight its personality and a brush hammered finish evokes the texture of the natural stone it replicates. Living Ceramicas was also honored at Coverings 2019 for Best in Show.

Metropol presents the Arc Collection, a reinterpretation of industrial sheet metal with subtle shade variations for a natural effect. Arc is available in both floor and wall tile formats.

Spanish manufacturer Natucer brings back the basics with impactful designs and finishes using subway tiles. The Piastrella collection moves the traditional subway tiles one step further with vibrant colors, irregular borders, mixed finishes, intricate designs and striking reliefs.

Vives also brings charismatic personality to the scene with Hanami. This collection blends a timeless style with modern hues to express a certain joie de vivre through color and design.

Realonda's Donegal series is a fresh take on the classic terracotta look. This new collection combines natural tones with decorative design and is available in a trending hexagonal shape.

Saloni introduces Foundry, a collection that pairs worn metal with delicate detail resulting in an industrial chic look.

Tau extends its wildly successful Ascale collection with Belvedere, a black marble look that is available in two finishes, polished and matte. A Think & Mix color palette flows through entire series for a seamlessly cohesive look.

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Tile of Spain reveals global design trends at Cevisama 2018

Miami—Cevisama, the international fair for ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishings, held its 36th edition, Feb. 5-9, at the Feria Valencia center in Valencia, Spain. A total 506 Spanish exhibitors showcased their latest products and innovations to a record number of more than 83,000 industry professionals from over 65 countries.

Some of the new trends and innovations showcased by Tile of Spain USA’s featured companies include: natural wood and colors, natural stone imitations, Moroccan-inspired fish scale tiles, mix and match styles, waterproof geometric tiles, deep shade variations with metal effect finishes and three-dimensional wall tiles.

The 16th edition of the Tile of Spain Awards were also announced at the fair. The panel of judges comprised world-renowned architects Iñaki Ábalos (Chair), Ángela García Paredes, Ricardo Bak Gordon, Víctor Navarro, Moisés Puente, Martín Azúa and Ramón Monfort. The judges met Nov. 24 in Castellón to decide the winners who were then presented with their prizes at Cevisama.

A winery in Mont-Ras (Baix Empordà, Girona), was named the winner in the architecture category. The remodeling of three stations on the L9 metro line in Barcelona received first prize in the interior design category. The award for the final degree project went to a residents’ center and tourist information office in Granada’s El Albaicín district. Due to the high standard of the entries, the judges awarded several special mentions in all three categories. Winning projects, images, plans and descriptions are available at tileofspainawards.com.

Also at the fair, Trans-Hitos 2018 was presented under the theme “Cycles.” Cycles refers to a fresh way of understanding architecture by suggesting that what has been learned in past years will have a great significance in driving a modern view of architecture that thinks about people and seeks to solve their problems by prioritizing user needs.

These exhibitions included the “Celosía,” or Lattice, masterpiece by Elena Oleaza and Louis Sicard, winners of the Trans-Hito competition. A collaboration with the Design School at Harvard University was also featured, as well as a project by Wesam Asali, winner of the 2017 ASCER Awards in the PFC Category. An additional space was dedicated to the exposition of projects from the School of Ceramics and winning projects of the XVI Premios Cerámica (Ceramic Awards). More information on the 2018 Trans-Hitos exhibit is available at bit.ly/TransHitos2018.

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Tile of Spain names winners of fifth annual Passport to Creativity contest

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 10.38.03 AMMiami—Four winners are heading to Spain thanks to the fifth annual Tile of Spain Passport to Creativity contest. Each year, Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER), asks architects and designers to submit a photo of themselves with Spanish tile in their own imaginative and creative way.

The design professionals selected to participate in the 6-day architectural excursion are:

From Feb. 19 through Feb. 24, 2017, the winners will explore Spain while enjoying its world-famous culture including the culinary arts, historical sites and attractions with architectural and design significance. The trip also includes a guided visit to Cevisama 2017, factory and booth tours and an exclusive press conference. All architecture and design participants will earn CEU credits.

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Ceramic: State of the Industry—Housing strength, buying trends boost consumption

November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12

By K.J. Quinn

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-02-48-amWhile much excitement in the U.S. flooring industry surrounds innovations in LVT, the irony is most of these faux designs resemble a product requiring no introduction: ceramic tile. The category is making some noise of its own, as new digital printing technologies and larger formats are driving pent-up demand in the residential market.

“Speaking with various manufacturers and tile distributors at TSP, everyone seems busy and their sales are up,” said Donato Pompo, president, Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants. “Everyone seems to be looking forward to continued growth in 2017.”

While industry sales and consumption projections vary widely due to fragmentation, the category is on pace to post 10% growth in sales and volume in 2016 and similar results are expected next year, according to industry estimates. Tile is also more accessible to consumers than ever before, as nearly all flooring retail channels sell it.

“We have seen positive growth in the domestic residential ceramic tile market, particularly in the new residential segment,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile.

Tile of Spain is bullish about category growth, noting U.S. residential and commercial tile sales have been strong the past 36 months. Year-to-date U.S. ceramic imports from Spain increased 35.5% in value and 46% in volume. “Tile of Spain feels it is going to be a great year for Spanish ceramic tile manufacturers, consolidating a growth that started in 2011,” said Rocamador Rubio Gomez, director of Tile of Spain U.S.

Traditional metrics used to gauge the state of ceramic—such as strength of the U.S. economy, lending and unemployment rates—are pointing in the right direction. But what really has industry members excited regarding prospects for next year is good news from the home front. New single-family housing, the single-largest economic indicator for the residential market, rose 3.1% in September to a seasonally adjusted rate of 593,000 units and is up nearly 30% over last year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau. “In recent years, single-family homes have continued to grow larger in size, which is positive for the ceramic tile market, since the category represents a greater percentage of the flooring used,” Mattioli said.

While the builder business remains on solid ground, it still lags behind growth rates prior to the 2008 recession. “The market is fairly good, even if residential housing is still stuck below the normal [annual] level of 1.5 million housing starts,” observed Donato Grosser, president and chief consultant, D. Grosser & Associates. “If housing starts were up to 1.5 million, you’d see a lot more tile sold.”

Indeed, there remains plenty of room for growth, as the U.S. market has only scratched the surface in per-capita use of ceramic. Tile as a percentage of total flooring in new homes continues to rise as it finds more applications in spaces such as patios, garages and basements. “We are also seeing an increase in overall dollars per home sales, so that means more premium finishes—which benefits tile,” noted Sean Cilona, director of marketing and product development, Florida Tile.

Issues impacting growth
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-03-11-amWhile the builder market is the biggest driver of U.S. residential tile consumption, there are other issues emerging which stand to impact sales and volume in 2017. For example, the stronger U.S. dollar is reportedly reducing the cost of imported products. “The increase of lower-priced imports is affecting overall price and competition with domestic suppliers,” Cilona stated.

Ceramic, like all floor coverings, is losing an untold number of opportunities to LVT. Nonetheless, suppliers are convinced tile’s position as a premium, natural product will win out, as there are products for all shopping budgets. “Tile is better than any other floor and can last longer,” Grosser said. “If someone is buying for the short term, they may buy a cheaper product which may have to be replaced in five years.”

Another issue is the perennial shortage of qualified installers. “Tile installers typically don’t have a formal education in how to properly install tile and they don’t know the industry standards,” Pompo explained. “Standards are created by a consensus group of tile installers, manufacturers, distributors, scientists and consultants in order to prevent reoccurring problems.”

To that end, the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) offers an online course, “Tile Installers Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification,” to teach floor layers the industry standards. “Installers who are ITS verified are more likely to provide quality workmanship and tile installations,” Pompo said. “This course is offered through CTDA, NTCA, TTMAC and Fuse Alliance.”

Cultivating and recruiting qualified labor is an issue vendors take very seriously—and for good reason. “It’s essential that there are plenty of experienced contractors to meet growing demand for tile installation,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “It’s also essential for those installers to invest in training and education to successfully work with new products, particularly the increasingly popular porcelain tiles.”

Crossville has been proactive in helping to address this issue by participating in, hosting and leading training sessions for installers. “Whether holding training at our plant in Tennessee or providing hands on support for workshops at the regional level in partnership with our distributors, we are committed to helping installers achieve success with our creative solutions,” Waldrep said.

Continuing education among installers is important when you consider the plethora of new tile products hitting the market each year. “New technologies and new products may [not] impact the supply chain, if all agents involved do not have proper knowledge about applications, installation and many other factors,” Gomez pointed out. “That is why, for Tile of Spain, education has always been so important. We place a priority on informing the tile community of new technologies to the U.S. market as soon as the manufacturers put them into the supply chain.”

Innovation improves value
screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-03-04-am2016 saw investments made in digital printing technologies which enabled producers to introduce game-changing formats and designs. These innovations have completely transformed the category, allowing manufacturers to supply consumers with high-quality floor tiles that resemble concrete, wood planks, stone and marble.

“Cersaie 2016 demonstrated many of the new technologies in tile which illustrated the versatility of porcelain/ceramic in applications,” said Raj Shah, president, MSI. “This includes not only porcelain/ceramic flooring in differing but realistic looks, but also in numerous shapes and sizes that were never available before.”

The digital printing process has become so sophisticated that manufacturers are creating tile that varies from piece to piece, much like the real products. Size does matter as vendors continue churning out larger formats such as 16 x 16 and 24 x 24 inches and shapes to accommodate demand. “New sizes and shapes are opening new markets,” Shah pointed out. “Large-format tile, hexagons, planks, etc., are all available in tile today.”

The latest porcelain tile panels are opening up possibilities for creative applications in residences as well as installation efficiencies, observers say. These products are generously proportioned—available in sizes as large as 72 x 120—so they cover lots of surface area with minimal grout lines for a sleek, sophisticated look. “These large tiles require a whole set of new tools and methods for installing, transporting and storing,” Pompo said. “They can be installed over existing tile surfaces or over properly prepared wall or floor substrates.” UofCTS offers online courses on Thin Gauged Porcelain tile so architects, installers, distributors and industry members can stay updated on these new products.

In order to meet future market demands, suppliers are closely following shifts in the segment to ensure they are providing products that meet customer demands. “Many of the trends in the residential segment are positive signs for the ceramic tile industry, as they will lead to increases in sales,” Mattioli said.

Meanwhile, suppliers continue investing in manufacturing to bolster production efficiency and speed to market. “We have added a new rectification line to our manufacturing facility that allows us to offer this new style of product manufactured inside our facility without sending it out for a third-party application or purchasing it from our companies overseas—both of which add to the final cost,” Cilona said.

 

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Tile of Spain names award winners

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.32.04 PMMiami—Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association (ASCER), recently named the winners of the 14th annual Tile of Spain Awards in the categories of Architecture and Interior Design.

First prize in the Architecture category went to Carmen Martínez Gregori, Carmel Gradolo Martinez and Arturo Sanz Martínez for their project, Pabellón Docente Polivalente Escola Gavina, a multipurpose pavilion with a ceramic screen. For the Interior Design category, the judges awarded first place to Equipo Creativo for its Blue Wave Cocktail Bar.

Honorable mentions were also awarded; Parking Saint Roch by Archikubik in the Architecture category and Restaurante Disfrutar by El Equipo Creativo and L’Atic Vernacle from El Fabricante de Espheras in the Interior Design category.

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Tile of Spain 2016 Passport to Creativity contest opens

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 4.44.38 PMMiami—Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER), is now accepting entries for the 2016 Passport to Creativity contest.

The contest gives architects and interior designers an opportunity to win a free trip to Spain. Winners will participate in an architectural excursion where they will earn four CEU credits and get a chance to visit Cevisama 2016, the International Ceramic Tile and Bath Furnishing Show in Valencia, Spain, during the Tile of Spain 2016 Passport to Creativity Tour, being held Feb 1-7.

To enter, architects and interior designers must submit a picture of themselves with a photo, catalogue or sample of Spanish Tile. Photos can be downloaded from the Inspiration Gallery at tileofspainusa.com.

For complete rules and details on how to enter, visit tileofspainusa.com/contest. Entries will be accepted through Dec. 1 and winners will be notified the week of Dec. 15.

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Tile of Spain wins Excellence in Advertising Award

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.17.05 AMMiami—Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), has won an Excellence in Advertising Award from Architectural Record for its Continuing Education Course (CEU) entitled An Ecological Basis for Selecting Ceramic Tile: Evaluating ceramic tile for use in green building projects. Winners were announced during the annual AIA National Convention, held May 15 in Atlanta.

Every year, a jury of architectural professionals, including large commercial architects to residential and interior specialists, select the award winners. Recipients are judged on a scale from one to 10 in both content and design.

Since the course was initially published in Architectural Record in October 2012, more than 4,100 architects have taken it; 950 of which have taken it since December 2014.

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Spanish participation increases at Coverings

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.25.27 PMMiami—Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), has reported an increase in participation at Coverings 2015, being held April 14-17 in Orlando.

Participating companies from Spain are exhibiting in the Pavilion of Spain, which houses 75 companies (14 more than last year) that have the opportunity to display their novelties and trends to the American market. Of these companies, 67 are manufacturers of ceramic tiles as well as installation tools and machinery.

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Tile of Spain announces 2015 Passport to Creativity contest winners

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 3.07.52 PMMiami—Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 125 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER), has announced the four winners of the 2015 Passport to Creativity contest.

The design professionals selected to participate in a seven-day, architectural tour and trip to Spain are:

  • Jonathan Martinez, senior designer, Antrobus + Ramirez
  • Gloria Graham Sollecito, AKBD kitchen & bath designer, Brendan Donovan Furniture & Cabinet Co. and author of design blog, Kitchens for Living
  • Daniel Cantwell, registered architect, owner, DHC Design
  • Jason Money, AIA, LEED associate, BarlisWedlick Architects

To enter the contest, architects and designers had to showcase their own creative flare. Tile of Spain asked that participants submit a photo of themselves with a Spanish tile in their own imaginative and creative way.

The Tile of Spain Passport to Creativity Tour will run from Feb. 6-13, 2015, where winners will have the opportunity to explore Sevilla and Valencia. The trip also includes a guided visit to Cevisama 2015, factory and booth tours and a press conference.

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Tile consumption down slightly, execs stay upbeat

October 27/November 3, 2014; Volume 28/Number 10

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 10.59.34 AMBy most accounts, domestic tile consumption thus far in 2014 has fallen off slightly, but most tile executives remain optimistic about the rest of the year heading into 2015. The consensus seems to be that despite a slower than expected improvement in U.S. housing and remodeling, the tile segment remains strong following last year’s rebound and subsequent growth.

As Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing at Crossville, observed, 2014 has been a good year, but not the great year originally expected. “There are a few factors at play. The economy didn’t return at all levels as anticipated. Also, at the beginning of the year we were plagued with extreme weather that affected construction starts, ability to ship product and even the number of days showrooms were able to be open. In spite of these challenges, we’re satisfied with the year overall.”

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) also noted economic factors affecting the industry, reporting that through July 2014 U.S. ceramic tile consumption was 1.44 billion square feet, down 1.8% from July 2013 year to date (1.47 billion square feet). In the U.S., dollar value consumption was $1.7 billion (July 2014 year to date), up 3.9% from July 2013 ($1.64 billion).

“We did not expect the market to be down this year in square feet,” said trade data analyst Andrew Whitmire, “given the positive housing and construction data and other economic indicators we’ve seen this year.”

Ceramics of Italy and industry consultant Donato Grosser, who is also president of D. Grosser and Associates, said current ceramic tile sales are flat and projected to be so for the whole year. “The economy is stop and go. Housing is basically flat. Consumers do not have enough money, and salaries are lower than before. About 40% to 50% of the people who were unemployed and found a job are earning less than they were in the previous job. Many are underemployed and working part time.”

While some noted economic indicators as reasons for the downturn in consumption, others offered a more positive outlook, especially regarding the commercial sector. Bart Bettiga, executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), noted that in talking with the organization’s commercial members, the group believes 2014 has been markedly stronger than 2013.

“Overall, both residential and commercial work and profits have increased approximately 10%,” Bettiga said. “In some markets (South and West), these numbers seem even stronger.

“With the uncertainty we’ve been faced with in recent years,” he added, “our members have kept their expectations at a minimum. Overall, it is safe to say 2014 exceeded expectations.”

Dal-Tile, the country’s largest tile producer, reported ceramic increases in dollars and volume, and estimated growth from 3% to 4% for the industry overall.

“Dal-Tile sales continue to exceed expectations,” said Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president of brand marketing. “Simplifying and improving our product portfolio and customer service, driving productivity and strengthening our manufacturing capability in North America and China have been the focus.

“We’re delivering strong results in the short term,” she explained, “but preparing for a stronger market in the future.”

At Tile of Spain, representative Rocamador Rubio Gomez was also bullish on the future, believing the market is completely recovered as shown by construction data in recent months. “According to a new Kitchen and Bath study by GMP Research, U.S. construction grew 12% in 2013, fueled by private expenditures (+20.6%).”

George Larrazabal, national sales manager of Mediterranea, reported the company has experienced a very strong year thus far. “We’ve seen double-digit growth in both our commercial and residential product offerings and beat our expectations for 2014. We surpassed our goals despite having them set very high. We feel this is due to innovative product designs that continue to offer our customers new design options and formats.”

Green, installation initiatives

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.13.14 AMThe tile segment’s consensus regarding recent green and installation developments was a positive one. As TCNA standards development/green initiative manager Bill Griese noted, Green Squared/ANSI A138.1, enacted in 2012, continues to strengthen the tile industry’s presence in the green building community.

“With continued influence and an emerging presence in today’s most well-known green building standards and rating systems,” he said, “awareness of this standard and the overall demand for Green Squared-certified products are on the rise. This has resulted in increased A&D familiarity with Green Squared.”

As Kirk-Rolley noted, Dal-Tile and American Olean were among the first companies to endorse the Green Squared program. “All of our U.S. facilities and our Monterrey, Mexico operations were included in the third-party audit process, so architects and designers can be confident that a selection of Dal-Tile products meet the standard’s requirements.

“In 2013,” she added, “we successfully completed all the process changes needed, and now 100% of our Daltile and American Olean manufactured products meet the Green Squared certification to the ANSI Standard–A138.1, Sustainable Tile & Installation Materials.”

While sustainability is gaining importance across the board, some industry figures report a wider acceptance of the efforts in the commercial community. “Thankfully, we’re seeing an increasing level of awareness of the Green Squared ANSI standard in the A&D community,” Larrazabal said. “However, we haven’t seen quite the same awareness in our residential channels yet.”

Crossville is another company continuing to progress with the green movement. It recently released its 2014 Sustainability Report as gleaned through a formal survey and follow-up discussions conducted by a third-party sustainability consulting firm, and is based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting and ISO 26001 frameworks. Crossville’s 2014 report meets the requirements of LEED V.4 MRc3 credit, and is the first such sustainability report in the company’s 28-year history. It is also the first GRI-based document released by a tile-only manufacturer, denoting a significant milestone for the tile industry.

“This report is a comprehensive compilation of the many measurable aspects of our sustainability initiatives,” explained John Smith, Crossville’s president. “It will serve as a resource for our customers in the design and building communities and, hopefully, be a standard bearer for our industry.”

Another industry initiative—this one on the installation front—is the Advanced Certifications for Tile installers program (ACT), enacted in 2013 by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). Kirk-Rolley said the installation professional is one of Dal-Tile’s core customers, and “we support industry initiatives like ACT that assist in their professional development. ACT takes that training to the next level. The end result of certification is a visually stunning installation that will last in its designed purpose for a lifetime.”

Waldrep noted Crosville’s support of ACT. “We’re proponents of any program that encourages and recognizes excellence for installers, including ACT. Every aspect of our industry stands to benefit when installers are compelled to advance their skills and capabilities.”

Bettiga, also a major proponent of ACT, added, “We recently were successful in getting the ACT language approved for inclusion in the TCNA Handbook for the installation of ceramic tile. We’re trying to shift the emphasis for specifiers and general contractors to move from accepting the low bid on a project to the lowest ‘qualified bid.’ ACT certification will create a level of confidence when project owners, architects, consumers and specifiers consider awarding the bid to the most qualified tile contracting company.”

And the program’s momentum seems to be picking up speed. Just recently, CTEF, working in conjunction with Schlüter Systems, hosted the first hands-on testing of the ACT program for open shop tile contractors at the Schlüter headquarters in Plattsburgh, N.Y. The installers taking the ACT tests first had to be recognized as having successfully completed the CTEF certified tile installer (CTI) testing of their skills and knowledge.

During the two-day testing, the pre-qualified CTEF-certified tile installers demonstrated their hands-on abilities in skill sets including large-format tile and substrate preparation, membranes (both sheet and liquid), mortar bed (mud) floors and shower receptors. “Prior to taking the hands-on portion of the ACT test,” Bettiga said, “each installer was required to successfully complete the online knowledge test, proving their command of the test subject.”

Environmental developments

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.14.35 AMAnother top-of-mind subject in tile is the development of environmental product declarations (EPDs). At press time, this subject was to be discussed at the Total Solutions Plus (TSP) conference in San Antonio.

“We will be providing an update on TCNA’s effort to release an EPD for ceramic tile made in North America,” said Eric Astrachan, TCNA’s executive director. “At TSP 2014, we will announce this EPD’s completion, publication and certification by UL Environment.”

The North American ceramic tile EPD is a report that quantifies the environmental impacts of generic North American-made ceramic tile throughout its life cycle. It contains information about tile’s carbon footprint and resource depletion potential, among other things. With the North American Tile EPD, Astrachan noted, the environmental qualities of tile can be compared to those of other types of flooring products.

“Also, tile producers can compare the qualities of their products to those of the reported industry averages from the EPD in order to identify environmental strengths and areas needing improvement,” he added. “With the North American ceramic tile EPD completed and certified, products from manufacturers that submitted data will be automatically eligible for point contributions to LEED and other green building standards and rating systems.”

Trends

There continues to be a strong movement toward larger formats, wood looks, rectangular sizes and thin tiles in the segment.

“Wood looks are clearly among the hottest trends in the marketplace,” Kirk-Rolley said. “The use of tile that emulates wood is a style gaining momentum in both floor and wall applications for several years. Designers have specifically been leaning toward long, linear plank sizes. What was first introduced as a traditional take on hardwood floors has evolved to include more colors and textures to choose from than ever.”

In addition to warm rustic visuals and various structures, “water-stained and brushed visuals have recently been introduced,” she explained. “These products typically are offered in multi-color blends that are very authentic looking.”

When it comes to larger formats, Larrazabal continues to see an increasing demand for 8 x 48 leading the way, “as with our plank format offerings Dream, Boardwalk and American Naturals. Rectangles continue to be popular and we recently introduced an 18 x 36 in several of our series (Soho, Elements, Stonehenge) with strong success.”

As the style of thin, large-format porcelain tile continues to be popular in the U.S., the industry is rallying to create parameters for product use and installation. To that end, the NTCA, Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC) came together midyear to offer a shared position statement regarding acceptable thickness of 5.5mm or more for thin, large-format porcelain tile panels used in flooring installations.

“Our Laminam by Crossville 5.6 collections (5.6mm in thickness) launched earlier this year, already exceed the stated requirements, putting us ahead of the game in terms of the evolving standards for the large format, thin porcelain panel category,” Waldrep said.

According to many manufacturers, thin tile is also the future of ceramic.

For example, Ryan Fasan, technical consultant at Tile of Spain, said, “With the same strength and properties of regular ceramic, thin tile can be offered in large, groutless formats for counters, showers, walls, facades and more. It’s less costly to ship and it’s easier and more efficient to install. As the tile becomes more popular and is used in more projects, standards and training will help make it even more mainstream.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.15.16 AMAs Grosser noted, work is being done at ISO level to set standards for large format tiles and panels with various thicknesses. “The future of tile is headed in that direction and new standards are needed to meet the challenges of evolving products.”

Meanwhile, at the recent Cersaie show, Italian manufacturers exhibited a move beyond tile’s traditional role as a floor or wall covering and into the realm of smart materials. ABK Group unveiled a technology called Auto Leveling that adds elasticity to porcelain tile, ensuring perfectly flat installations, while Piemme’s Cottage tiles include embedded photovoltaic cells that create self-illuminating outdoor flooring.

In terms of innovative formats, Florim showcased some of the largest thin slabs in the industry—5.5 x 11 feet and only 6mm thick—and Faetano introduced a new tile that is part of its Murales series, designed to wrap corners.

Trending styles presented by Tile of Spain companies at Cersaie included matte black finishes, distressed wood planks, vintage patterns, delicate motifs, mix-and-match patterns, gradients, subtle reliefs, geometric designs including hexagons and metallics with mirrored effects.

Future outlook

As for the rest of 2014 and the start of next year, executives appear to be positive about ceramic’s future. As Waldrep noted, current market reports indicate 2015 will bring an increase in commercial building projects, which is “a positive forecast for our industry. As for Crossville, we’re poised to make an impact on our industry by advancing our messaging on sustainability. These advancements will be a driving force for Crossville and our customers in 2015.”

Tile of Spain’s Gomez noted, “We feel that the U.S. market is a priority for Spanish exports. Ceramic tile use is on the rise, and the number of distributors and retailers are also growing. Spain is perfectly positioned with technology, design and sustainable product especially made for the U.S. market. Many companies have worked hard to improve their distribution to the U.S. so that tile is stocked and ready to be provided quickly for projects.”

In addition to its planned construction of a glazed porcelain manufacturing plant/distribution center in Dickson, Tenn., scheduled to open in late 2015, Dal-Tile is also undergoing expansion and adding additional capabilities at its Sunnyvale, Texas, manufacturing facility. This will allow it to meet the demand for larger sizes and more sophisticated graphics/textures on the domestic front, Kirk-Rolley explained.

“These facilities provide us with a number of key advantages,” she added, “including the quality of the local workforce, access to raw materials and an ideal location from which we can ship to a majority of the U.S. population quickly and efficiently.”