Look-alike tiles have taken the interiors world by storm in recent years and according to some of the statistics emerging from this year's Cersaie International tile fair in Bologna – their popularity seems boundless.
It was revealed that the super-stylish Scandinavians are now enthusiastically embracing ceramic look alikes in a direct challenge to their traditional wood counterparts.
East Midlands Ceramics managing director, Barry Slawson, who is an annual visitor to the Bologna tile fair said: "This year's event in Bologna was dominated by developments in the look-alike field. This shows the importance the industry attaches to these products. Some of the finishes on show were simply fantastic and reached levels of perfection that would have been unimaginable only a short time ago."
Barry Slawson believes the market is underpinned by several key ingredients, which will ensure that ceramic tile look-alikes will have a lasting and healthy future.
Barry says: "The first is cost- effectiveness. There is an enormous range of ceramic look alike products to suit all tastes and pockets – frequently at a fraction of the cost of a real wood or natural stone floor.
"They are also very practical and hardwearing. There are some no-go areas for wood floors – like bathrooms, where moisture is a serious factor. With ceramic tile alternatives, you get a hardwearing resilient surface which requires little more than a regular wipe to keep it looking in peak condition. The range of options is also a huge attraction for tile buyers. Modern techniques mean that porcelain and ceramic tiles now look exactly like marble, granite, agate, malachite, terrazzo, limestone as well as wood.
"Unlike real wood, ceramic tiled floors are ideal for incorporating under-tile heating and finally the attention to detail, whether it is antique wood or classic Italian marble is now so stunningly precise that customers actually have to touch them to convince themselves they are not the real thing."
"We firmly believe the industry has a real winner on its hands. It is a revolution that is here to stay and these products will continue to go from strength to strength."