The tile and flooring industry offers more options to fit with sophisticated designs.
People filling your lobby, bustling in and out, entering with anticipation of a relaxing stay and rushing out the door to catch a cab. In their rooms, they slip off their high heels after a long day, or step out of the steam shower feeling relaxed and refreshed. Wherever they go, the flooring underfoot, though not always noticed and appreciated, impacts their experience and your reputation.
When it comes to flooring in the hospitality industry, it can sometimes be an afterthought and specified mostly according to budget, not beautification standards. From a practical standpoint, tile offers durability, decreasing the need to replace flooring for several years and saving money in the long run. As the tile and flooring industry begins to offer more options to fit with sophisticated design schemes that make the floor the centerpiece, designers now find themselves looking down more often.
When it comes to flooring choices, designers are creating impact looks by selecting tile in a variety of sizes. Rectangular tile in both floor and wall applications continues to be extremely popular. Long, linear planks often are being used on both the floor and on the wall. This results in many more pattern options, which designers are utilizing more frequently to create unique and eye-catching designs.
Tile manufacturers’ use of digital printing technology has allowed designers to create visuals never before imagined, even by Mother Nature. Images can be combined, overlaid and altered, opening up a whole new world of design possibilities. These new technologies allow manufacturers to leverage different types of glazes, resulting in unique and beautiful visual combinations, such as concrete, veining and metallics, as well as textured highs and lows in graphics or subtle patterns. Textile-inspired patterns are combined with natural stone textures to create a stunning old-world feel, and cottos mix clay stamping and watermark aging for a unique look. Some porcelain tiles, like those printed with a traditional marble look, appear so true to the natural textures they are trying to emulate, even industry professionals cannot discern what is tile and what is the “natural” surface we are imitating.
Wood looks are clearly among the hottest trends in the marketplace, and not just for residential applications, since hotels and retail spaces are looking to create a warm and welcoming home-like feel to their venues. What was first introduced as a traditional take on hardwood floors has evolved to include more colors and textures to choose from than ever before. Porcelain tile that realistically mimics the look of hardwoods - from exotics, to reclaimed, to painted - allows for beauty coupled with the long-lasting durability and the ease of maintenance typical of porcelain tile.
When it comes to maintaining hospitality venues, at the outset of design, it is important to seek out low-
maintenance options. At the same time, specifiers should consider the durability of flooring materials, especially when surfacing areas prone to water exposure. Tile is ideal for bathrooms as it provides a smooth, seamless surface that is sealed and resists water damage and seepage to the subfloor. Other flooring options can lift or peel when water pools, requiring replacement and hefty renovation costs. As mentioned previously, designers do not have to sacrifice style and aesthetic for durability and low-maintenance surfaces thanks to the myriad colors, textures and visuals available from tile manufacturers.
To ensure the long-lasting durability of tile, proper maintenance should be preformed regularly, particularly in high-traffic areas. Routine care helps to prevent damage to the tile and grout. When purchasing cleaning products, make sure the cleaner does not contain ingredients that could harm the tile finish. Each type of tile, from ceramic to natural stone, has different cleaning recommendations. For example, glazed ceramic tile should be cleaned with an all-purpose, low VOC household or commercial cleaner that is grout-joint compatible. Glass tile, on the other hand, should be cleaned with a non-abrasive cleaning compound recommended for either glass or tile. It is always best to consult your floor covering supplier or professional dealer to ensure you have the proper products and information.
If something does happen to the tile, like loosening or chipping, it is easy to switch out individual tiles. For this reason, purchasing extra tile during the initial installation is highly recommended, in the event that something happens and the tile is out of stock or discontinued. You do not want to end up with mismatched rooms later on, as this takes away from the cohesive aesthetic.
There are two key factors that determine when tile should be replaced: image and maintenance.
Hotels must appeal to their particular customer and deliver on the quality and aesthetics they have come to expect when they stay away from home. Over the years, hotels may find it necessary to update décor to keep up with current trends and gain new customers.
However, maintenance is key for hotels that want keep a clean, pleasant appearance for guests that can stand the test of time. By updating tile immediately whenever cracks appear or tile loosens, they are able to maintain a clean look that doesn’t raise concerns about quality of service. If the damage and wear is severe enough, a full replacement may be necessary.
Overall, tile is a flooring option that is not only durable and costeffective but helps create an environment that welcomes guests to kick off their shoes and stay awhile.
Massimo Ballucchi is director of product design for Dal-Tile, the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile and natural stone products used in residential and commercial design and construction in North America. The company, a division of Mohawk Industries is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Dal-Tile delivers advancements in product innovation with its Reveal Imaging™, Outstand Technology™ and Proadvanced™ Protection Program. The company is committed to incorporating environmentally friendly materials, processes and products throughout its organization. Dal-Tile has more than 7,500 employees in North America, and sells its products through a network of more than 250 company-owned sales service centers, stone slabyards, gallery design centers, independent distributors and leading home center retailers nationwide. Read more at www.daltile.com.