Dynamic ceramics

Ceramique Internationale’s Peter Vann discusses the tiling trends that are currently influencing the market and the options available to self-builders


ccording to recent statistics, planning applications for major renovations and conversions have soared by more than 25 per cent over the past five years, as homeowners seek ways to create their dream home, with loft conversions, kitchen expansions and bathroom redevelopments. While maximising space can help create the perfect home, it’s often the finishing touches, such as the tiles, which can really make the difference, adding a sense of style, luxury and individuality.

Of course, choosing and laying tiles is not something you do as regularly as perhaps painting a wall or hanging wallpaper, so it is important to choose carefully. Over recent years, the growth in technical improvements, such as the use of inkjet printing which can perfectly replicate materials such as wood, marble and natural stone, has proved advantageous to both interior designers and more importantly, the homeowner. As well as offering a perfect replica of natural materials, the tiles provide a host of other advantages – such as ease of installation, durability, cleanliness, reduced maintenance and the conservation of natural products. This enables homeowners to introduce their preferred look – whether that is statuario marble, French limestone or aged oak – into the home without the associated costs and hassle.

When it comes to textures and effects, wood tiles have truly dominated the market in recent years, but many manufacturers are now branching out and introducing products that replicate textile and fabric finishes. Several manufacturers have launched collections that are reminiscent of hessian, although with a softer milder texture and designed for use on both walls and floors. That’s not to say wood-effect tiles are losing their popularity, in fact, there are now more options available than ever before. One manufacturer has recently released a collection of small format wood-effect tiles, but instead


of natural oak and ash tones, the tiles are available in a rainbow of colours. Consumers are also becoming bolder in their selection as they strive to create standout features and focal points. Tiles are becoming so much more than a wall or floor covering – they can be used to generate the illusion of space in smaller rooms, to create flow from indoor to outdoor areas, and even to help fashion seats and pedestals within bathrooms. In the bathroom especially, consumer confidence is having an impact on room design with homeowners renovating and investing to create standout spa-like or hotel-style environments. With the help of tiles and associated products bathrooms are now able to be much more than functional rooms and are becoming areas of escape and luxury.

Sleek, minimalist wetrooms have been popular for a number of years but new products on the market now allow for them to be more easily installed. Construction kits that can be used to create in-shower furniture, floating pedestals and ensure functional, but disguised, drainage are now easily accessible and are often customised with mosaics. Coupled with products such as underfloor heating systems to offer extended luxury, tiles really are a key part of these very popular household renovations.

The trend for large format tiles has been growing in recent years, but the latest development has seen the launch of extra-large tile sheets. Many of the European factories – particularly in Italy – have been investing in new technology,

march/april 2018

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