The International Impact of Tile

The International Impact of Tile

Monday, December 25, 2023, from Floor covering Weekly

By Suzy Krogulski
Tile is truly a global flooring product. With so many vendors exploring fashion and technology, innovation in both look and composition enables a large scale appetite for the various new products from all around the world. Thanks to this continuing globalization, tile’s market reach is one that extends worldwide and remains robust and diversified.

And As Paulo Pereira, vice president of MSI, clarified, “It’s important to note that trends and market dynamics can vary based on geographical locations, consumer preferences and economic conditions.”


Pereira shared that the global tile market is considerable, thanks to a variety of factors. “The global tile market is substantial, with billions of square meters sold annually. The market size has seen fluctuations due to economic conditions, construction activity and design trends. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for sustainable and innovative tile products. Additionally, digital printing technology has revolutionized tile design, offering more intricate patterns and realistic textures.”

Indeed, this market remains healthy thanks also to the strong connections forged between various vendors. As Rocamador Rubio, director, Trade Commission of Spain for the U.S.A., explained, “Spain has had a long and healthy commercial relationship with the U.S. The U.S. market has been one of the main destinations of Spanish exports for decades, occupying the second position in the ranking of exporters in the last 20 years and currently the largest exporter in square meters. Imports from Spain reached $545 million in 2022, accounting for 25 percent of all imported ceramic tiles.”


With so many strong U.S. tile companies, importing may seem unnecessary. However, there are components to the import trade that attracts consumers. For example, sustainability may attract consumers to European manufacturers.

Rubio remarked that tile from Spain can offer consumers an attractive sustainable option thanks to the European Union’s regulations. “Collectively, the Spanish ceramic sector is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and have already reduced emissions by 55 percent as a result of EU regulations. Tile of Spain has been focused on implementing closed loop production processes, recycling and re-using up to 90 percent of heat and water waste. Many manufacturers have also begun to invest solar energy to power electric kilns and production infrastructure, further reducing their carbon footprints.”

MSI’s Pereira noted that, no matter the origin, importing tile is attractive in part because of its cost competitiveness. “Importing tiles from regions with lower production costs can result in cost savings for businesses and consumers.”

Furthermore, he explained that thanks to the ever-evolving market, certain areas may have unique specialized products and craftsmanship that better suits the project at hand. “Some countries are known for producing unique or specialized tiles that may not be readily available domestically, offering a broader range of options for consumers. [And] certain countries have a long history of tile craftsmanship, producing high-quality and artisanal tiles that may be preferred for specific projects.”

Emotion Ceramics’ Icon tile in beige comes in matte and anti-slip, making this an excellent option for transitional spaces.


Rubio said that high-performing tile solutions for indoor, outdoor and transitional spaces are surging in popularity. “One of the reasons why we’re seeing a lot of growth in the ceramic industry is because of the seamless performance from inside to outside. During the pandemic, the importance of leveraging outside space was realized in both residential and commercial settings. Now, unifying those spaces from inside to outside drives the need for a cohesive performance and uniformed look that marries both spaces. Ceramics are uniquely able to bridge the gap as opposed to wood or vinyl, since it can deliver the same look — and can even vary the thickness, anti-slip or other performance variables.”

Rubio also remarked on the new natural colors infusing into the market. “Since tile glaze and ink pigments are derived from natural mineral oxides, the industry has had issues achieving some colors in a healthy way for humanity. Namely, reds and yellows which have only been possible using heavy metals like lead and cadmium. This year, the glaze industry led as manufacturers in Spain have managed to find benign mineral solutions to achieve deep and saturated tones in these spectrums in a sustainable way.”

Pereira added, “Some countries may lead in the production of large format tiles, exceeding standard sizes, which can create visually impactful designs and are not as common in all domestic markets. Digital and 3D printing [is also found overseas]. Advanced printing technologies which create intricate designs and 3D textures may be more prevalent in certain overseas markets.”