Ceramic growth supported by style

Ceramic tile is enjoying solid growth as the floor covering industry regains its strength and begins to grow again. The category grew 6.2 percent in 2012, according to Catalina Research, to $2.35 billion — its share of the flooring business grew to 12.5 percent — as hard surface flooring, in general, continues to outpace soft surface growth.

Tile’s dollar value is not, of course, at the level it was back in 2008, but it posted its highest number since then. And while pricing dipped during the recession, prices are trending back up.

Imports continue to grow and in 2012, they rose 5.8 percent in volume. Indeed, hard surface, tile included, is catching consumer attention. In tile’s case, its performance, durability and beauty are key factors. Style and trend-right product are fueling market growth.

Larger formats and lean profiles in porcelain are another key direction — for both commercial and residential installations. A number of companies have gone bigger and thinner and grown business by providing product that can be put on walls.

When it comes to design, tile has a lot to offer in color, texture and format. Back in March of this year, Cevisama in Spain reinforced looks on trend here in the States and revealed new directions sure to make their mark. Reclaimed wood, for example, is already trending here and has for a number of years in both residential and commercial installations. But at Cevisama, color was added, a fresh twist on a look that has penetrated the market.

Wood grain visuals offer the consumer a warm look coupled with a durability and maintenance story. Nearly every supplier has something to offer the market.

Precious metal looks of gold, silver and copper are on the horizon. In fact, all natural looks are getting attention, be it wood, stone or concrete.

Another growing movement in tile is sustainability. Suppliers are working at becoming more “green” focusing on reducing water usage. Recycling of fired tile is now possible. Over the last several years, Floor Covering Weekly (FCW) has been able to shine a light on these notable achievements through its annual GreenStep program.

Natural stone is a great opportunity for flooring dealers and one that they haven’t yet fully capitalized on. Stone market sales for 2012 stood at $1.1 billion. With proper product education, stone can prove to be an important revenue center. Note that, according to Catalina as reported by FCW the average value per square foot value of stone is $4.01 compared to $1.06 for ceramic tile in 2012.

While average square foot pricing of all tile and stone products decreased during the recession, the trend, according to Catalina, is looking up with price per square foot values increasing. Good news all around as tile continues to present opportunity and grab flooring market share.

–Amy Joyce Rush

See this story featured in the Fall 2013 Arley Report by clicking the link below:
Fall 2013 Arley Report WEB VERSION (2).pdf



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