Alternative Tile Materials Can Spruce Up a Showroom
and Accent Your Bottom Line

By Ron Treister

Eastern Floors - November/December, 1996

Panda Inn restaurant floor mural

Creative Edge Corp. used tile supplied by Crossville Ceramics to create this installation for the Panda Inn restaurant chain.

Surrounding carpeted areas with ceramic tile or stone gives an area a definite, finished look. Tiled perimeters can also be used as a directional design element that leads visitors or customers to other areas of the interior. Small, room-setting vignettes in dealer showrooms can be set up easily and affordably to portray this technique. This mixed product display also serves as another way to showcase exotic tiles that your customer might consider too costly for an expansive area, or too "busy" if used traditionally.

Every day, large-format ceramic tiles are becoming more accepted. It is not uncommon nowadays for someone to use large-format tiles in small rooms to create the illusion of larger space.

A newer technique currently popular on both coasts is using large-format floor tile on walls as a vertical cladding material. Generally, users take the tile up to chair-rail height, and cap off the installation with either a special trim piece or a complementary chair-rail material.

"An excellent way to showcase large format, rustic looking tile is with smaller, dissimilar stone tile insets," says Mario Klappholz, president of Miami based Ceramic Consulting Corp. kitchen counter with a granite top looks great in conjunction with a ceramic floor embellished with that same granite used as a repeated, accent floor tile."

Klappholz adds that dealers who utilize this technique in their own kitchen displays have found it an efficient, effective way to highlight large-format products. "You don't necessarily need a large space to showcase larger-format tile," he says.


An increasing number of full-line dealers are recognizing the benefits of offering ceramic tile to their customers. The products are long lasting, durable and easy to maintain. Tile won't harbor dirt or germs and, for the most part, it retains its original color. All in all, it's one good investment for your customers.

Ceramic tile products can also fill out your showroom offerings. They can spruce up an area of your store and help enhance your overall sales.

"We call on architects, designers and distributors with showrooms that sell to this genre," says Carl Steadley, a Palos Verdes, CA-based tile and stone marketing agent. "We...give our customers products that will help enhance their showrooms and make them strong showplaces."

Steadley supports these efforts by supplying products that complement his customers' existing product slates. He also provides sampling programs, display boards and four-color literature as additional sales aids.

Steadley points to the Bisazza line of Venetian glass mosaics as an example of how tile can be used to create a dramatic effect in the showroom.

"We have advised customers, when building a mock shower stall for a showroom, to use small sections of Bisazza Oro (actual gold) mosaics to enhance small areas," he explains. For kitchen walls, Steadley advocates the use of various colors and sizes of mosaics to create a focal point within a monochromatic field of other materials.

Questech Metals, a line of composite metal decorative tile and trim, can also produce a striking look when used side-by-side with natural stone, wood paneling and ceramic tile, he continues. "These (metal tiles) are particularly good in creating an artsy kitchen motif or a metal backsplash effect," Steadley says.

Mixing ceramic and/or stone tile with carpet is a relatively non-publicized trend in commercial floor design that has gained popularity in recent years. Many users want the soft performance of carpet, coupled with the look of stone and the precise perimetering capabilities of hard-surface materials. This mix of products also provides another good way to showcase and ultimately sell expensive, high-end stone tiles that many consumers consider cost-prohibitive, and therefore out of the question for use in their homes or offices.