Tile gets all sexypants

How much tile can one designer stand? An awful lot, my friend.  An awful lot.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Coverings 2012 Tile + Stone Experience in Orlando, Florida.  Filled to the brim with tile and stone of every variety and from every corner of the world, I soaked up as much as I could.

Some of the highlights, trends, and things that I learned:

Porcelain tile that looks like wood

Porcelain tile that simulates wood planks is still huge, and they’re just getting better and better.  The good ones look so real.  If you want something highly durable, cost effective, and with sustainable options, but you want the look of wood, porcelain tile wood planks are a good option.

Glass mosaic tiles made out of resin

Glass mosaic tiles of every variety were abundantly displayed throughout the whole show, but something new I noticed is that many of the mosaics are being made out of resin that simulates glass tile.  They’re virtually indistinguishable from real glass.  One of the tile reps. boasted that the resin tiles are so hardy and durable, you can pour acid on them and it won’t harm them (though they haven’t passed testing yet for outdoor use).

(I’m curious about the manufacturing process, however, and whether they’re environmentally friendly.  One of the installers I met told me he had worked with the resin tiles, and they smell like plastic when you cut them, and that makes me wonder about how pollutive the production process could be.  More investigation is required!)

I also saw some resin tiles that were very heavily textured to resemble rough-cut stone and wood.  They looked great, but upon close inspection, it was clear they were resin/plastic.  (That was a turn-off for me, but if used in a place where they can’t be touched, I would consider it if the price was right.)

These are real glass tiles (above).

These are resin (above).

Make like a tree….with tile?

Finally, one of the most fascinating trends I discovered is the proliferation of porcelain tile that “cleans the air- like trees.”  Titanium dioxide is integrated with the ingredients as the tiles are manufactured, and exposure to light creates surfaces that kill bacteria and purify the air.  The Italian tile company Fiandre calls their product “Active Clean Air and Antibacterial Ceramic.”  Here’s an excerpt from their catalog:

“What is Active?  Active is a production method that turns an inert material par excellence like ceramics into a material that is ecologically and environmentally active.  Official references (TCNA and CCB) demonstrate that the Active slabs used for floor and wall coverings are able to kill off between 99.99% and 100% of bacteria and most organic and inorganic polluting agents generated by intense industrialization, as well as by heating, cigarette smoke, urban traffic…”

You can read more about this at their website: www.active-ceramic.com

Deutsche-Steinzeug America, Inc. calls theirs “HT Clean Air Ceramics.” (HT means “hydrotect tiles”)  They use titanium dioxide as a permanently baked in tile coating.  DSA Ceramics states that “1000 square meters of HT tile cleans the air as effectively as 70 broadleaf trees.”  The other upside of these innovations is that they’re easier to clean with plain water.

Imagine not only choosing sustainable materials that protect and conserve natural resources, but can actively improve indoor air quality. Pretty cool, high-tech stuff.

Intricate patterns, magnificent textures, innovative materials.  Put that boring old honed and filled travertine away!

Tile is bringing the sexy back.

3 comments on “Tile gets all sexypants

    • Thanks, Nick! And I’m sorry that we did miss each other. It would have been fun to get together. Maybe next year, in Atlanta. Cheers!

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