Once again, members from both the stone and tile sectors gathered together to share their latest product introductions at Coverings, the largest U.S. stone and tile exhibition.  This year’s event was held from Tuesday, April 27 to Friday, April 30, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Stationed throughout the show floor were pavilions representing various countries such as Brazil, China, India, Italy and Spain as well as the U.S.  Each group of manufacturers impressed attendees with an assortment of new stone and tile collections, which contained a variety of sizes, textures and colors.

In the tile industry, it is evident that advances in digital technology have come a long way.  Porcelain tile lines made to resemble the appearance of stone and wood have become much more authentic.  The veining and grain of these types of tile are defined, and patterns on each tile are not replicated - as is true with natural materials.

On the stone side, exotic material from faraway places in Brazil and India were prevalent on the exhibition floor as well as numerous types of granite and marble from all around the world.  Stone tiles are now being offered in larger formats for floor and wall applications and an array of decorative and trim pieces are also widely available. 

A particular note of interest when walking the show hall was the extensive amount of “green” products.  Many tile products are now being made with a large percentage of recycled content, and certain stone materials have received Greenguard Certification.  Moreover, manufacturers of installation and maintenance products are also making a conscious effort to develop products that are environmentally friendly.  Below is just a sampling of the numerous product lines that were introduced at Coverings 2010:  

A. The Bioessenze collection by Lea Ceramiche - designed to resemble the appearance of natural wood - is the result of the use of full HD technology that combines the best of technological research in ceramic decoration with the know-how developed by the company over the years. While the tile has the look and texture of natural wood, it has the durability of porcelain stoneware. The Bioessenze collection offers five different colors - each in different sizes, including Bianco in 6- x 48-inch format (pictured).


B. Tau Cerámica, a Tile of Spain branded manufacturer, introduces its Fiber collection - featuring decorative patterns designed in five colors: red, white, wenge, blue and black. The tiles in this collection can be mixed and matched to create endless combinations. They are available in 7.8- x 24-inch format.


C. Voguebay Iceberg glass mosaic is a combination of many different circles resulting in a fresh three-dimensional surface with real depth and feeling. Together with the series WaterCube, this product is taking to a new age the definition of glass mosaic tiles, according to its manufacturer. Suitable for most uses and areas, Iceberg glass mosaic gives a modern and noticeable look to any wall. The series is available in 300- x 300-inch sheets and 300- x 98-inch borders, and in a range of many new colors.


D. With its porcelain stoneware Ivoire line, Villeroy & Boch brings a rough-polished base floor tile with a timeless, classic-modern look that in a bright cream-white-grey hue creates a perfect starting point for personalizing design concepts in living and bathroom spaces. A matching concept has now been created for walls in shades of ivory and beige. The result is a designer tile with a slight relief displaying a motif of creeping vines in a reserved tone-on-tone effect that, when used throughout a space, creates a harmonious ambience.


E. Vermont Quarries introduced Montclair Danby cross cut at Coverings this year. The distinct horizontal veining has the contemporary look that so many designers are now requesting. This material has the same physical properties and low absorption rate as all Danby marble - making it highly suitable for kitchen use, reports Vermont Quarries.


F. Cactus Stone has added many new stone slabs to its inventory of material. Among them is Artscape, a natural soapstone for contemporary design.


G. Leah Zahavi, a tile artist who creates patterns, ornamental forms and imagery in clay, has developed a line called “Inner Piece,” which is available through Wholesale Tile by Aguayo. The name of the tile line originated because it is evocative of “peace,” and yet, is only part of the larger structure, according to the artist. Inner Piece is available in 4- x 4-, 6- x 6- and 2- x 2-inch formats.


H. Caribe International adds a new addition to its offering as well as to stone and tile distributors nationwide called Desert Cream travertine, which is shown in a Domed Trapezoid pattern. Other colors are also available, according to the company.


I. Marazzi USA debuted SistemA - a highly technical product which uses revolutionary technology and high-performance raw materials that produces a highly compacted crystalline glaze surface, creating a color palette of 18 rich and vibrant colors, reports the manufacturer. This patent-pending technology combines aesthetic and technical characteristics, and is offered in three rectified sizes. It is also comprised of 45% pre-consumer recycled content. The line contributes to LEED credits, according to Marazzi USA.


J. Carmel Stone’s Forte De Marmi white marble (pictured), which is imported from Carrara, Italy, is available in slabs, tile mosaics and moldings, and is now in stock and ready for immediate delivery.


K. Pokarna of India has developed a range of new products in its Quantra line of quartz surfacing. This includes a wide variety of new colors and textures. Among them, the company is offering slabs with an “Ardesia” textured finish, which mirrors the surface of natural slate. The company is also processing slabs - including those with the “Ardesia” finish - with a UV treatment that allows the material to be used for exterior cladding applications.


L. Tau Group’s trademark subsidiary, Porcelanatto, announced a partnership with prestigious international designer Karim Rashid in a line called NO-Stalgia. The four series of the NO-Stalgia collection meticulously follow the artistic vision of Rashid’s work, created in a 24- x 24-inch format and four colors each. The tiles in this collection consist of geometric forms and intricate lines that create impressive optical effects. The series in the NO-Stalgia collection include Sensory, Poetic (pictured), Emotion and Desire.


M. Vermont Verde Antique, the world’s finest serpentine that is available from Vermont Verde Antique LLC, has been quarried in the Green Mountains of Vermont since the early 1900s. With the warmth and look of marble and a mineral composition that is impermeable to staining and resists etching by acids, Vermont Verde Antique is an excellent choice for kitchen countertops or anywhere else stone might be used, according to the company. Available in slabs and tiles, Vermont Verde Antique can be used for both interior and exterior applications.


N. Dry-Treat offers a new generation impregnating sealer, Meta Crème, to protect natural stone, tile, paving, brick, concrete and grout. Specially engineered sealing molecules have an extremely small size to deeply penetrate even dense materials such as granite, and bond permanently by chemical reaction in the capillaries, becoming part of the molecular structure of the stone. Meta Crème’s deep, permanent, water- and oil-repellent barrier keeps water carrying dissolved minerals and impurities well away from the surface of the stone, protecting against common forms of damage, including: efflorescence, salt spalling and freeze-thaw cracking, reports Dry-Treat. 


O. Bestview International displayed its Mother of Pearl mosaic line, which includes white, black, yellow and gold colors and their combinations. It comes in two formats - regular marble mosaic with mesh background and the solid laminated piece without any joints. Standard sizes range from 2 x 2 to 12 x 12 inches, and customized sizes are also available. Popular applications include inserts, décor piece, mirror surrounding, borders and decorated wall tiles.


P. Planeta Pedra, a Brazilian producer of natural stone, showcased Ciantus granite. The stone is from the company’s new quarry site, and it is available in tiles, slabs and cut-to-size pieces.


Q. World Wide Stone Corp., an exclusive quarrier and producer of Authentic Durango Stone, promoted its rectangle line, which is available in all quality finishes. Standard sizes include: 18 x 48, 8 x 48, 24 x 36, 16 x 24, 8 x 16, 6 x 12, 4 x 8 and 3 x 6 inches - in addition to custom designs.


R. Realized through years of hard work and continuous investments, Florida Tile has been able to produce a look that is so similar to natural stone - it is virtually indistinguishable. The Legend series by Florida Tile is the first to bear the HDP symbol of High Definition Porcelain. Created to signify a revolutionary new product category, HDP utilizes digital printing, one of the most technically advanced glazing systems in the industry today.


S. The new large Japonaise brick format tiles by Stone & Pewter Accents are created by forcing colored glass through other complementary shades of glass - giving the surface an otherworldly feeling of depth. The new larger format, which blends 1- x 4- and ½- x 1-inch glass tiles, goes hand-in-hand with the company’s smaller mosaics series. Available in natural and silk finishes, Japonaise Glass comes paper-faced on 12- x 12-inch repeating sheets.


T. Developed in-house by a team of Polycor engineers, this proprietary composite-backed 1 cm stone slab offers 10 times the flexural strength of stone alone. At one-third the weight and thickness, the 1 cm is far easier to cut and handle than a traditional 3 cm slab, has a sleek and modern design and a significantly lower carbon footprint. Manufactured in St-Sebastien Québec, Canada, this innovative product can be used for multiple applications, including countertops, large tiles (up to 9 x 5 feet) and shower walls, as well as interior and exterior cladding. Polycor’s engineering team has also announced that it is ready to offer support in the development of custom applications.