Decorative Tile Still in Demand

Demand for decorative tile is projected to increase as housing completions rebound and consumer spending increases.

Photos courtesy of Florida Tile, Lawrenceburg, Ky.

U.S. demand for decorative tile is forecast to increase 4.4% per year to 3.3 billion square feet in 2013. Flooring applications, which accounted for 81% of total tile demand in 2008, will continue to spur demand for decorative tile as consumer preferences shift away from carpets and rugs.

Flooring demand for tile is expected to increase 4.5% annually through 2013 to 2.7 billion square feet. Gains will be boosted by the residential market, as housing completions rebound and consumer spending on improvement and repair projects increases.

Foreign trade plays a crucial role in the industry. In 2008, 74% of all tile sold in the U.S. was imported. Most imported tile is produced in countries with low labor costs and good access to inexpensive raw materials. However, imports of high-end tile from countries such as Italy also account for a considerable share of overall demand.

Growth Opportunities

The residential construction market will generate the most rapid gains in tile demand. Advances will be spurred by a rebound in housing completions from the low levels experienced in 2008. Further gains will be promoted by spending on kitchen and bathroom renovation projects.

The nonresidential building construction market for tile will see slower growth than the residential market. Advances will mainly be derived from the improvements and repairs market, as building owners and property managers replace worn and older floors with tile surfaces. Designers and architects will opt for tile due to its durability, minimal maintenance requirements and slip resistance.

Table 1. U.S. decorative tile demand (million square feet).

Demand by Type

Porcelain and natural stone tile will account for the fastest gains of all tile types through 2013 (see Table 1). Demand for porcelain tile will be driven by its aesthetic advantages. Porcelain tile is more durable than ceramic tile, and it can be fired to resemble natural stone, making it a less-costly alternative to genuine stone tile.

Demand for natural stone tile will be spurred by interest for stone surfaces in mid-range and high-end residences. However, ceramic tile will continue to account for the vast majority of tile demand in both value and area terms through 2013, primarily due to its low cost.

Editor's note: This information is based on The Freedonia Group, Inc.'s Decorative Tile (published 12/2009, $4800). For more information, visit


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