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What’s trending in tile for home use and why should you care? This versatile material is ideal for projects emphasizing sustainability, wellness and creativity. The latest offerings will be featured next month at Coverings, North America’s largest tile and stone expo. Here’s a preview with input from two industry pros who follow this category.
One of the top trends of recent years has been oversized thin tile slabs for bathroom and shower walls. This eliminates a lot of maintenance, making these spaces easier for older users to keep clean. “Larger showers not only address the needs of aging in place, but the overall design meets the desires of wellness,” observes Arpi Nalbandian, editor of the popular Tileometry blog for design and architecture professionals.
Another trend tied to these oversized slabs is integrated induction cooking hobs in countertop applications. These were well-received at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, and have also shown up in previous tile expos. With regions of the country phasing out natural gas, induction sales are likely to soar and this trend can be part of its popularity.
“Tile is hypoallergenic, and its natural ingredients are free from harmful chemicals and irritants, like formaldehyde, phthalates, allergens, and plastic,” shares Alena Capra, a South Florida-based interior designer, TV host and Coverings ambassador. “Keeping in line with health and safety, it's non-flammable, and there are many options with slip resistant finishes.”
“There are no VOC's or PVC in tile,” the designer further notes, something that distinguishes it from one of its popular competitors, luxury vinyl tile. It has also held up better in recent moisture testing, a key consideration for kitchen and bath projects. “Ceramic tile lasts longer than other flooring materials and can be used for generations without replacement.” It can also be used in outdoor settings, a popular option for these increasingly popular living spaces.
Another safety and wellness-related benefit that has emerged are tile surfaces with built-in antimicrobial properties. These have gained favor during the pandemic, and are likely to continue to attract specifiers and end users long afterward.
“Thanks to advancements within ink-jet technology printing practices, tile can mimic any material found in nature, such as lush greenery, cherry blossom trees, the coolness of oceans, and so on. Biophilia/biomimicry has evolved from its humble beginning to absolute works of art!” Nalbandian declares.
“This year, the wall murals tile trend has given way to many botanical and floral prints on porcelain panels and slabs, as well as on larger format tile,” Capra comments.
“Wood porcelain continues to be a key tile option that can certainly bring that look of the outdoors in,” Capra observes. Wood-look porcelain can also extend from an indoor living area to an outdoor area, something you wouldn’t do with an LVT, engineered or solid wood floor. Choosing an outdoor material with slip resistance adds safety, while pairing with a matching indoor surface from the same series.
“Large porcelain tile panels can mimic freshly honed bookmarked marble, or a newly cut slab of agate. With optional backlit features, these carefully crafted artistic panels can emit a warm, soothing light that further enhances the benefits of wellness-focused design,” the Tileometry editor says.
“Tile is an inherently sustainable product, as the majority of its components are from distinct geographical areas where the soil and minerals lend favorably to the extreme heat required for the curing process of these raw materials,” Nalbandian points out.
“Tile is one of the most eco-friendly flooring options available,” Capra adds, “with the lowest carbon footprint of any flooring choice. Not only is it an extremely durable option that will outlast many other materials, there are also many options made from recycled content.”
“Perhaps manufacturers are realizing that by providing more affordable options, they increase their consumer base – thanks to designers who focus on bringing the benefits of wellness to their residential client base,” Nalbandian says.
With oversized slabs becoming more mainstream for showers, countertops, backsplashes, outdoor cladding and other uses, prices will start falling. Ease of installation and more trained fabricators make for a more affordable option too. This affordability trend can extend to tile of all sizes and formats, as specifiers will often choose related tiles to complement their slab choices.