For the third year in a row, U.S. tile consumption declined. This is the first time this has occurred since 1982, during the midst of the last major recession.

Total U.S. tile consumption for 2009 was 1.82 billion sq. ft. (-14.0% vs. 2008) – approximately the same consumption level as 1998.

YearU.S. Shipments
(in thousands of sq. ft. 
ImportsExportsTotal Consumption% Change in Consumption from Previous Year


In 2009, 1.33 billion sq. ft. (123.9 million sq. m) of ceramic tile arrived in the U.S. This was a decrease of 20.9% from 2008, in which 1.69 billion sq. ft. (156.6 million sq. m) of ceramic tile were imported into the U.S. Although imports still make up the majority of U.S. consumption, import penetration has fallen in each of the last three years and in 2009 was at 73.1% – the lowest it has been since 1999.

Mexico was the top exporter to the U.S. in 2009 (in sq. ft.) with a 28.1% share. This was up from 2008, in which it comprised 24.9% of U.S. tile imports. China held the second position, comprising 21.9% of imports (in sq. ft.), up from 18.4% in 2008. Italy was in third place with a 17.6% share, down from 22.9% in 2008.

On a dollar basis, Italy continued to hold the top exporter position in 2009, making up 35.7% of U.S. imports. The next two highest shares belonged to China and Mexico, which had 18.0% and 17.0% of the $ value of U.S. imports, respectively.

The top five countries from which tile was imported in 2009 based on sq. ft. were: 

CountrySq. Ft. 2009Sq. Ft. 20082009/2008 % Change2008/2007 % Change

The top five countries from which tile was imported in 2009 based on total U.S. $ value (including duty, freight, and insurance) were:

CountryTot $ Val 2009Tot $ Val 20082009/2008 % Change2008/2007 % Change

U.S. Shipments:

While overall tile consumption declined in 2009, consumption of domestic tile increased 10.3% vs. 2008, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept. The 2009 domestic shipment total of 535 million sq. ft. (49.7 million sq. m) was approximately the same level as in 2007.


U.S. exports in 2009 were at 45.6 million sq. ft. (4.2 million sq. m), down 9.8% vs. 2008. The vast majority of these exports (in sq. ft.) were to Canada (54.0%) and Mexico (26.2%).

(Source: U.S. Commerce Dept.)


“Despite these past three very difficult years for our industry, there are positive indicators the worst of the economic disaster has past, and the market is set to rebound. We have seen economic growth the past two quarters, some stabilization in the labor market, and historically low mortgage rates. We are hopeful 2010 will bring the first increase in tile consumption in four years,” said Andrew Whitmire, trade data analyst for Tile Council of North America.