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Concrete-effects: Focus on the finish

With new textures and fresh tones, concrete-effect tiles are now as suitable for the home as they are for offices or retail locations, reports TSJ’s Editor, Joe Simpson.

Concrete-effect floor and walls tiles really cemented their position as one of the dominant trends in ceramic tiles around four years ago.  Although minimalist, masculine, urban-edged, cement-coloured floor tiles had been a feature at Cersaie, Cevisama and the other international tile exhibitions for some years, 2013/14 was when manufacturers truly started to explore the softer side of concrete tiles, aiming more towards the residential market with what had been, up until then, a product strand that was largely aimed at the contract sector, particularly for commercial and retail applications.  

These more feminine concrete-effect tiles offered greater variety, both in tone and texture.  The outcome was a plethora of distressed-faced tiles, chalky-look stucco effects, aged care-worn decors, fresh neutral greys of different intensity, greys with hints of blue and green, polished and semi-polished surface treatments (often combined); and narrow plank formats with surfaces moulded to look like shuttered in-situ concrete, recalling 20th century Brutalist architecture.

Since 2014, tile exhibitions have displayed concrete-effect tiles of every shade, tone and texture imaginable: dark and light greys; grey with beige, blue and green hues; textured and smooth; plain and patterned.

There is no doubt that one of the drivers has been the growing popularity of the industrial/urban look in domestic settings.  Here, concrete is the obvious choice; but concrete-effect porcelain tiles provide a versatile, durable and lightweight alternative that can faithfully mimic this aesthetic.  Today, concrete-effect porcelain is favoured by many designers, due to its easy application and low running-maintenance costs.

And, with the growing availability of modular formats from 3,200 by 1,600mm down to 300 by 300mm – and everywhere in between, this modularity offers even more design flexibility.
As Cevisama 2017 showed, grey has overtaken beige as the go-to colour palette for tiles (and, indeed, interior design overall).  This plays well for the cement-effect look, which is now offered in everything from an off white through to dramatic anthracite.  

It should be noted, however, that with texture and overlaid tones adding surface sophistication to these now concrete-effect tiles, colour no longer the overriding factor when it comes to making a declaration of design intent.

And concrete-effect tiles have broadened to encapsulate spatulated plaster finishes, distressed stucco looks, aged hydraulic tile decors, concrete/timber and concrete/metal composites, and a whole host more concrete-inspired designs that take industrial chic in a variety of fresh directions.

Urbanature by Panaria
A good example is Urbanature by Panaria.  This range was created from the evolution of metropolitan style, itself generated by the reinvention and reimagining of the basic materials that make up our urban fabric.  In Urbanature the interplay between different surfaces - such as cement, wood, metal, ceramic and majolica - results in something fresh and appealing with a natural and contemporary flavour all of its own.  It is also very practical, with all the tiles in the range, with the exception of the Strutturata version, featuring added Microban antibacterial protection.

There are five design options: Cement, Concrete, Lime, Portland and Silicon.  These are offered in three basic floor tile formats, 500 by 1,000 1,000 by 1,000 and 1,000 by 3,000mm, plus an unusually large range of decors the greatly extend the design possibilities.  An 20mm exterior version also available for those seeking the seamless inside-out look.

Urbanature is manufactured using Zero.3: a laminated porcelain technology that allows slabs measuring 1,000 by 3,000 by 3mm to be manufactured.  With integrated with cutting and finishing lines ,and decoration systems using digital graphics, the range can offer quality aesthetics and functionality.

The wall tiles, which include a surprisingly large choice of very commercial decors such as Urban Wood and Urban Texture, come in 900 by 900 and 600 by 600mm rectified in natural and lappato finishes, 225 by 900 and 450 by 900mm rectified in a natural finish, and 452 by 452mm, unrectified, in a natural finish.   Fusing concrete, wood, metal and majolica, Urbanature offers a new, warm and natural surface.

Powder and Plaster by Marazzi
Powder is a new concrete-effect stoneware range from Marazzi that reinterprets the original material in a versatile collection with a contemporary feel and distinct urban vibe.  Enriching residential and commercial projects with chic metropolitan overtones, Powder is available in five shades; Sand, Crete, Mud, Smoke and Graphite.  The colour spectrum ranges from warm to cold shades, expanding the architectural and stylistic potential of this exciting new take on concrete.

The surface is soft to the touch and features irregular patterning and subtle shade variations.  Each tile surface has been designed to recreate and emphasize the natural imperfection of earthenware and concrete.

In addition to the 750 by 1,500 and 750 by 750mm sizes, the range includes 210 by 182mm hexagon tiles; also available in all five colours.  A herringbone mosaic tile further enriches the choice.  210 by 182mm Hexagonal Déco cementine tiles and 750 by 750mm Liberty decor tiles are available in Sand and Graphite colours, featuring four different geometric and floral designs with shaded, dusty patterning.  The mosaic tile comes in 300 by 300mm and is available in all five colours of the collection.

Marazzi’s Plaster collection of porcelain stoneware, offers a fresh take on concrete with its subtly scratched surface. Plaster is a versatile product that can be successfully paired with a multitude of different materials.

It is offered in five neutral, powdery shades: Butter, Sand, Taupe, Grey and Anthracite.  It is available in four sizes: 750 by 750, 600 by 600, 300 by 600 and 1,200 by 600mm.

The outdoor version, available in the 600 by 600mm size, can be used to create visual continuity with the interior, while guaranteeing outstanding technical performance . Plaster outdoor can be used outdoors on paths, terraces, beaches, patios and areas with vehicular access.

Enriching the collection with a more traditional touch are Cementine surfaces offered in the 600 by 600mm size, suitable for floor and wall coverings.  300 by 300mm mesh-mounted mosaics are available in all five colours and can also be used to cover irregular walls.

Plaster is an ideal choice not only for residential settings, but also for commercial spaces such as restaurants and cafes.

Cemento, Waltham and Harley by Verona
Verona has found concrete-effect tiles to be a popular choice for floors in any room, because they offer a look that’s on trend yet neutral enough so that it will not go out of fashion too quickly.

There are lots of different styles available, from soft, subtle concrete effect patterns to bolder aged and distressed designs.  At the subtler end of the scale is the Cemento range from Verona, which features a soft mottled grey pattern reminiscent of smooth concrete.  The matt glazed porcelain tiles come in a versatile 400 by 580mm format that is perfect for floors but also suitable for walls.  The two shades of grey can be used individually or together and Cemento looks especially effective when teamed with metro wall tiles or a wood-effect feature wall.

For a more distinctive look, Verona’s new Waltham range combines a contemporary 150 by 600mm plank format with a distressed concrete-effect design.  Printed using the latest inkjet technology, these tiles feature many different faces to give plenty of variation and a realistic finish.  They can be used on floors as well as walls for a trend-led look in any room.

Also new, and exclusive to Verona, is the rectified 440 by 890mm Harley range, which is perfect for customers seeking a large format concrete-effect tile.  The big size means fewer grout lines for an authentic concrete look; while the design features a subtle mesh-like pattern in certain areas, which adds to the industrial feel.

Set by Sant Agostino
Set explores the synthesis between derivations, intersections and compositions of materials: cement in Concrete; cement-fabric in Dress; and Tartan; cement with marble in Gem, natural timber in Wood, metal in Jewel; and stone in Wall.

The creative and material inspiration behind Set Concrete is the manual processing of concrete structures.  It is a rectified porcelain range in square and rectangular sizes, including a 1,200 by 1,200mm large format tile.  Concrete comes in four elegant shades of grey - White, Pearl, Grey and Dark (anthracite grey) - for an industrial and functional aesthetic.  Sant’Agostino also offers a 20mm thick version, Concrete 2.0, with a textured surface in 600 by 900mm, specifically for outdoor use.

The available modular formats are 1,200 by 1,200, 600 by 600, 300 by 600, 900 by 900, 600 by 900 and 150 by 900mm.

Sphata by Recer
Sphata by Recer is a multi-format, versatile range inspired by ‘hand-made’ spatulated stucco.  The porcelain floor tiles come in 450 by 900 and 600 by 600 and 300 by 600mm rectified and 600 by 600 and 300 by 600mm non-rectified.  The wall tiles are offered in 300 by 900 and 300 by 600mm rectified and 300 by 600 and 250 by 400mm non-rectified.  There is a choice of five neural but warm colours: white, beige, grey, dark grey and nut

The Sphata range provides further evidence that today’s concrete-effect floor and wall tiles offer all the versatility and creative potential of the ubiquitous construction material from which they draw inspiration.

Crea and Concrea by Ariana
Crea combines aesthetics with practicality and ease of use. Visually it combines hints of post-industrial plaster and concrete with sophisticated pastel tones to create soft, seductive surfaces in which pearly materials alternate with satin backgrounds and unexpected 3D effects.  These ceramic panels are light, thin (7mm), perfectly flat,  durable and said to be immune to post-installation defects.

At Cersaie 2016 Ariana launched its Wide collection; the company’s entry into the world of large-size ceramic panels (up to 1,200 by 2,400mm).  Just 7mm thick, Wide can be used on floors and walls, and also as a furnishing element.

Concrea Wide is an elegant interpretation of industrial surfaces combining resins and cements with a time-worn look.

Origini by Imola
Origini, a full-body porcelain stoneware range from Imola, offers a cement-effect obtained using acidification, a treatment that chemically combines coloured acids dissolved in water with cement so they seep it and give the finished stoneware a unique colour and pleasant, worn effect.

Origini offers natural, matt and textured surfaces in four formats: 900 by 900, 450 by 900, 600 by 600 and 300 by 600mm.  There are five different colours: white, beige, cappuccino, grey and black.  A bush-hammered surface is available in the 600 by 600mm format in beige, white and grey.

Trame by Lea Ceramiche
One of the most eye-catching new ranges of recent years, notable for its exquisite surface detailing, Trame comes in three different surfaces - Plaster, Matter, Canvas - all available in a neutral and harmonious colour palette.

Plaster recreates a soft and spatula textured surface. Matter is rougher and opaque with the grainy finish of real concrete.  Canvas has a linen texture with a delicate graphic relief.  Each of these three material surfaces come in six different colours, making a combined total of 18 surfaces  The possible combinations are virtuality endless since designers can use three materials in one colour and size for a continuous and harmonious surface or to create multiple detailed combinations for suggestive and impressive floor solutions.

This project, led by Diego Grandi Studio, recalls Lea Ceramiche’s hallmark style, expressed through the use and combination of forms, shapes, and geometries. This imposing and varied decorative collection is made up of five new special formats, allowing for the creation of numerous pairings and graphic contrasts, each coherent with the others. The variation of the tactile surfaces is in perfect balance with the soft nuances of colour and the pleasing nature of the structures, creating a dynamic play of shapes and geometries.

Trame is an unique and flexible project, open to broaden its range of visual and tactile sensations.

Stage by Bellacasa
The Stage range is inspired by the cement slabs found in ports, which have been exposed to the weather and the salt from seawater and yet remain tough and durable.  The Stage range takes this concept and translates it into a collection of porcelain tiles in 600 by 600, 450 by 450 and 300 by 600mm modular formats, with a neutral and elegant colour palette (cement, anthracite, black, sand and charcoal grey).

The decorative pieces that complement the series are based on an updated take on hydraulic floor tiles.  Two such pieces are available in the 600 by 600mm format: Aldwich, a set of very subtle architectural geometric shapes, and Globe, which revisits eye-catching designs from the past.  These decors can be used for creating tile insert designs or be used to create an entire floor.

The Stage range includes two new commercially successful wall-tile formats: 300 by 900 and 250 by 400mm.

Stage combines the warm look of cement and the comfort of ceramic.  This new collection is defined by its balance, both in terms of its design and its uses in decoration and interior design.

Cementine Retro by Fioranese
Cementine Retro was inspired by traditional hexagonal or square concrete floor tiles whose dominant colours often came in shades of grey and brick.  In the early 20th century, cementine and concrete chip floors were considered strong and cheap, and were often used for the flooring in service areas and work spaces.  The compositions were based on a simple alternation of colours, but cementine tiles were also used to create much more sophisticated decorations, with flowers, meanders and other patterns interpreting the fashionable Liberty and Deco styles, and were also a fresh alternative to carpets, while guaranteeing the same functional demarcation of spaces and visual strength. T his revival has become a trend once more, reinterpreted with new stylistic and colour solutions.

This through-body rectified porcelain range is offered in a 200 by 200mm format, in natural and matt finishes.  The colour options are bianco, azzurro and nero, plus a range of attractive Retro decors.

Dwell by Atlas Concorde
In the Dwell collection, porcelain floor tiles, and white-body wall tiles, deliver sought-after surfaces inspired by brushed concrete and synthetic resins.  Ideal for contemporary styled venues and avant-garde architectural spaces, the colour palette includes natural and neutral colours, co-ordinated for floors and walls, and two synthetic nuances, for daring flashes of colour on walls.

Petitot by Novoceram
Petitot, from Novoceram’s Charme collection, also explores the design possibilities of cement-effect tiles.  Petitot can evoke plaster, cement or metal, depending on which part of the design you are looking at.  The range pays tribute to the work of Ennemond A Petitot, an eclectic French artist of the XVIII century.

Petitot, a through-bodied porcelain range, comes in 200 by 1,200, 300 by 600, 450 by 450, 600 by 1,200 and 600 by 600mm formats.

Urban Concrete by Flaviker
Urban Concrete offers an architectural vision that creatively enhances concrete, transforming it through latest-generation technology into large-format porcelain tiles.  It comes in various modular sizes and three surface finishes: Natural, R11 Textured for outdoor use, and Frame formwork effect.

Frame reproduces the wood textures imprinted on concrete by formwork.  This fair-faced concrete effect lends dynamism and personality to any interior or exterior living space.  Natural embraces delicate colours and deep ton-sur-ton shades.

Key design elements of the range include sophisticated neutrals; elegant black and white contrasts; and powder tones for fluid, lightweight compositions.  Urban Concrete comes in six contemporary colours: White, Greige, Smoke, Fog, Nut and Night.

Metropolitan graffiti and floral designs round off a range that caters for different design visions and offers plenty of scope for experimentation.

Available modular formats are 800 by 800, 400 by 800, 600 by 600, 300 by 600 and 150 by 600mm, plus 300 by 600mm decors and mosaic effects.

Concrete Jungle by Blustyle
Concrete Jungle is another versatile cement look that creates an industrial yet modern vibe to any space.  This porcelain range is available in four colours (Atelier-25, Factory-56, Store-18, Pub-49) in 900 by 900 by 11mm, plus 600 by 600 and 300 by 600 by 10mm formats, and both natural and honed finishes, and with chamfered edges.

Concrete Jungle was inspired by modern cities, industrial spaces, and great architecture, from Le Corbusier to contemporary designers.  Original graphics and two captivating finishes deliver contemporary style.
Concrete Jungle is just one of 12 new collections from Blustyle, the latest Panariagroup brand, all of which are in step with the trends such as rustic and refined wood looks, oversized stone looks and distinctive marbles.

According to Panaria CEO, Paolo Mussini, “Blustyle is a brand that leverages the experience and qualities of sister company, Cotto D’Este and the whole Panariagroup.  The brand offers Made-in-Italy, porcelain solutions at traditional thicknesses, taking advantage of the latest technology, the best raw materials, distinctive aesthetics and the production team’s deep respect for the environment.”

Beton and Metropolis by Rondine
Beton is a polished porcelain stoneware range that lends itself to many and varied uses.  It is ideal for the floors of kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms, offering a marked urban style, distinguished by strong, rich colours: grey, beige and black.  These polished concrete-effect floor tiles are frost-resistant and slip-proof; making the collection suitable for paving outdoor areas.

This range is thus ideal for creating seamless continuity between internal and external areas of the home, creating an on-trend contemporary look.  The grip version is ideal for outdoor areas that require optimal performance and slip-resistance.

Metropolis is a polished concrete-effect floor tile range, ideal for the hi-tech interior design style.  It provides an understated, minimal look, with a subtle touch of class.  The distinctive feature of the surface is its worn look, created by a slightly shimmering metallic reflection.

The Metropolis range comes in four coloured-body versions - three shades of grey and one of ivory - and in two sizes (605 by 605 and 305 by 605mm); plus rectified 600 by 600 and 300 by 600mm versions.

Brescia by Verde Ceramica
Brescia offers a classical natural finish where no two tiles are the same.  The random tones and movement create a uniqueness and individualism.  The range differentiates into natural and structured finishes, as well as offering embossed large in-prints styles that can create a contemporary look with traditional values.

Hexagonal shapes have been introduced in both natural and gloss to offer still more design options.

The available formats are 50 by 600, 100 by 300, 100 by 600, 150 by 600, 300 by 300, 300 by 600, 450 by 450 and 600 by 600mm.

Resina by Casalgrande Padana
Casalgrande Padana’s Resina is one of the more complex designs from the concrete-effect stable; with surfaces distinguished by flashes of light, brushstroke markings and splashes of colour interspersed with a body of neutral tones inspired by the homogeneity of resin.  This collection of porcelain stoneware transcends the modular nature of tiles to increase the potential of ceramics and create contemporary, original flooring.

The Resina collection allows designers to a fresh new feel to any room, creating a metropolitan style synonymous with fluid spaces such as lofts and former industrial buildings.  Part of the Granitoker line, Resina, through a combination of unbroken surfaces and harmonious tones and materials, creates a minimalist surface where the material itself is the star of the show, with detailing enhancing the neutral tones and warm colours and an uninterrupted continuous effect.

Showcasing that sense of craftsmanship that can make any flooring or cladding inimitable, the surface’s imperfections only serve to boost the aesthetic appeal, while subjectivity becomes a form of decoration.  All of this makes for a truly contemporary surface, where the impressive technical attributes of porcelain stoneware combine with a sophisticated and modern style created through the fusion of material, light and colour.

Resina is available in grey, black, white, tobacco and havana and ivory in 450 by 900, 900 by 900 and 900 by 1,800mm formats.  Decor options include Mosaico Penta (pentagons in black, tobacco and havana), 300 by 300 and 300 by 600 mosaics in all colours, and the 225 by 900mm Fascia Resina, also available in all colours.  Bullnose and step tread pieces also form part of the range.

Centiment by Craven Dunnill
According to Steve Whitehurst, Sales and Marketing Director at Craven Dunnill: “The trend of recent years towards polished and honed concrete floor finishes has led to the emergence of a variety of industrial chic effects for both work surfaces and floors.  This is now being achieved with concrete-effect porcelain tiles.  Simple to install onto a variety of backgrounds, the latest designer porcelain tiles can recreate the concrete-look without the normal issues associated with poured concrete finishes such as staining, marking or undulations in the upper surface emerging at the polishing stage.”

Capturing this on-trend look is Centiment from Craven Dunnill’s Renaissance Collection, which was first launched to the trade in June 2017.  Centiment is an aged cement look with a micro-cracked surface finish and atmospheric patina.  It is available in four colours: White Natural, Greige Natural, Ash Natural and Dark Natural.

Two popular formats - 797 by 797 and 604 by 604mm, are available in all 4 colours.

Centiment is suitable for both floor and wall applications, and the range’s versatility is enhanced by the 200 by 200mm Centiment Timeless Décor.

Detroit by Peronda
Peronda’s Detroit is a large-format floor tile collection that emulates cement surfaces.  Its 1,200 by 1,200mm format helps to achieve a seamless effect, with a design that runs continuously from one tile to the other, perfect for living spaces with an urban or grunge-like appeal.

The collection comes in two different colours, each featuring a wide variety of different patterns: Detroit Grey, inspired by cement’s industrial applications, and Detroit Beige, in luminous earthy shades that bring added warmth to settings.

Concreta by Campani
Concreta by Campani brings together four sophisticated and powdery shades and a mix of decorations with 12 different themes, marked by the almost faded traces of classic ornaments and patterns.  The resulting tiles are soft and atmospheric.  Concreta is available in 600 by 600 and 300 by 600mm formats in bianco, grigio, tortora, antracite and tabacco; plus mosaics and distressed decors mixing bianco and tortora in 300 by 600mm.

Industrial by Floor Gres
Floor Gres recently introduced Industrial: a new interpretation of cement offering an industrial aesthetic inspired by the world of machines.

Just as former factories become modern metropolitan lofts, in this range’s provides wood and metal tones that are fused to offer new design inspirations and broaden the range of decorative possibilities.
This neutral and linear surface is modern and simple, expressing itself through a mix of colours, sizes and decorations.  The innovative 1,200 by 3,000mm format allows spaces to be conceived with design clarity.  Other available formats are 800 by 800, 600 by 1,200, 600 by 600, 400 by 800, 300 by 600 and 200 by 800mm, plus mosaics and listelli.  The colour options are ivory, taupe, moka, sage, steel and plomb (pictured).  There are also three surface options: naturale, soft and bocciardo.