Five top tips for effective wetroom installation

Impey’s Technical Manager, Shaun Hunt, offers his top tips for successful, trouble-free,  wetroom installation.

1 Choose the right floor former
The best type of floor former for the job is determined by the location of the installation. For installation onto a concrete floor, a screed template, which offers a quick and easy way to create a drainage gradient for new-pour solid floors, is an ideal option.

Opt for an easy-to-use click-together matrix template, like Impey’s AquaGrade, which is supplied with a drain and can reduced installation time by up to 50%.

For use in upper floors or attic conversions, a prefabricated floor former is lightweight but also offers strength and rigidity. Using a floor former with a built-in drainage gradient and rotating drain plate, will mean it’s easy to avoid joists or existing pipework without the need for under-boarding; reducing installation time and costs.

2 Waterproofing
When installed well, a wetroom can offer many years of maintenance free showering. The key to achieving this is to create a highly effective watertight barrier on both the floor and walls, to guard against any leaks.

Choose a tanking membrane which is butyl rubber coated, self-adhesive and, ideally, provided on a roll to offer easy application and handling.  Don’t forget your tanking membrane should be highly elastic, resistant to ageing and have great load-bearing capabilities, to offer protection against heavy wall tiles.

3 Underfloor heating
To add a touch of luxury, and to ensure that the floor is being thoroughly dried between each usage, install underfloor heating. It allows the heat to rise, slowly distributing around the room and heating a larger surface area from the floor upwards at a lower temperature,  resulting in a consistent temperature and economical running costs.

Impey’s Aqua-Mat underfloor heating system comes in 100W and 150W versions. At only 3mm thick, with a self-adhesive mesh backing and 12-year guarantee, it’s ideal for wetrooms and fully compatible with Impey WaterGuard.

4 Drainage grates, tiling and glass screens
Now it’s time to create the aesthetic appeal of the room. As a tiling expert you may have already tiled many wetrooms.

Depending on the type of floor former you have opted for, the grate may be a standard square size or a contemporary linear version; there are lots to choose from. Some installations require a contemporary glass screen, to minimise splash to other parts of the bathroom. Opt for thick, toughened safety glass for added security and style.

5 Don’t forget to offer accessories
All too often overlooked in a wetroom, accessories can enhance the creation of a multi-functional space. In addition, the commercial prospect of add-ons like loo roll holders, towel rails and grab bars can be a welcome addition to your bottom line.

Recommend accessories that are stylish and functional, such as Coram’s Boston Comfort & Safety range of modern bathroom accessories. And don’t forget to tell your client about the benefits of a modern shower seat, which can create an effective and comfortable seating option and fold away when not in use.

Geometrics go all out for glamour

British Ceramic Tile’s Head of Design, Claire O’Brien, gives her thoughts on geometric tiles and explores in which directions this well-established tile design trend may be heading in 2017.

Geometric tiles have been around for centuries with their early origins in Morocco and Spain. Characterised by their bold, intricate patterns, geometric tiles have enjoyed popularity throughout the eras with similar styles very much in demand during the Victorian period. Today’s designs stay true to their heritage with collections drawing upon Moroccan and Victorian influences.

Geometric tiles are known for adding real impact to walls and floors, bringing depth and a sense of decoration to a design scheme. Plus, they are incredibly versatile delivering vintage styling or a contemporary masterpiece depending on the overall look and feel of the room. Whatever the final look, geometric designs speak of art deco styling offering a sense of nostalgia.

The demand for geometric tiles has gathered momentum from textiles, with prints lending themselves well to surface patterns. But what has also contributed to the resurgence in geometrics design is the trend for reclaimed tiles and upcycling. Many decorative tiles are based on geometric patterns, so today’s modern approach of recycling materials combined with using tiles in an eclectic fashion has created a strong, directional look. It’s here to stay, but as any trend it will evolve and change as new influences filter through.

Looking forward to 2017, grey remains a firm favourite for consumers, but you can add impact by fusing geometric tiles into the mix, bringing pattern and impactful prints to a contemporary design scheme.

Large format feature floor tiles will also be popular next year and will incorporate traditional designs as well as modern styles to create a floor less ordinary. Whether it’s highly decorative patterns in on-trend tones of grey and beige, or three-tone designs delivering a 3D effect, consumers will be looking to tiles with geometric motifs to create a seamless pattern across the floor.

When bringing these tiles to a retail or home environment, there are a few decisions to be made – wall or floor tiles, coloured or monochrome? Choosing a uniform size is a strong starting point, but the beauty of selecting a stunning geometric design is that you can go for all out glamour using geometrics from floor to ceiling or mix the design with plains for a more understated look.
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Cevisama: Thrifty shades of grey

TSJ’s Editor, Joe Simpson, wades through a sea of grey to discover the tile design highlights at Cevisama 2017; an exhibition where trend-setting technical and aesthetic innovations proved somewhat thin on the ground.

f beige tones held sway in the tile sector during the modern minimalist phase, grey currently dominates.  And how!  Cevisama was a monotone symphony of grey tones, with even many of the designs billed as ‘white’ having a distinctly ashen inclination.

The greys on offer came  in many grades and degrees of saturation, from near white through to the highly popular anthracite.  Greige (the grey-beige combo that was the hot hue at Cersaie in2016) was visible but not nearly so ubiquitous.  If you were looking for a splash of colour to go with your grey, Spanish manufacturers seemed more inclined towards blue-greys and even green-greys.

Another feature of the monochrome palettes that many of the tile manufacturers used is that the hue described as ‘black/nero/negro’ is, in reality, a dark grey: far removed from the dramatic visual vacuum of absolute black.

Walking around the show, frankly not a particularly time-consuming task this year, it was  easy to see why grey is so popular.  Unlike primary or pastel colours, true greys nearly always work well together.  This means that different designs, textures and formats can be combined harmoniously.

While the preponderance of grey made Cevisama less of a visual treat than usual, that is not to say that these monochrome new ranges lacked finesse or commercial potential.  It is clear that today’s tile designers are finding new and creative ways to use this elemental monochrome colour palette.  For instance, the fashionable geometric patterned tiles inspired by Moroccan encaustic tiles, are now available in a knocked back palette of light grey graphics set on a ground of charcoal grey or near white.

Subtle, restrained and elegant, these tiles have a chameleon quality: with a room’s mood easily altered by setting contrasting fabrics or furniture against these adaptable tiles.

Compared to the gaudy palette of the many of the first wave of faux encaustic tiles, these grey patterned pieces should have wider commercial potential.  Home owners will quickly grasp that these are designs that will stand the test of time and that they can adapt to fit in with modern, retro or traditional decor schemes.

These restrained grey patterned tiles are equally at home on the floor.  For a more masculine, urban, aesthetic, grey is equally prominent just now; in the form of large and modular format concrete-effect floor tiles or grey stone mosaic tiles.

As has been the case for some time now, texture is absolutely a key ingredient to the success, or otherwise, of many new tile designs; particularly wall tiles.

It is also clear that digital inkjet technology, allied to current scanning and 3D modelling/printing, allows followers in the long-running tile innovation steeplechase to close the gap on front runners at a more rapid pace than ever.

Call me suspicious, but it looks as if some Spanish tile producers (no name, no pack drill) have been paying particularly close attention to the innovative and abstract surface textures and patterns of Italy’s tile design pioneers like Mutina (the superb Deschirer range springs to mind) and can now offer Milanese chic at Millwall prices.

And, while I ‘m not one to support ‘plagiarism‘ in any form, if I was in a position to buy tiles for a UK retailer, some of these limited palette, matt-finish, abstract textured tiles, in a medium format of around 300 by 600mm, would certainly be near the top of my shopping list.  They are very adaptable to mix and match tiling schemes, provide positive mid-market kerb appeal and have the added promise of great margins.  What’s not to like?

Also on the ‘thrifty shades of grey’ theme, Cevisama saw some attractive but uncommon wall tile formats come to the fore.  At the larger end of the scale, 220 by 850mm provided added impact without challenging the health of the UK’s tiling fraternity. Slightly squarer, 240 by 680mm works well with more masculine tiles; while it was hard not to be impressed by the latest wave of uber long wood-effect plank formats such as 235 by 2,090mm.

At the smaller end of the scale, 100 by 100mm, and even hand-made styles down to 75 by 75mm, caught the eye, as well as retro ranges like gloss and craquele glazed pastel coloured field tiles in 100 by 300mm.

One recurring idea was melange wall tile decors featuring several different graphic designs in a shared colourway, on a medium format tile such as 200 by 600mm, pre-scored into 100 by 100mm ‘tiles’ ready for grouting.  Offered alongside white and coloured plain field tiles in 200 by 600mm (O.N.O.), and white or plain coloured pre-scored 100 by 100mm tiles, these ranges provide maximum design options for minimal stock requirements.  A win, win situation for the UK’s hard-pressed retailers, claim the factories.

One surprise at Cevisama was the relative scarcity of fabric-effect tiles.  Given the explosion of this trend at Cersaie, where ranges such as Sant’Agostino’s Tailorart really caught the global tile buyers’ imagination, textile pattern and texture was very thin on the ground at Cevisama.  I have two possible explanations.  One is that Cersaie is, predominately, a floor tile exhibition.  Italy has embraced porcelain tile production to the max, and wall tiles are either floor tiles in a different guise, or something to pretty up the displays and help sell more floor tiles.

The other possible factor is that making high quality textile effects is not easy.  Just consider the dreadful results of yesteryear prior to the widespread adoption f the latest pressing technology and digital inkjet decoration.  My guess is that those factories in Spain with the technical expertise and required production technology are simply putting their efforts into more mainstream products; leaving the high end categories to Italy’s premium priced factories.

Should sales of the latest generation of fabric-effect tiles take off, however, and I would expect Cevisama 2018 to be awash with tweed, tartan and canvas tiles.
So what else caught the eye at Cevisama?  Regarding floor tiles, it was aged and distressed woods, many with a colour wash, in planks and chevrons.  Cross-sawn patterns, in particular, have breathed new life into the category.

But the real star was terrazzo-effect tiles; some of which were paired with hydraulic and geometric patterned designs.  It was no surprise that the outstanding designs were on the Peronda stand.  This company is a perennial over-achiever in the design stakes, and did not disappoint.  In fact name a trend, any trend, and Peronda had one of the best, if not the best, examples at the show.

Vives, another design pioneer from Spain, offered the boldest, most committed, stand design, which majored on its Dolce Vita collection.  Vives stands out for its willingness to push the boundaries of design; to be a leader rather than a follower … as the Strand range recently proved with its OSB aesthetic.

The whole exterior and much of the interior of the Vives stand was devoted to Dolce Vita: a multi-design portfolio offering a fresh take on the decorative trend, with more than a nod to the enduring appeal of terrazzo, trencardis and stracciato.

Dynamism and elegance blend harmoniously in Dolce Vita which merges periods and styles to create impressive spaces with a gentle yet dynamic spirit.

The Brenta floor tile range rejuvenates the ceramic tradition in a 200 by 200mm format and a matt finish, with designs full of colour and optimism.  There are two versions: Brenta Multicolor with cheerful geometric patterns that combine vivid hues with cement, and Brenta Humo with a more discreet touch made up of a range of grey tones.

In patchwork style, Argileto Multicolor floor tile features romantic pastel colours; while Argileto Blanco offers a more relaxed mood. Cestio Multicolor stands out for its breakthrough aesthetic that combines pastel colours, rich cement and marble fragments, creating original geometric compositions of classical inspiration.

Benaco porcelain tiles use the traditional 200 by 200mm format for encaustic-inspired designs in a matt finish.  Benaco, Carole, Pigneto, and Tercello are four monocolour decorated pieces with different classic designs.  Elaborate and full of charisma, they are available in five different colours.

Heterogeneous and classy, the Farnese porcelain range features a base tile with slight touches of cement and stone.  It is available in four different colours: Humo, Cemento, Crema and Grafito in a matt finish.  The Amalfi porcelain tile boasts marble in small fragments It is available in two formats, 300 by 300mm, and a rectified version, and comes in a wide variety of colours.

The range also has a wide range of interesting decorative designs.  Gadner, in Crema or Cemento colours, and Cavour in Cemento or Azul, both have a strong personality and reinvent traditional graphics with a unique aesthetic.  Mancini is a classic design in many colour options that is in perfect harmony with contemporary interiors.  Other options include two patchwork designs: Quirinale  and Apulia.  These add a most joyful note with their light colours and intricate designs.

The Portofino range is inspired by the fifteenth century Venetian technique of mixing small fragments of coloured marble and cement obtaining a ‘stracciato’ effect.  Available in three large formats (600 by 600, 800 by 800 and 593 by 1,193mm) it creates a feeling of spaciousness.

This porcelain tile design is available in four different soft neutral tones: Humo, Crema, Cemento and Grafito, perfect for commercial areas responding to the most contemporary trends. The three sizes are available in both a matt version and a semi-polished rectified version.

The series can also be combined with Taylor, a decorative brass design with an arrowhead feature, specifically designed for framing  rectified tiles.

The Cíes Wall tile series (320 by 990mm) offers a sense of visual continuity and homogeneity in matt finish.  Subtle graphics are available in neutral tones – Humo, Crema, Cemento and Grafito – to ensure intimate and warm results; and also in Beige, Mar, Rosa and Azul; colours that inject vitality into spaces where freshness and creative freedom reign.

Sica is a wall tile design with an attractive and stylish relief effects.  It is available in eight colours (Hueso, Crema, Grafito, Cemento, Beige, Mar, Rosa and Azul) to dress fresh and classy spaces. The Bardot Wall tile (320 by 99 0mm) completes the series.

This is an unusual design with touches of gold that exudes glamor in eight colours: Hueso, Crema, Grafito, Cemento, Beige, Mar, Rosa and Azul.

Inspired by marble the Lesolo-R Blanco Wall tile range has been designed to blend harmoniously with the different aesthetics forming the Dolce Vita collection. Delicate grey veins are carried through the walls of beauty in matt finish and a soft texture.

Smaller sizes also have a presence in the new Vives collection with the Corso Wall tile range in 100 by 200mm.   The gloss base tile provides cheerful colours (Hueso Caramelo, Gris, Turquesa, Burdeos, Antracita and Azul).

Pincio design has a subtle relief creating dynamic 3D effects and is available in a wide colour palette; while Borgo Multicolor is an exotic design that alternates the colours of the series with a white base.

What can I say?  This is a deeply impressive collection that taps into a great many design trends and throws down the gauntlet for all other wall tile manufacturers.

Brand building gathers pace
Post-depression, many of Spain’s manufacturers drew in their marketing horns, reuniting their brands on one corporate stand to keep costs down.

Now, those companies that have survived the economic turmoil are starting to create sub-brands.  These serve a number of functions.  One is that they provide commercial flexibility and can overcome potential territory conflicts among distributors and retailers.

Another is that a new brand can specialise in a particular market segment, such as 20mm exterior tiles, hand-made designer tiles for top end boutiques, medium format value tiles for multi-site retailers and DIY sheds, etc.

Peronda, for instance, splits its portfolio across four brands: Peronda (mainstream), Harmony (designer), Museum (high end) and Duomo (mid-range to budget).

Colorker, not at Cevisama but thinking of returning, has put a lot of effort into its new ZYX brand aimed at the interior design and architectural market.

I take this as a welcome sign that the more commercially-secure Spanish manufacturers are now really starting to adopt progressive business strategies and are now following the lead of Spain’s foremost factories, like Pamesa, who have remained steadfast and focussed throughout this turbulent period and emerged the other side looking stronger than ever.

Cevisama is always a good litmus test for factories.  Stand offer many tell-tale signs as to the health, or otherwise, of tile manufacturers.  As well as Peronda, Vives and Pamesa – who always put on a strong showing and have plenty of new commercial ranges on display – Cevisama also saw good displays from Grespania, Keraben, Gayafores, Alaplana, Azteca, Saloni and Natucer; to name but a few.

Two names which seemed to have raised their game for 2017 were CAS and Newker.

David Carson designs for the first time ever a ceramic collection
CAS Cerámica is a decorative tile factory that still works with the same artisanal technicals used in 1920, the year of CAS’s foundation, but also utilises the most avant-garde digital technologies.

At Cevisama CAS unveiled the fruits of its collaboration with design guru David Carson who, for the first time ever in his career, has designed a decorative ceramic collection.

“I’m extremely happy with this new work,” says Carson.  “I already have so many ideas for more, and can’t wait to see how people use my first collection.  My formal education is in sociology, and will be extremely interested to see how people apply them in their living spaces. Living, Loving. Laughing”, says Carson.

Carson says that his environment inspired him to design this collection: “The tiles were created at my house in the Caribbean, with windy days of sun and surf [he has been in the ranking of the best surfers], the ever changing moods of the ocean, moon, sun , stars, nature. Enjoy them with this spirit”.

“I don’t come from a tile background.  My collection is fresh. I also like the idea that people can change how they see and use the tiles, how and where they put them up.  It will impact how they look and feel.  Users should know that a lot of love, thought and fun went into this collection, and because it is personal, and not something automatic, that the potential for enjoyment in their use is possibly higher than for some more typical tiles”.

“I love the idea that people will not just be turning the page in a magazine after seeing the work, but will be living with it in some small way,” continues Carson.  “Working in 3D was different for me, and I imagined the rooms they might live in much like I might design a magazine spread.  What must they complement and work with?  What else might be in the room?  How can they interact with their new home in a pleasing way.

It was quite a learning experience for me, and I’m very happy with the results.  I feel people can have some unique fine art in their tiles now.  And I’m honoured to be approached by CAS for this collaboration”.

Newker Ceramics is a young, dynamic company dedicated to customer service.  The current catalogue offers design trends adapted to each market – Newker currently exports to more than 100 countries – and features some of the most cutting-edge technology in the sector.

Newker offers a wide range of formats, materials, finishes and colours, to offer is growing customer base the exact product required.

Given the importance of texture in today market, the range that really caught the eye was On The Beach, realised in 400 by 1,200 and 450 by 900mm porcelain.  The plain colours – ivory, beige and grey – are supplemented by two textured surface; the raised spider’s web of Ipanema and the more common rippled surface of Miami.  There is also a subtly variegate option in Ibiza, and a more dramatic raised ripple in Maui.  Ibiza’s hexagonal mosaics offer a further design option.

The new Concept range is another on-trend collection. Available in 750 by 1,500mm, the colour options are pearl, cinder, grey; with both plain and textured finish options.  Concept lappato in 750 by 750mm also comes in the same three colours A pale woven fabric effect, Concept Decor Multi, marries these colourways in 750 by 750 and 375 by 750mm.  This same format is also offered in plain, lappato and anti-slip finishes.  The final element is a 300 by 300mm mosaic featuring small rectangular blends of the core colours.

Arcana’s new Blues collection offers cement in its purest form in a very uniform and harmonic design that gives continuity to surfaces.  Blues is designed for those looking for a neutral, yet contemporary, atmosphere.

Fulson porcelain tiles feature four very soft and versatile neutral tones (beige, shadow, grey and anthracite).  They are available in two formats and a matt finish and have a velvety-soft appearance but still provide great slip resistance.

The Carter porcelain tile mosaic is composed by triangles of different dimensions that adds rhythm to surfaces with its dynamic effect. Carter mosaic is available in four shades: beige, shadow, grey and anthracite in both matt and semi-polished finishes.

Walton and Lewis decorated porcelain tiles complete the series.  Lewis, available in beige and grey, plays with fabric patterns, while Walton mixes different textile prints in two versions, shadow or anthracite.  Both designs are available in a matte and velvet-soft finish and also in a semi-polished rectified version.

Gilmore wall tiles offer serene nuances combining a sober and elegant atmosphere with contemporary details.  They have a matt finish and come in three colours; grey, beige and shadow.

Also from Aracana’s Blues collection, Rollins wall tiles, available in grey, shadow and beige, offer subtle reliefs.  Doit wall tiles adds the distinctive touch with a matt finish design and texture that combines different fabric patterns. It is available in  two versions, grey and beige.  Finally, Grant is a geometric design that creates sophisticated effects on the surface in an interplay of glittery and matt finishes.

BAL products specified for luxury Brimstone Spa complex in Cumbria

BAL has provided a full system solution of adhesives, grouts and ancillary products for a luxury spa complex in the heart of the Lake District.  TSJ provides the contract details.

Featuring stunning tiling throughout in a demanding environment, including electric and water-fed UFH systems, the new Brimstone Spa complex at the Langdale Estate Hotel in Cumbria oozes elegance and sophistication.

The 990 sq. metre development includes 10 treatment rooms, seven thermal experiences including a Himalayan salt steam grotto, an outdoor sauna, and a heated relaxation infinity pool that spans from indoor to outdoor.  The complex also features a number of relaxation areas, a spa deli and a private spa suite for two, among other facilities.

Contemporary in style, Brimstone Spa offers a luxury, sensory experience with tiles types, textures, colours and matching grouts inspired by the surrounding Lake District landscape including striking bronze metallic ceramic throughout the thermal areas, wood effect porcelain in the floor areas and mosaic work in the relaxation areas and infinity pool.

BAL worked extensively with project architects Unwin Jones, main contractors MedLock, and Ceramtek from design to completion; including a full written M40 specification, specification support from BAL’s Specification Support Team and on-site support from BAL’s Product Support Technicians.

As a result, BAL tile adhesives, grouts, sealants and preparation products – including waterproofing and levelling – were all supplied for phase three of the £4.5 million project.

With changes in humidity and temperature the project required a range of specialist products to cope with additional movement from thermal changes.
Products specified included BAL Level Max levelling compound with Fibre Strand Technology (FST), BAL Single Part Flexible tile adhesive and BAL Stone & Tile PTB tile adhesives which are all highly-polymer modified for extra flexibility.

BAL Micromax2 anti-mould grout, with colour-matched BAL Micromax sealant, was specified throughout the project.  It is also specifically formulated with increased flexibility to cope in all environments including showers, wet rooms and heated floors: perfect for this project.

A number of colour-options were specified including Smoke, Chocolate and Jasmine which perfectly complemented the tiling work throughout.

Joe Macdonald from tiling contractors Ceramtek Ltd, said the spa project was one of the most complex he has been involved with due to the egg-shape of the changing area, deliberate randomised wall and floor tile sizes, complex falls and the changes in backgrounds.

“This project was particularly difficult due to the particularly complex tiling design and shape of the building throughout,” stated Macdonald.

“Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the tiling design was the inner egg-shape spa area which required complex cuts to achieve the desired shape. This was further complicated with the specification of wood-effect porcelain floor tile planks in three different widths, fitted in random as per the design notes and all laid to a 45° angle throughout.”

“The alternative sized wood-effect porcelain plank tiles were used to follow curved walls in the Spa area.  We relied heavily on using a variety of BAL’s adhesive products to suit the changing conditions as the job progressed.”

“We also had to take into account falls into central gulley’s and drains and incorporate the thermal dynamics of the project which required the use of specialist flexible adhesives and levelling compounds.

“Thankfully we have a good working relationship with BAL from previous large scale projects so brought them into the equation to assist.”

“BAL produced an excellent specification of fixing solutions, on-site project support and outstanding technical advice on this project which everyone knows is the most trusted in the industry.”

Metallic glazes: edgy and distressed delights

TSJ investigates the popularity of metallic glaze effects, while British Ceramic Tile’s Marketing Manager Jayne Adamson examines the use of metallic surfaces in the home and its retail impact.

The metallic trend is huge at the moment, with many consumers wanting to bring an edgy and striking look to the home.  As we have moved into the New Year, the trend is much softer, with a tarnished and reclaimed appearance, giving a rustic and distressed look.

So says Jayne Adamson, Marketing Manager at British Ceramic Tile.  “Tapping into the trend for metallic finishes is our Industrial collection,” explains Adamson.  “Made up of a range of wall tiles available in three stunning metallic shades of gold, iron and silver, they can be used on their own to create a glamorous, dramatic effect or they can be combined with a matching matt black tile to create a more industrial and utilitarian feel”

“The Industrial collection is one of our newest ranges, so only time will tell if it’s going to be a best-seller, but the initial signs are looking good.  Watch this space,” concludes Adamson.

British Ceramic Tile is just one of many manufacturers helping to progress the metallic trend.  Cersaie 2016 saw everything from the neo-industrial chic of large format corten and burnished steel slabs, through to bright cold, copper and platinum tesserae.  Metallic are also on-trend as decorative inlays, either framing tiles or creating geometric motifs.  One area where mosaics are really gaining traction is when used with 3D tiles. This will be a really hot trend throughout 2017.

Westin Nashville: exquisite designs set in stone by Ron Treister

As Nashville, Tennessee, continues to grow as a tourist magnet and a major convention city, the demand for more upscale hospitality establishments grows just as fast.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Westin Nashville is a newly built hotel located adjacent to Music City Center, the city’s new convention facility.  Designed in partnership with New York-based David Mexico Design Group and Nashville-based Bullock Smith & Partners, this 27-storey structure offers a veritable 360-degree visual feast for all its guests and other visitors.  In particular, the custom stonework on public interior area floors is a glorious sight to behold.

According to Patricia Barbis, Director of Interior Design at David Mexico Design Group: “Each of the hotel’s 453 guest rooms has custom artwork and design detail inspired by the city and the region.”

Barbis and her team specified state-of-the-art waterjet cut and fabricated flooring designed using exotic natural stone from various parts of the globe.  To achieve these precise, one-of-a-kind, stone flooring designs she contracted the services of Creative Edge Master Shop,  a leading waterjet design and fabrication company from Iowa.

“We loved working with Creative Edge,” says Barbis.  “We were able to not only get the designs we desired, but also to incorporate stone that matched the colours and textures we selected.”
Since 1988, Creative Edge has worked on over 10,000 projects worldwide, many within the hospitality sector.The company has vast expertise in using waterjet cutters; an industrial tool capable of cutting a wide variety of materials using a very high-pressure jet of water, or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance.

The term ‘abrasive jet’ refers specifically to the use of a mixture of water and abrasive to cut hard materials, such as metal or granite, while the term pure waterjet refers to cutting without the use of added abrasives, often used for softer materials, such as wood or rubber.

In the case of Creative Edge, the waterjet cutter is located on the end of a robotic arm, which is programmed and driven to cut the most precise designs using this powerful jetstream of water.  According to Jim Belilove, President/Founder of Creative Edge, “We can cut three inch thick granite to the most precise tolerances using our technology.”

For the Westin Nashville project, once designs were approved and specific natural stones were chosen, Belilove’s team used this cutting technology to cut the various pieces of stone needed to achieve the design work specified by David Mexico’s team. Each piece was cut and then ‘assembled dry’ to make sure the final fit would be perfect.  Then the various pieces were adhered together using high-quality epoxy adhesives, carefully packaged and shipped to the Tennessee jobsite.

Natural stone materials specified for the dynamic floor design included Honey Onyx, Persian Red Travertine, Thassos White and Bottichino Florito.  The finished pieces are akin to a custom-made natural stone rug.

“The designers with whom we interacted were extremely professional and easy to work with,” says Belilove.  “The stone material we provided to match their designs was sourced from a wide variety of locations worldwide.  It was great to work with a forward-looking firm that wanted only the best visuals for their client.”