Sylvie Atanasio talks about the industry, design, and CTDA
March 26th, 2013

By Jeffrey Steele

When Sylvie Atanasio joined Country Floors about a year ago, she made no small plans.  She and general manager Charlie Duncanson teamed up with one large goal in mind: “Returning it to the glory days was the whole lure of joining the company.”

‘The attraction of coming to Country Floors was back in the day, it was number one,” she says.  “It was the Versace of tile.”

Five years ago, in the deepest nadir of the Great Recession, Atanasio launched a new line of tile and stone, AlysEdwards. “Instead of coming up with custom, high-end $150-a-square-foot product, I created products that looked and felt custom, but were ready made, in stock, on the shelf, could be shipped within 48 hours and cost just $26 a square foot.  I called it ‘ready-made custom tile.’”

In four years, the line went from zero to $1 million a month.  Though it had been unveiled at the worst time, February 2008, “in retrospect, it turned out to be the best time, because competitors stopped bringing in anything edgy or innovative,” Atanasio says.

In the 12 months she has been at Country Floors, she has designed 14 new lines, which are about to be unveiled at Coverings. “But the biggest thing is, when I left AlysEdwards, I wasn’t sure if clients who said they would follow me, would,” she recalls.

“But when the first five lines came out, I did a road trip.  It was the first time in a while I felt nervous.  Every old customer I went to see signed on as an authorized dealer, to buy into the program.  There wasn’t a single one I asked who said ‘no’ to me.”

Tiledealer: How would you describe the creative philosophy of Country Floors?

I don’t know what the creative philosophy of Country Floors is. I can only tell you what my creative philosophy or mission is.

My creative philosophy is to create and bring forth new and cutting edge designs in both luxury tiles and natural stones, whether they are my own designs, or designs that are created by other artists exclusively for Country Floors.

My commitment is to bring forth beautiful tile and stone products. It doesn’t matter if they’re old world or modern. Country Floors has a responsibility to stay progressive, and I a duty to uncover and discover new talent and products designers crave.


TD: What sets Country Floors apart from competitors?

The biggest distinction between Country Floors and our competitors, besides designing and developing high-end decorative and handmade tiles, glass tiles and mosaics, is owning the quarries.

We own our own quarries and the largest stone processing plant in Turkey, and now in Tunisia. We are the direct source, whereas my competitors are just buying from a factory and importing.

TD: What is your own background?

Seventeen years ago I opened my own boutique showroom and found out the hard way that all the desirable lines were taken and that with no clout, no one would give me the time of day.

That forced me to start designing and contract manufacturing with a small artisan studio to make proprietary lines for me.  I have learned the tile biz through trial and error. Over the last 27 years in this business, I have made and lost a lot of money.  And I have learned to consistently evolve and change to fit the market.

Talking about the industry: real diamonds or cubic zirconia?

TD: How do you see stone faring vs. ceramic and porcelain?

Asking me how I see natural stone faring against the new ink jet technologies available in porcelain tiles today is like asking how I think real diamonds are going to fare against cubic zirconia.

The new porcelains that are being produced today are beautiful, the technology is truly amazing and it will allow the ceramic tile industry to capture a larger segment of the hard surface industry.

But in the end, nothing compares to natural stone!  Given the choice, and depending on the application, I would pick the real thing,  just like I wouldn’t wear cubic on my left hand either.

TD: What is your own personal design philosophy?

I am not sure what my personal design philosophy is. I know what my mission is, and that is to design beautiful tile products at every price level.  Don’t get me wrong, I love designing for the luxury high-end market.  But not everyone can afford to spend $50 to $100 plus per square foot. I like developing products that look and feel expensive, but that are affordable to the majority of people.  They’re still willing to spend money, but they need to see value.

TD: You’ve designed some custom lines for various manufacturers.  What is your process for doing such designs?

I have privately labeled for several large companies, including Marazzi, Florim USA and Arley Wholesale. I recently organized collections for Kolher and Crossville Ceramics   If I told you my process I’d have to kill you.  Just kidding.  My success in designing for other manufacturers is that I really listen to what they want and their vision, and then I design what I think that means.

TD: What would you like to accomplish as a CTDA board member?

During my time as a board member, I can help strengthen the voice of the CTDA, so that we are seen as a network of help not just for the tile distributors, but really the tile and stone industry as whole.

The CTDA is a place to be educated on the most current style trends, new technology concerning tile and the products used to install them. CTDA should be thought as a network of help, a lifeline.

I liken it to the AAA Motor Club.  When you have a flat tire, what do you do?  First you say to yourself, “&@*%#!”

Then you say, “I need to call AAA to fix my flat.”  You never say, “Hmm, I think I’ll fix it myself.” That’s what CTDA should mean to everyone in our industry.  It’s a place to turn for help.

TD: What are the most exciting issues for the industry?

Trend wise, I think the textures and the 3D patterns being done in stones are very exciting.  The mixed media being used in water-jet patterns, the new thin, large porcelain tiles, and the continued advancement of the ink jet technology and recycled products continue to be on the forefront of what is being developed.

As far as hot topics are concerned, I think a big one is how e-commerce sales are re-shaping how we do business in the tile industry.  How that affects tile distributors nationwide and the philosophy of protected territories is a major issue.

The CTDA has formed a task force to address these very issues, and I suspect that at the Total Solution Plus 2013 conference, there will be seminars addressing the Internet and social media.

TD: You’ve been described as something of a firebrand; are there any positions you advance at odds with the industry?

Firebrand… true.  I am very provocative, and people think I’m crazy or pure genius, and I’m not for the faint of heart.  I am very passionate about having more women executives and business owners get involved in the tile industry.  The demographics of our industry have changed quite a bit.  Let’s face it, the tile industry, like construction, has always been a male-dominated industry.  But there are more women doing business in the tile industry than ever before, many running very successful business.

I would like to see more women join and actively participate in the CTDA, as well as other industry organizations.

TD:  What is your forecast for the tile industry over the next couple of years? 

I think the business will continue to improve because the American people are getting used to the economy.  They realize life must go on, and tile distributors and retailers have adjusted their business models to be competitive in today’s market.  Let’s face it, if they haven’t changed their thinking by now, they’re probably out of business.

TD: What will it take for the tile industry to come all the way back and forge ahead of its past successes?

I think to be successful now, companies must re-invent themselves entirely. They can’t afford to rest on their laurels and reminisce about how successful they once were.

I think you need to think novel and act entrepreneurial.  More important than having the coolest products, or the best price, or the most aggressive sales staff is exceptional customer service! I have found that if you have stellar customer service people will flock to you and stand in line to do business with you. If you have their best interest at heart they will follow you anywhere because they trust you.



Sylvie Atanasio, Creative Director



Why slip resistance continues to be a “moving target.”
March 13th, 2013

Specifying Ceramic Tile, Glass Tile, Stone and Terrazzo for Slip Resistant Surfaces…

 By: Donato Pompo


About twenty years ago, slip resistance was a big selling point to architects because of common slip-fall lawsuits.  Back then most ceramic tiles were not offered with a textured surface. Texture was considered the key characteristic for determining the degree of slip resistance. It became a big selling point, and new tile products were developed with a textured finish.

Soon the industry realized some unexpected tradeoffs with too much texture.  Textured surfaces more readily picked up and showed dirt, requiring more maintenance.  Heavily textured tiles were also more difficult to clean to the extent that in some cases the new tile floor had to be torn out and replaced with a tile that had less texture.  As a result, products were adjusted so they wouldn’t be a maintenance problem, but they would meet slip resistant requirements.

These same concerns apply to glass tile, natural stone, terrazzo and other hard-finish surfaces.  Natural stone has been used extensively in malls, airports and other public areas. Recently terrazzo flooring has been used more due to the increased design options.  Glass tile use has greatly increased in recent years.  In each case, the degree of texture influences the degree of slip resistance and maintenance.

Slip resistance depends on a number of factors: surface texture, whether the surface is clean or contaminated with one or more residuals, whether it is wet or dry or frozen, whether the surface is level or sloped, the type of shoe soles, if any (e.g. bare feet), and the condition of the soles that a person is wearing, whether the person is walking or running; their gait, and whether they are turning or transitioning from one plane to another or from one textured surface to another.  There are other dynamics in terms of the size and weight distribution of the person, whether they have any mobility handicaps, and even their state of mind, making this a complex issue.  Traction engineers say that the walking surface has to be slippery to some extent in order to allow the surface to be a walking surface.

Slip resistant standards-of-care and codes have been a moving target.  Years ago a reasonable Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF) for a wet or dry surface was considered to be 0.50. This is supported by Underwriters Laboratories UL410 that is based on testing with the James machine per ASTM D-2047 on polished coated flooring surfaces. Then various agencies said the requirement should be 0.60 per the ASTM C1028 SCOF test protocol. Later the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) recommended a 0.60 SCOF on level surfaces and a 0.80 for ramp surfaces, wet or dry, without calling out a test method. (ADA has since removed those recommendations and now states that the surface must be firm, stable and slip resistant throughout its lifetime.)

OSHA’s non-mandatory appendix A of the Walking Working Surfaces notice says a reasonable measure of slip-resistance is a 0.50 static coefficient of friction (COF) when using the English XL test device per ASTM F1679 protocol (this ASTM protocol has now been withdrawn), which OSHA says is based upon studies by the University of Michigan.  All of these recommendations apply to any hard walking surface material. The higher the COF number, the more texture or friction the surface is supposed to have.

Years ago the industry discovered that ASTM C1028 gave misleading readings on highly polished surfaces due to a condition called stiction (an artificially high coefficient of friction value in comparison to the traction the surface provides).  Polished stone and polished porcelain tiles would give SCOF readings of over 0.90 in some cases, which was misleading because they were not more slip resistant, and were slippery under wet conditions.  Over the last twenty years, organizations such as the Ceramic Tile Institute, ADA, and many local city building codes required or recommended that a 0.60 SCOF be met for wet or dry surfaces as tested by the ASTM C1028 protocol. The standard of care was expected to be a minimum of 0.60 SCOF even though the ASTM C1028 did not have a required pass – no pass value.

Manufacturers produced some products that would at least meet the 0.60 SCOF, but, in my opinion, they obviously intentionally made no reference to the tile being slip resistant.  I suspect the liability of slip fall cases was too large and there were too many variables that manufacturers had no control over, so they couldn’t make any claims about slip resistance. They generally continue to take that position today.

The impact of maintenance

One important factor was that property owners were not aware of necessary maintenance routines for tile floors; as a result, floors were not kept as clean as they should have been.  Many believed mopping was all the care required. Tile floors offer benefits regarding maintenance, but they are not self-cleaning.  Regular, appropriate cleaning is necessary to maintain the slip resistant properties. Commercial properties that use maintenance companies in particular tend to have problems cleaning tile floors. They hurry through the process, use mops rather than abrasive pads or brushes, don’t change mop water frequently, and  let the dirty water air dry on the tile surface.  This leaves a dirty residual that builds up over time and lessens the floor’s slip resistant potential.

Ride-along or stand-behind scrub cleaning machines that wet, brush and vacuum as they go work well if used properly. However they have the same contamination problems if water is not changed frequently, cleaners leave a residual film, and floors are not rinsed. In particular, textured tiles need to be brushed clean with a neutral based detergent.  The dirty solution needs to be picked up with a wet-dry vacuum, and the floor needs to be rinsed with clean water to avoid residual contaminates.  Now commercial scrubbers can be used with ionized water solutions (e.g. Tennant’s ec-H2O Technology) in lieu of cleaning chemicals that work very well and are environmentally friendly.

As the tile industry performed more research, more practical and reliable test methods developed that were better indicators of slip resistance.  Much of the research was done by the University of Wuppertal in Germany, which developed what some considered the most reliable test method known as the German Ramp test.  A dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) was found to be a better way to measure and specify slip resistance. SCOF is a measurement of frictional resistance when an object is subjected to a force necessary to start it in motion to overcome surface friction.  DCOF is a measurement of the resistance that must be overcome to keep an object in motion, which is already in motion. SCOF is normally higher than the DCOF when a surface is being tested under the same conditions.

You can’t specify a slip-resistance rating without identifying the testing method, test device, surface conditions, and sensor material to be used; thus you can’t compare values obtained through one methodology to those resulting from a different one. A number of different SCOF and DCOF devices are available, some more suitable for laboratory testing and others for field testing. They all produce different results to some degree.

The ANSI A137.1 Ceramic Tile Committee, managed by the secretariat Tile Council of North American (TCNA), started researching and testing various test methods over a number of years.  This year a new method for measuring coefficient of friction, titled the DCOF AcuTest, was passed as part of the updated ANSI A137.1 standard.   It uses an automated, portable device called the BOT 3000 that measures DCOF. According to an article written by Eric Astrachan and Katelyn Simpson of TCNAfor Tile magazine in June 2012, the DCOF AcuTest correlates well with the German Ramp test.

According to the TCNA 2012 Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installations, the 0.42 DCOF AcuTest value is considered an additional measure of safety over the SCOF 0.60 when tested per ASTM C1028. The referenced TCNA article notes that in a study of over  300 tile surfaces, TCNA researchers found “on average” that a 0.60 SCOF per ASTM C1028 measured with de-ionized water generally correlated with a 0.38 DCOF per the AcuTest measured with slightly soapy water. Not all products with a DCOF value over 0.42 are suitable for all applications.  Type of use, traffic, contaminants, maintenance, expected wear, and type of tile are important and must be considered by specifiers. Refer to Section of ANSI A137.1-2012 for details.

There are additional standards for keeping a public floor safe, particularly under wet conditions.  When it rains, signage should be placed at the doorway transitions.  Absorbent floor mats should be placed at doors to provide enough length of matting to allow shoes to dry as they walk, which is normally about 4.6 m (15 feet).  Plastic bags should be provided at doorways for wet umbrellas so they don’t drip on the floor.  Spills on interior floors should be cleaned and dried immediately and warning signage should be placed in the area during the clean up process.  OSHA has additional rules for floors in work places to be maintained in a manner that keeps them safe for employees.


Smaller Partnerships Lead to Grander Plans
February 28th, 2013

A few years ago, CTDA, along with NTCA and TCNA blended their annual meetings into a single, industry-wide event, Total Solutions Plus (TSP). Although many participants initially viewed TSP as more efficient way to meet (and it is), by combining travel, time away from one’s own business and even the financial obligations that go along with attending major industry events, into a single meeting, the result has quickly become greater than the sum of its parts.

Today TSP is the most comprehensive industry event, offering networking across the supply chain, a broader variety of seminar opportunities, more dynamic keynote presentations, and a table top show to introduce the latest products to those professionals who really make the decisions.  This year, the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) has joined the CTDA, NTCA, and TCNA to jointly host the 2013 Total Solutions Plus October 26-29 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Those of us who have been involved with TSP from the beginning realize that this growth underscores that what we are doing at TSP and in CTDA is moving the tile business forward in ways we’ve never seen before.TSP_new_logo

The Word is Commitment.
February 25th, 2013

Frank Donahue, CTDA president


Last week, members of the Board of Directors  and all Committee Chairperson of the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) took time from their busy schedules to travel to the association office just outside Chicago to meet and plan for activities in 2013 and beyond.  (You read this correctly: they traveled to Chicago in February; no golf, no poolside reception.) What drives this kind of commitment?

The first driver is leadership. These individuals are leaders. They are the industry leaders in ceramic tile distribution and manufacturing, many of them representing the second generation in the industry and in CTDA. They understand the power of face-to-face meetings and the energy they generate.

Involvement offers rewards. CTDA leaders and members alike have built their businesses and their reputations on contributing to the greater good of the industry, the power of networking and of industry education. They understand that although it’s not always easy to leave the business for even a day or two, they always return a little smarter for the effort.


Industry News
February 21st, 2013

Tile Redi® wins new product award

Tile Redi®, world-leading manufacturer and marketer of pre-formed, one-piece shower pans and related accessories, received the award for “Surfaces 2013 Best New Product” sponsored by Floor Tends and Tile magazines. The winning product, Redi Trench™, is an incredibly exciting marriage of design and function. Farrell Gerber, Executive VP Sales of Tile Redi® stated, “Redi-Trench™ is the only linear drain system completely integrated into a leak-proof, mold-free shower pan. Designers have the choice of selecting either tile-in-grate or non-tile-able versions. We know this product meets the needs of so many shower applications, and is an ideal item to be specified for hotels with a sizable number of guestrooms.” Redi Trench™ features offer endless design flexibility as  it can be used with any size Redi Base (30″–72”), plank pitched, molded-in trench. The Redi Trench™ is plank pitched with a  molded-in trench that will accept any tile size. Additionally, it can be put in any trench location or any drain location with the option of specifying a tile-able or grate top. The product is offered in 40 popular models.  “Winning this award means a lot for the entire Tile Redi organization,” added Farrell Gerber,. “We spend countless hours in R&D with our design team to make sure we offer the market the maximum quality, highest performing products… all offered with the easiest installation. We are extremely proud that Redi Trench™ has received this honor.”


Bellavita expansion

Bellavita Tile has announced the completion of its new office and warehouse complex in Vancouver, BC. The expansion is a result of a detailed, long-term plan by Bellavita to assure continued growth and ongoing support to the firm’s distribution network. Located three short blocks from the company’s old headquarters, the new facility includes 1,750 square-feet of offices and over 8,000 square-feet of warehouse. Plans for new production schedules and stocking programs have resulted from the expansion that will continue to evolve throughout 2013. The new space showcases several installed tile products manufactured by Bellavita. Most significant can be found on the office floors, which feature the Rivergrass collection in the Papyrus color, utilizing a 24×24″ (60x60cm) format.  Ames Tile & Stone, in Vancouver provided slab isolation membrane and the NuHeat radiant heating system to enhance the performance of the floors. The installation was completed by Bridgewater Tile, Ltd. Bellavita is especially proud of the energy-savings features implemented at the new facility. Mike Ward, U.S. Director of Sales explained, “To keep our burden on the environment as low as possible, we contacted our friends at NuHeat to help us with an electric radiant heat solution for the office space. Working with Anthony Celio, we settled upon their prefabricated mats, both standard and custom for the entire space, all of which is now controlled by their SOLO thermostats. The high thermal mass of our porcelain, paired with the efficient heating of NuHeat’s mats, provides the only heat-source required for the entire space with minimal energy input. But the SOLO thermostats are the clincher- they make sure the office is toasty only during business hours without need for any direction after the initial setup.”“ Bellavita Tile also moved its U.S. offices from California to Carrollton, Texas in 2012.


QEP Named as Exclusive Distributor of Homelux Products

Q.E.P. Co., Inc. has been named as the exclusive authorized distributor of Homelux Products in North America. QEP will be representing the full line of Homelux-branded products and accessories throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean region. Homelux is a leading international brand of tile trims, tile accessories and tiling tools based in Ashbourne, United Kingdom. They boast a large sku assortment across multiple categories including Tile Trims and Seals, Under Tile Heating, Waterproof Matting, Crack Suppression, Wet Rooms and Glass Mosaics. They have market penetration in the UK and European Professional outlets as well as the major retailers throughout these regions.  “We are excited to partner with a dynamic company such as Homelux. The superior collection of the Homelux range of products combined with the strength of QEP’s existing product lines and market penetration is a combination for success for both companies,” said Jamie Clingan, Sr. VP Marketing.

Garry joins LATICRETE

LATICRETE announced that T.J. Garry has joined the firm as its new Architectural Products Division (APD) Technical Sales Representative, covering Southern Florida. Garry will be reporting to LATICRETE Regional Sales Manager, Greg Braswell, who stated, “T.J. comes to LATICRETE after working the past 11 years with our distributor, Specialty Tile Products.  During five of those years, he was their marketing manager, focusing on the commercial and A&D community.  T.J.’s last four years have been spent handling commercial sales in the Florida market.  Prior to his time with Specialty Tile, he worked as a residential tile installer. Clearly, our newest hire knows the tile industry!”

“I feel very fortunate to be with such a solid company,” Garry commented. “By far, LATICRETE has the best product lines in the business. In particular, I like the family-owned aspect of my new firm. LATICRETE has quality people and unmatched products… I’m really excited about being onboard!”

Product Innovations
February 18th, 2013

Florim’s new Urban Wood

Urban Wood is a beautiful new porcelain tile ideal for any application, especially for creative projects where the “look of wood” is typically not specified, in particular, for hospitality suites’ kitchens and bathrooms. Additionally, it offers exquisite natural visuals when installed on patios and other outdoor areas.  End-users will enjoy the look of real wood while  benefiting from the ease of maintenance inherent only to porcelain tile material. Urban Wood is characterized by its through-color porcelain body combined with an incredibly realistic wood-look surface, created by cutting-edge High Definition Graphic (HDG) Technology.  A soft to the touch, contemporary, rectified tile, Urban Wood enables the installer to use smaller grout joints which not only give the new tiled area a more monolithic appearance… the smaller the grout joint, the lesser the time and expense for future cleaning. Available in six wood-look colors (Ash, Honey, Oak, Walnut, Wenge and White Birch), three rectified tile are available: 4”x24,” 6”x24” (in either the Natural or Grip finish) and 6”x36,” which is a new size format offered by Florim USA. For safety purposes in outdoor applications, it is recommended that Urban Wood tiles with the non-slip, high coefficient of friction “Grip Finish,” are specified. Stefano Rabaioli, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Florim USA stated,  “We believe Urban Wood is the ideal choice for commercial applications where the look of natural wood has been selected, but the durability and ease of maintenance offered by porcelain tile material is a necessity. Our Tennessee manufacturing facility, which is one of the most comprehensive in all of America, has the capacity to produce large amounts of this product range. We also have the warehousing capability to store material we manufacture, which makes products such as Urban Wood ideal for architectural specifications that include future roll-outs and other commercial expansions dependent upon using the same material installed in project number one.” Made in the USA, Urban Wood has a Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) rating of > 0.42 and a >0.50 DCOF for its Grip Finish materials, making it an ideal choice for nearly any application (residential/commercial and indoor/outdoor). Additionally, all Urban Wood materials contain 10% recycled content. Projects designed with Urban Wood being specified are eligible for LEED points.

Inno_urban wood series wenge


LATICRETE has added eight bright and exhilarating additive colors to its LATICRETE® SPECTRALOCK® Dazzle line. “Blue Hawaii,” “Tangerine Orange,” “Limeade,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Lemonade,” “Ruby Slippers,” “Candied Apple” and “Purple Haze” will continue to add unique design enhancements to LATICRETE SPECTRALOCK PRO Premium Grout and LATICRETE SPECTRALOCK PRO Grout applications.

“These new colors bring contemporary, high-end design image ‘looks’, especially to glass tile installations,” stated Ryan Blair, LATICRETE Channel Manager. “Dazzle was a big hit when it was introduced ten years ago. Now, with these bold and cheerful new colors, it adds even more to one’s creative arsenal. Designers’ imaginations can run wild with the limitless artistic potential Dazzle now offers.” Appropriate for both walls and floors, Dazzle can enhance plain tile and stone installations with a metallic look. It adds visual “kick” by accentuating metallic tiles, glass tiles, mosaics and natural stone with its various color combinations. Dazzle brings sparkle to pools and spas, and its Glow-In-The-Dark design brings a safety component to bathrooms, hallways and entryways.


LATICRETE Expands the HYDRO BAN Shower System Line

January 21, 2013. LATICRETE, a manufacturer of globally proven construction solutions for the building industry, announced today the expansion of its LATICRETE HYDRO BAN line of products, including a pre-sloped linear shower pan, preformed benches and shelves, and new drain finishes. Launching to the market at the Surfaces trade show January 29th – 31st at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, the HYDRO BAN Shower System provides the installer a high quality rapid shower installation with unique design possibilities.

According to LATICRETE Product Manager, Jay Conrod, “At Surfaces, we’ll be debuting four new SKUs of our pre-sloped linear shower pans as well as new sizes of pre-formed benches and shelves. All of these products are constructed of lightweight high-density polystyrene and are 100% waterproof. Once set in place, they function as substrates onto which tile can immediately be adhered.”

Conrod went on to state that new drain finishes will be unveiled as well. “These include brushed, polished, oil-rubbed bronze and tile-in-grate versions. A 42-inch linear drain will be added to the sizes offered,” he said.

All these new “Made-in-America” products pass ANSI 818.10 standards and offer the LATICRETE Lifetime Warranty/Single Source Responsibility which ensures total confidence for re-sellers, installers and end-users.

LATICRETE International, Inc. provides globally proven construction solutions for the building industry.  LATICRETE® products are manufactured and distributed worldwide in the commercial and consumer channels. The company’s philosophy of innovation and technical expertise has led to an unparalleled reputation and commitment to superior quality, performance and customer service. Engineered and produced in state-of-the-art ISO 9001:2008 certified facilities, LATICRETE offers a broad product portfolio including an extensive line of independently certified low VOC sustainable products. LATICRETE®, LATAPOXY®, SPECTRALOCK®, HYDRO BAN® and DRYTEK® are registered brands of LATICRETE International, Inc. Corporate Website:

Meanwhile, what’s new on the show floor at Surfaces?
January 31st, 2013

Custom Building Products ( enhances its overall product offering with the launch of a complete line of high-quality profile and transition finishing strips and edge trim. Available in a variety of popular styles, designs and finishes, CUSTOM’s new Profiles and Transitions create smooth transitions between rooms, bridge gaps between different types of flooring or tile materials and protect the edges of ceramic tile and natural stone for an even, professional finish.

The line includes four families of beautiful, durable trim and edge pieces, suitable for floors, steps and walls: Square-edged Profiles, Decorative Profiles, Step Profiles and Transition and Compensator Profiles. These are available in a variety of durable, popular materials including anodized, chrome-plated or coated aluminum, stainless steel, solid brass and PVC. Finishes and colors are designer-inspired to complement today’s most popular looks. Stronger than typical alternatives, CUSTOM’s profiles and transitions resist dings, dents, bending and twisting. Square-edged profiles are ideal for protecting tile edges and are among the most commonly used transitions because they complement a wide range of installations. ProFloor™ is an “L channel,” designed for installations where tile meets carpet, or where tile ends, in order to protect tile from damage and create a beautiful, clean finish. It is also ideal for use on walls, countertops, steps, expansion joints and decorative edging. ProCurve™ is CUSTOM’s flexible square-edged profile designed to bend, twist and curve for wavy, curved or irregular edges.  Decorative Profiles are designed for finishing corners and bridging potentially hazardous and unsightly gaps. ProRound™ is a durable and cost-effective alternative to bullnose tile, creating an attractive corner finish for floors, walls and countertops. ProDecor™ Q is a square profile designed to protect edges and outside corners from damage, and it is an excellent choice as an end-cover for outer edges of tile and stone surfaces. It can be used to create an aesthetically-pleasing decorative accent along the edges of floors, walls and counters. Matching corner pieces are available with ProDecor Q and ProRound transitions. ProDecor™ T is an attractive and functional solution to conceal inconsistent joints, or to bridge gaps between floor treatments of the same height, such as tile, stone, laminate, parquet and wood. Stair installations present specific challenges and CUSTOM’s ProBasic Step Profiles protect stair edges with an attractive, slip-free stair nose. ProBasic is very effective in commercial, high-traffic areas.

The ProNivo™ transition and compensator profile family protects tile edges while providing smooth, attractive transitions between floor coverings of varying heights through reducers and carpet tuck channels.

LATICRETE  announced today the expansion of its LATICRETE HYDRO BAN line of products, including a pre-sloped linear shower pan, preformed benches and shelves, and new drain finishes. The HYDRO BAN Shower System provides the installer a high quality rapid shower installation with unique design possibilities. According to LATICRETE Product Manager, Jay Conrod, “At Surfaces, we’ll be debuting four new SKUs of our pre-sloped linear shower pans as well as new sizes of pre-formed benches and shelves. All of these products are constructed of lightweight high-density polystyrene and are 100% waterproof. Once set in place, they function as substrates onto which tile can immediately be adhered.”

Conrod went on to state that new drain finishes will be unveiled as well. “These include brushed, polished, oil-rubbed bronze and tile-in-grate versions. A 42-inch linear drain will be added to the sizes offered,” he said. All these new “Made-in-America” products pass ANSI 818.10 standards and offer the LATICRETE Lifetime Warranty/Single Source Responsibility which ensures total confidence for re-sellers, installers and end-users.


Surfaces attendees are optimistic about 2013
January 31st, 2013

CTDA has been hearing positive reports from the show floor at Surfaces. Steve Cameron, Director of Sales, Northern Area, for MAPEI, reports that “we had some quality customers stop in and discuss with us there early optimism about 2013. So far, two large distributors both said that their year over year January sales were about 30%, better than last January…I would say if that pattern holds true, then 2013 looks to be a much improved year for overall tile and sundry supply sales and good reason for the optimistic feel here at the show…”

Tom Carr, President, Pan American Ceramics, Inc., sent this picture, adding: “An unnamed booth attracts a lot of attention from the fashion crowd. Exhibitors and attendees express optimism about 2013.”


Report: Ceramic tile leading recovery in U.S. floor coverings sales.
January 28th, 2013

According to the latest Catalina Report on Ceramic Tile released by Catalina Research and Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC), ceramic tile has led the recovery in U.S. floor coverings sales.  During 2013, dollar and square feet sales are estimated to increase by 7.0% to 7.5% rising to $2.5 billion and 2.4 billion square feet.

Catalina estimates that ceramic tile will increase its share of overall floor coverings sales in square feet and dollars and its share of hard surface flooring.  The builder market is estimated to lead growth during 2013 due to a projected 29.0% increase in housing starts.  Growth in the residential replacement market could also accelerate as existing home sales increase by double digit rates.  Consumers are expected to push average selling prices upwards as demand shifts to higher priced products as the economy rebounds, home prices increase, and household finances improve.  Consumers are also responding positively to the introduction of larger-sized porcelain tile with stone and wood looks, as manufacturers increase their reliance on digital printing and other technologies.  In addition, the use of traditional ceramic tile is being enhanced with glass and glass-hybrid tiles to create custom designs.

The new 196-page Product Industry Report dated December 2012 provides up-to-date information on North American and world markets, and ceramic tile’s position in the U.S. floor coverings, hard surface flooring, and combined ceramic/stone/glass tile markets.

In addition, the report takes an in-depth look at the current state of U.S. construction activity and analyzes the market potential for ceramic tile. The timely data allows users to evaluate market size, growth potential, end-use markets, profitability, market share, and the competitive environment.  Each section delivers meaningful data that will allow ceramic tile industry executives to intelligently take advantage of opportunities and to avoid potential threats so they can grow their businesses and plan for 2013 and beyond.  Catalina Reports have been relied upon by the ceramic tile, stone, and floor covering industries to provide up-to-date and valuable industry information for many years.

Catalina Research added new features to the latest edition including a breakdown of porcelain and ceramic tiles, floor and wall tiles, and an analysis of the glass tile market. In addition, Catalina provides data on retail ceramic tile sales by channel and customer type, and calculated retail market shares for the leading retailers and manufacturer sales networks.

This in-depth report covers pertinent data and information by providing ceramic tile sales for residential and non-residential markets and for new construction and remodeling markets.  End-use market trends are correlated with U.S. housing demand, homeowner hard surface replacement projects and spending, characteristics of new homes, non-residential construction spending, mortgage interest rates, and other economic indicators to uncover the factors driving demand and provide insights into the direction of domestic demand in 2013 and beyond. For companies who do not need the full Ceramic Tile report covering North America and World markets, Catalina Research also provides custom local reports that analyze local market conditions at the state, city and county level at a lower cost.

Visit to obtain copies of the report brochure, abstract and table of contents.  Pricing and order forms are available at

High definition porcelain tiles making a significant design statement at Surfaces.
January 22nd, 2013

“TidesHDP” is latest addition to Florida Tile’s expanding line


Florida Tile has introduced a stylized interpretation of vein-cut stone called TidesHDP, a glazed porcelain and wall tile line for both commercial and residential use. It is the latest addition to the company’s family of ever-expanding HDP High Definition Porcelain® Products. “Specifically,” says Sean Cilona, Florida Tile’s Marketing Director, “the look of TidesHDP is that of a linear-cut Travertine or Limestone known as Georgette. In its natural form this look is a stunning linear play of tone-on-tone colors which creates the contemporary appearance.”

“As a Florida Tile porcelain product, TidesHDP is far stronger, more versatile, and easier to maintain than stone, meaning that the look can go virtually anywhere,” he adds. “By using Florida Tile’s HDP-High Definition Porcelain® technology, we not only reproduce this stone look, we also are able to set loose our imaginations with bold color combinations that can’t be found in nature.”

The new TidesHDP collection ranges from bold Blues to Steel Gray and Dark Brown.  “We created contemporary colors that can be specified in any commercial space. Each color has a unique blend of complimentary colors within its veining to add interest and depth, as well as pair beautifully with other design finishes.” (The larger-format TidesHDP can also make a statement in residential settings.)

TidesHDP glazed porcelain floor and wall is available in pressed 12×24 along with a 3×24 bullnose for each color.  Cilona also says “We have also added a unique patterned M12 mosaic that rotates each chip 90 degrees, to create a wonderful checkerboard pattern. From a design perspective, the result is that TidesHDP presents countless opportunities for creative expression, far beyond that of natural stone.”

TidesHDP  is made in the USA of 40% post-industrial recycled content. It is Greenguard and Porcelain Tile Certified and meets the new DCOF Acutest requirements to be installed in wet areas. An all new tile category, HDP High Definition Porcelain® is a Florida Tile registered trademarked brand. HDP High Definition Porcelain® is the most technically advanced glazing system available today delivering the most realistic image possible in stone or wood and also allowing for the creation low relief patterns, handmade effects, fabric looks and mosaics.


Florim introduces Jewel

JEWEL by Florim

Florim’s “Jewel” is a true gem of glazed porcelain tile, produced with cutting-edge High Definition Graphic (HDG) Technology which results in a natural stone look so real, seasoned geologists will be taking second and third glances to believe this is a man-made material! Available in five unique colors (Petrolio, Noce, Beige, Grigio, and Silver), Jewel is presented in five size formats, all available with coordinating trim pieces.  The 18”x18” and 12”x24” sizes are available either as pressed format with a natural finish… or, a rectified format with a semi-polished finish.  The 18”x36” rectified size represents a new large format produced by Florim USA. Made in America by American workers, Jewel tiles with a natural finish have a Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) rating of >0.42, which makes the range an ideal choice for nearly any application (residential/commercial and indoor/outdoor). Jewel also contains 40% recycled content; therefore projects specified with this exquisite new tile are eligible for LEED points. Stefano Rabaioli, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Florim USA stated,  “People in the United States are big fans of having natural stone installed in bathrooms, both commercial and residential. Many of the beautiful stones in demand are really not suitable for these projects, as they are too soft and have a high porosity level, which means they become water-absorbent and soon will deteriorate. Jewel tiles are as durable as the strongest granite… and, they are even more non-porous. When selected, the result is a beautiful installation with a stone look as realistic as can be found, that is strong enough to endure the rigors of time. And unlike natural stone, porcelain tile never needs sealing. We feel this is an ideal product for any kind of ‘wet area’ tile installation.”

CTDA - Online Education
CTDA - Membership