In this week’s article, we will look at some of the top stone and tile trends in 2020. I was excited to write this article because two exciting things are happening right now. We are seeing new materials, designs, and styles popping up rapidly, like the large format tiles, exotic materials, and even 3D tile; And on the other hand, there is a resurgence of traditional styles. Some of these staying true to their materials and others blending new elements and functionality, with old feeling and style.
Porcelain tiles have been around for ages, originating in China in the 15th century. These tiles, because of the manufacturing process, are typically denser and less porous than a ceramic counter-part, making them extremely durable and great for damp or wet environments. In recent years, manufacturers have gained the technology to make porcelain tile that mimics other materials. The two big ones currently are wood and marble which are less durable and especially with wood not suited wet environments, (i.e., showers, bathrooms, basements, etc.)
If you’ve ever walked into an old-style building such as a courthouse or hotel, you know what Terrazzo is. Terrazzo is a common type of flooring consisting of a concrete base mixed with glass, stone, or other types of impressive-looking materials. Terrazzo is typically chosen because of its ability to be installed in large areas quickly, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and because of its random nature giving ornate and exciting patterns.
Due to lack of manufacturing technology, installation methods, and adhesives, large format tiles have only recently become available to consumers in the immense sizes we see today. Although the definition of a large format tile includes any tile larger than 12″ on a single side, there are tiles now reaching up to 10′ on a single side. The benefits of large format tile are a much more uniform look than traditional installations and fewer grout lines, making maintenance and cleaning easier on the user; this results in less discoloration and mold, and mildew builds up in a damp environment.
Patterns using tile have been around as long as tile. This is to give visual relief to often repetitive and “harsh” looking tiles. Some of the more classic examples are the perfect black and white patterned hexagonal tiles seen in much older/traditional homes and businesses. This type of pattern using simple colors in varying designs is coming back into fashion but could be argued never went out of fashion. Another kind of pattern that is rising in popularity is Bas Reliefs, also known as “3D” or “dimensional” tiles. This, in particular, is one of my favorites for backsplashes and shower accents because not only do they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, they have an unmatched visual effect bringing any pattern to life, quite literally. Lastly, regarding patterns are the “large patterns” as I call them. This consists of a uniform tile, usually a natural stone, but in many differing sizes. This presents a very challenging job from any perspective, be it design, cost efficiency, or installation. Though challenges with this kind of pattern are many, they are well worth the effort.
Rare and Precious Imitations
As with the porcelain discussed earlier, imitation tiles have become a serious consideration for anyone looking to get and expensive look for a fraction of the cost. Technology with pattern recreation has finally made some of the hardest materials to copy available for prices in some cases half of the original material. Some of the more common imitations are marble and precious gemstones. Why put up with the boring look of ceramic when for the same price, you can use a tigers eye opal recreation?
Though speckled and Terrazzo have a similar feel, a key difference is that speckled is, in fact, a tile while Terrazzo is a concrete. This being the case with the added benefit of the manufacturing advances already discussed, speckled tile can offer a larger variety of colors, sizes, and patterns.
Because of the continuing trend of wood-look and basic/modern colors in tile, blended tile has developed as a way for manufacturers to keep with the times but still inspire new looks and design options. Blended tile can help achieve a modern look without losing the character in your project.
As more and more of us move into cities, finding nature seems to get harder and harder. A greenery/floral tile is perfect for transforming your space into a sanctuary/refuge. With a wide range of flora, colors, and even available in the 3D/Bas Relief form we talked about previously, the options are truly endless.
Geometric tile and patterns have been a staple of stonework since Islamic architecture took root in the 7th and 8th centuries. This style comes in three main forms, from the tiles themselves being cut to pattern, the pattern is printed on a square tile giving a geometric look or in Bas Relief, making the effect that much more vivid. If you’re looking to renew the vibe of an area, geometric tile runs the gamut in styles.
Our final trend of 2020 is the return of the 60s and 70s psychedelic tiles. Fluorescent colors, evocative patterns, and odd shapes characterize this classic style. While the look itself was popularized more than 50 years ago, the blend of many of the innate feels of tile, the psychedelic resurgence can find a place anywhere from the most modern minimalistic style home to the most ornate traditional home.
I love the blend of styles and materials that we are seeing emerge. There is nothing like achieving the feel you want as well as having the functionality of a bread and butter material. As we jump into 2020, keep these trends in mind if you’re doing a remodel, or trying to sell your home as a “trendy” home will always achieve top dollar.
WRITTEN BY: T. HUNTER BULLOCK-Hunter has been a tile contractor for over ten years and has recently joined the NTCA. He is always looking for ways to improve his skills and help give back to the Tile industry.