Crossville Venetian Glass.

Keeping up with what’s new in ceramic tile is an ongoing search. It’s been almost a year since I’ve addressed this topic and the timing couldn’t be better. Ceramic manufacturers are offering newsworthy, trend-smart introductions for you to consider.

Did you know sustainability and product longevity are still leading market trends? They will govern a large part of what your consumer is looking for in the coming year. A recent quote from the Tile Council of North America contains the nuts and bolts of why ceramic will continue to be a huge contender in the hard surface flooring market: “Ceramic tile costs less per year than all other floor materials over the life of a (home) or building, because of its longer useful life.”

You may have already known the lifecycle of materials is a defining characteristic of eco-friendly products. But factor in the high percentage of recycled materials in most ceramic tile, and you have an instant hit in the serious game of sustainability. Let’s take a look at some of the outstanding batters in the line-up:

Bedrosians Glass Tile.

Dal-Tile.Dal-Tile has always been a trend-forward company. Exciting additions to its new collections include high-definition tile designs that offer visual and tactile dimension. Architectural designs with carved-look surfaces translate to ceramic with character. Tile that your customers want to touch translates to sales.  

Also, Dal-Tile’s metal-look ceramic tiles have earned an exceptional batting average in the product mix. Metal insets bordered with colorful mosaics play well off each other and create a focal point for any room. If you can display this kind of creative combination somewhere in your showroom, expect that it will get a lot of attention.  

Arizona Tile.What if your customers could have real marble flooring, but at a much more economical cost? Leave it to Arizona Tile to find a way to engineer a porcelain product that can do just that. The company’s ingenious combination tile, MC-Marble, offers a veneer of real marble adhered to a porcelain base. The look is elegant at a true cost-savings to your customer.

Installation costs are based on per-square-foot tile costs, rather than per-square-foot marble costs, and that makes MC-Marble a pretty important pinch hitter for marble. Arizona Tile offers several colors and finishes-its country finish is a unique matte look that enhances the natural veining of the marble.

Bedrosians.Ceramic mixes well with so many types of accent tiles, especially glass insets. When it comes to iridescent glass tile, Bedrosians’ collections are breathtaking. Chameleon colors shift with the light and add glamour to any design. Their glass resonates with gem-like qualities, simulating the true colors of semi-precious stones: topaz, opals, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarine, and onyx.

Daltile Architectural looks.

The design possibilities are stunning, and since most women shoppers love jewelry, think of this as jewelry for the home. I guarantee the romance of that sales approach will have strong appeal – it’s a home run. Take a look at the Ice Crackle Series as well---great colors in icy, translucent glass tiles.

Crossville.Crossville has outdone itself with its Venetian Glass collection. The wow factor is off the charts. Copper, deep emerald tones, gray, and black mix it up to create designs of royal caliber. Light reflective properties give life and dimension to the entire collection.

If you’ve been to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, you will recognize parallels that earned this collection its name. Like the hotel, Venetian offers glamour, understated glitz, and a European flavor. If your customer is looking for something unique, pitch this to them.

Emser.Emser has introduced Strands, a glazed through-body porcelain tile that has serious star potential. Linear designs are among the hottest design trends making news for 2010; Emser was inspired by luxury fabrics to produce its very own linear pattern. Strands features contemporary, natural looks that score points on aesthetics, while offering the consumer a user-friendly hard surface floor.

Emser’s linear tile designs.

Because it is a glazed through-body product, it can be used in light commercial as well as residential applications. It’s being offered in 12” by 12” and 12” by 24” sizes, as well as coordinating cove and outside corners. The series will also feature 2” by 2” mosaics in solid colors for added design options. Also check out the mosaic-blend listellos designed to round out the series.

Avaire.This is a fresh name on the porcelain tile scene with some big news in ceramic flooring. Avaire has created a definite crowd-pleaser: an interlocking floating porcelain floor! These porcelain tiles offer high fidelity and natural stone looks with a very appealing Tuscan influence – earthy and natural. The non-skid base of the tile is self-leveling, sound deadening, and can be installed over vinyl, linoleum and hardwood (even radiant flooring systems).

Each tile has interlocking tabs that provide precise spacing, and since the tile is not adhered to the subfloor, it responds better to structural movement. There is no need to purchase extra products such as thinset or backer board, and you can grout the same day. This floating floor makes replacing an individual tile much easier too. Avaire is also available for commercial applications.

I could easily go on for pages about the upcoming superstars in the world of ceramic tile. But this is a good start for you to launch your own research, and don’t forget, Surfaces 2010 is coming up in early February. Be sure to register now. The show is a big part of the World Series of floor coverings. I’ll see you there.