LVT is H-O-T: The Next Step for Luxury Vinyl Tile

Few flooring materials have stormed the industry rapid like luxury vinyl tile. At home in commercial as well as residential settings, LVT is expanding options for designers and specifiers.

As a relatively newcomer to the floor covering scene, LVT is the fastest growing category in flooring – it’s popular across a wide variety of commercial segments, from healthcare to retail, from corporate to education and high education, and even hospitality. This interest has been driven first by styling and the opportunity for new looks, whether it’s a look inspired by natural materials, textiles or abstract concepts.

Interest has only grown as designers and facilities managers have discovered LVT’s quality, durability, superior performance, low maintenance, lower lifecycle cost, and ease of installation, including Mannington’s LockSolid glueless locking system. Residentially, LVT has enjoyed strong double-digit growth, even throughout these past few economically challenging years. Like the commercial segment, consumers are drawn to LVT for its incredibly realistic designs, ease of maintenance, superior performance characteristics and installation options.

LVT’s popularity can be attributed to the same elements that made laminate successful such as appeal to the DIY market: its modular composition and realistic visuals. Where LVT eclipses laminate is in durability and flexibility. Because LVT’s composition includes PVC, the product is much more resistant to damages in addition to being water and scratch resistant. Plus, improved embossed techniques give LVT a much more realistic look than laminate.

In commercial, the same general trends are happening in LVT as in other hard surfaces. Wider, more rustic woods with character are important as are exotic woods. Reclaimed woods in a variety of widths give the space a feeling of authenticity. Grays continue to be important in addition to the established warm yellow and red based hues. In stones, it’s about larger formats in squares as well as offset rectangular designs. Realism in stone comes from patina and irregularity. Colors are complex neutrals that work with cool metals but have a hint of inner warmth. LVT build momentum in gaining market share through a realistic mimicking of wood, stone and other natural materials. Rather than replicating natural materials, manufacturers are using new technologies to give a textile-like texture, and modular shapes – circles, diamonds and squares – that provide truly customizable installations and patterns.

Today’s LVT products are being inspired by the beauty of raindrops on glass, of linens, and much more. Also very popular are the variety to treatments that include beveled, grouted, spare, tumbled and sculpted.

Mannington has launched Intaglio, the first sculpted LVT. They’ve also recently launched travertine, and slate decors that resemble the original looks of stone, and their hottest look of the year is High Definition Carpet Tile. Customers thought that they were getting into the carpet tile business at first, until they felt it. You cannot tell the tiles are vinyl! The high definition decor show the fibers of the yarn, twists of the fiber and surface texture that mimic a tufted carpet tile.

Here are a few key reasons to consider LVT for your next project:

  • Ease of installation.
  • A wide variety of aesthetics, without any compromise of performance
  • Green properties (LEED Credits)
  • Durability
  • Ease of installation and maintenance
  • Design flexibility through modular sizes and shapes

FROM THE PRO: Advice for designing a low-maintenance, family-friendly kitchen

Put your materials to the test. Take a sample of whatever countertop material you’re considering, and squeeze a lemon on it, spill some red wine, or dribble olive oil. Absorbent stones such as marble and limestone will stain, unlike a quartz like Cambria.

Stay away from leather. This goes for banquettes and barstools, which, like marble, will show every stain. Faux suedes and leathers (vinyls) have improved markedly in terms of appearance and durability. Indoor/outdoor fabrics, which are solution-dyed and can often be cleaned with bleach, are also very durable and come in a wide range of stylish patterns.

Choose finishes carefully. If you opt for stainless steel appliances, get a brushed finish, which won’t show streaks or fingerprints so easily. As for cabinets, painted finishes have become more durable, especially catalytic lacquers, like those used for painting cars, and you can opt for a low-sheen finish. And if wood gets gouged, it can be sanded down and refinished.

Match flooring to your lifestyle. Porcelain tile floors are the most practical flooring choice, and have come a long way in terms of styles and options. Hard species of wood floors, such as walnut, are also very forgiving, especially if they are hand-hewn, distressed, or reclaimed planks; however, the shinier the floor, the more scratches and dings will show. Designer Billy Beson recommends two coats of high-gloss polyurethane for a strong, hard finish, and then the final coat in a matte finish to reduce the sheen.

TEC Introduces Power Grout

H.B. Fuller Construction Products, maker of TEC brand products, introduces the new high-performance Power Grout ultimate performance grout. The Power Grout product is designed to provide installations with permanent stain resistance, crack resistance and superior color uniformity.

Excellent for both interior and exterior installations — in residential or commercial applications – the product allows for grout joints ranging from 1/16 to 1/2 inch with a single floor and wall formula. Its fast-setting feature accommodates foot traffic within four hours of completion and shower usage in as little as 24 hours.

Designed to offer consistent, uniform color across the installation, Power Grout includes a limited lifetime warranty against efflorescence and color fading. In addition, Power Grout ultimate performance grout is permanently stain resistant and never requires sealing, so it can keep its “like new” appearance with simple routine maintenance.

“We developed the Power Grout product to offer the ultimate in grout performance, ” stated Kristin Cattaneo, Senior Brand Manager for H. B. Fuller Construction.

Available in a total of 19 colors, the new TEC Power Grout is offered in 25-pound and 10-pound plastic bags. Twelve of the most popular colors are also available in 5-pound jars.

For more information, visit or stop into the showroom to talk to one of our installation pros. TileCraft is currently stocking TEC products in the Traverse City Showroom Warehouse.

Carpet Care: Dealing with “Traffic Lane Gray”

Like all textiles, carpets will eventually show signs of wear. The wear creates an illusion of soiling, which often causes frustration and misunderstanding between the homeowners and the carpet care experts. Even though a carpet has been cleaned, it does not mean traffic areas will look clean. Traffic areas are those places where people are constantly walking or working. This situation creates what is called “Traffic Lane Gray”

While “Traffic Lane Gray” is an inevitable part of any carpets life, the process causing it can be slowed down. The way to prevent this is to rearrange furniture in your home. By doing so, you will block old traffic areas and created new ones. By occasionally switching the flow of traffic you will distribute the effects of “Traffic Lane Gray”. You can also add area rugs to places where “Traffic Lane Gray” is unavoidable through rearranging furniture.

Summer is on it’s way and we know you’re ready to enjoy your patios!

Now is the time to finish the patio with a new outdoor flooring system. Extra 20 system by Caesar has been designed to make outdoor flooring quick and easy to install, immediately usable and with easy access for inspection at any time simply by lifting the floor slabs. These benefits, combined with the technical resistance features of Caesar porcelain stoneware tiles, make Extra 20. perfect for northern Michigan outdoor applications. The flooring system is no longer linked to the structure and it has a better resistance to thermal expansion, therefore avoiding the risk of breaking and cracks. A particularly important benefit for terrace and patio applications that are exposed to direct sunlight and adverse weather conditions. Moreover, it is easy to correct level defects of the surface thanks to the adjustable supports equipped with self-levelling heads, as well as problems due to lack of water drainage as water quickly flows under the treading surface thanks to the spaces present between adjacent slabs. Above all, thanks to the “dry installation system”, the laying of these slabs does not require any adhesives or grouts making installation very easy, quick and clean. The materials are always removable and reusable.

It’s also a great solution for outdoor applications that need to have an easy access under the treading surface for technical reasons, a space designed to hide cabling and hydraulic piping allows the opportunity to check and change them at any time, thus reducing maintenance time and costs in comparison to traditional floors.

How does it work? The system consists of modular slabs and polypropylene supports. Single-piece porcelain stoneware slabs by Caesar, perfectly squared and rectified with a thickness of 20mm and a anti-slip finish “‘press fit” on to the polypropylene supports. The substrate onto which the slabs are to be installed, must be solid, resistant and water-proof, with a sufficient incline to guarantee the correct flow of rain water. The installation foresees the setting of the supports, equipped with four spacers to allow an adequate joint between adjacent tiles. Suitable cuts must be done on borders and edges in order to get close to the walls.

Stop by the showroom for a closer look!

This years bathroom color trends are…

“It used to be that there wasn’t a lot of color in the bathroom, so more color is definitely a newer trend,”says Jamie Drake, interior style guru and author of New American Glamour. “You still see a lot of white, crisp spa-like solutions, but even those often have bright accents.”

Neutral shades such as cream, beige and taupe have long been popular color choices for the bathroom because they wear well and fit easily into any design scheme. But these safe colors are giving way to bolder palettes that create a cheerful, fun place to wake up to every morning.

While bold can be beautiful, it’s not necessarily for everyone. “Color is crucial in creating different moods, so I create a range of palettes for a wide variety of lifestyles and looks, ” explains Leatirice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute, an Interior design industry leader in forecasting the hottest color trends.

Some might be surprised by the color pairings in the home color forecast for 2008. One palette, Wellspring, is particularly suited for a soothing and relaxing bath experience. Based on the properties of water, Wellspring uses shades of blue and aqua, highlighted by a glimmer of effervescent undersea green, violet and indigo. Mother-of-pearl and the sandy shades of the shore bring a beautifully warming balance.

Just a touch

If you don’t want color everywhere in your bath, try adding small doses in cheerful colors such as sunny yellow or fire-engine red that are inspired by children’s bathrooms. Glass tiles are becoming more readily available in many bright hues and  sizes, a small vanity backsplash would add punch.

For those who like to change color frequently, for example with the seasons, should consider sticking to a neutral tile and rotating accessories. “You can easily add a touch of updated color — and unexpected ‘aha’ — with towels, rugs, and other accessories,” says Eiseman. Try cool spa colors such as sapphire blue and seafoam green for spring, and brighter beach colors such as flamingo pink and chartreuse for summer. With the fall comes warmer shades of brown, while winter-influenced colors include candy apple red and maroon with an undertone of pink.

Drake is a fan of iridescent tiles with a mother-of-pearl sheen that changes with the light. “Even the white tiles are designed to shimmer and give off shades of turquoise, peach or lavender.”

Timeless Color

While we’re going to see more and more color in the bathroom, certain timeless guidelines still apply. “You want colors that are flattering to the skin — whatever you put on the wall will be the color reflected in your (face’s) shadowes,” says Jarrett Hedborg, whose celebrity clients include Jim Carrey, Bette Midler and Jeff Bridges. “I’ll never do a green bathroom because cool tones tend to be unflattering and make you look older. Yellow is another no-no, especially if you’re applying make-up, because it distorts your skin tone and makes you look jaundiced.”

According to Hedborg, most skin tones are pink, so you want warm tones that will pick up that color — such as peach and rose — and create warm shadows.

But don’t rule out those cool spa colors quite yet. “Some people will always like the soothing blues, blue-greens, greens and blue lavenders that enable tranquility and relaxations,” says Eiseman. “Ultimately, your choice of colors boils down to your expectations of what you want in a room that suits your comfort level.”

It’s a new year, and thin is in!

One of the hottest trends that we’re seeing at all the latest floor covering shows has got to be the emergence of thin tiles. These thin tiles start at a thickness of about 2.5mm for wall applications and up to about 6mm for floor applications. Manufacturers tout a range of advantages, including installation over existing floor or wall coverings, eliminating the need for ripping out existing finish materials in renovation projects, thus saving time and money in labor costs. It’s the perfect solution for covering up that old, out of date shower tile that you’ve been dying to get rid of but don’t want the hassle of tearing your shower apart. Because the tiles are available in slab form, sizes as big as 48″ x 142″, installing them will create a very clean and uninterrupted appearance!

Because this is such a new product there are no nationally-recognized installation standards for thin tiles. Efforts to develop ISO standards for thin tile and installation standards are afoot. The TCNA is collaborating with labor to quickly develop installation standards for North America to reduce incidents of performance failures due to incorrect methods or materials. For now, some important factors installers must consider in thin-tile installation are: Lippage must be virtually non-existent to avoid chipping damage. Coverage must be 100% at the edges to prevent cracking. The amount of extra tile needed for a job can be much more than a regular project if the pieces being installed are large. The larger tiles can be easily broken. Some tips from the field include: Using a trowel with slanted teeth to allow the mortar to lay down more easily without sliding the tile to comb over the trowel ridges. Although it goes against the grain of traditional tile installations, walk on the tile to embed it into the mortar. “This tile is flexible…stepping on it pushes it into place”. Beating it into the mortar with a rubber hammer can cause breakage.

Here are a few thin-tile products to look out for:

Cotto d’Este: Black-white, from the Kerlite collection, is manufactured to a slim 3mm thickness using the Lamina process. Sleek and contemporary, Black-White comes in 3×1 meter and 1×1 meter in black and white. Eco-friendly manufacturing is earmarked by reduced emissions and 25% natural gas consumption, plus recycled materials for packaging. Large porcelain stoneware slabs above 3.5mm thick are reinforced with fiberglass mesh.

Gardenia Orchidea: Crete Di Piandella Fornace is the latest innovation from Crystal Ker brand, which uses traditional press technology in a new way to produce extra fine, extremely thin, very white porcelain stoneware in 2.5mm thickness for wall covering and 4.5mm for flooring.

Laminam: Linfa ceramic slab features Lamina technology to produce a 3 meter-long, 3mm thick tile with surface effects that imitate various types of wood such as cotton, hemp, bark and coconut. Linfa is made with up to 48% recycled content.

Lea Ceramich: Slimteck Re-Evlolution 3mm porcelain now comes in sizes as large as 40″ x 118″, in a new resin-like texture created by Lamina technology.

Refin: Skin is a the brand-new, 4.8mm slim porcelain stoneware. Using dust-pressed technology, Skin offers the same technical and resistance features of standard thickness porcelain stoneware tiles, with added benefits offered by thin tile.

Stop into the showroom to see samples of the latest and greatest!

Cheers to the New Year and Hot Trends!

Tile is a popular flooring choice due to its durability and longevity. Here is a glimpse at some of the trends you can expect to see in 2012.

Clean Monochromatic Looks – The use of clean, minimalist graphics without a lot of movement will continue to be a staple of modern design. In addition, you will see additional use of fabric-like textures that mimic patterns of linen, silk and tweed. Neutral black, white and gray palettes will also become increasingly popular, especially when paired with bold accent colors.

Splashes of Glass and Metal – In 2012, expect to see designs that use glass or metal accents in backsplashes, showers or floors to create upscale spaces with added charm. This mixing of mediums is becoming more popular as a way to add aesthetic value to product quality.

Traditional Classics – Classic, timeless products and colors will remain most appealing to the residential market. Look for subtle uses of color, such as a color accent in a backsplash or in a shower design. You’ll also see more classic, realistic, stone looks, including travertine and slate.

Varying Sizes – Rectangular tile for both floor and wall applications will continue to be popular. Specifically, linear sizes that mimic the look of wood. In addition, large and small tile will be used together increasingly, for an innovative approach that can create the illusion of more expansive space.

Dimensionality – Textured dimensionality is a trend you’ll be seeing more frequently, especially with stone. Mosaics and wall tiles create visual relief as they utilize highs and low

Solid Vs. Engineered…how to choose the perfect wood floors for your home

First let’s define Solid and Engineered wood flooring…

Solid wood is milled from a single 3/4″ thick piece of hardwood. Because of its thickness, a solid hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. Solid wood flooring expands and contracts with changes in your home’s relative humidity. Normally, installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding or quarter round is traditionally used to hide the extra space.

Engineered wood is produced with three to five layers of hardwood. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure. As a result, engineered wood flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity and can be installed at all levels of the home.

Before deciding on Solid or Engineered hardwood flooring, consider these three factors:

Location, Location, Location…
The location of your hardwood flooring basically falls into three categories:

  1. On Grade – at grout level
  2. Above Grade – any second level or higher
  3. Below Grade – any floor below ground level, including basements or sunken living room.

Traditional solid hardwood flooring is not well suited for below-grade installations, because of the possibility of moisture issues. The construction of an engineered hardwood gives it enhanced structural stability that allows it to be installed at any grade level when a moisture barrier is used during installation.

What type of subfloor do you have?
If you plan to install over concrete, you must use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity. Solid wood flooring or Engineered flooring may be used over plywood, wood, or OSB subfloors.

Will there be moisture in the room?
If you are considering flooring for a bathroom where continuous moisture is expected, you will want to select a product other than hardwood. While the moisture resistance of an engineered hardwood makes it suitable for rooms below grade or grout level when installed with a moisture barrier, it is not advisable to install any hardwood flooring in a bathroom.

Living in Michigan we are all well aware of the rapid changing climate from day to day. Especially in the summers with the high humidity. Solid hardwood floors are not recommended for homes on the water without air conditioning or a way to control the humidity levels.

Tougher than your toughest environment!

American Olean introduces a new glaze technology that provides built-in antimicrobial protection.

During the manufacturing process, the glaze is infused with Microban Antimicrobial Protection, creating an environment which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. The result is an additional layer of durable, long-lasting protection, keeping the tile cleaner between cleanings.

The greatest part!? Bacteria inhabiting protection lasts the life of the tile!

Microban Technology is incorporated into the glaze during the manufacturing process, so it starts working the moment the tile is complete. Unlike other antimicrobial agents on the market, Microban doesn’t require UV light to be effective. It won’t wash off or wear away, giving your design an added level of durable, long-lasting protection. And it’s perfect for environments with heavy traffic volume. Check out the link below for more information! And don’t forget to see the complete American Olean line at our Traverse City and Frankfort Showrooms.