I know we often talk about innovation within the tile industry in TILE, but particularly in this issue, we share some of the latest product introductions that are the result of continual advances in technology. Tile formats are getting larger, surfaces have more texture, and installation and maintenance products boast new and improved formulas that set faster, are easier to apply, and overall, offer more benefits for a successful tile installation. Jennifer Adams

Featured on the cover of this edition is the Plane Collection by StonePeak. It is amazing how authentic the look of the tile is to Italian white marble from the mountains of Carrara, Italy, where I have had the pleasure of visiting on several occasions. High Definition Printing allows for tiles to be made with random veining, coloration and texture — just like natural stone. Even more exciting is that the Plane Collection is offered in several larger sizes, including a 5- x 10-foot format. It is not only ideal for flooring, but can also be used on interior walls and countertops as well as exterior applications.

Additional product innovations can be found in the Cersaie product preview, which is on page 47 of this issue, as well as in the Product Showcase, beginning on page 12. There are tiles with enhanced three-dimensional looks, refined textures, replicating the look of vintage cement tile and other collections — such as from Crossville — that offer large porcelain slabs that can be used both for interior designs and exterior facades.

In our Technical Focus, Scott Carothers, Executive Director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) and TILE’s technical writer, discusses how far grouts have come in recent years. “When I started in the retail tile sales and installation business in 1980, we carried a sanded cement-based ‘floor’ grout,” he stated. “Our selection was a vast array of five colors, including black, gray, chocolate brown, tan and white. Our cement-based non-sanded ‘wall’ grout was a similar small color pallet of chocolate brown, tan and white. When I left there in 2007, we stocked over 20 colors out of a possible 33 colors that our manufacturer produced. Times have certainly changed. Today, many of these manufacturers continue to produce 20 to 30 plus grout colors.”

While the numerous color choices for grout can satisfy many design styles, what is most impressive, according to Scott, is the vast array of new additions to existing categories of grout as well as new categories, which are now available. You can learn more about them in this issue’s Technical Focus, “Ceramic tile grouts have arrived,” beginning on page 34.

And finally, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) brings awareness about important changes to how Coefficient of friction (COF) is now measured and reported (page 40). The TCNA explains that starting early in 2014, with the ASTM C1028 method for measuring COF headed for obsolescence, many ceramic tile manufacturers will only report their tile’s COF per the new DCOF AcuTestSM. And, the ceramic tile standard (ANSI A137.1) now specifies a required COF for level interior tiles that will be walked on when wet. Any individual or firm involved in the manufacture, specification, sales, installation, or maintenance of ceramic tile floors should understand these new requirements being implemented now.

As always, I hope you enjoy this edition of TILE and find the products and information we share interesting and useful.