As any business will tell you, keeping up with - and being able to identify - new industry trends is absolutely key to the success of a business. Trends have a habit of creeping up and then running right past you unless you keep your eyes peeled and your ear firmly to the ground! The tiling industry is no different, and the last few years have seen the styles and materials within the trade evolve significantly.
One of the most exciting tiling trends has been the increased popularity of large format tiles. Think back to the last time you stayed in an upmarket modern hotel – I’d be very surprised if the bathroom tiles weren’t large format. They are everywhere, and it’s not hard to see why – they provide the illusion of space, adding depth and dimension to rooms that might easily appear small. Not only are large format tiles far more widely available than they were ten years ago, they are also thinner, stronger, and often have specially developed adhesives. All current signs point to the popularity of the large format tile being here to stay – a quick look at our own Dunlop sales figures invariably reveals our Large Format and Natural Stone Tile Adhesive to be one of the best selling products.
The fact that natural stone tiles have also had something of a resurge in recent years can be attributed to many of the same practical benefits as the large format tiles – in addition to being such an aesthetically pleasing look in the kitchen and the bathroom.
Furthermore, they are being used for bigger spaces. The average volume of tiles of all types used for kitchen and bathroom jobs has leapfrogged quite dramatically, as people make their rooms ever bigger. As an example, the average dimensions for a shower cubicle have jumped from 300cm x 300cm to 300cm x 600cm, while the amount of people who have wet rooms has also increased significantly. Kitchens, meanwhile, have enjoyed a renaissance as the heart of the home, encouraging people into open-plan kitchen diners and bigger culinary spaces. Generally speaking, the knock-on effects are tiling areas that are larger in dimension and more frequently found in various different sections of the home.
Increasingly, the kitchen and bathroom are no longer the only places you will find tiles. More and more people in the UK are taking their cue from the interiors of the Mediterranean and tiling living rooms, dining rooms and conservatories. We may not have the blazing sun and soaring temperatures that makes tiled interiors in countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece such a necessity, but that hasn’t stopped people wanting to adopt a look that is clean, crisp and airy.
Tiling materials have advanced in recent times in terms of both range and quality. Tiles themselves can now be bought in a staggering range of styles, shapes and materials and are increasingly available in a range of outlets. Not only does this allow tiling to cater to a wider range of differing personal tastes at little cost, but such easy availability is also more likely to entice people to opt for a tiled surface to benefit from its lasting and simple, clean finish.
The tiling industry is one that naturally keeps tradesmen, merchants and suppliers very much on their toes. Not only must we keep abreast of stylistic changes to interior aesthetics, but we are also affected by trends rooted in social and economic circumstances. As such, predicting and responding to industry trends will remain a combination of quick reactions and foresight. However, even with all of the industry research in the world, you can never really know definitively which direction the industry might take - it’s certainly going to be fascinating to find out!
Debi Boulton is brand manager at Dunlop.