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Vancouver-Toronto-Montreal Trends 2018 - Trends in Tile
DIAL UP THE STYLE WITH TILE
Today's tile trends: metallic, three-dimensional, stone-like and oversized
BY SUSAN KELLY
New tile can instantly elevate the look of a kitchen, bathroom or entryway. Yet it’s not a feature that homeowners want to update every year. Will the trend that is red-hot now keep its sizzle down the line? We asked some tile experts across Canada for their picks of the looks that will carry us into 2019 and beyond.
When it comes to trends, tile insiders have a two-year jump on the rest of us, says Edward Saunders, sales manager at X-Tile, which has two locations in Ontario. “Most of us in the industry regularly attend big trade shows in Europe,” he says. “What we see there takes time to catch on in North America.” Saunders sees a trend toward reinventing classic looks with colour, texture or shine. A tried-and-true choice, white or grey porcelain subway tiles, for instance, takes on new punch if the familiar rectangle shape has a pronounced beveled 3D finish.
Sometimes, a trend will catch on faster than anticipated. Last year, X-Tile’s designers used digital printing on porcelain to create a wall mural depicting a bank of white rocks in front of a tranquil turquoise sea. Originally available by custom order only, the look caught on so quickly that now the stores keep it in stock. Part of the appeal, Saunders says, is that it is equally striking on a feature wall or tucked in a nook.
While texture is important in tiles now, another finish is coming on strong, according to Patricia Ee, sales and marketing director for Canaroma Bath & Tile in Woodbridge, Ontario. Her team is carving out more showroom space for tiles with metallic effects. “It’s a huge trend now, especially when combined with the 3D look,” she says. The most dramatic example features 13-by-40-inch tiles that, when applied, create a seamless, undulating gold or silver mirrored surface. Made of porcelain, these tiles look like hammered metal and liquid mercury. It's a futuristic effect that works well in contemporary settings, she says. Most homeowners will apply them judiciously, perhaps as a wall feature, but the tiles could be used in the shower as well.
If the mirror effect is too much for you, there are other metal finishes to choose from now. Also made of porcelain, they're tiles that boast the easy upkeep of that material with the luxe look of real metal. Some tiles emulate blocks of gold, silver or bronze. Others take a trendy shade like black, taupe or grey and add a slightly metallic sheen. “And mixing metallic tiles with natural stone or glass tiles can create very luxe and sophisticated effects,” Ee says.
An old standby, mosaic tile, takes on new design impact with a metallic finish, says Claude Béland, representative for Groupe Nord-Fab, which has offices across Quebec. “When you add some sophisticated geometry, like a herringbone pattern, and a trendy shade like black, then you really have something,” he says. Patterned tiles of all kinds, from Moroccan fish scale to hexagonal, are a popular look now, and they're often oversized.
But Béland likes the look of micro herringbone mosaic tiles, such as the Gravity Arrow tiles from Porcelanosa, used to great effect by designers such as the late Iranian architect Zaha Hadid. The herringbone differs from the pattern of seasons past in that it has a broken zigzag design that looks asymmetrical and is linear.
And thanks to advances in technology, tiles that emulate hardwoods are becoming an even bigger trend. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the real thing and the porcelain imitation, even after touching it, he says. Popular finishes include walnut or weathered driftwood-like grey stain. Most often used in planks on floors, smaller tile shapes are available, including hexagonal mosaics. “The play of small against large 11-by- 72-inch planks can be very interesting,” Béland says.
Colourful interiors are making a comeback, and tiles are following suit, says Alvin Luke, sales representative at Fontile Kitchen & Bath in Vancouver. “If you’re covering a wall or floor with them, you’ll probably still play it safe with neutral shades of grey, taupe or white,” he says. “But now, the more adventuresome are also using colour and in a bold way.” This could mean an accent wall or insert in a choice off the colour wheel. Any shade of blue, from navy to robin’s egg, is strongly on-trend, especially shades of aqua.
It’s an approach that is very forward but also takes inspiration from the past, Luke says. Some homeowners, he says, will want to cover their bathroom walls or kitchen backsplashes in porcelain tiles rendered in pale pastel shades, such as pink, blue and lavender — something not seen since the 1970s. “Back and trending also are tiles that are six or eight inches square,” he says. Glazed terra cotta square tiles are also popular for their organic appeal.
Every expert we spoke to for this article named oversized or “XL” porcelain slabs as a noteworthy trend. “It’s just starting here in North America,” says Scott McDonald, sales manager at Julian Tile in Burnaby, B.C., “but growing quickly.” The most popular are those that mimic natural stone, especially marble. Some of the newest resemble concrete with a choice of textures, ideal for contemporary or industrial looks. Bonus: they are more durable and require less maintenance than the real thing. They come in four-by-eight or five-by-10- foot slabs, ideal for creating not only feature walls but also backsplashes and countertops without seams.
The latest innovation is XL slabs made of glass. They come in a variety of on-trend colours and can also be found with metallic effects or patterns. “One version features metal foils or textiles inserted between glass slabs,” Luke says. “The effects are very subtle yet striking.” Besides the bathroom or kitchen, they can also be used on feature walls or fireplace surrounds, even floors.
No matter where you live in Canada or how short the summer, tiles are migrating outdoors as well, says Marie-Claude Fréchette, marketing manager at Ciot in Montreal and Toronto. Consider, for instance, marble, either the real thing or in a porcelain lookalike; it continues to be popular for kitchen counters, islands and backsplashes. “So much so, homeowners are carrying the look to the outdoor kitchen as well,” she says. The marble- look porcelain slabs are ideal for crafting luxe outdoor counters. And unlike real marble — or granite or limestone, if that’s the preferred look — porcelain is heat- and stain-resistant.
No matter how small the outdoor space, urban condo dwellers can add a distinctive touch to the flooring with tiles. Slate or slate-look porcelain tiles are among the popular choices here. Homeowners with larger patios or decks may opt to cover them with highly durable and low-maintenance cedar-look porcelain tiles. “It’s all about a sophisticated look and seamless flow from the indoor living area to the outer,” Fréchette says. “It says a lot about how important outdoor living spaces are to us now.”