Coverings 2013, “The Ultimate Tile + Stone Experience,” made its debut this spring at the George World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. Drawing more than 22,000 attendees, this year’s exhibition attracted an increased number of architects, designers and other specifiers than in previous years, according to National Trade Productions (NTP), the show management company. The audience segment grew by 3%, and attendees had the opportunity to see the latest stone and tile innovations by more than 950 exhibitors from over 35 countries. Additionally, Coverings 2013 provided an extensive educational program — with more than 70 free sessions, many of which offered CEUs.

“Coverings has engaged with the robust community of architects and designers in the Southeast for the past 12 months, and we are pleased that they took advantage of all the show has to offer,” said Karin Fendrich of NTP, Coverings Show Director. “We know our exhibitors appreciate the added opportunity of reaching the growing specifier audience. At the same time, all our audience segments enjoyed robust programming and educational opportunities.”

One of the many ways Coverings built support among the local design community was by sponsoring for the first time a special “Best Use of Tile or Stone” category in the ASID Georgia Chapter annual design competition. “Our ASID chapter greatly appreciated Coverings’ support of our design contest,” said Janie K. Hirsch, ASID, of J. Hirsch Interior Design in Johns Creek, GA. “The special category drew attention to the rich and varied design possibilities of tile and stone. We, of course, went to the Coverings show and it was fantastic — so many amazing new products to see.”

The buzz throughout the four-day exhibition indicated that business is on the upswing for many industry professionals. Exhibitors and attendees alike spoke positively about the first quarter of 2013.

The tile and stone exhibition offered something for everyone — from Distributor VIP programs, Contractor Days, on-site Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), the Coverings Design Installation Showcase and the new Stone Zone for fabricators. Visitors took in continuing advances in thin tiles, large-format tiles and tiles that resemble the look of natural materials such as wood and stone.

Additionally, the show floor featured pavilions from countries such as Brazil, China, Italy, Spain and Turkey, which represented some of the largest contingencies of tile and stone manufacturers. Companies from each country were grouped together so visitors were able to view all the offerings from each country in one location.

At the heart of the Italian pavilion was Ceramics of Italy’s booth, Piazza Ceramica — featuring a large open gathering space, piazza-like steps and a dedicated Italian culinary team that served coffee, lunch and afternoon appetizers. There was also an information booth where representatives from the Italian tile industry distributed the latest promotional materials and information on the nearly 50 Italian tile brands that were on display.

Tile of Spain, located in the center of the Spanish pavilion, also offered hospitality to attendees with daily cocktail receptions. Additionally, visitors could learn about the latest trends in tile products in a presentation entitled “Connect the Dots,” which was given at the booth regularly by speaker Ryan Fasan. The Spanish pavilion included 42 of Spain’s top tile manufacturers.

Awards and recognitions

In addition to the exhibits and conference program, Coverings once again presented its:

PROJECT: Green — recognizing sustainable new and remodeled commercial, institutional and residential projects featuring tile and stone — and the Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards — celebrating creativity and technical know-how in the use of tile and stone in residential and commercial projects.

Among the four Platinum winners was the Northridge Fashion Center in Northridge, CA, which won in the “Commercial Remodel” category. The owner/developer worked with Crossville, Inc., which supplied American-made, Green Squared® certified porcelain tiles containing a minimum of 20% recycled content to cover nearly all of the 150,000 square feet of common areas inside the mall.

Additionally, Marc Rutenberg Homes won in the “Residential New Construction” category for its Zero Energy America Castaway III Model Home in Palm Harbor, FL. The house — designed by Marc Thee of Marc Michaels Interior Design — incorporates vein-cut travertine flooring; low-VOC paints, stains and sealers; and a bio-fuel burning fireplace with a split-face marble tile over the mantle. The children’s bathroom features fully tiled walls rather than painted drywall. Tiles and countertops with recycled content were incorporated throughout the home.

Fifteen outstanding tile and stone projects from across the country and around the world were recognized in the second annual CID Awards. The grand prize in the residential category was awarded to Phoenix-based installer Alpentile and designer Wendy Lesueur of Mesa, AZ, for a pool and deck in Scottsdale, AZ. Lesueur and Alpentile’s project at a ranch in Scottsdale involved replacing a sun-damaged pool and deck with an all-tile spa, an elegantly shaped swimming pool with a 25-foot-long raised water feature and an expansive stone deck for entertaining. Materials included hand-textured porcelain tile, glass mosaic tile and natural stone. The sparkling, iridescent finishes of the pool and spa tiling are brought to life at night with a single LED spotlight positioned so that the undulating surface of the water feature can be viewed from the patio.

“With these two programs, Coverings is proud to recognize excellence in the entire tile and stone community by saluting professionals for their design creativity, craftsmanship and environmental stewardship,” said Fendrich. “Recognition of the projects selected for PROJECT: Green and winners for CID Awards has become a much-anticipated highlight of the show.”

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) honored Filippo Marazzi as the 2013 Tile Person of the Year in an award ceremony during Coverings. Prior to his death in November of 2012, Mr. Marazzi was Chairman of the Board and President of Marazzi Group and had been widely recognized as a dynamic leader within the international tile arena. Marazzi Group CEO Mauro Vandini accepted the award.

For the first time in its history, members of the Ceramic Tile Distributor’s Association (CTDA) recognized the one supplier who provides the most value to CTDA members and the ceramic tile and stone industry. The inaugural CTDA Supplier of the Year Award was recently presented to Florida Tile. Tom Facca, President of Florida Tile, and Massimo Barbari, Florida Tile’s Vice President accepted the award from CTDA President Frank Donahue.

Moreover, Nyle Wadford, President of Neuse Tile Service Inc., was recognized as Tile Person of the Year by the NTCA at its annual awards ceremony, which was held during Coverings. The prestigious honor is bestowed annually to a tile professional who is dedicated to supporting the non-profit trade association as it serves all segments of the tile and stone industry.

First Installers received ACT certification at Coverings 2013

Five of the largest organizations representing tile contractors, installers and manufacturers recently developed a new certification program, Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), which will be recognized by the entire tile industry. The first installers were certified at Coverings, which was held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, from April 29 to May 2, 2013.

ACT addresses four technically-challenging installation areas of current importance: Large-Format Tile Installation and Substrate Preparation, Mudwork, Shower Pans and Membranes. A specific certification will demonstrate the installer’s skill in each of these four segments.

Partners in the development initiative are: Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), providing training and certification for any installer; Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), representing IUBAC signatory tile contractors; International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), whose members are skilled tilesetters who have completed multi-year apprenticeship as well as other trained masonry craftworkers; International Masonry Institute, which provides professional and technical training for union masonry contractors; and National Tile Contractors Association, with membership open to all tile contracting companies. Tile Council of North America (TCNA) manufacturer members companies are contributing to development of the modules and tests.

Attendees at Coverings witnessed the test procedures and were able to understand the skill requirements necessary to pass certification in the ACT Program. Additionally, leaders of the respective organizations presented a seminar explaining the program and its requirements during the exhibition.

“The effort to certify tile installers and improve the quality of our trade and the confidence to use our products, has been identified by NTCA leaders as our most important objective,” said Bart Bettiga, Executive Director of both NTCA and CTEF.

Following Coverings, several initiatives will be put in place to launch the program, including building of test modules, material and curriculum development, logistics planning, marketing and recruitment strategies, and more.

“We realize these programs will take time to develop, and we anticipate the steps we are taking today will impact the tile trade in a positive way for years to come,” said Scott Carothers, Director of Certification and Training of CTEF.

Coverings Installation Design Showcase

Attendees at Coverings 2013 were able to witness four masterful space designs incorporating tile and stone actually being built during the show. The Installation Design Showcase was a live-action demonstration and exhibit, which spotlighted the crucial role that first-rate installation plays in the successful realization of any serious design project. Construction began two days before Coverings 2013 opened, and the designs were completed by the third day of the exhibition.  

The Showcase matched four Atlanta-based design firms with four of the nation’s finest installation teams. The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), a Coverings co-sponsor that helped originate the Showcase four years ago, initiated these designer-installer match-ups. To participate, installers were required to have a NTCA Five Star Recognition, the association’s highest ranking, and be certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). This year’s collaborative pairings produced four installations — a bar/lounge, an in-patient room in a women’s birthing center, a master bathroom and a hotel lobby — each of which highlighted a different design aesthetic centered on tile and stone.

Hotel lobby hospitality design veterans Foreman Rogers, ASID, IIDA and Allison Isaacs of Atlanta’s tvsdesign are accustomed to working on large hotel lobbies. “We wanted to create a space that had the look and feel of a luxury boutique hotel while showcasing the different ways tile can be used,” said Rogers and Isaacs. “It was literally all tile — walls, floor, seating and front desk.”

The design team specified 5- x 10-foot engineered porcelain ceramic wall panels from the Plane Collection by StonePeak Ceramics. “It was something completely new to the industry, and we were really interested in how the material would install,” said the designers, when explaining reasons for selecting the tile product. “We are in hospitality and realized this could be a game changer. The thought of barely any grout lines in a hotel room bath is amazing. The ‘slabs’ were perfect — unlike the availability of stone sometimes.”

The installer, Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Co., Inc., in Jonesboro, GA, was excited to be working with the new material.”Before, the largest panels were 4 x 4 feet,” he said. “This big new size really combines slab and tile installation methods.”

Rogers and Isaacs agreed that Owen’s expertise allowed the project to run smoothly. “C.C. Owen did an amazing job,” they said. “If there were challenges, they made it seem easy. StonePeak actually had a class to teach tile installers this new product prior to the show, which we attended with C.C. Owen.”

The large marble-like slabs were paired with various glass and mirror tiles from Traditions in Tile. The design team said they were going for “bling” when choosing the products. “We wanted something to complement the monolithic nature of the StonePeak slabs,” said Rogers and Isaacs. “We really stepped back in time — picking a more art-deco roaring 20s style.”

Tec installation materials — provided by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc. — as well as products from USG were used throughout the lobby Showcase.

“We were amazed how well it came out,” said the designers. “C.C. Owen did a great job and materials from StonePeak and Traditions in Tile were amazing.”