Flooring Trends: Alternative Application

Manufacturers develop materials that mimic standard options such as wood and stone but withstand stains, scratches, heat and moisture.

authors Kyle Clapham | October 12, 2018

The flooring industry has continued its resurgence since the Great Recession, when both sales and volume bottomed out. Wood and vinyl-based products account for the majority of growth, but alternative options such as tile have steadily gained ground as housing activity in the U.S. progresses toward its peak from 2006. The following products, therefore, deserve requisite consideration.

Armstrong

Pryzm, a luxury flooring product from Armstrong Flooring, challenges the boundaries of hard-surface flooring by marrying award-winning designs with unparalleled performance. The rigid-core hybrid floors target homeowners who desire an authentic design that can withstand the test of time. They endure tough use from heavy appliances, pets, cleats and high heels, among others.

“We brought together the best attributes of several flooring products to give these luxury floors the ultimate dent, scratch and stain resistance,” says Jeremy Kleinberg, senior product manager. “Plus, Pryzm planks are 100 percent waterproof, so when exposed to water they won’t swell, buckle or lose integrity. This durability is backed by our residential lifetime limited warranty.”

The locking planks feature an attached cork underlayment that enables smooth placement over subfloors with some irregularities. Most installations require no acclimation, and Pryzm can be installed over large areas without transition strips. The same holds true for Rigid Core Vantage, whose larger format planks create a bold look in any space and lock together sturdily in a snap.

Like stone, ceramic and porcelain, Alterna Engineered Tile boasts beauty and durability, but its comfortable surface makes the flooring warmer to the touch, kinder to the feet and easier to care for in any room of the house. The collection offers a wide array of wood visuals in a new 6- by 36-inch groutable size, and has Diamond 10 Technology to resist scratches, stains and scuffs.

“With Alterna, you can choose from a wide range of styles—including marble, travertine, slate, wood, weathered metal, concrete and linen,” says Morgan Hafer, product manager. “The natural beauty of engineered tile also isn’t limited to floors. Alterna can be made an above-ground focal point as a lively accent wall or stylish backsplash.”

Daltile

This year Daltile announced several flooring series designed to meet the needs of homeowners and designers. Trellis Oak, released within the fall collection launch, delivers a rustic wood-look that never goes out of style. Available in multiple plank sizes that seamlessly emulate hardwood flooring, the series serves as the ideal design solution for high-traffic rooms and transition areas.

The D_Segni collection from Marazzi, which made its debut in the spring, takes inspiration from the popular encaustic trend to provide the look of traditional cement tiles in vintage, geometrical and metropolitan patterns. The product captures the essence of handmade tiles found in Italy, and seven solid colors (and 16 decorative patterns) allows clients to mix and match for an original design.

“Tile is the most durable flooring surface, as it is inherently waterproof, scratchproof and stain proof, making it easy to maintain,” says Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of marketing for the Daltile Corporation. “In addition, many tile products can be utilized in exterior spaces, unlike vinyl and hardwood, which creates a seamless transition from inside the home to the outdoors.”

Using advanced Reveal Imaging technology, Daltile can now produce collections that mimic wood and natural stone. The manufacturer also has been able to diversify the variety of shapes, sizes and textures available as well. Composed of Colorbody porcelain, Trellis Oak offers more durability than classic oak flooring, and D_Segni glazed porcelain tiles enable a personal touch.

“When purchasing a surfacing product, there are two key factors to consider. First, they should determine where the product will be installed and the volume of traffic that it will endure,” Thorn-Brooks says. “Second, it is important for contractors and homeowners to be aware of the basic project measurements, so they can determine what tile sizes will be appropriate within a setting.”

Dekton by Cosentino

Cosentino has added three new colors to its acclaimed Dekton Industrial Collection, designed by Phoenix-based architect and designer Daniel Germani. The colors—Laos, Soke and Lunar—add a calm, careful aesthetic to the existing collection, which now comprises seven colors. The hues show an industrial look, putting rough and unexpected materials such as cement back at the forefront.

Dekton by Cosentino also recently released a new collection, Dekton Stonika, with six hues that draw inspiration from the most coveted natural stone materials. New findings in the company’s manufacturing process allow for sharper designs and, accordingly, an ultra-realistic appearance. The Stonika collection provides an even higher resistance to impact as well as thermal shock.

“Dekton by Cosentino is an ultra-durable product that is impervious to the elements, including scratches, stains, UV rays and temperature shock,” explains Valentin Tijeras Garcia, director of product innovation for the Cosentino Group. “Because of these benefits, Dekton is easy to clean and its use is advantageous in environments with specific needs, like spaces where high heat or freezing temperatures occur frequently.”

Available in large format slabs measuring 56 by 126 inches, Dekton produces seamless creative possibilities for architects and designers in either residential and commercial projects. The most popular Dekton colorways include marble looks such as Dekton Aura15, wood looks such as Dekton Makai, and industrial-inspired looks such as the award-winning Dekton Trilium.

“We see Dekton continuing to grow in popularity as a surfacing material in the United States, as it has already done in Europe,” Tijeras Garcia notes. “Our R&D team is constantly working to create new color ways for the product and to find new ways to further innovate and improve the unparalleled performance and durability of Dekton.”

Ege Seramik

Ege Seramik has been working on four major applications for its glazed porcelain products and wall tiles. Deep Effect Ink allows the manufacturer to collapse veins on its tiles by using special inks and oils. Ege Seramik will produce four glazed porcelain series as well as a wall tile series with this application, and the names of the series are Indiana, Thasos, Santorini, Zone and Peace.

Glossy Effect Ink enables the company to have a partial gloss effect on tiles. Using special inks and oils, Ege Seramik has the ability to finish the surface of the tiles with partially matte and glossy sections. Two lines will utilize this application: one called Firewood, and the other Jungle.

The Crystal Shine Effect, done by using special granilla that results in more clarity and a crystal-like shine after polishing the tiles, will be featured in a line named MARS. Ege Seramik also has the ability to shed granilla on different sections of the tile with its inkjet machines, which use K9 heads. This Sectional Granilla Application will be featured in two series—Ground and Metalica.

“Contractors should study the area carefully [first],” explains Alp Er, general manager of Ege Seramik America. “The subfloor should be leveled completely, and the proper thin set should be applied. Most of the claims we encounter are due to poor installation. When installing, contractors should open up a couple of cartons and inspect the designs before laying in order to create a random look.

“Most of the time, they open a carton and start laying whatever comes out,” Er continues. “This results in poor aesthetics when the floor is complete. They should also inspect the tiles for visual defects or warpage.”

Emser Tile

Recent product introductions from Emser Tile feature planks and panels in continually growing and adaptable large format sizes. The manufacturer has focused on textured wood and concrete looks, mod-inspired graphic patterns and reminiscent terrazzo prints. Porcelain tile contributes to LEED v4 certification with zero off-gassing for improved indoor air quality, and it can provide superior durability for the home with an expected lifespan of more than 50 years, says Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing for Emser Tile.

“Tile has a myriad of unique applications and can be installed almost anywhere in a home,” she explains. “Consider porcelain tile in high-moisture spaces, like kitchens and bathrooms, where true wood cannot perform [as well]. Homeowners are also creating seamless design transitions, carrying the material from indoor to outdoor entertaining spaces—or even from floor to wall.”

Emser Tile streamlines the ordering process and contributes to local stocking programs, which enables contractors to focus their efforts on core competencies and positions the company as a partner in their success. The manufacturer also offers Emser University, a multi-tiered, award-winning customer training program that covers the fabricating process, tile attributes and more.

“Chevron and herringbone installations are extremely popular in kitchen and bath installations—from small-scale on the wall to large-scale on the floor,” Haaksma notes. “Neutral tones, blues and greens are prevalent in both contemporary matte and elegant gloss finishes.

“We plan to continue to expand our tile sizes, minimizing grout lines in the home and making living spaces feel larger,” she continues. “High-definition printing technology also enables a variety of tile design opportunities to capture looks that cannot be replicated in other materials.”

Lumber Liquidators

Beyond offerings in flooring such as solid and engineered hardwood and waterproof vinyl plank, Avella Quick Click Tile from Lumber Liquidators provides the look of wood flooring with both the durability and ease of installation that comes with tile, says Mike Horn, senior vice president of sales and services at Lumber Liquidators.

“A key advantage of this product is that it’s waterproof, offering added durability and resistance to scratches and stains than hardwood or vinyl, while maintaining a resistance to skids and slips,” he explains. “Quick Click tile requires no backerboard, thin set or spacers for installation and creates perfect grout lines every time, making it easier to install compared to traditional tile.”

That durability makes the product an obvious choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens, but Lumber Liquidators has seen both homeowners and contractors installing Avella Quick Click Tile on every level of the home—thanks to its versatility through a variety of looks and patterns.

“Avella Quick Click makes what would otherwise be a complicated tile installation much easier for homeowners, even allowing for a DIY install over their current flooring.” Horn notes. “For contractors, the ease of installation takes their job from three days down to one, which is a huge advantage. Time is money, and we are proud to offer professionals all the tools to help make the installation process as efficient as possible.”

While popularity varies by geographical area, the manufacturer sees lighter colors on the coasts versus darker brown colors in the South. Top sellers range from brown tones and taupes to grays, as well as products with color variation. Gray in particular has been growing consistently—the best-selling color in Avella Quick Click Tile is Gray Wintertide Pine, which creates a modern, clean aesthetic in a room.

Neolith by TheSize

Neolith by TheSize remains an ideal solution for large format tiling in high-traffic residential and commercial flooring applications. The sintered stone addresses some of the most common issues with traditional large format tiles: weight, cost and difficulty of installation. The exceptionally thin slabs—ranging from 3 to 6 millimeters in thickness for flooring applications, and up to 30 by 30 inches and 60 by 30 inches in format size—are lightweight and easy to transfer from warehouse to the construction site, says Mar Esteve, director of marketing for TheSize Surfaces.

“With its 100 percent natural composition—and several exhaustive quality controls along the chain—Neolith is able to produce large format slabs, which means greater uniformity and continuity in finished spaces, easier handling and minimized joints for aesthetic and hygienic benefits,” she explains. “Thanks to its slim surface, it allows contractors to transport more than double the amount of surface per container than with thicker products. Slimmer slabs also allow for Neolith to be directly applied onto existing surfaces. This saves contractors from costly tear-outs while reducing
landfill waste.”

The best-selling decors for the company in the U.S. continue to be the classic white-marble look, mainly the Estatuario and Calacatta designs from the Neolith Classtone Collection. However, the manufacturer has seen more homeowners and designers get bolder with interior color schemes. Following rigorous market research and a customer survey of prototypes, Neolith introduced four new colors in 2018: Retrostone, Mirage, Krater and Calatorao. Among them, Retrostone from the Neolith Fusion Collection quickly became a favorite because of its striking similarity to the 1970s flooring trend, terrazzo, which was influenced by early Renaissance Venetian architecture.

Walker Zanger

The Bera & Beren Collection of porcelain tiles from Walker Zanger meets all of the interior and exterior flooring needs of homeowners. For interiors, clients can now pair their flooring perfectly with textured ceramic Bera & Beren wall tile, says Erika Egede-Nissen, director of marketing for Walker Zanger.

“Bera & Beren is available in two finishes: natural and structured,” she adds. “The natural finish is the perfect solution for interior surfaces and the structured finish is best for exteriors, allowing homeowners to extend the flooring seamlessly throughout their patio. The white and light-gray trend remains strong; these are the most popular colors from the Bera & Beren collection. We’re seeing a soft, light-cream color starting to trend with homeowners, as well as porcelain tile that reflects the look and feel of natural stone.” | QR

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