I just returned from Coverings, and besides my feet hurting from walking the expansive exhibition hall, I also came back with a renewed excitement for tile. By viewing the seemingly endless displays of tile products, it is evident that tile manufacturers have been hard at work to develop new collections for consumers.jenn2013_body.jpg

Whether it is porcelain, ceramic or glass, tile is being offered in a variety of sizes, shapes and textures. The collections continue to look more authentic to the appearances of stone, wood, concrete and textiles and they have a three-dimensional feel. The vintage look is getting stronger and beveled edges are becoming a popular aesthetic.

Additionally, manufacturers are experimenting with finishes to create unique blends. One tile producer that I visited has a new line that is a mix of a stone and concrete aesthetic, which creates a look that is definitely different and stunning.

Also, thin large porcelain panels continue to remain a hot topic. Industry professionals are coming together to work on a standard to ensure proper installation, which is crucial to a successful design. And speaking of collaboration, Coverings once again proved the importance of a partnership between a tile installer and architect or designer with its Installation Design Showcase. I always enjoy monitoring the progress of the vignettes throughout the duration of the exhibition. The program pairs NTCA 5 Star Contractors with a design professional to create a stone or tile design in only the short time span of the show.

The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program was also taking place on the show floor. The first class of ACT participants was launched one year ago at Coverings in Atlanta, GA. Scott Carothers, Executive Director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) and TILE’s Technical Writer, along with members of the   International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), have worked tirelessly to promote the importance of the program and administer the testing. In this issue’s Technical Focus, beginning on page 44, you can read about the ACT Mortar (Mud) Floors and Walls test. This is the third article in a series of four that Carothers is writing this year in TILE.

I have outlined just a few of many highlights that took place in Las Vegas at Coverings 2014. In our next issue, we will feature a full report on the exhibition, including a product roundup of some of the latest introductions in tile, installation/maintenance products and tools. In the meantime, check out our Product Showcase (page 16) and our roundup on jobsite tools (page 52) in this edition to view some of the newest product introductions.