Anderson, S.C. -- Another year of positive news from the U.S. economy, gains in the construction and housing markets, as well as historically low interest rates and falling unemployment, helped the U.S. ceramic tile market increase for the eighth year in a row, according to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

In 2017 U.S. ceramic tile market surpassed the three billion sq. ft. level for the first time since 2006. Total consumption was 3.05 billion sq. ft., up 5.1% from 2016 and the fourth highest total of all time. In 2017 the U.S. imported 2.10 billion sq. ft. of ceramic tile, up 5.6% from 2016 (1.99 billion sq. ft.). Imports comprised 68.9% of 2017 U.S. tile consumption in sq. ft., up slightly from 68.6% in 2016.

Once again China was the largest exporter to the U.S. in sq. ft., a position it has held since taking over the top spot from Mexico in 2015. Chinese imports in 2017 comprised 31.3% of U.S. imports (in sq. ft.), up from 29.4% the previous year, and the highest percentage China has ever held of the U.S. import market.

While the peso has fallen significantly vs. the U.S. dollar over the last five years, ceramic tile imports from Mexico have declined sharply. Mexican imports comprised 18.9% of 2017 U.S. imports, down from 23.4% in 2016 and down from 27.0% of U.S. imports two years ago. Italy was the third largest exporter of tile to the U.S., making up 18.1% of U.S. imports, down from 19.4% in 2016. The next largest exporters to the U.S. in 2017 were Spain (11.7% import share) and Turkey (6.2%).

On a dollar basis (including duty, freight, and insurance) Italy remained the largest exporter to the U.S. in 2017, comprising 33.7% of U.S. imports. China was second with a 26.6% share, and Spain was third with a 13.9% share.

U.S. shipments of ceramic tile rose 4.1% from 2016 to 2017 to a record high of 946.5 million sq. ft. Domestic production, which has increased each of the last eight years, has been boosted recently by the expansion and opening of additional manufacturing facilities in Tennessee. Domestically-produced tile was by far the tile of choice of consumers, as 31.1% of all tile (by sq. ft.) consumed domestically in 2017 was made in the U.S. The next highest countries of origin were China (21.6% of all tile consumed in the U.S.), Mexico (13.1%), and Italy (12.4%). U.S. ceramic tile exports were 28.5 million sq. ft. in 2017, down 21.3% The vast majority of these exports were to Canada (75.3%) and Mexico (8.4%).

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