The Discovering Stone team hit the ground running at TISE 2018. It was impressed with the energy and positive sentiments at the show.

Sweeping into Las Vegas at night in an airplane, one thing seems certain: energy conservation and light pollution are not two of the most important issues for this community.

Where Los Angeles at night looks like some animated illustration of circulation in living tissue, the long freeways traced by a seemingly endless procession of moving red taillights, and San Francisco resembles nothing so much as a printed circuit board, with its tall skyscrapers plugged into the flatland of the financial district like so many massive capacitors, Las Vegas really does look like a combination pinball/video game/jukebox.

That’s especially so when it comes to what the locals (and experienced visitors) refer to as “The Strip”, a nearly seven-kilometre stretch of city street where virtually all the city’s most famous resorts and casinos are located. It’s a proximity that makes it easy for a tourist to wander from what seems like one fairy-like extravaganza to the next, ablaze in lights, all about entertainment — and the omnipresent slot-machines, never more than five metres away from any particular point.

The well-known Mandalay Bay hotel (named after a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling) sits at one end of the strip. First opened in March 1999, the hotel was expanded with a second hotel tower, which opened in December 2003.

Most importantly, a convention centre was added to the hotel, which opened in January 2003. With 140,000 square metres of space, it is, on its own, the fifth largest convention centre in the US.

This vast convention centre is the annual location of the The International Surface Event (TISE). This year the event comprised three world-class tradeshows: SURFACES, StonExpo/Marmomac, and Tile Expo. It’s a four-day extravaganza of everything to do with coverings and facades for just about any horizontal or vertical surface.

Frequently used as an event to launch new products, it is also heavy on information about upcoming trends. Every major North American manufacturer is represented, along with most major global suppliers as well. It’s one of the few conventions of this type that offers solid opportunities to study and learn what really is going on in the world of surfaces. Some of the educational events included: State of the Industry Report in the Residential and Commercial Markets, presented by the well-known Farnsworth Group; Ageing in Place: Surfaces for Seniors; and multiple talks on subjects such as new flooring types, stone restoration, employee management, and style/design issues.

In case all of that seems a little stuffy and formal — don’t worry, stuffy and formal might actually be the only thing that is illegal in Vegas! For example, it is the first convention we’ve been to that had its own DJ grinding out tunes to keep the attendees’ feet tapping. And if the convention did get a little overwhelming, you had only to step outside into the waiting wonderland of Las Vegas for a half-hour or so to rediscover your sense of enthusiasm.
According to event organiser, informa, attendance at TISE 2018 was up 12% from the previous year. Over the past three years, attendance has increased 30%.

Aimee Gilmour, CEM, director of TISE, said, “The TISE team has been truly honoured by the influx of emails from the industry … with how impressive the event was this year … It is our goal to create a marketplace for the industry to gather, do business, and build relationships. We’ll continue to listen and strive to fill the needs of the industry.”

There is simply too much for Discovering Stone to cover comprehensively, but in what follows we’ve picked out some of the more significant events, people and products that really caught our attention.

Custom Building Products

The start of Colin Morrow’s (ACT Australia) relationship with Custom Building Products, a major producer of grout and adhesives, began on a “wing and a prayer” after previous dealings with it through another company.

Around the same time last year, Colin said he “just rocked up to the stand” without an official invitation and met up again with one of its founders, Tom Peck, and said, “How are you going?”
This simple introduction and the inevitable pitch for the business was met with an enthusiastic response.

It eventually led to Colin bringing into the Australian market a specialist colour range. “The higher end stuff”, he explains.

“So we are trying to re-introduce Custom. We have about 10 new product lines and we are looking at doing more in the future. They are products that complement my existing lines.”
One of the Custom products being imported by ACT Australia is RedGard SpeedCoat®. Colin said: “The beauty of this product is that it is premixed and you can use it on a damp substrate. So if you are repairing a shower recess, and it is still damp, normally you would have to let it dry out. That’s when you’d be using a normal membrane.

“With SpeedCoat, you can put straight on a damp substrate. You can re-coat it within an hour and you can tile over it within an hour. Using standard products, it could take over 24 hours. And you can even flood test it. So you can waterproof the bathroom … it can be flood tested before you even get to tiling it, to make sure it’s not leaking. They are there having a bit of success with it here in America because it brings down the building timeframe and therefore the cost of building.”

The Aqua Mix range is exclusively imported and distributed throughout Australia by NSW-based Custom Surface Solutions (Aqua Mix Australia).

Aqua Mix has been the most preferred brand of sealers for seven consecutive years, according to the Tile & Stone Installation Contractor CLEAReport. This report is based on data from the US-based Clear Seas Research company. It measures opinions and current trends from professionals involved in the tile and stone installation industry.

Both professional end-users and homeowners favour Aqua Mix for its easy-to-use formulas and high-quality results. The brand has also offered low and no VOC sealers for a long time and now these sealers are part of Custom Building Products BuildGreen® program and earn points toward LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Intermac (Biesse Group)

The Master Series 38.3 CNC, Donatoni Jet 625 CNC Bridge Saw and Montresor Vela 7.2 Vertical Edge Polisher were all on display at the Intermac stand.
The Master 38.3 and ICAM3D CAD/CAM is what the company refers to as the number one selling CNC machine in the world. This machine takes professional end-users from concept to production in a few simple clicks. Designed for businesses looking to optimise production, the Master 38 is reliable and delivers “excellent quality to price ratio”. With a useable bed size of 63” x 127” it is ideal for most stone and glass fabrication.


The Dry-Treat stand at TISE highlighted Porcelain Plus™. The brochure states it is a premium, impregnating sealer specifically designed for porcelain and quartz surfaces. This new technology has been developed for surfaces with low absorption rates in an easy-to-use, non-film forming sealer.

Dry-Treat said its Porcelain Plus product is ideal for sealing grout for all porcelain and glazed ceramic tile installations.

Mapei USA

At the stand, Mapei’s Flexcolor 3D translucent grout and sealer was used with lighting technology from Backlit Tile Kit.

Mapei Flexcolor 3D is a professional-grade, ready-to-use translucent specialty grout with an “iridescent effect” finish, providing a complementary look for a tile project. The product is offered in 10 different designs with translucent characteristics that not only reflect but also refract light. This allows the grout to transition in colour to complement the tile colour.
It is formulated for commercial and residential installations with porcelain, ceramic, glass and natural-stone tiles.

Flexcolor 3D can be used to grout interior tile. And the dense surface structure helps to prevent water-based stains on the grout surface.

In addition, it can be used on sensitive tile surfaces once tested, requires no sealer and cures naturally from evaporation.

Diane Choate, Mapei’s PR/corporate communications specialist, said the company is focusing on technology driven mortars. It is working on creating a new awareness of mortars for consumers and professional end-users.

Breton USA

Breton showcased the Combi-Cut DJ/NC 550 at its stand. Featuring state-of-the-art numerical control and using Breton’s MiterWave technology, this 5-axis waterjet and bridge saw cuts complex shapes on virtually any stone surface with ease. Most importantly, it maintains precision even when there are variations in slab thickness.


The latest polishing wheels for edge polishing machines from Diamut are available with right or left spiral coupling. Their mix is universal and suitable for processing quartz, granite, marble and other synthetic materials.

Its range for edge polishers – for all major machinery manufacturers – include calibrating wheels, pre-cutting wheels and generating grinder wheels. There is also has a new line of polishing wheels for edge polishing machines that are available in the 5- and 6-inch diameter versions. They cover a wide range of grit (from 30 to 3500) and can be used on both straight and continuous edge profiles.

Save the Date for The International Surface Event 2019 marketplace which will be held January 23-25, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA). Education seminars will be held from January 22-25, 2019. For more information, visit


Pictured: Elite Publishing general manager, Georgia Gilmour and Discovering Stone editor, Betty Tanddo.