3 Future Tile Trends Spotted Now

While my focus in this column has been on nuts and bolts of residential design, I want to show you some insight as to why your mid-to-high-end designers, architects, and contractors hesitate when you ask for tile. There are so many options that sometimes we barely know where to start!

Here’s why: In the past 5 years or more, the tile industry has made some stellar breakthroughs in technology, manufacturing methods, and customization. Insider buzz has been worldwide, but the average homeowner hasn’t a clue.

So let me bring you into an insider’s view of what I saw at Coverings and what you’ll see in tile over the next 5 years or so.


Simply put, the advances in digital inkjet technology haven’t only revolutionized the printing industry, it’s also revolutionized the tile industry. How?

Because the tile manufacturers have figured out a way to photograph stunningly realistic images of stone and wood onto porcelain tile. The European tile industry was amply represented this year with huge pavilions from Spain and Italy with US and Mexico not far behind.

If you don’t know about porcelain tile, consider researching it for your next project. It’s more durable than ceramic, non-porous, and perfect for wet areas such as a bathroom, or rugged for high-traffic areas such as a busy kitchen.

Digital imagery has made porcelain appear like anything you want it to be — marble, limestone, or even wood — but without the care associated with those products. While a lot of high-end projects might shun not using the real thing, commercial projects and those of you with busy (and not always careful) families might love to see this happening!

  Florida Tile, Ivory LaceCinema HDP, Ivory Lace from Florida Tile.

  image Stone look porcelain from Vitromex

American Heritage, Marazzi USAYes, this is “wood” tile: American Heritage, Marazzi USA


You already saw it above with the Marazzi wood tile – the ability to add 3 dimensional texture onto the tile. What we’ll see in the coming years is a combination – either different tile thicknesses:

 Madeira Cortex, Lamosa Tile The Europeans and by extent, Mexico, love their hexagonal tile, but I’ll put myself out on a limb: I don’t think it’ll catch on in residential design here: Lamosa Tile Madeira Cortex

 or embossing and texture:

Lace up closeVilleroy and Boch’s Opulent Chic.

IMG_2134Monocibec wood and texture combination


Large format tile was everywhere. In another breakthrough, manufacturers are able to create increasingly larger tiles. I’ve been specifying larger scale tiles for the past 3-4 years, but some of these are LARGE: 24” x 36”, 36” x 36” and even full wall panels.

I see bank or boutique hotel wall paneling applications with this one American company Stonepeak PLANE – look at the size of this piece of wall/column paneling. Made to look like marble and surprisingly thin.

The above piece has more commercial appeal than residential, although I could see a stunning wall bumpout or fireplace. Perhaps not the best application for those of us in earthquake country, but great for the contemporary enthusiasts elsewhere.

Fiandre is more for the architectural market. Definitely not first-time (or even second) DIY... Fiandre’s 30” x 60” porcelain tile sheets

For residential, I saw 24” x 36” panels like those below. You’ll need a GOOD tile installer, one familiar with installing large-scale tile (even better if they’re familiar with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) installation recommendations.) The amount of preparation for larger scale tile to make sure the subfloor and walls are plumb and square are sometimes more labor than installing the tile itself.

But look, Ma, no grout! Well, very little, anyway.

Lamosa Tile, Coral de UluaGrupo Lamosa Tile, 24” x 36” dimensional Coral de Ulua

 IMG_2109Italy’s Ceramica Viva is known for flowery tile images on ceramic tile.

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  1. Thank you, CB – I think what I like most about the texture was that most of it was easy-to-clean. Lovely meeting you as well. Looking forward to the next time! :)

  2. Kelly, I love this article! I thought texture was particularly exciting at Coverings. Loved meeting you, too!
    Hope to see you again soon.

  3. Awesome! These trendy tiles will surely provide an aesthetic advantage to any home make-overs! These are great choices for repairing any floor areas, especially for bathrooms.

  4. Took me awhile, but I thought I’d answer your question in a post and that answer is here: http://bit.ly/Jv5c2P
    Thanks for asking!

  5. I loved thinking that there were folks like you out there who wanted to be at the show even if they weren’t! I know I certainly enjoyed KBIS thanks to others who attended while I didn’t.
    And yes, there is a whole field of expertise to tile that I’m thinking I don’t have enough lifespan for, but aren’t we lucky to be living in this time?

  6. Thank you – you’re the expert in the field so it’s nice to have backup! :) Look forward to seeing you again soon!

  7. Sorry I missed this post; but, I guess better late than never. I always enjoy hearing what others saw as trends and especially those in the design-end of things. Wonderful recap on Coverings and I certainly agree with you. This year I saw more color then ever before and I’m glad for that. It was also wonderful meeting you in IRL.

  8. what is the trend..matte, polished, semi-polished porcelain tiles? I like the look of glazed porcelain (travertine look), but I’m concerned it’s not popular when we sell our home.

  9. Kelly,
    Great finds and recap on Coverings! Enjoyed the updates from you and others throughout the show. It’s amazing to see the possibilities with tile, and as you suggested, overwhelming too!

  10. Indeed.

  11. Oh, I know, me too. Some folks don’t need to worry about that (wouldn’t it be nice?)

  12. Yay, good to know. I admire wonderfully detailed designs but after I heap on the praise, my next comment is “but it would be a pain to clean.” Dang my practical side (which could also be labeled lazy since I’ve yet to find my inner Monica).

  13. Spooky isn’t it?

  14. Thank you — and ditto! You live too far away.

  15. Best of all with the new textures, Lisa, is that they’re far easier to clean than they’ve been in the past.

  16. Heh, I’ll change it. That’s what happens when I write posts too soon after I get home. 😛
    And you! Stop pre-guessing my next blog post on pixelated images! 😉

  17. The European tile industry was amply represented this year with huge pavilions from Spain, Italy and Mexico.
    Did Mexico move and I missed it? 😉
    Terrific finds Kelly … wish I’d been able to make the show. We use a lot of the “wood” tile; have it in our showroom in fact. Perfect choice for wet or high-traffic areas. The embossed tiles are amazing as well.
    Did Coverings show much in the way of mosaic tiles used for pixelated images? Bisazza is doing some really cool stuff: http://www.agapetile.com/products/index.php?cPath=2_1775_1785

  18. Oh, great, more choices, more decision headaches! 😉 Oh, don’t mind me, I’m actually delighted to see that we have so many options for our floors and walls. Love the trend towards larger tiles and embossed tiles (I love texture).

  19. Great finds, Kelly- Also great seeing you this year at Coverings!