Over the last decade, ceramic tile use in the U.S. has gone up (by way of both increased imports and domestic production). It’s durable, light, has the effect of true stone but can easily be customized, and often it comes at a more affordable price than tiles of a different material.
It’s a trend that’ll be on full display at this year’s IBS/KBIS in Las Vegas. In the lead up to the show, we spoke with a few manufacturers to see what we can expect to see in January.
FLORIM Stone (main image)
Florim has made concerted effort to connect with more U.S. contractors—recently opening a new showroom in New York—and Florim Stone, which the company is bringing to IBS, is a big part of that. It’s a line of large-format porcelain slabs that feature a variety of stone-like designs, many of which are accented by metal, cement, marble, and color effects. What installers will like most though, as spokesperson Michelle Ballarin says, is the product’s weight. “Florim Stone is generally slightly lighter than quartz and natural stone.” Available in ¼”, ½”, and ¾”, it’s also generally much thinner than alternative materials. “Quartz and stone are usually available in ¾” and 1¼.” The thinness allows the product to be installed over existing tile, making it ideal for remodelers. And so as not to compromise strength, Florim Stone ¼” slabs include a mesh backing to increase durability.
Achieving the look of natural stone (like marble) without the price, weight, or brittleness is one of the achievements of the ceramic tile industry. But perfecting that look without sacrificing performance is something Infinity Surfaces has made top priority with its NaturaVein Tech—which the company plans to showcase in Vegas, revealing a number of new styles, including Crystal Amber and Precious Sodalite (pictured). “The technology uses colored raw materials and a controlled sedimentation process to achieve full-body composition, where the design is consistent throughout the full thickness of the tile,” says Giacomo Carelli, key account manager for the manufacturer. “We have about 40 stylistic effects homeowners can choose from.” Because of the tile’s customizability and high impact resistance, as well as its affordability, Infinity recommends its large format slabs be used not just as a wall covering, but to create furniture, particularly countertops, tables, vanities, and washbasins—just to name a few. “It’s the material of the future, with endless applications.”
Through its new Materia line, ABK is bringing versatility in large-format slabs to IBS this year. “The slabs are characterized by a new revolutionary production process, which allows the manufacturers to replicate the effects of marble and natural stone on the surface, as well as the edges of each slab,” says a spokesperson for the company. Using a mix of dry compaction techniques and firing the tiles in cutting-edge ceramic kilns, the Materia line achieves extreme toughness, resisting not just cracks and scratches but staining, heat, and chemical cleaners. “These benefits make Materia perfect for kitchen and bathroom applications, like vanities and backsplashes, to name a couple.” To increase customizability, which is a hallmark of the line, ABK offers a variety of material effects including wood, stone, metal, and marble, as well as three finish options: soft, natural, and lux.