One of the most significant product launches at Coverings 2008 was the new Level Brand, which debuted its Pure series of porcelain tiles.

Coverings, the largest U.S. tradeshow for tile, stone and related products, returned to Orlando, its original location, and exhibitors seemed happy to be back in the Sunshine State this year. With 1,200 exhibitors from more than 50 countries worldwide, this show truly offered something for everyone in the tile and stone industry, from cutting edge tile designs and installation products to an expansive curriculum of educational seminars addressing all aspects of the tile and stone industries. 

Coverings 2008 kicked off with the dedication of a putting green composed of tile and stone, which was open to attendees throughout the week. For this opening ceremony, show organizers invited former LPGA champion and golf course designer Jan Stephenson to take the first putt on this unique green.

On the show floor, the mood was surprisingly upbeat, and many tile manufacturers reported better-than-expected sales for 2007, as well as the first quarter of 2008, despite the overall slowdown of tile sales in the United States, which decreased more than 19 percent during 2007.

“Sales went from $34 million in 2006 to $61 million in 2007,” said Graziano Verdi, CEO of StonePeak Ceramics. “So far this year, we’re on track to match last year’s sales,” Verdi added.

“Coverings 2008 was successful for us on all fronts,” said Jeanne Nichols, vice president of sales and marketing for GranitiFiandre in the United States.  “We were thrilled with the volume of traffic in our booth. It was a great opportunity to meet with and secure orders from our existing clients, as well as give potential clients a first-look at GranitiFiandre’s innovative product offerings. This show has become an important annual event for us providing a unique and relaxed opportunity to connect with our distributors, as well as a wonderful way to allow our distributors, dealers, and clients to experience a hands-on exploration of GranitiFiandre’s broad and innovative product lines,” added Nichols.

Tile design guru Patti Fasan presented an overview of the latest trends in ceramic tile design during the Tile of Spain press conference at Coverings 2008.

In addition to the numerous product launches at Coverings 2008, a new ceramic tile company, Level, was launched. Headquartered in Texas, Level launched a new porcelain tile series, Pure, which blends Italian design influences with an American sensibility.

“Coverings was the ideal occasion to launch Level, our new brand of porcelain tile,” said  Renzo Caponcini, Director of Design & Development for Level. “We were pleased with the traffic at our booth and received excellent response to not only the new brand but our new products as well.  We obtained commitments from our top  customers and colleagues and found the show to be time very well spent.  Level is off to a solid start, and we look forward to seeing our products in the market in the next few weeks.”

There were a variety of innovative new tile series and related products introduced at Coverings 2008, and manufacturers were pleased with the response from attendees.

Massimo Balluchi, director of marketing and product development for Vitromex USA, demonstrates the company’s latest mesh-mounted mosaics at Coverings 2008.

“Introducing Grout Boost, a revolutionary new stain resistant grout additive, at Coverings was a great success,” said Kristin Cattaneo, senior brand manager for Specialty Construction Brands, Inc.  “We were able to generate awareness for this new brand, guage interest and demonstrate the product to the industry-with overwhelming positive response. Our booth was consistently busy and we were able to secure many quality leads...exactly what we’d hoped to accomplish.”

Another new concept in tile design was Vitromex’s new V+ stone tile series, which uses textured surfaces to assist vision-impaired persons navigate street crossings and changes in elevation more safely.

Next year, Coverings will return to the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, April 21-24. For more information, visit