As another “trade show season” comes to a close, I sit back and reflect on all I have seen throughout the various exhibitions. Innovation has hit an all-time high. Just when you thought that you have seen everything, tile manufacturers surprise you with something new.

The last exhibition in my run this winter and spring was Coverings, which returned to Orlando, FL, this year. To start, the show floor was filled with exhibitors, and overall, there was an energetic vibe in the air. Almost everyone I spoke with had something positive to say about the exhibition, and the show itself reported business
was up.

According to the show’s management, the retailer, contractor and installer, fabricator, and architect and designer segments experienced a boost in attendance compared to 2012, with increases of 11, 8, 8 and 6%, respectively. In total, Coverings hosted 1,094 exhibitors from 41 countries, representing growth of 12% from 2014. Exhibit space also covered an area 18% larger than last year.

Speaking on trends, wood and stone aesthetics remain popular. It truly amazes me how tile manufacturers are capturing the natural-looking grain and knots of hardwood and the veining of stone in porcelain and ceramic tile. Vintage and “worn” finishes on tile as well as hexagonal shapes are all the rage.  And when it comes to sizes, it seems the larger, the better. Thin Porcelain Tile — or TPT as it has been named — remains a trend. Tile manufacturers aren’t the only ones with new innovative product introductions. To keep up with all the new sizes and thicknesses of today’s tile collections, manufacturers of installation products are coming up with new lines to meet these demands. Without the proper setting products, an installation won’t be successful.

Our technical writer, Scott Carothers, touches on this in the Technical Focus about underlayments — beginning on page 30 of this issue. “One of the newest entries to the market has been Thin Porcelain Tile (TPT),” states Carothers. “The installation of this product allows the installer only one attempt to set it correctly, since it is almost impossible to slide or lift it once it has been placed into fresh mortar. Here the requirement for a flat substrate, both wall and floor, is critical.”

The article goes on to explain that no matter which products are being used for a tile application, the floor or wall surface must be flattened or possibly leveled to meet the industry standards. “Underlayments do a great job and the manufacturers are to be applauded for their new and innovative products that make the finished tile installation look the way it should — flat and lippage free,” writes Carothers.

I just mentioned a few of the variety of trends that were noticed walking the show floor of Coverings. More can be learned about the exhibition and the product trends that were on display beginning on page 36 of this edition of TILE.