Editor’s Letter – May 2018

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.”  – Susan J. Bissonette

It is May Day and I am penning this letter amidst making final arrangements for Coverings and putting finishing touches on this issue. I just created the first posts from Coverings ’18 on the Tileletter and National Tile Contractors Pages on Facebook, where I’ll be posting a lot of news, announcements, products and developments during Coverings. And since nothing ever goes away on the internet, you can look back at our Coverings coverage there as well. Search for it at #ntcaatcoverings18. 

By the way, if you are on Facebook and aren’t following those pages, you are missing out on articles and information throughout the year, not just trade show time. And I hope you are also occasionally visiting TileLetter.com online – this digital site posts fresh news every day and you can access TileLetter past issues and archives too.

For this issue, we have a full slate of business and technical stories. Check out the Business Tip story about OSHA compliance for silica, and also Dean Moilanen’s story about using foam shower trays and the push towards establishing a standard for this product. 

In our Ask the Experts section, we explore the good, bad and ugly of wall lighting placement and how it can help make or break your project. Do you install a lot of stone? Check out the document in our Stone Section for pointers from the Natural Stone Institute on successful natural stone installation.

Have you attended a presentation or workshop with NTCA’s Robb Roderick? Well, meet the man who trained him as a helper back in the day – Kerry Rogers, a recent NTCA member, profiled in Member Spotlight. 

And they say all good things must come to an end. Such is the case for Lynnette Bloomberg’s career at the Noble Company. At the end of this month, Lynnette will retire after 33 years with Noble. Read a little about how she came to work for the company and what coworkers and colleagues have to say as they wish her well.

By this time next month, I will have reconnected or met anew many of you at Coverings, and will have spanking new topics to bring to you on the pages of TileLetter for the next few months. Anything specific you’d like to know more about? Drop me a line at [email protected] to make a request!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected] 

Editor’s Letter – April 2018

“The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently.”  Gary Zukav

By now, hopefully, weather has stabilized around the country, and the folks on the east coast who have been battling nor’easter after nor’easter are reaping the benefits of all that moisture in beautiful buds and blooming flowers and all of the glories of spring.

The tile industry is also reaping the benefits of budding ideas and emerging products. In this issue, you’ll read a summation of an in-depth paper on gauged porcelain tile panels that TCNA’s Bill Griese and Crossville’s Noah Chitty presented in Spain at the Qualicer 18 conference. This Tech Talk selection updates you on the evolution of GPTP and the standards that now guide successful manufacturing and installation of these products. 

Our product section in this issue presents a new crop of tile and accessory materials that blossomed at the TISE West/Surfaces show in Las Vegas in January. Many of these were shared on the TileLetter and National Tile Contractors Association Facebook pages during the show (so stay tuned to those social media outlets for the upcoming Coverings show), but we’ve gathered a sampling of them here, for the convenience of reading in print. 

In NTCA University Update, Becky Serbin has presented a number of testimonials from students who have taken the first wave of apprentice courses. Her article demonstrates how these courses are being used for personal enrichment and also for overall training within a company.

It’s no surprise that tile sizes are growing (and shrinking, but that’s a different story) and that large-format product is here to stay. In our Large-Format section, we present three case studies of challenging large-format installs and how the NTCA member contractors – all of whom are Certified Tile Installers or employ them in their crews – obtained high-quality, high-performance results. 

In Hot Topics, we again go to the field to present the follow-up to our February exploration of dealing with substandard tile. We explore suggestions for avoiding problems with tile that doesn’t comply with the manufacturing standards and that is sure to cause headaches if installed. 

We present information that makes your day to day operations successful, but what about when you are ready to retire? Read Vincent Mastrovito’s Business Tip story about wisely planning for your exit, and clearing the path of any obstacles that might interfere with you taking your leave.

Hopefully content this month will give you food for thought. Have opinions about what you are reading, or even suggestions for future articles? Feel free to pen a letter to the editor and send it to me at [email protected] We’re always willing to give respectful discussion a voice!

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – March 2018

As I am writing this, National Tile Day, February 23, is just three days away. Our social media and online digital sites have been awash in Why Tile? news and hashtags, and posts that serve to boost tile’s popularity with consumers, illustrating the properties, artistry and performance characteristics of the floor and wall covering that we in the industry have dedicated our lives to promoting, selling, installing and using in design. Tile manufacturers’ associations – foreign and domestic – as well as contractors, designers, Coverings, and others are all getting into the act. Did you catch any of it? How did you get onboard with raising awareness of tile as a great finishing material in 2018?

Did you miss it? Well, mark it on your calendar for next February 23, 2019 and plan a promotion or awareness campaign in your segment of the market. Wondering what to do? Enter #whytile or #nationaltileday in your favorite social media and see some of the efforts that took place in 2017 and 2018, then plan accordingly and join the festivities.

Taking a look at our story lineup this month, please be sure to catch the Business Tip, written by Pat O’Connor. He takes a look at how the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act may affect your business. LATICRETE’s Sean Boyle also gives us a view into economic trends and growth that will impact our industry in 2018 and beyond.

Also take a look at the Coverings preview. It includes information about an exciting new activity NTCA is spearheading at the show – the Installation Experience. At press time, it’s still in the planning stages, but read and learn about what we’ve got up our sleeve for your enjoyment and education, and plan to attend Coverings May 8-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta this year.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – January 2018

“Whatever you do or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy new year, NTCA members!

I know the next year comes around like, well, clockwork, but somehow it always seems to amaze me that we are back at the start of another new year.

Of course, this is a time for resolutions that often get abandoned two weeks into the new year. But I am curious, have you ever made a business resolution that you actually kept (or a personal one, for that matter)? If so, would you be willing to share that with TileLetter readers? What was your resolution, why did you make it and how did you implement it in your business?

Here at TileLetter, we have made some resolutions for 2018 that we do plan to keep. For years TileLetter was a news magazine that brought you information about things going on in the industry as well as technical and business stories and tips to improve your business.

With today’s technology and digital news vehicles, we are changing the focus of TileLetter and how we bring you information:

  • TileLetter.com brings you daily updates on breaking news, announcements and timely information for our industry. Log in from phone, tablet or computer to see what’s new each day.
  • TileLetter Weekly and Enews & Views are short, digital newsletters that come out weekly, to alert you to significant developments and time-sensitive information in our industry.
  • TileTV is a concise video-format news magazine that’s available monthly, with convention and conference coverage, demos and the popular “Question Mark” feature in which NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein answers your queries.
  • Of course, there are our Facebook pages – National Tile Contractors Association, NTCA Members Only and TileLetter, which also bring you timely stories and articles.
  • As for TileLetter, we are making the move to become more of a technical/educational journal. We’ll still have News and Product briefs, with a short description and links to full stories on tileletter.com. But our printed content is looking to be more of a reference document – something you can come back to again and again for help in a challenging project or for information about more efficient business operations.

We’ll also focus more keenly on our members, and their projects and showcase their work in the pages of TileLetter. So expect some changes, and let us know what you think.

One of the stories I’d like to bring your attention to in THIS issue is the Tile Geeks Project technical project. This amazing labor of love brought together a group of tile professionals who enjoy working and networking together to renovate several areas at a farm that serves the local community, especially autistic adults and children. The charge was led by NTCA member and Tile Geeks administrator Justin Kyle of Kyle’s Tile in Ocean View, Md., and 15 friends who are all part of the Tile Geeks Facebook group, supported by generous donations of setting materials by LATICRETE and tile by Crossville, in addition to tool and other sponsors.

In our Benefits Box, this month we detail the upcoming schedule for the brand new NTCA Regional Training Program, which will bring 20 local opportunities for intensive hands-on training around the country. This is a member-only training opportunity that starts in February, so try to make it when it’s scheduled near you. And Amber Fox, the NTCA Five Star Program Coordinator, will bring you periodic updates on the Five Star Program, starting this month.

We truly wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2018, and we pledge to do all we can to support you in that goal!

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – December 2017

“You don’t choose a life…you live one.”
– Emilio Estevez, as Daniel, in The Way

It’s November 3, and I sit poised between trips. On Sunday, I leave for Total Solutions Plus, where I hope to see many of you! Only two and a half weeks ago, I returned from the aforementioned pilgrimage (October 2017 Tileletter Editor Letter) in Northern Spain, 200 miles of what’s known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

I haven’t totally returned to my day-to-day life after my trip – and that’s probably a good thing. I’m still incorporating insights, inspirations and lessons from the Camino into my life. Much of my regular day is spent sitting in my home office, interacting with my computer and phone screens, with the occasional phone call. That’s a distinct difference to the 20 days spent walking an average of 10 miles a day on the Camino, from village to village (and the occasional large city, like Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada, Santiago itself) through cornfields, rocky mountains, vineyards and green forests, surrounded by sunshine, morning mist, fresh air, the sound of birdsong and cow bells…..and pilgrims.

Jumping for joy upon arrival at the Cathedral de Santiago.

Lots of fellow travelers on the Way, forming temporary communities and families that coalesce, dissolve, and re-form, perhaps with new members along the trail or at a village where we stopped for a break, or a snack, or for the night’s lodging. Besides the glorious spaciousness of my surroundings and ability to ponder, this wonderful network of connections with people from various places in the U.S. as well as Australia, Germany, Canada, UK, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Italy, and around the world was the most nourishing part of the trip.

And this is what brings to mind the upcoming opportunity for temporary communities to again form, this time in a business setting. Total Solutions Plus has grown to be a well-respected and well-attended conference as people from all sectors of the industry – both domestic and abroad – travel to learn, share, establish new relationships and form and strengthen new connections. More programming is added each year, but it still is a relatively relaxed setting with ample time to sit and talk and make beneficial new contacts and visit with old friends.

Certainly, by the time you receive this magazine, the event will have passed, but never fear, there’s another one next fall! And don’t rule out TISE West in January in Las Vegas, and Coverings, held in May 2018 in Atlanta. These gatherings also give you the opportunity for connection, insight, inspiration that will benefit your business and give you a new perspective on not only your operations, but your life.

Just one group of pilgrims met along the Way (and my walking partner, Jane Knap, center – blue shirt)

And since this month is the month of major holidays, remember to take some time to celebrate with the communities of family, friends, neighbors and other loved ones who form the foundation of your life. Looking for uplifting activities to share with your loved ones over the holidays? Consider these Camino movies: The Way (with Martin Sheen) – which prompted me to do the walk – and I’ll Push You, a documentary just released last night (find out more at www.illpushyou.com). This film chronicles two childhood friends, Justin and Patrick, and their 500-mile journey on the Camino – a heightened challenge since Justin is confined to a wheelchair due to a progressive neuromuscular disease, and Patrick vows to push him the entire distance – and the lessons they both learn along the Way.

Happy Holidays, God bless, and stay tuned for pictures of Spanish tile in a future issue!

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – November 2017

How is it possible that we are already in November, looking down the barrel of the Christmas season AGAIN? This fall has been filled with the good and the bad: fraught with fires and floods, a pilgrimage in Spain for me (more to come in a later issue), and we are on the cusp of Total Solutions Plus, the all – industry conference that is growing by leaps and bounds every year – this time held in our nation’s capital.

It’s also the month that we count our blessings – officially – with the holiday of Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for, personally or professionally? If you share with me at [email protected], I can include your comments in an upcoming issue, as we move into the new year.

As for me, I’m really grateful for all the focus on education and training NTCA has. Now, this has been part and parcel of the NTCA mission since it began, but in the last couple of years, we’ve seen it skyrocket to a new level, with the incredible resource known as NTCA University compiled by Becky Serbin, Dan Welch, Dave Rogers and others – and planning to make this available to support more people becoming educated and skilled tradespeople as we go forward. I’m grateful for the development of the Regional Training program, which had its debut in New Berlin, Wis., last month. Together with our ongoing workshops and the online opportunities, no serious tile setter should be without the chance to learn more about products, methods and standards that will only make their jobs better.

I’m grateful for our amazing trainers and presenters – Robb Roderick, Luis Bautista (who also enables us to reach the Spanish-speaking tile setter community with this vital information), Scott Carothers, who somehow fits in more educational sessions with his Certified Tile Installer testing schedule, and Training Director Mark Heinlein, Facebook personality extraordinaire, along with able assistant and wife Connie. In addition, I’m grateful for Kevin Insalato, who is the Regional Evaluator Coordinator for the CTI tests, and has worked hard to be sure more Regional Evaluators are trained and able to bring CTI tests to more eager tile setters around the country.

Then there’s the amazing leadership, staff, board of directors and the tireless State Ambassadors and volunteers – everyone pulling together for the good of everyone else. It’s quite a community to be a part of.

Do what you can to get the word out about NTCA. And it is quite serious about being the Voice of the Contractor, so if you have something you want to share or communicate, visit the website at www.tile-assn.com, and get in touch with one of us. We are stronger together.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – October 2017

It is currently September 8, 2017 and I am wrapping up this issue and our November issue. Why so early you say? Many of you contributors and sponsors are REALLY asking this question, since I’ve been giving you fits and pressing you on deadlines.

Because on September 15, I am flying to Barcelona, and then taking a train to Leon, Spain, where I will walk 200 miles of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile pilgrimage route in northwestern Spain traveled by thousands and thousands
of pilgrims for over 1,000 years – all making our way to the Cathedral of Santiago, where the remains of St. James the Great are enshrined (Never heard of it? Watch “The Way” with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. It’s on Amazon Prime). Carrying all
I need in a 15-lb. backpack, the next month promises to be a life-changing
experience. I’ll be back in Albuquerque October 16, just about the time you’ll be receiving this magazine – and just in time to jump into compiling our

December issue. The crunch is to be sure all the issues are ready to be designed, produced and printed before I leave. With only one week to go, honestly, it’s hard to think of anything else. I hope to see beautiful examples of tile and stone along the way and will share those with you on my return.

But I DO have to think of other things (for the next week at least), so let me draw your attention to some of the features in this issue. We have our annual Women in Tile installment in October, in which we talk with mosaicist Angie Halford, and designer/ installer Chanel Carrizosa about their journeys through the tile
industry.

We also have a couple of social media-derived stories:
Decorative Tile and Hot Topics. The Facebook tile groups are great founts of opinion and encouragement and catalogs of beautiful jobs as well as failures. I love the support and encouragement I see being offered from contractor to contractor, supplier or association to contractor, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, country of origin, or political persuasion in these groups. If you can do the job – or you are striving to do better or refine your skills – NTCA Members Only, Tile Geeks, Tile Love 2.0, Global Tile Posse, (and
possibly others I have not yet discovered) are there for encouragement, inspiration, commiseration, and sometimes some ribbing (it comes with the territory).

We also have a story about NTCA’s new Career Center, which is a fantastic resource for both those looking to fill positions and those looking for work alike. So there’s plenty of inspiring, encouraging, useful and heartfelt information for you as you journey through your days the next month. I wish you well with the pilgrim greeting I will be giving and receiving countless times before mid-October: Buen Camino! Because all of life is a journey.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – July 2017

“Without labor, nothing prospers.” – Sophocles
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, June 8, I happened to see a clip of Ivanka Trump on Fox & Friends in which she discussed the upcoming trip she, her father and labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will make today to Wisconsin to address the skills gap and workforce training. The plan is to tour Waukesha County Technical College with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to discuss these issues, and the value of apprenticeship programs.

Although the White House has proposed cuts in overall job training programs, and no actual proposals for work-force training have been announced at this writing, clearly shining a light on the importance of skills training to bridge the gap between available jobs and people qualified to fill them – and to provide a viable career path alternative other than a four-year college – is a good thing.

Reserving the right to not be political in this column but to simply draw attention to efforts being made that may benefit our trade, let me just say that I hope this attention will stimulate a groundswell of enthusiasm towards establishing apprenticeship and skills training programs again in this country. I’m proud of the apprenticeship program NTCA is offering through the hard work of Becky Serbin, Dan Welch, Dave Rogers and others and others, and promise of additional training opportunities that will roll out later this year.

By the time you receive this issue of TileLetter, this may be old news on the national front or proposals may have already been made. But in our industry it’s front and center news every day.

On May 28, on the Tile Geeks Facebook page, Phil Green posed a question about people who are concerned that trades are not attracting new blood. He said a friend recently asked, “Why don’t you look into being a partner with [this] organization and mentor a couple of kids that MIGHT have an interest in the trades?”

Green got varying responses to his post. There were the true but predictable responses that shop and trade training has been eliminated from high schools over the years. Some posters indicated upcoming high school programs being formed that earn students credits for working in the field with local contractors, or programs that have attempted this with either high-school students, veterans and ex-convicts that have been tabled due to budget cuts. Some posters shared that they have spoken at classes at their vo-tech schools or churches. David Rothberg of LATICRETE noted that the company holds a masonry/tile trade day at its Connecticut facility for local state trade school students with hands-on demos and information on available opportunities, and offered its help to support such an effort.

And Ken Ballin, of Skyro Floors in Tuckerton, N.J., got fired up and suggested, “I’ve already sent a message to a teacher friend of mine about putting a ‘tradesman (and women) night’ together and it will go to administration this week. I encourage all to do the same. Let’s brainstorm and get some ideas together. Let’s stop complaining about what’s happened in the schools and do something. There’s no time like the present and there’s no better reason to do something for our kids.”

Let’s think about it. And do something about it. Is there an opportunity at a technical school, high school, community center, church, synagogue, mosque or spiritual center to organize or participate in a career night for trades people and technical workers to come together to expose kids making decisions about their future to the possibility that a trade might be the ticket to a lucrative, fulfilling future for them; something that would never be in danger of being outsourced or automated?

Everyone is busy; everyone is tired at the end of the day. But hopefully, you have some enjoyment and pride in the work you do, and would like to see our trade continue. I’d love to hear the ideas you come up with and actions you are taking to promote our trade and ensure there is a new generation of skilled craftspeople to carry it forward into the future. Write to me at the email below!

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – June 2017

I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person – it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane.” – Mike Rowe

There’s a Mike Rowe video making the rounds on social media that prompted me to write this letter as a follow-up to the April Editor Letter that addressed the ersatz “job shortage” in our country.

In this recent 58-second video, which can be viewed at Rowe’s website at http://mikerowe.com/2017/05/quixotic-attempt-to-close-the-skills-gap/, Rowe asks the question, “Why do we only glamorize expensive colleges?”  He shows covers of popular magazines that rank top colleges in the U.S. – but points out that NONE of these rankings ever include a trade school. His video notes that even though more students than ever are entering 4-year colleges, trade jobs account for 54% percent of the labor market. His video explains that over the next 10 years, 3.5 million trade jobs will need to be filled, but 2 million of those will go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Every parent wants to be sure his or her child is well-equipped to make it in the world in a fulfilling job that keeps them in good financial health. And yet it is clear that a huge swath of opportunities are going unheeded, ignored and overlooked because they aren’t “college” positions. And jobs available NOW don’t require incurring massive debt from a four-year college.

Maybe part of the evolution to greater respect towards trades- and crafts-people is to start referring to trade schools as “trade colleges” to get them on the radar of those high school students (and their parents) looking to take the best angle for the future.

Rowe’s comment that trade schools are never mentioned in top colleges got me wondering, so I did a Google search for Top Trade Schools.  There ARE resources out there, but they don’t get quite the attention, or seem as valued, as traditional college educations. Or it could be that young people, assessing their future opportunities, don’t want to work with their hands, when technological devices have familiarized them with skills that are attached to keyboards and computer screens.

A little of what I found follows. Trade schools seem to lean heavily on medical, dental, mechanical and computer careers, but some schools offer construction training as well.

https://www.thebalance.com/best-trade-school-graduate-jobs-4125189:  Top 10 Jobs for Trade School Graduates

http://www.10besttrade.com/schools/: 10 Best Trade Schools, which includes Centura College in Virginia and South Carolina that offers studies in tiling and flooring in the Building Maintenance and Repair program; and Stratford Career Institute in St. Albans, Vt., and Fortis Institute Erie in Erie, Pa.,  have study in Construction Management.

https://www.trade-schools.net/articles/trade-school-jobs.asp gives a listing of 43 Trade School Jobs Among the Highest Paying Trades, and includes a search engine for trade schools.

http://www.abouttradeschools.com/overview/vocationalcareers/ provides a listing of trade schools in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and a list of top 10 trade jobs, with construction jobs coming in at #6.

There are other groups that have made it their mission to promote, educate and prepare young men and women for careers in trades and crafts, such as the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (cefga.org) and its involvement with the SkillsUSA (skillsusa.org) competition – which NTCA has supported —   and the National Center for Construction Education & Research (nccer.org).

There is heartening news afoot. On its website, CEFGA notes that Georgia public schools have over 150 skilled trade construction and metals programs and the 2016 Annual Report on the SkillsUSA site reports that in 2016, 1,299 middle-school students were enrolled as members of SkillsUSA, and 385 new chapters were added in 2015-16 according. It counts 385,488 members in its 2016-2017 year, which includes 316,197 students, primarily high school members.

What I DON’T see listed that often are tile installer training and programming. Masonry, contracting and construction management are popular curricula, but tile installer training still seems to be the purview of passed on family knowledge, apprenticeships, manufacturer and association training and self-learning.

This is one reason that NTCA University offers such an essential value – courses that support positions as finishers/apprentices in our trade. Visit http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=NTCAU to check out the offerings in apprenticeship, business and continuing education. And maybe pass it on to a young person who’s contemplating their future.

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

May 2017 Editor’s Letter – State of the Industry Report

“Prosperity belongs to those who learn new things the fastest.” – Paul Zane Pilzer

Although June is the issue we have slated to more closely examine all the news, information, awards and products coming out of Coverings, we ARE managing to squeeze in a few tidbits from the show that really bear early exposure. For instance, check out the Tech Talk section which discusses the long-awaited  ANSI product and installation standards for gauged porcelain tile; the NTCA News section has information on awards and accolades presented during NTCA Awards Night at the show, which also happened to be our association’s 70th Anniversary celebration, and the news item on the Why Tile campaign launched at the show. Here, in this letter, we present the TCNA’s 2016 Ceramic Tile Industry Update, in terms of consumption, outlook, exports and imports.

So, without further ado, here it is:

U.S. tile consumption overview:

Strengthened by steady growth in the housing and construction markets, the U.S. economy

continued to expand in 2016, helping lift the U.S. ceramic tile market to a seventh straight year

of growth.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Tile Council of North America, U.S. ceramic tile consumption in 2016 was 2.90 billion sq. ft., up 5.8% vs. 2015 (2.74 billion sq. ft.). For perspective 2016 is the fourth highest level ever reached by the U.S. ceramic tile market, topped only by the pre-recession boom of 2004-2006, when consumption was more than three billion sq. ft. annually.

The following table shows U.S. tile shipments, imports, exports, and total consumption in thousands of sq. ft.

 

The chart below shows total U.S. consumption of ceramic tile (in sq. ft.) over the last decade.

 

Imports:

In 2016, 1.99 billion sq. ft. of ceramic tile arrived in the U.S., up 5.7% from 2015 (1.88 billion sq.

ft.).

Imports in 2016 made up 68.6% of U.S. tile consumption (in sq. ft.), down slightly from 68.7% the previous year.

According to the Department of Commerce, in 2016 China remained the largest exporter to the U.S. (in sq. ft.) with a 29.4% share of U.S. imports (in sq. ft.), followed by Mexico (23.4%) and Italy (19.4%). Spain and Turkey rounded out the top five with a 9.3% and 5.1% share of imports, respectively.

The five countries from which the most tiles were imported in 2016 based on sq. ft. were:

Italy remained the largest exporter to the U.S. on a dollar basis (including duty, freight, and insurance) in 2016, comprising 35.8% of U.S. imports. China was second with a 24.7% share, and Mexico was third with a 12.6% share.

The five countries from which the most tiles were imported in 2016 based on total U.S. $ value (including duty, freight, and insurance) were:

 

Total ValTotal Val2016/20152015/2014

Country2016 (in $)2015 (in $)% Change% Change

Italy751,114,262695,055,4358.1%9.5%

China518,147,970521,010,646-0.5%11.0%

Mexico265,221,959287,867,792-7.9%-4.3%

Spain245,640,675194,031,27326.6%20.1%

Turkey107,800.576  93,315,61113.1%19.5%

All Countries 2,099,383,040 2,006,173,353 4.6% 10.1%

 

The average values of tile1 from the five countries (based on sq. ft.) from which the most tiles were imported in 2016 were:

 

U.S. Shipments:

U.S. ceramic tile shipments in 2016 increased for the seventh consecutive year and were at an all-time high of 909.0 million sq. ft., up 6.0% from 2015.

In dollar value, domestic shipments (less exports) in 2016 were $1.35 billion, up 7.3% vs. 2015 ($1.26 billion). 2

 

Exports:

U.S. ceramic tile exports in 2016 were 36.2 million sq. ft., down 11.1% vs. 2015. The vast majority of these exports (in sq. ft.) were to our North American neighbors, Canada (62.8%) and Mexico (8.1%).3

 

Economic Highlights:

New Home Starts: New home starts rose for the seventh consecutive year and were at their highest point since 2007. The 1.17 million units started in 2016 represented a 4.9% increase from the previous year. Even so there is still a long way to go to reach the prerecession peak level of 2.07 million units set in 2005.4

New Single Family Home Sales: New single family home sales increased for the fifth consecutive year and were at a total of 563,000 units in 2016, up 12.2% vs. 2015.5

While this recent growth is encouraging as the U.S. continues to put the recent recession behind, new home sales were still down 56.1% from the all-time high level of 1.28 million unitsreached in 2005.

Foreclosures: Foreclosure filings, which are a key indicator of the U.S. housing market’s health, declined by 13.9% in 2016 to 933,000 units. This was the sixth consecutive year-over-year decline and the lowest annual foreclosure total since 2006.6

 

1 The average value is significantly affected by the mix of tiles imported, with different types of tiles impacting the average value, in addition to differences in pricing for the same types of tile.

2 Tile Council of North America

3 U.S. Dept. of Commerce

4 U.S. Census Bureau

5U.S. Census Bureau

6 RealtyTrac

1 2 3 7