In this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, we take a look at large-format tile, and all I can say is the advances in technology are evident. Not only are the sizes off the charts, but the aesthetics beautifully mimic the look of natural materials such as wood and stone, as well as other hard surfaces like concrete and cement. Additionally, many of these oversized formats are available in thinner thicknesses, but still have the strength and durability of a thicker tile or slab.

What does all of this mean for the design community? The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to design. Tile manufacturers are covering all the bases — offering a diverse range of sizes, shapes and finishes. Comments from the designers interviewed in the feature on large-format tile, which begins on page 14 of this issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design, cite reasons such as modern appeal, fewer grout lines, low maintenance and a high-quality look for choosing larger sizes for their designs.

“They make a space feel bigger,” said Michele Alfano, interior architect and founder of MODmadeNY Studio in Rockland County, NY. “There are less grout lines and large slabs or large-format tiles also give a high-end look. On walls, they appear as accent walls, almost wallpaper-like and are a nice alternative to paint.”

And with some porcelain lines now being made in slab formats, they can extend beyond floor and wall applications. These products are being employed for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities. They can also be used for shower walls — creating a sophisticated and luxurious feel.

Tile manufacturers explain that these larger sizes and varying finishes are the result of evolving technology. “The product in a larger-sized tile is much more eye catching,” explained Paolo Mularoni, president of Del Conca USA in Loudon, TN. “You’re able to see the graphic much better and bigger tiles are new things that have recently become available, since technology was not so advanced in the past.”

And as we all know, a design is only as good as its installation. As a result, manufacturers of installation products are also working feverishly to put out products specifically formulated for large-format tile installations. It is crucial to use the right product when installing these tiles, and when in doubt, always consult with the tile manufacturer.

Tile manufacturers are definitely pushing the envelope and it is clear they are taking every measure to develop exciting new products, which can inspire design. There is something out there for everyone’s taste. Which product you choose and how you use it is up to you. The options are endless. If you have a recently completed project that you would like to share, please don’t hesitate to let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you.