Coverings 2014: Tile Trends from a Tile and Stone Expo

Encaustic Tile

Traditional subway and encaustic styles get updated in this bathroom by Tau Ceramica. Photo Courtesy of Tau Ceramica/A Tile of Spain Member Company.

At Coverings, a tile and stone expo held in Las Vegas last month, we uncover the latest trends and advances in tile and stone in kitchens and bathrooms. Get ready for some serious luxury at more affordable prices.

By Jamie Gold

There were hundreds of big Las Vegas winners in April, but they weren’t all in the casinos.  Some of the biggest players were on display at Coverings 2014, a major tile and stone expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center – and they brought the best the industry offers with them. Design jackpot!

Mixing It Up

One of the most stylish and fun trends at Coverings was tile with mixed finishes.  This could be wood with fabric looks or wood with metallics, metallics mixed in with glass mosaics, matte and gloss blends and many showing mixed textures in one color scheme. 

Why Wood You

Wood-look tiles were still a strong trend at the show, but the printing processes have gotten so sophisticated that it’s becoming harder and harder to tell the difference between tree and tile with the best offerings.  The top ones at Coverings were either very textured and rustic or ultra-glossy, like a formal dining room floor.

Winning with Whimsy

Tile makers went out of their way to capture your attention and imagination.  There were captivating murals, dry erase boards in tile, quirky patterns like plaid, comic book looks and camouflage, tie-ins with Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, and playful leaf patterns. 

Something Old, Something New

There was also a bold trend toward reviving old classics, like subway tiles, hexagons, arabesques, Dutch Delfts, wallpaper-style anaglypta and encaustics with new sizes, colors and energy.

Industrial chic was on display, too, with a strong showing of oxidized stone looks.  These can add hard-edged drama or well-worn comfort to a space, depending on how you use them.

Top Tech

The tile industry has made major advances in technology and there were some great new offerings with powerful benefits.  The ones that were easily recognizable were the ultra-thin, oversized tile slabs.  These are being used for flooring, dramatic wall coverings and even countertops.

Porcelain slab countertops, which were introduced to North America from Europe several years ago, offer comparable durability, heat and scratch resistance to engineered stone tops like Silestone and Caesarstone, but with some unique advantages.  First, they can be used outside, which the others can’t.  This means visual continuity between an indoor and outdoor kitchen.  Second, the incredible new printing processes that have enhanced tile overall mean much more natural stone looks for these tops than their engineered rivals.

The latest style advance was book-matching, wherein a pattern – often natural stone – continues seamlessly from tile to tile, creating a luxurious floor or wall look.  Up until recently, you could only get such a look with an extremely high-end natural stone installation.

Technology can also be thanked for numerous hygienic advances.  Casalgrande Padana from Italy showcased self-cleaning tile. Italian Lea and American Crossville showed off tile with anti-microbial properties.

Two Italian brands, Florim and Del Conca, brought tile that doesn’t require grout for its installation.  Florim’s Icon Outdoor is intended for patios and decks and installs on mini feet. Del Conca’s Fast is an indoor floor tile that not only looks like engineered wood or laminate, but goes in like it, too, with easy click-lock installation.

Last Words

Tile is already a popular kitchen and bath floor and wall material for its ease of maintenance, durability and versatility.  It works with virtually all design styles.   Production advances mean you can now cover an entire master suite with a wood look, right into the tub and shower areas.  Style options mean you can also create dramatic entries or accent walls, either customized with an image you want or with a classic mural, sparkling mosaics or elegant marble, minus the elegant price tag.

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is a Certified Kitchen Designer in San Diego and the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work. You can find her on Google+.

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