Welcome to the NFT/FCI Virtual Trade Show Coverage of Coverings 2001, the largest international tile and stone exhibition in North America. For the next three days, NFT will be bringing you images and information from the show floor and ancillary events as they occur.

It’s Sunday evening, around 9 p.m. New Orleans time, and there has already been a full day’s worth of in-depth education. Three “Super Sessions” were held earlier today from 2-5 p.m. “Ceramic Tile University,” a program developed by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association, in conjunction with the TCA, the CTEF, and others, gave a jump start to floor covering retailers and others interested in selling tile at the retail level. An inspirational seminar titled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” took a look at the effects that stressful situations have on people, and offered up some alternative methods to deal with them.

The third session, developed by the National Tile Contractors Association, took attendees through the “NTCA Contractors Workshop,” a one-stop training session designed to familiarize contactors and helpers with the latest materials and installation methods in the tile industry. Participants got a look at the new, the old, and heard what works and what doesn’t. Beginning with layout and surface preparation, the workshop led observers through membranes; backerboards; mortars; grouts; finishes; and closed with cleaning and sealing.

But this is New Orleans, and one could make the argument that the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” was born out of the bayou. This evening’s opening reception, sponsored by the CTDA, was held at the Howlin’ Wolf. A great time was had by all, as attendees sampled the local cuisine, and took in an evening of live music.

Tomorrow morning, Coverings 2001 opens its exhibition hall. Check back for images and information from the show floor, and get an idea of the latest and greatest innovations in the tile and stone industry.