Trends in Tile

Ceramic tile appeals to new home buyers for its quality, durability and ease of maintenance. Now new home buyers may opt for ceramic tile for another reason-style.

By Heather McCune, Editor in Chief | July 10, 2000


Heather McCune's Editorial Archives

Ceramic tile appeals to new home buyers for its quality, durability and ease of maintenance. Now new home buyers may opt for ceramic tile for another reason-style. At Coverings 2000, an international tile and stone exposition, more than a thousand exhibitors presented a dizzying array of tile creativity, offering new colors, shapes, styles, sizes and textures.

Best of Spain
Among the Spanish tile producers, there were a number of large-format tiles with precisely rectified, water-jet-cut edges that give the tiles the straight-cut look of stone slabs. The latest generation of these tiles features a high-gloss, perfectly flat surface that is obtained by polishing the glazes to smooth, matte or satin finishes.

The morphing of tile into stone and stone into tile was apparent everywhere. Spanish tile makers presented a wide range of stone replications, from highly textured slate surfaces to smooth highly refined marble lookalikes. Making the illusion complete was the use of unique screens, textures and patterns to give each tile within a series the random look of a quarried product.

Also in among Spanish manufacturers:



  • Genuinely classic styles detailed with pillowed or cushioned edges to present the appearance of having been worn by centuries of foot traffic.



  • Retro-styled, smaller format tiles, especially those with rustic finishes and even rough edging.

    Italian Flair
    In the Italian pavilion, the rush to rectangles evident in years past continued, with elongated shapes the standard, though in more sizes and finishes. The products ranged from tiny, mesh-mounted mosaics to oxidized cotto, smooth matte-porcelains, antinqued artisan tiles, glazed extruded formats and high-tech monocottura.

    Among Italian tile makers, geometry takes on new meaning. Italian companies introduced square tiles in squares, squares in frames, squares with sliced and mesh-mounted corners, and squares in glazed patterns on square fields. Interest in cut-out patterns is moving past simple squares to include water-jet patterns.

    Metallic looks and iridescent effects were evident everywhere. Several producers are even combining the two finishes. Traces of stainless steel and copper are enlivening glazes and glass is enveloping sculpted metal surfaces.

    The amazing popularity of terrazzo tile continues with new interpretations-through-body porcelains and monocottura tiles. One manufacturer showed chopped-up bits of recycled cotto in a poured agglomerate slab. Others mixed cement, glass and resins to create one-of-a-kind surfaces.

    Artist's Touch
    The scores of artisan booths were jammed at Coverings, as visitors explored the variety of designs and finishes.

    These exhibitors demonstrated their own approach to combining form and function in ceramic tile products. Mosaics in all kinds of shapes and hues attracted the most attention, whether as elements of style or works of art. The variety of glass tiles continued to expand, demonstrating new possibilities in combining the best attributes of ceramic tile and glass block. Some producers are embedding small, multi-colored shapes of glass in ceramic tile.

    Ocean metaphors dominated Coverings, with some tiles resembling the ocean floor, down to incorporating fossil-like materials. Shells, fish and starfish images were very popular, though subtler marine references like fish-scale surfaces, were also evident.

    Heather McCune is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Builder and Luxury Home Builder. Please email her with any comments or questions regarding her column.

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