An international trade fair revealed a host of interesting and informative developments and trends in flooring.

Considered one of the leading trade fairs in its sector for architecture, materials and systems, BAU 2015 has broken through the 250 000 visitor barrier for the first time in its 50-year history. The fair, held over six days from 19 to 24 January, attracted more than 16 000 visitors than in 2013. In overall numbers, the majority of visitors were from outside Germany.

Around 72 000 people came from abroad, which translates into a 20% increase on the previous time. Roughly 65 000 of the total number of visitors were from architectural and planning offices, which is another increase on the 2013 figures.

Besides being regarded as a prominent technology showcase, BAU is also viewed as an important platform for communication. The aim of this fair is to facilitate networking between exhibitors and visitors and, for the first time, the organisers registered every single visitor at BAU’s 2015 event.

BAU 2015 took place at the Messe München exhibition centre in Germany with displays in an impressive 17 exhibition halls. All the exhibition space was fully booked long in advance for commercial and residential construction and interiors for both new-build and renovation of these sites Every second year this event brings together market leaders in this sector to participate in a unique international display of competence spanning all the construction trades.

The exhibits at the fair are organised according to building materials, products and themes. Accompanying the presentations by the various exhibitors at their booths, special shows and forums covered and illustrated, from a number of perspectives and aspects, the key themes at BAU, namely Intelligent Urbanisation; Energy and Resource Efficiency; Buildings and Users.

From a flooring perspective: Materials, technologies and systems
Stones / Soils

This section at BAU takes up two halls, filled with solutions and products for façade systems, dry construction and pre-fabricated construction. Visitors could also gather information on materials such as sand-lime, pumice and fibre-cement building materials, plasters and renders, screeds and insulation materials. As in previous years there was also a dedicated section on concrete. Special attention was also paid to the latest developments in sustainability, energy efficiency, design and innovation, which included the planning handbook for building construction “Planungsatlas für den Hochbau”, ways of thermo-activating the concrete core, and visual concrete with all the different finishes that are available.

Black and grey tiles on trend:
Ceramics

The innovations in the field of ceramics keep growing in popularity, which was once again evident at BAU 2015. For example, ceramic tiles printed using the latest digital technology and offering superb design quality and scope. Natural, earthy effects are still in focus, but the charm of this technique lies in the fact that it enables the inspiration sources not just to be copied, but to be subtly interpreted for ceramic application. The result is particularly good on large-format tiles, with side lengths of up to 120 cm. The trend towards XXL dimensions continues, while at the other extreme interest is still strong in intricate ceramic mosaics.

Stone / Cast Stone

As the oldest building material in the world, stone is, by virtue of the way it was created, both sustainable and free of pollutants. Concurrently, because of its durability and cost effectiveness, it fits in very well with modern requirements in terms of aesthetics and quality. This is also due to the fact that each stone is unique. The rich variety of colours and the diversity of surface finishes that are available mean this material is predestined for both indoor and outdoor applications, either as flooring or façades. In interiors, classical white (marble) or black (gabbro, slate) stone is in demand, while structured surfaces (with or without brushing) are especially popular. Relief structures are also in favour, with these surfaces being produced by milling or high-pressure water jets.

Zooming in on floors

Visitors to BAU were treated to a broad spectrum of new products in elastic and textile flooring, in parquet and laminates along with extensive information on mouldings and profiles, applications and laying techniques. Sustainability and individual design options are ever more noticeable in the portfolios of the manufacturers. “Consumers value a healthy environment in the places they live and work, fitted with products from sustainable manufacturing,” explains Ivo Schintz, Chairman of FEB-Fachverband der Hersteller elastischer Bodenbeläge e.V., a trade association of manufacturers of elastic flooring.

An example of this is the increasing popularity of plasticisers based on renewable raw materials. In commercial and residential construction, design flooring is a growing trend. Décors with a photo-realistic design are a popular choice, as are sophisticated surface structures with an interesting look and feel. As regards wood, oak décor is offered in all variations, but a limited finish is also still in demand. In general, the trend is for more colour, more structure and more décor!

More structure and décor to flooring

Regarding chemical building products, the main products include energy efficiency improvements in R&M, sustainability and energy efficiency. Prompted by national and international legislation, environmental and health aspects are shaping the development, production and application of chemical building products.

Waterproofing, a traditional theme for chemical building products, has gained particular attention recently due to the flooding in southern and eastern Germany. At BAU in Munich, manufacturers presented the latest solutions for waterproofing the exterior (e.g. bituminious products) and interior of buildings (e.g. compound seals for wet rooms and new product innovations such as special plaster systems for direct application in damaged areas).

Besides insulating and waterproofing materials, the manufacturers of chemical building products also presented solutions for fire protection, screeds and renders, paints, varnishes, adhesives and sealants.

These highlights, along with several other product and structure innovations, rounded this industry event off in an exciting manner, building anticipation for the endless opportunities that BAU has successfully managed to open the door to.