13 Tile Trends to Look for in 2017
I recently returned from Orlando FL, where I was invited to attend the VIP Press Tour of Coverings 2017, the most prominent tile and natural stone show in North America. My purpose at Coverings was two-fold – to speak on a panel on social media and brand partnerships and to attend the press tours to gain an overview of the current tile trends. When I was not attending the press tours, I went off on my own to delve deeper into the world of tile. This being my first time at Coverings, there was a lot of ground to cover (9 miles, to be exact) but I managed to categorize what I saw into 13 major tile trends to watch out for in 2017.
Coverings 2017 Trend Report
Extreme 3D Texture
Stone/Marble – look digital printed tile
Thin, Gauged Tile
Industrial weathered – more patina, oxides
Multimedia Color Palette
Large Format tile
With recent advances in digital printing, images are getting less pixelated and the result looks unbelievablely close to the real thing. We’ve been seeing wood-look porcelain tile on the market for a while, but now ink-jet printing is able to reproduce with extreme precision – weathered wood, knot holes, and hand-scraped looks.
On the flip side, Pop Job, a collaboration between Mirage and Dutch design studio, Studio Job approaches wood in a more stylized, graphic, cartoon-like way. The grain is blown up, exaggerated, and printed in colors that one would not expect in wood.
Extreme 3-D Texture
Textural tile has been on the market for some time, but manufacturers are taking textural to the extreme, with tiles that aim to make a statement. As beautiful as they are, I am not sure about practicality or ease of cleaning though.
Stone/Marble-Look on Porcelain Utilizing Ink Jet Technology
Digital printing has taken over the world of tile and stone by storm. As you can see from the previous category on wood printed porcelain, the same thing is happening with stone. When dealing with natural stone, there are occasional imperfections which might affect how much of a slab is usable. While the imperfections are what we are usually drawn to, sometimes there are occurrences that might not be as desirable. With a finite quantity of marble and natural stone available, digitally printed porcelain has also risen in popularity.
One of the major advantages of going with a digitally printed porcelain stone as opposed to natural stone is maintenance. With porcelain there is no issue with having to seal, and no occurences with etching or staining. That alone makes it worthwhile – especially if it is difficult to even tell the difference.
In many cases, it takes a close-up visual and tactile examination to determine that it is printed porcelain rather than actual natural stone.
The textile look in tile emulates the look, and some cases, also the feel of textured linen and burlap. Again, being able to reproduce the fine detail of textured fabrics is a result of the recent advances in digital printing.
Industrial, concrete-look porcelain was seen throughout Coverings 2017. Large format tile, which eliminates the frequency of grout lines, and provides a seamless, contemporary look was popular. I have been seeing concrete tile and even countertops enter the market over the last couple of years, but this was the first time seeing such a realistic and large format porcelain tile that can act as tile on any vertical or horizontal surface or even an entire countertop surface, with no grout lines or seams, depending on the thickness of the tile.
Different shades and finishes of concrete are also mixed together to form variations in color and pattern.
Gauged Porcelain Tile
A couple of years ago I was introduced to Laminam by Crossville. At only 3mm. thick, it allows you to “skin” an existing surface with a new and improved porcelain surface in a variety of colors and finishes. Many manufacturers have followed in the footsteps of Laminam’s success and are also now producing a gauged porcelain tile (Gauged refers to a much finer, more calibrated thickness than traditional tile).
Gauged porcelain slabs are used to make adaptive kitchen spaces, as is the case for these drawer fronts. Without the thin and precise thickness that a gauged porcelain offers, this clean and contemporary island with modern door styles would not be possible.
The Return of the Color Blue
Aside from grey, blue was the color du jour at Coverings. Again, this was no surprise, as blue is a color that also popped up during my recent trip to KBIS – the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and was seen all throughout in kitchen cabinetry.
Indoor/Outdoor living has been a trend that I have been seeing in the home furnishings industry, which is why it is no surprise that tile catering to indoor/outdoor applications and lifestyle also had a big presence at Coverings.
Available in 12″ x 24″ or 24″ x 24″ and a thickness of 3/4″, these tile pavers from Florim are resistant to frost and thermal shocks and can be installed on grass, gravel, sand, or a raised system. Their resistance to mold, mildew, salt, corrosion, and stains, in addition to a high breaking strength and anti-slip properties make this material the ideal solution for outdoor areas.
Torrecid also makes a 3.5M x 1.5M tile that is available as thick as 30mm thick, that can be used outdoors and can be fabricated by a normal stone fabricator.
Mirrored and metallic tile were seen mainly for vertical surfaces. The bold patterns take the place of wallpaper yet offer a solution in bathrooms where wallpaper cannot be installed, as it is not resistant to water, especially exposure to steam.
Industrial- Patina and Oxide effects
A few years ago I would have never imagined that metal patina and oxide effects in tile would be a product that I would find at market, but with larger scale tile formats and and advanced printing capabilities, patina and oxide effects make a statement and are particularly well suited for a commercial projects.
I know I am mentioning this time and time again in this post, but most of the tile trends that I have been seeing are a direct result of the advances in digital printing. In the past, it would take years to achieve a time-worn patina on tile, or a very rigorous hand- production process. Now all it takes is the latest in print technology to achieve what previously took years.
Encaustic tile is a trend that I have seen a lot of in the past, but now the same look can be reproduced in porcelain with a much-desired weathered effect, at a much lower price point, and without the maintenance. Encaustic tile must be sealed otherwise it is prone to staining. In addition, encaustic tile is known to fade if inferior pigments are used or exposed to prolonged sun.
Multimedia Color Palette
There is the consumer that is seeking a monotone color palette, but using different materials and textures. To solve this problem, manufacturers are coming up with tile in porcelain but emulating different materials and in the same color palette.
Crossville Tile achieved this very trend with their Nest-Oak Collection (a wood-effect porcelain tile) and Notorious (concrete-look porcelain tiles) Even though these two tiles emulated different materials, they were designed in complementary color palettes so that the two collections could be mixed together.
Large Format tile has officially taken the market by storm. Walls, floors, countertops, furniture surfaces – large format tile allows almost every hard surface in the home to be covered with tile, with barely a visible joint or grout line. I know the beauty a seamless surface brings to a space, but large format tile also brings ease of cleaning.
A digitally printed large format surface allows for engineering the print in such a way that the slabs can be bookmatched. This is important when matching the veining of a marble.
Another trend that was not a surprise was the presence of matte black surfaces in tile. As one who has attended recent trade shows, I have seen matte black in kitchen appliances, hardware, plumbing finishes, so it makes sense that it would make an appearance in tile.
Matte black tile is mixed with tones of grey in a distorted hex pattern.
Well there you have it – 13 tile trends to watch out for in 2017. What is your favorite?
In addition to these tile trends, there are a plethora of unusual tiles that I saw that did not necessarily fit into a trend. Even though I write about trends, I don’t always follow them. I’ll be posting my favorite tile picks from Coverings next, so stay tuned!
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