This year,Coverings, the largest tile and stone exhibition in North America, took place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, from April 14 to 17, with the education program on April 13. Aside from the hundreds of new products and collections on display, the show featured an array of activities for every type of professional in the tile and stone industry -- from live installation demonstrations and tours of the show floor to live installations, ACT certifications and networking events.

New this year was the "Opening Night Celebration," where the traditional Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards were paired with a special reception the first night of the show, allowing attendees to meet the winners, while also enjoying an interactive showcase of the winning projects to kick off the show. The CID Awards were sponsored by TileLetter and Contemporary Stone & Tile Design. Another new award program created this year was the Coverings Rock Stars - An Emerging Leaders Program, which recognizes and engages the best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry, sharing their successes and vision for future generations. According to the creators, the program underscores Coverings' mission to support the growth and success of the industry by recognizing top-notch talent and fostering networking and educational opportunities. The 10 Rock Stars awarded the honor must be 35 or younger and currently employed as an architect, designer, distributor, retailer, contractor/installer, fabricator, specifier or manufacturer.

Also new to this year were "Appreciation Days," which were specifically created to facilitate enhanced learning and networking opportunities for attendees. The Coverings Appreciation Days -- "Builder & Remodeler Day," "Architect & Designer Day," "Contractor Days" and "Fabricator Day" -- featured tailored guided tours of the show floor, lunch, focused education sessions and more. Most of the subjects of these days were present at one of the most popular features at the show -- the Live Installation Demonstration Stage -- which attracted dozens of attendees each day, and featured more than a dozen live demonstrations each day from well-known manufacturers on the latest products and how to properly use them.

Most importantly, the show also highlighted what's currently trending in today's market, which was apparent when walking through each of the manufacturers' and distributers' booths. The top trends have been growing in popularity over the last year, and it seems that they're just started to gain momentum in the U.S. market, according to all of the representatives that TILE spoke with at the show. Some of the best sellers, when it came to porcelain and ceramic tile, included the highly veined and textured wood- and stone-looks, which still remain the two most popular types of tile. Whether in a matte or polished finish, with a distressed or soft feel, these two looks are now available in countless patterns and colors, allowing homeowners an unlimited palette of designs to choose from.

Concrete was another popular look on the floor this year, particularly with a more worn, industrialized look; although it's typically darker in color, this look came in a variety of colors, including lighter ones to portray a more neutral look. Tying into this trend was also a cement look, which incorporated a lot of different textures and patterns and was seen a lot throughout the show floor.

When it came to newer trends, hexagons proved to be quite popular, as well as metallic colors. Hexagons, which seemed to be the most popular shape on the show floor this year, could incorporate every trend into one piece if desired, with different stone patterns, colors, formats and custom sizes. Mosaics still remain popular, but have been incorporating more metallic colors, sheens and decorative looks to keep up with the trendy looks that today's market demands. Customization was also a popular trend, incorporating things like tiles that need to interlock to create one cohesive design, textured 3D tiles and modular tiles. Today, the design possibilities in the tile industry are seemingly endless.