For the last 25 years, Coverings, an international tile and stone exhibition, has been showcasing the breadth, depth and ever-changing trends of the tile and stone industry. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Coverings 2014 returned to Las Vegas, NV, where it welcomed more than 22,500 industry professionals and 975 exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center, including an increased number of distributors, retailers, contractors and installers, according to National Trade Productions (NTP), the show management company. Alike last year, the audience segment grew by 3%, an overall increase of 22% since 2011, the last time the show was held in Las Vegas. Since then, Coverings has seen more retailers, distributors and fabricators, whose attendances have increased by 12, 16 and 36%, respectively.

In addition to an impressive turnout, Coverings 2014 also reported an increase in the number of exhibitors. This year, more than 975 exhibitors from over 35 countries attended the show. “Our attendance and exhibitor numbers truly indicate an improvement to the health and vitality of the tile and stone industry in North America,” said Karin Fendrich of NTP, Coverings show director. “With new home sales continuing to rise, and the U.S. tile and stone consumption experiencing a fourth consecutive growth year, attending Coverings was more critical than ever this year.”

With more than 80 free educational seminars and CEU courses offered throughout the four-day show, Coverings had something to offer everyone. It kept attendees engaged with a number of programs, such as the Live Demonstration stage, the Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards, the Installation Design Showcase, on-site Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), and the popular Contractor Tours. Visitors were exposed to an array of new and existing trends, including beveled tiles, decorative mosaics, large- and thin-format tiles, and tiles that resemble the look of natural materials such as wood and stone.

Awards and recognitions

Each year, the show presents the Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards, a program that honors outstanding design and installation of tile and stone in residential, commercial, sustainable and international projects. A total of 12 outstanding tile and stone projects were recognized this year by an esteemed panel of notable editors and leading designers, who evaluated more than 100 submissions based on execution, original usage and overall design and purpose.

Two unique projects earned the title of Grand Prize — one for the residential category and one for the commercial category. The residential Grand Prize was awarded to Santa Monica-based Robert Kerr architecture design for a beachfront home with expertly executed interior and exterior tile and stone applications. In the commercial category, the Grand Prize was awarded to Camarata Masonry Systems and PGAL for their impressive tile and stone restoration in the five-story atrium of a historical courthouse. All Grand Prize winners received $2,000 and a one-night hotel stay in Las Vegas during Coverings.

Live demonstrations

Aside from the awards given out at the show, during each day, there were more than a dozen live installations on the Live Installation Demo Stage, which showcased a range of new products from a variety of companies, as well as techniques to make tile and stone installations less stressful. Co-sponsored by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and the National Tile Contractors’ Association (NTCA), the Live Installation Demo Stage is one of the show’s most popular events.

Another annual favorite is the Installation Design Showcase, where NTCA Five Star Contractors and design teams partner together to create several vignettes — demonstrating how spaces are constructed from inception to completion. This year, each of the four local design teams paired with an installer with Five Star Recognition from the NTCA and certification from the CTEF to create a vignette. The four vignettes included an indoor courtyard, retail space, bar and sustainable bathroom. The indoor courtyard was designed by Jonathon Anderson, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV); the retail space was designed by Eric Roberts with AIA Las Vegas and of SH-Architecture; the bar was designed by ASID Central California-Nevada’s Stephen Leon; and the sustainable bathroom was designed by U.S. Green Building Council Nevada Chapter President, Daniel Huard.

Leon, who designed the chic bar vignette, saw his experience with the Installation Design Showcase as an opportunity to get hands-on education with his designated installer, Lambert Tile & Stone. “Not only was I able to bring a space representative of the city’s identity to life with interesting tile and stone materials, but I had the privilege of receiving a thorough education in the tile and stone installation,” he said.

First-time installer, Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble & Tile, worked with Professor Anderson of UNLV to create the indoor courtyard. He said the project was a valuable way to showcase the skills they’ve acquired through the certification programs. “Working to bring the vision of a talented designer to life in a live environment was such a gratifying experience for our installation team,” said Brookes. “It gave the team the occasion to truly test what we are able to execute. This was no competition, but a time to collaborate with industry peers.”

Certifications

Less than two years ago, five of the largest organizations representing tile contractors, installers and manufacturers — the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Brick and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) and The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) — developed a certification program known as the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), which focuses on differentiating established and recognized tile installers.

To qualify to take the ACT testing, installers must first be a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the CTEF or a Journeyman tile setter through the IUBAC. These advanced and specialized crafts include Large Format Tile and Surface Prep, Membranes, Mud Floors, Mud Walls and Shower Receptors. The first installers were certified at Coverings 2013, which was held in Atlanta, GA.

Coverings also offered a sneak peek into next year’s show with its announcement of a new creative campaign and logo. Coverings 2015 will be held from April 14 to 17, 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.