Trend Watch: The Sunbelt
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

TileDealer recently surveyed a number of dealers in the Sunbelt—from California to Florida—just to ask briefly, what’s selling best for you?

The answers were surprisingly similar. Mike Hamer, Travis Tile in Austin, Texas, says he is selling larger tiles, often in darker, warmer colors. The stone look in warm colors with textured surfaces for slip resistance is popular. Large format is increasingly used on backsplashes and tub surrounds, as well as floors. Hamer says his customers are increasingly better educated, attributable perhaps to the Internet, and they are requesting porcelain. “Glass,” he says, “is very, very hot.”

Martha Alvarez at D& B Tile in Sawgrass, Florida, says 20- by 20-inch glazed porcelain is the top seller. Glass and tumbled marble are popular choices for backsplashes.

Bill Ray says Stockdale Tile, Bakersfield, California, is also selling larger format tiles, 18- by 18-inch stone looks are the predominant choice for floors, but he says many customers opt for 20- by 20-inch tiles if they are available in the right program.

Light earth tones are still the predominant color, says Ray. The 12- by 12-inch and 13- by 13-inch tiles on walls and countertops are being complimented with listellos and chair rails for a more finished design. Finally, Bob Mische, Ceramic Tile Center, Inc., Long Beach, California, says the stone look continues to be strong for his customers also. Sizes, he said, are growing from the 12- and 13-inch squares to 16- by 16-inches and 18-by18-inches for walls and floors, often accented by chair rails and liners. Porcelain continues to be popular along with glass. Glass tiles in a wide variety of colors are showing up on backsplashes and as decorative inserts with other tiles.

The professionals TileDealer spoke to agreed that although they were not seeing any significant trend changes, the established trends in porcelain, neutral colors and larger formats seem to be stronger than ever.

In upcoming issues, we’ll be taking our informal survey to other parts of the country. If you have comments to add to these trends, please email

According to independent research coming out of Coverings 2004, attendees spent an average of 30-percent of their yearly product-related budgets at Coverings. In addition, of those attendees polled, 92-percent indicated they planned to make purchases as a result of attending Coverings.

Sponsoring organizations of Coverings are Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers), ASCER ( Spain ’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), TCA (Tile Council of North America), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association), and NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association).

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