A colorful mural created from ceramic and glass tile was donated by Creative Edge Designs to permanently adorn the south entrance of the Orange County Convention Center.

Tile installers from across the country tested their skills as part of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s Certified Ceramic Tile Installer program.

Coverings, the largest trade show in North America for tile, stone and related products, returned to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando this year, after being held in Chicago last year. The show, which took place April 29-May 2, featured the latest tile, stone and installation products from 1,200 companies from more than 50 countries. In addition to the many products on display, there were a variety of educational seminars offered throughout the week, including programs aimed specifically at installers. There were also many installation demonstrations showcasing the latest products and techniques for tile and stone installation.

There were a variety of new product demonstrations in the manufacturers’ booths, such as this demonstration of Grout Boost, a new stain-resistant grout additive.

One of the most significant installation-related events at Coverings 2008 was the launch of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s Certified Ceramic Tile Installer (CCTI) program. CCTI is the only non-organized labor certification program in the United States for ceramic tile installers. The CCTI manual, written by CTEF specifically for certification applicants, will be used in conjunction with the TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation and the American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI A108/A118/A136.1) to prepare and test applicants. The program is based on three levels of achievement: Level I-Thinbed Floors and Walls; Level II-Martar Shower Bases, Waterproofing and Crack Isolation; and Level III-Mud Floors, Complicated Layout and Design.

Throughout the show, live installation demonstrations were conducted on two stages in the North American Pavilion.

At the North American Pavilion, there were 87 live installation demonstrations held on two stages. The demonstrations were given by 19 members of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). There were demonstrations from NTCA, Ardex Engineered Cements, Bonsal American, Bostick, Inc., Custom Building Products, Dodge-Regupol, DuPont/StoneTech Professional, Easy Heat, ECORE International, Fin Pan, Inc., LATICRETE International, MAPEI Corporation, MerKrete Systems, NAC Products, Inc., National Gypsum Company (USG), and Wedi Corporation.

Another important topic for tile installers was the release of the 2008 TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation, which was offered free of charge to Coverings attendees. This indispensable guide is commonly referenced in commercial and residential specifications and is used by more than 65,000 tile professionals every year. For those installers who were not able to attend Coverings, the handbook can be ordered on the tile council’s Web site: www.tileusa.com or by calling (864) 646-8453.

Despite the considerable slowing of the U.S. ceramic tile market, most exhibitors expressed optimism about the success of Coverings 2008.

“Introducing Grout Boost, a revolutionary new stain resistant grout additive, at Coverings was a great success,” said Kristin Cattaneo, senior brand manager for Specialty Construction Brands, Inc.  “We were able to generate awareness for this new brand, guage interest and demonstrate the product to the industry--with overwhelming positive response. Our booth was consistently busy and we were able to secure many quality leads...exactly what we’d hoped to accomplish.”

Next year, Coverings will return to the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, April 21-24. For more information, visit www.coverings.com.