When the first timber-effect tiles were launched on the market, I can remember that they were greeted with a great deal of scepticism. Partly, this was because the first iterations of this trend were not very sophisticated. But, secondly, many tile distributors simply could not see much of a market for these tiles, given the strength of the solid wood, engineered woods and laminate market at the time.
Roll on a decade, and timber-effects have become one of the absolute staples of the ceramic tile sector world-wide. Ranges such as Marazzi’s Treverk established demand from both consumers and specifiers. The growth of underfloor heating as a primary heat source for high end new dwellings, coupled with electric UFH as an upgrade option for en-suites and bathrooms refurbs, meant that timber-effect tiles had a strong new sales platform.
And, of course, with the widespread adoption of digital inkjet technology, the range and quality of the wood-effect tiles on the market has expanded beyond all expectations. Today manufacturers offer simulations of every species under the sun, including many that are not suitable for solid wood flooring for either environmental or technical reasons. Embossed in register surfaces, sophisticated non-slip finishes, every ultra gloss varnished effects now run shoulders with aged and distressed looks, painted floors, reclaimed timber styles and much besides.
And the formats have changed to make the wood-effect tiles both more authentic and appealing. Planks now come in a wide range of sizes, and have now been adopted for other surface finishes, notably cement-effects. Add in chevrons, parquet patterns, multi-format options and inlaid borders, and the wood-effect tile has truly come of age.
The question is will it last? For years now, I have been visiting the world’s leading tile shows expecting to find that the wood-effect tile bubble has finally burst … only to be confounded by new designs, formats and surfaces that have breathed fresh life into this long-established trend.
Cevisama was no different. But if you stepped onto just one stand – STN Ceramica – you would have found wood-effect tiles to be in rude health. More than 10 ranges were featured on the main displays: Woodland, Springwood, Rainwood, Barnwood, Yukon, Foret, Lake, Mount, Asbury and Valley. And that is but a fraction of the timber-look tiles that are featured in STN’s 2018 catalogue.
Asbury is a porcelain range in sand, silver, beige, forest, ash, and carbon variants. It comes in two plank formats: 150 by 900 and 230 by 1,200mm
Bayard shares the same two formats. It also comes in a range of options: blanco, natural, gris and viejo, with the natural and gris options also available with an anti-slip finish.
Cabrio uses a 500 by 1,000mm XL and 150 by 900mm plank formats. This porcelain range is offered in siena, and marengo options, plus uber fashionable chevrons.
Karval uses 227 by 2080mm, 230 by 1,200mm and 150 by 900mm plank formats. This elegant porcelain range has been expanded of late and now comes in blanco, gris, roble, ceniza, miel, natural and wengue designs. This means it is equally at home in contemporary or traditional settings. Natural and gris are both also available in anti-slip finishes.
Rainwood is another wood-effect porcelain range; again using the 500 by 1,000mm and 150 by 90mm formats. The design/colour options are moon, day, sunset and sunrise; plus colour mixes.
Valley features two familiar STN plank formats: 230 by 1,200mm and 150 by 900mm. The design/colour options are ash, natural and random.
Solna is a 150 by 900mm porcelain range in blanco, gris, natural and viejo.
A new wood-effect option is Balau, a 227 by 2,801mm rectified porcelain range, also offered in 150 by 900mm porcelain, with a similar range of colour options: blanco, gris, taupe and natural. Matching 230 by 1,200mm tiles come in un-rectified porcelain in blanco, gris, taupe, viejo and natural.
Cypress is a striking design in natural, mist, bronze and taupe. Once again, the plank format used is 227 by 2,081mm.
Torvik comes in three porcelain formats: 230 by 1,200mm, 150 by 900mm and 205 by 615mm, plus 227 by 2,081mm rectified.. Here the four colour choices are blanco, gris, natural and wengue.
Adenia, offered in roble, and miel, and Ashbury in carbon, ash, forest and beige, add to the options in 230 by 1,200mm. So to do Baer in beige, café, gris and marengo; and Bali in wengue, grey and roble.
The same format is adopted for Batan, just in brown; and Bayur in grey and beige. It also features in Dreamwood, in blanco, marengo, natural and viejo; and Gallone, in oak, grey,
The appeal of tropical hardwoods is offered by Merbau, a 205 by 615mm and 230 by 1,200mm collection, that comes in viejo, roble, and miel. And external option, Merbau Deck Wengue and Deck Ceniza , is provided in 230 by 1,200mm; offering on-trend inside-out design options.
And the list goes on. Mukali is a 230 by 1,200mm porcelain range in natural, blanco, taupe, and viejo. For a touch of colour, Sambu, which comes in both 230 by 1,200mm and 205 by 615mm, features in azul blue, as well a blends, natural, gris, negro and tabaco. Yapen, another 230 by 1,200mm porcelain range, is offered in natural, gris, blanco and wengue.
Tarima roble, in 230 by 1,200mm and 205 by 615mm; and Torvik, in 230 by 1,200mm, 150 by 900m, and 205 by 615mm, complete the wood-effect options. The latter comes in blanco, gris, natural and wengue, with grey and natural both available in an anti-slip surface option. Timber is one of the timeless contraction materials and it seems as though STN at least, in convinced that it will remain a staple of ceramic tile portfolios for years to come.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, February 2018