Tile that Doesn't Look Like Tile

Tile that Doesn't Look Like Tile

Sarah Coffey
Oct 14, 2009

At the Cersaie exhibition in Italy, we saw more tile than we've ever seen before, and a lot of it didn't look like tile at all. Three distinct trends in non-traditional tile have emerged in Europe in the last few years...

  • 1) Tile that looks like wallpaper. Inkjet printing technologies work especially well on absorbent ceramic, which makes it fairly easy to produce tile that looks like patterned wallpaper. A few companies, like Italian mosaic company Trend, are making pre-grouted sheets of tile that are sold in wallpaper-like strips with a polymer mesh backing that can be plastered to the wall.
  • 2) Super-thin tile. Four-millimeter-thin (.15-inch) tile is being marketed as a way to cover an existing substrate without having to do major renovation or demolition. It's also useful for creating a more efficient surface for underfloor heating. The problem is that you have to have a proper substrate to begin with—you can't use tile to cover wood or carpet, for instance.
  • 3) Tile that looks like wood. The same inkjet technology used to make wallpaper tile is also being applied to porcelain to mimic wood. At the show, we saw examples of tile that looked like parquet flooring, teak, birch, and ebony—pretty much any type of hardwood flooring you can imagine. In some cases, like Photo #10, tile is made to look like painted wood wall molding.

All the photographs above show ceramic tiles produced by Italian companies (with the exception of the first two photos, which illustrate Novoceram's French ceramic tile). To find U.S. distributors of the Italian ceramic tile companies listed below, click here. For information about Novoceram's trade distribution, click here.

1 Novoceram (French porcelain tile): Art Collection
2 Novoceram (French porcelain tile): Art Collection
3 Mirage (Italian porcelain ultra-thin tile): Composition Collection
4 Trend (Italian mosaic tile): Wallpaper Collection
5 La Fabbrica (Italian porcelain ultra-thin tile): Laser-cut tile from the Cathay Collection

6 La Fabbrica (Italian porcelain ultra-thin tile): Lifestyle Collection
7 Rex Ceramiche Artistiche (Italian porcelain tile): Essenze collection
8 Ceramiche Ceasar (Italian porcelain tile): Plank Collection
9 Cedir (Italian porcelain tile): Bambu collection
10 Ceramica Colli (Italian porcelain tile): Kebel and Lebek collections

For more coverage from Cersaie, click here.

Photos: Novoceram (1), Sarah Coffey (2-10)

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