Coverings 2015, held earlier this year, attracted a range of installers, flooring retailers, interior designers and other professionals for three days of tile education, demonstrations and displays of the latest products. The tile and stone exhibition made its return to Orlando, Fla., with a new logo and creative campaign designed to speak to the show’s “sophistication,” according to show officials.

Coverings merged all sides of the tile industry, which made it the ideal show for husband and wife duo Melanie and Adam Gould. A newcomer to the industry, Melanie is still building her portfolio and network.

“Since I am a new business, I only have so many vendors. To be able to find new products that I can present to customers will be really nice. I have already picked up five new vendors I’m really excited about.”

Her husband, Adam, a contractor and owner of American Custom Tile & Design, reported that Coverings met his expectations—highlighting the materials and options for a variety of tile installations.

Even with nearly 30 years of flooring installation under his belt, Anthony Deserio of Interior Remodeling in Parlin, N.J., frequented the Live Installation Demo Stage to learn new ways to work with the increasingly large-format tiles. “They can be very difficult to work with. That’s why I came—to see new tricks and tips.”

Artie Atkin, of Schoch Tile and Carpet in Cincinnati, hoped the education opportunities at Coverings will help spark interest in the industry. “Education is very important, especially in this industry. You don’t see many people getting into the trade anymore because of the economy, but hopefully there’s some interest and people can train and get certified.”

 Atkin, who has had 14 of his installers complete the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program, praised the program and its instructor. “Scott Carothers does a heck of a job.”

According to installer Rafael Lopez, earning Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) certification for large-format tile will set him apart in the industry. “Advanced certification is important because the market is looking for people who know what they are doing and can apply the product.

Retailers visiting the show had extra pep in their steps, with all reporting business is doing well so far this year. “The last four or five years have been pretty rough for all of the building industry,” said Jennifer Neil, of Tile Sensations in Knoxville, Tenn. “But now all of a sudden, people are ready to spend money,”

A Coverings veteran, Neil attends the show almost annually to not only see what’s new on the market, but to maintain relationships within the industry. “The relationships are really important. Even if I don’t see something new, I think it’s important to be in touch with the people I buy from and other industry people that I don’t have any other chance to see.”

Neil uses social media platforms to stay connected with fellow industry professionals and customers. “Because of the internet and social media, you can have customers anywhere—doesn’t really matter where your showroom is anymore.”

Retailer Jessica Cheek, of Savannah Surfaces, was a first-time Covering’s attendee, visiting the show in hopes of learning what’s new on the market, and what’s exiting stage left. “[Coverings] keeps you abreast on everything that’s new and on the forefront, but it also lets you see what’s on its way out,” she said.

For Cheek—who mainly works with high-end residential customers in the popular Hilton Head, N.C., vacation area, and historic Savannah, Ga.—knowing what designs are trending is critical to keeping her high-end business growing and her clientele satisfied.

Cheek credits the improvement of business to the improvement of the economy. “Business is definitely picking up,” she said. The economy is coming back; people are building again and have expendable incomes. “

Designers from near and far were present to see the latest in tile and stone design first-hand. For Désirée Ammam, making the trip to Coverings from Honduras was well worth the distance and wait. Ammam and her team are currently in the process of building an event and convention center in the South American country, and the team’s designers put production on hold to visit Coverings in search of eye-catching tile designs for the center’s floors and accent walls. “We found out about this [show] and we waited with our orders.”

According to Ammam, once completed by the end of the year, the center—which is being added to a hotel—will be the largest of its kind in Honduras. “It will be the biggest one. For Honduras, there’s nothing like it.”

For interior designers Jeannine Rohtla and Susan Bardin of Peacock + Lewis Architects and Planners, in North Palm Beach, Fla., a two-hour drive and day trip was just enough time to visit the show in search of new and revitalized trends.

“The textures we are seeing are unbelievable, said Rohtla. “We just came out of [the Petra Antiqua] booth and everything looked like jewelry. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  Something we haven’t seen anywhere.”

Bardin welcomed the revitalization of popular wood looks on display at the show. “We have seen a lot of the wood tile in new and different ways here. I’m personally getting tired of the wood look, but there’s always an application for it and the clients still want it. So it’s nice to see new versions, textures and colors here.”

Coverings organizers are preparing for next year’s show, which will take place in Chicago, April 18 to 21—promising more education, information and demonstrations of all thingstile and stone.

For an exclusive gallery of photos from the show floor, see this month’s Digital Edition.