Trends in Hospitality: Flooring plays an increasing role in the status and performance of hospitality properties - Nov 2021

By Jessica Chevalier

The pandemic put the hospitality market through the ringer; however, over the course of a trying 20 months, the hotel industry has shown itself to be resilient and forward-looking. While business travel remains sluggish even in the third quarter of 2021, after a year and a half of a stay-at-home lifestyle, people are eager to get out, and, as such, leisure travel created decent demand through the spring and summer, with those locations with easy driving access winning out. Of course, as guests do step out for travel, they want to feel safe, and while the pandemic may not have greatly affected how hotel spaces are designed, it has impacted what is expected of them. Cleanability and the perception of cleanability are of paramount importance to travelers, and high-design outdoor spaces are coming into their own, as guests look for ways to be responsibly social.

INDUSTRY ACTIVITY
While 2020 marked the single worst year for the hospitality industry in recorded history, it did yield some valuable insights, the most significant of which was that, even amid its worst week ever-the week of April 11, when the U.S. was essentially shut down-there remained one million rooms per night occupied, signaling that there is an underlying demand in hospitality that, to some extent, can be relied upon, reports STR, a hotel market data firm. By comparison, in 2019, there were 1.3 billion room nights sold, or 3,561,644 rooms per night occupied.

By 2021, there was enough quarantine fatigue to stimulate activity. Jan Freitag, senior vice president of lodging insights for STR and national director of hospitality analytics for CoStar Group, notes that 2021 has been much more active than 2020, adding, “But what’s interesting and what we saw emerge and see in full force now is that the American consumer is making choices that are very much experience-driven. Starting in May 2021, especially on the weekends, the industry was in the 70% occupancy range, but mid-week occupancies were also high. Of course, we know that there are not as many business travelers on the road, so these, too, are leisure travelers.”

Freitag points out that people want to get away when things aren’t going well-to the mountains, beaches, nature. “We see that in our data,” he says. “The flip side, of course, is that there is almost no group demand. And hotels in downtown areas, where visitors have to travel through a lobby and get into elevators, are not as attractive to leisure travelers, so the downtown urban hotels have been hit quite hard and are not out of the woods in 2021. It’s really the tale of two marketplaces, serving two different traveler demands.”

As for the hospitality construction pipeline, STR reports that it is seeing the number of rooms in construction declining because projects in construction at the start of the pandemic are now being finished and not many new projects are breaking ground in the current conditions. “The number of rooms in construction is shrinking due to the net outflow of doors opening,” explains Freitag. “It’s really hard to say to a lender right now, ‘Can you give me a construction loan for a hospitality asset?’ because the lender will say, ‘Have you looked at STR’s data? The industry is still digging out.’” The challenges of building are further exacerbated by the shortage and rising cost of materials, combined with the shortage of laborers.

If hoteliers want more rooms and can’t build, they have to buy, and Freitag reports that there is a healthy demand for hotel assets currently, especially at the high end, with some recent purchases setting records for prices per room (or key, as it is called in the hospitality industry). In May, Host Resorts bought the 444-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney for $610 million or $1.4 million per key, and in June, Hyatt purchased the 59-room Ventana Big Sur for $148 million or $2.5 million per key. As these assets are purchased and the flags are changed, it often results in renovation work.

According to STR, amid the Covid downturn, the hotel foreclosure rate hasn’t spiked as much as one might assume. “Many banks were understanding,” says Freitag. “They knew the revenue drop had nothing to do with whether the operators were good or bad. They said, ‘Take the money you have in reserve to pay down interest, furlough employees, take any demand you can and pay down what you can.’”

He notes that, looking back at the 2008 downturn, foreclosures came into play into 2011, so this kind of delayed reaction could still happen this time around, as well. He adds, “I think some bankers will eventually say, ‘We have been really accommodating, but at some point, we will need more equity for those missed payments.’ At that point, the owner may get a new equity partner or sell. There were no property improvements in 2020 and few in 2021. There is pent-up demand with property improvement plan requirements, but some owners may ultimately say, ‘This is not worth it for me’ and walk away.”

Dina Lamanna, design principal for HOK Hospitality, reports, “I was at an owners’ breakfast recently, and someone asked whether developers and brands were shying away from convention centers, and they were all bullish. They said, ‘No, 18 months from now, we expect to be holding major conferences, and we want to take advantage of the lull to renovate.’”

DESIGNING IN A COVID WORLD
Amid the pandemic, Lamanna has been mindful not to be too trigger-happy with incorporating permanent social distancing elements, instead creating a variety of spaces that suit guests’ range of comfort levels. “Now, more than ever, it is important to go to timeless solutions,” she says. “Guests want choice, and now is a time when that should be celebrated. So, we won’t create a lobby that is 50,000 square feet with a million entrances, but we won’t have a one-size-fits-all solution either. As designers, we must not be tone deaf to how differently guests are feeling about travel right now. We’ve heard debates over the last ten years about mobile check-in versus in-person, about whether there should be a desk in a guest room or a table with a banquette. But right now, it’s really about enabling flexibility and allowing guests to feel, in a minor way, that they can manipulate the environment for their ease and satisfaction. We encourage our teams to ask themselves, “What will feel the best?” Maybe a guest’s luggage just got lost, or their taxi was late. It is our job, from their first step onto the property, to transition guests to a better mind space. Whereas it used to be about how to create grandness, now it’s also about creating intimacy and areas where people can go if they want anonymity. We are creating a perimeter to allow for secondary experiences for guests who are nervous or shy. Right now, it’s about being emotionally dialed in. It’s about choice and being nurturing. It’s about understanding that we are all living in the same space and being respectful of one another’s choices.”

STAYCATION CULTURE
When Americans embraced the idea of the staycation in 2009-the year the word was admitted to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary-they had no idea how prominent the activity would become a dozen years later. Amid the quarantine, Americans mastered the stay-cation, both within their homes and in easy-drive properties in proximity to their homes.

Indeed, all three of the designers with whom we spoke for this article-Miriam Torres, co-founder of Parker-Torres Design; Amy Harrell, project director/studio leader, JCJ Architecture; and HOK’s Lamanna-are working on projects that fit that bill exactly.

Harrell recently completed the Choctaw Casinos & Resorts’ expansion to its facility in Durant, Oklahoma, near the Texas border, adding an additional gaming floor and a 1,000-room tower for a total of one million square feet. “We are hearing from most of our gaming clients, regionally and nationally, that their properties are busier than they were prior to Covid,” Harrell reports. “As we talk to them about what they are seeing and as we visit properties ourselves, it appears that Covid has accentuated the idea of a staycation. Although people might not be traveling long distances for trips or getaways, it appears they are looking for places like regional casinos to provide close-to-home entertainment and one- to two-night hotel stays. Mid-week business even seems to be booming.” Dallas, Texas-and its 1.3 million residents-is less than two hours from Durant.

Lamanna is also working on a property with similar ease of access: the Le Meridien Hotel in Clayton, Missouri, just outside of downtown St. Louis. The location is “an interesting convergence of small business, historic homes and natural gardens and parks,” says Lamanna, who was hired to convert the former Sheraton into a refreshed and enlivened 3.5-star property under the Le Meridian brand, which is new to the U.S. and expected to expand rapidly.

Similarly, Torres is reviving a historic property, The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Florida, near Tampa. Dubbed “The Pink Palace” for its massive and very pink presence, the expansive property opened in 1928 with 40,000 square feet of hospitality space. With less strict regulations amid last year’s lockdown, many Florida properties fared well in the quarantine, reports Torres, noting that her firm has an inordinate number of Florida-based projects at present.

All three of these properties are easily accessible by the nearby populations of large cities, making them convenient getaways, potentially offering less risk of exposure to Covid than a trip requiring airplane travel.

OPTIMIZING THE OUTDOORS
With many guests feeling more comfortable socializing in open air, some hotels are creating spaces to accommodate that. But these aren’t just picnic tables sprawled across green space, they are high-design venues that reflect the unique qualities of the hotel and the locale of the property.

“People want to go to a hotel to get inspired; they want social spaces to hang out that are unique,” says Torres. “We see a big trend towards outdoor spaces-with music, perhaps-terraces, roof decks. In one property, I added two bars on a single roof space. These are highly designed and have lots of character.”

Offering different experiences within a single property-often with different menus and service-allows guests to stay there and have various experiences.

“These can be covered patios or yard-type venues,” says Harrell. “People want to play cornhole while waiting on their meal. Hospitality is moving outside now.”

AN UNDERLYING ENERGY
During the pandemic, projects already under construction largely continued, but new work was put on an indefinite hold. At this point, Harrell sees a great deal of optimism in the market. “We are seeing a strong mix of new construction and renovation,” says Harrell. “At the beginning of the pandemic, many projects were put on hold or slowed down. For the first nine to 12 months of the pandemic, we weren’t sure what to predict or forecast for our projects and our clients. Encouragingly, though, over the past five to six months, we have been watching older projects either come off hold or kick back off, and we are seeing new projects arise each week. Properties seem re-energized and ready to renovate and update their current facilities or finally pull the trigger on an expansion or new build.”

The designer continues, “In the Oklahoma market and neighboring region, we are actually seeing growth across the board. New properties are being planned in some of the more rural areas between suburban areas to help offer those closer-to-home getaways. These properties tend to be middle-range offerings that fit the area and clientele. We are also continuing to see new multi-use hospitality concepts in urban areas, and these projects have tended to be more high-end offerings.”

Adds Torres, “We do about 25 projects a year across the country, many in California, but we currently have eight projects in Florida. We generally only have one in a state at any given time, but Florida has been open for so long that properties are doing okay, and people from other states are going to Florida for vacations. We are swamped now. Many projects are off hold, and there is a backlog. There is a lot of cash out there, and we are extremely busy. People are traveling.”

Of course, Covid brought many things into sharp focus, among them, the desire for experience. “People want different things than they did prior to Covid,” reports Lamanna. “Any time you can create a unique one-off experience at a hotel, it’s very impactful and connects with the locale of the property. Things that pique interest or are out of the norm are relevant. Mindfulness and the outdoors are top of mind. It’s about creating an immersive experience-maybe art classes in the lobby by a local artisan.”

THE SHORTAGE OF HANDS IN HOUSEKEEPING
There was a shortage of housekeepers prior to the pandemic, and the situation has not improved since. Torres, who travels frequently, has noticed in her recent hotel stays that only five-star properties are offering daily housekeeping services. The rest clean a room during a stay only if requested.

There has been a great deal of discussion about how the transition to hard surface flooring in the guest room has impacted housekeeping. While a single surface-hard or soft-is simpler for a housekeeping staff, the combination of LVT and inset carpet, beloved by designers, presents challenges. “It’s actually taking housekeepers longer to clean a room,” says Harrell. “If it’s 100% carpet, they just vacuum. If it’s 100% LVT, they can pick up a throw rug and mop. If it is LVT and inset carpet, now they have to mop-being sure not to splash the mop water onto the carpet-as well as vacuum.”

The designer continues, “I have been paying attention to those properties putting in LVT, and I’ve heard some interesting feedback. Housekeeping says properties need to be careful about what sheen and finish are used because it can be really hard to get their damp mop marks off. So either it’s taking longer to clean or the guests see mop marks.” In addition, if a hard surface floor is to portray cleanliness, it must be truly clean. While carpet can disguise a bit of grit or stray hair to some degree, such things are more evident on hard surface.

THE ROLE OF FLOORING
“Flooring plays a key role in most if not all of the spaces we design, especially in properties of a grand size, such as a casino, where the floor acts as a large canvas,” says Harrell.

The designer describes why flooring specification is never a one-size-fits-all situation, even across the same brands or types of facilities. “When selecting the right material for a space, we first look at the primary use of the space, the traffic level of the space, and how the flooring will be maintained,” she explains. “For instance, if we are designing a bar or restaurant, we most often are looking for a hard or resilient surface that can hold up to food and beverage spills. However, the type of restaurant does come into play, as well, because higher-end restaurants will often request soft flooring to help achieve a more intimate and quiet atmosphere. Once we have decided on hard or soft flooring for the space, we then look at the project’s budget and what materials will fall within that budget and provide the client the most ‘bang for their buck.’

“Specifying a less expensive material on day one might end up costing the client more down the road if that material requires continuous maintenance, which can add cost in cleaning products and labor. Additionally, if the material wears out too quickly and the client has to replace it more often, it ends up costing the client more in the long run. Lifecycle costs and maintenance methods should always be considered and discussed with your client.”

While it is ideal that hospitality flooring be refreshed every eight to ten years, that cycle is generally lengthened to 12 to 15 years as hotels are reluctant to shut down money-making rooms to replace finishes. According to Harrell, however, hospitality flooring is still functional by the end of its useful life, it’s just uglied out or, in the case of soft surface, matted.

When Harrell is walking a property to be renovated and finds this to be the case, she takes it as an opening to discuss better fibers and constructions. “Experienced clients are considering how it will look down the road,” she says. “That comes down to the colors we select too-not things trendy-but also the maintenance. The flooring industry has done such a great job with materials that they don’t wear out as often. We get tired of them before they are worn out.”

Acoustics are a critical piece in any public space, but especially in hospitality. The acoustics within a space can make or break the guest experience. “You can dine at the most elegantly designed restaurant, receive five-star service and eat culinary masterpieces, but if you can’t hold a conversation at your own table or are bombarded by kitchen noise bleeding into the dining area, your overall experience is diminished,” says Harrell. “The acoustics, noise levels and reverberation of sounds within the space must fit the atmosphere being created. You shouldn’t hear the TV or conversations coming from the hotel room next door or the floor above. When hard flooring surfaces are chosen for a space, it is critical to balance them with soft surfaces-upholstered furniture, drapery, etc.-or acoustical solutions such as flooring underlayments or acoustical panels for walls or ceilings.”

DESIGNER KUDOS
TORRES: The design aesthetic of flooring has gotten so much better. It was always the same before. It took years to see real change. Lighting and other design elements progressed, but flooring was stuck for a while. Porcelain manufacturers are creating great products. The big planes and three-dimensional tiles are amazing.

LAMANNA: I am impressed by how far carpet has come. In hospitality, up until five years ago, every carpet had to be custom to keep up with competition on dynamic layering, stipple, multiple colors. I commend the carpet industry for hiring designers who are really studying the impact of creating narratives and unique collections and not thinking only about one-off patterns. They are asking, how does this bleed into the next flooring? They are changing the scale and pattern line weight but keeping the same base colors. That makes our lives a lot easier and cuts down on lead time. We don’t have to do seven strike-offs to get it right.

HARRELL: I am thankful that digital technology has continued to progress and changed material offerings. Products today look more realistic, less printed. Just five years ago, to get an LVT with a decent wearlayer was so expensive that you’d just go with a different material, but now it’s competitive. The introduction of LVT with a 5mm thickness-the same as many carpets-has been wonderful for public spaces where we deal with transitions and trip hazards.

HARD & SOFT FLOORING COMBOS
LVT flooring has found a comfortable spot at the center of the guest room universe. For some brands and flags, it is the standard; those that position themselves at the high end of the market generally opt for high-quality broadloom or hardwood.

Because acoustics are a major concern in hotels, Marriott, for example, requires acoustic testing with the specified flooring before it is approved, reports Torres. This occurs in each and every project because the construction of a building can greatly alter the acoustic climate. Underlayments are often utilized to assist with noise transmission from floor to floor.

“LVT continues to make its place in hospitality and with newer offerings, better printing technologies and heavier wearlayers,” says Harrell. “I believe LVT will continue to be used more and more. As of the latest AAA diamond rating design guide (2019), LVT is still only listed up through the Three Diamond rating for hotel rooms. I feel this will change in the next issue; as we are seeing more properties looking for hard surfaces in hotel rooms or at least portions of the rooms.”

For creating inset rugs in LVT installations, Torres often opts for the LVT and carpet tile collections that offer the same height products. For luxury facilities, she opts for commercial grade hardwood with handmade area rugs.

Harrell makes her area rug and installation method selections based on the type of space she is designing. “Often in public lobbies or other high-traffic areas, we will inset the rugs into the neighboring flooring to reduce the height difference and reduce the risk of slip/falls that can occur on loose-laid rugs,” she says. “In hotel suites or private lounge areas, we more often provide loose-laid rugs that can be moved for easier cleaning and also provide more flexibility within the space.”

JCJ ARCHITECTURE: CHOCTAW CASINOS & RESORTS’ DURANT EXPANSION
Prior to its third expansion, the Choctaw Durant casino was a family-oriented gaming facility with 300 guest rooms. The expansion would increase the footprint of the facility greatly, adding 1,000 rooms and 3,400 new games at a $500 million price tag.

Choctaw Casino’s leadership wanted the new gaming floor and tower to maintain a sense of familiarity for returning customers but also to appeal to a new customer. With the Dallas market growing toward it-and gaming illegal in Texas-Choctaw’s leadership and JCJ dubbed the expansion the “sexy younger sister” of the existing facility-fresher and newer, more energetic.

At 12 years old, the finishes in the existing facility were somewhat dated, but JCJ wanted to create a connection between the old and new facilities through aligned colorways, as the two casinos connect directly through a 40’ opening. However, the new take is lighter, brighter and more contemporary.

Harrell faced a unique challenge in the Choctaw casino gaming flooring, as the ownership wanted carpet tile used across any raised access flooring so that they could potentially move the gaming machines around. That, of course, generated challenges with regard to creating the kind of large-scale, sweeping designs typically used on casino gaming flooring. Harrell was excited for the challenge, yet cognizant of not creating a design that would require the Choctaw Casino to hold an enormous amount of attic stock. As such, custom was the path forward.

Partnering with Oriental Weavers, JCJ designed 36”x36” Axminster (80% wool/20% nylon) carpet tiles to use across the podium spaces. “We worked with Oriental Weavers to create large-scale, repeating tile patterns that provided the energy and personality we wanted to carry throughout the space,” Harrell explains. The resulting pattern was large and flowing with a six-tile repeat.

Axminster broadloom was used for the pathways, poker rooms, sports betting zones and around the center bar. The Nation has used several carpet fibers and construction types in its existing casino spaces, and Axminster has proven itself to provide them the best for long-term durability, cleanability and overall appearance. Secondary pathway carpets were created to help in wayfinding across the gaming floor and guide guests between venues.

At the start of the project, Choctaw leadership expressed interest in utilizing LVT in the guest rooms. JCJ created an initial design incorporating vinyl flooring with inset area rugs under the bed to create a pop of color and style. However, AAA released new diamond standards in March 2019, and those showed LVT used only in properties through the Three Diamond rating. Choctaw was hoping to achieve the same Four Diamond rating as its existing tower. JCJ reached out to AAA to see if a Four Diamond property could indeed have LVT in the guest rooms but could not get a clear answer from the group. The Choctaw leadership decided not to take the risk of earning only a Three Diamond rating and chose to use full carpet for the rooms.

For the tower, JCJ partnered with Durkan Hospitality to create unique patterns in tufted nylon broadloom for the corridors and guest rooms. Throughout most Choctaw facilities (whether gaming or non-gaming), the diamond shape is integrated into the design. To the Choctaw, the diamond shape is said to respect nature. In each of the carpet patterns, the diamond shape is integrated in some way. In the rooms, which feature a six-color carpet with a large pattern for a unique look, the diamond is more apparent and becomes the focus of the overall carpet. In the corridors, the design team created a more asymmetrical pattern overall to flow with the curves of the tower with the diamond pattern a subtle accent in the background.

JCJ feels that partnering with two manufacturers for the carpet, rather than a single one, worked well due to the tight timeline.

PARKER-TORRES DESIGN: THE DON CESAR
With its unforgettable pink presence, oceanfront location and storied history, The Don CeSar is a property requiring a remarkable interior. In the years after its 1928 opening, The Don CeSar served as a respite for celebrities of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence Darrow, Al Capone, Lou Gehrig and Franklin D. Roosevelt, before being converted into a military hospital during World War II.

The current renovation is in its third of three phases now, and, unlike most of the properties that Parker-Torres designs, it is not under a brand, which, in a sense, gave the interior design team carte blanche.

Torres was inspired by Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and the aesthetic and décor of the Jazz Age in The Don CeSar, tagging the property “The Pink Lady: high-society playground, day and night.”

Prior to the renovation, the lobby of The Don CeSar, a ramped entry, was broadloom carpet. Parker-Torres wanted to create a tile mosaic on the ramp but, knowing that mosaics don’t always withstand high-traffic environments, opted instead for waterjet-cut porcelain tile.

Torres created an intricate design utilizing subtle marble-look white paired with black and green porcelain, which the tile provider, Ceramic Technics, cut to order. The ramp leads to the bar, which Torres relocated from the back corner to the center of the lobby. “We used to do a medallion when you entered a lobby, cut from marble,” says Torres. “That is old school now. Today, some clients don’t want to use marble because of the cost and maintenance required. Others, such as The Ritz, have marble as a brand requirement. With waterjet-cut porcelain, you can achieve the same look and vision as you could with marble but at a different price point.”

Within The Don CeSar’s Maritana, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant, Torres opted for a grey palette on the floor, with Dal-Tile’s Ambassador Stone Attaché collection in unpolished Wanderlust White, featured in a 24”x48” format, offset by large, mosaic-style porcelain “rugs” to create interest across the space. The rugs are constructed of TileBar’s Cascais Silver Ornate in a matte finish, outlined by Creative Materials Corporations’ Vision porcelain in pearl. The subtle matte palette of the floor plays against wood accents, rich blue banquettes and two-tiered gold light fixtures set in front of circular mirrors.

HOK: LE MERIDIAN ST. LOUIS CLAYTON
HOK’s St. Louis-based architecture team was hired to revive a tired Sheraton just outside of downtown St. Louis. The property, with around 350 rooms, was part of an interesting neighborhood with historic homes, small businesses and natural areas, yet was simply a cheap “heads in beds” property that had not evolved with the times and was neither historic nor nostalgic.

While the property was greatly outdated, it did have, according to Lamanna, good bones as well as a pool, ten large-scale meeting rooms and a fully functioning restaurant. The goal was to enliven and refresh the property, creating a true 3.5-star mid-scale.

The prior façade was unimpressive and aged, with small windows that let little light into the building, so the HOK team decided to increase its appeal attributes by adding new floor-to-ceiling windows. This increased natural light in the building by 30%, which leads to reduced energy use as well as a more pleasant guest experience.

Seeing similarities between St. Louis and Paris, the design team sought to infuse Le Meridian with the “je ne sais quoi” of French culture, seeking to make the lobby lounge and restaurant an extension of a dressed-up Parisian living room. “There is an ease to everything in French architecture,” says Lamanna. “There are curves. Everything is soft. The vernacular is sweepy.”

Lamanna believed it was important to create movement across the lobby space, so she hand-picked marble tiles with a good amount of veining and installed them in a chevron pattern, a motif popular in French fashion. The pattern is composed of around 85% polished tiles and 15% honed to create an element of discovery and recreate the feel of walking across an outdoor plaza.

The existing lobby space featured a gigantic colonnade that could not be removed. “When you go into Parisian homes,” says Lamanna, “it’s not unusual to see exposed columns but, here, they had to feel integrated and authentic.” That meant taking the flooring materials up the wall, so that the eye would read the columns as more unified with the space. Lamanna added mirrors and up-lighting at the crowns to further incorporate them into the design.

The lobby space features a café area, and Lamanna wanted the space to flow effortlessly from one zone to another. For the café, she specified commercial engineered hardwood to create a residential feel. In addition, the space features custom-made circular rugs by Shaw Contract in a solution-dyed fiber. Lamanna reports that, when utilizing hardwood in a hospitality space, it is important to have ownership on board and educated about the maintenance needs of the material. The parties selected engineered hardwood to avoid sanding and refinishing.

Because Le Meridian is a 3.5-star property, the design team didn’t have the kind of budget it would for a luxury facility, so it had to be smart with materials to achieve high-brow drama on a mid-scale budget. “Silverwest wasn’t afraid of color,” says Lamanna about the hotel’s owner. “Often today, everything is heather grey and brown. That’s lovely, but the client was ready for color, so we came up with a grounding color palette in mid-west denim blue-a shade between royal and navy-and jazzed it up with a Hermes French orange: the ying and the yang.”

Oftentimes, hotel guest rooms have one continuous floor across the space, with porcelain in the bathroom. At Le Meridian, HOK wanted to distinguish the living and sleeping areas from the foyer, but it didn’t have the budget for multiple materials, and the proportions of rooms weren’t grand enough to have three overlapping floorcoverings in the space. A wood-look LVT was selected for the entirety of the space, and at the entry to the bath, HOK opted for a barn door, which allowed the LVT to run straight through, unbroken by a threshold.

DESIGNER NEEDS
HARRELL: What is hard right now is lead time. It’s universal, and something we need to pay attention to across the board. When Covid hit, we had specified mosaics for a project under construction and panicked because Italy was shutting down and we would not be able to get products. Because of that, we are paying more attention to state-side availability. We are seeing change with the big players in the field stocking more in the U.S. Of course, high-end decoratives are largely not made here.

LAMANNA: I need stone tile mosaics that actually work on sloped ADA ramps. No matter specification or cost, there are always challenges. In almost 20 years, there has not been one installation where a mosaic on a slope has gone in perfectly.

TORRES: With fabrics and other items, we can get samples easily, but with tile, it is impossible. I can call an 800 number and get pricing and availability for fabric in minutes. With tile, they never know the product name, they have to call Italy to find out sizes, and the samples take weeks to come from abroad.


Copyright 2021 Floor Focus 


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