Interview of:

Heather Fiore

Editor-in-chief, TILE Magazine

From Realtà Mapei International n° 71 - 11/7/2018

That kind of Italian style loved by the Americans

Interview with Heather Fiore, Tile Magazine.

What is your opinion concerning the new kinds and trends of ceramic tiles that you witnessed in Cersaie?

I observed a handful of trends at Cersaie this year. Tiles inspired by natural stones remain popular choices, but wood-like tiles have also advanced over the years. Square- and rectangular-shaped tiles have been the most popular choices since the beginning of time, but triangular-, hexagonal- and octagonal-shaped designs have been rising in popularity over the last five years; out-of-the-box patterns, such as florals and animal-inspired prints, are now used to create decorative accents. With state-of-the-art three-dimensional digital printing technology, there is the ability to create extruding tiles with designs mimicking everything from window blinds to fabrics. Decorative tiles have also become popular choices, inspired by textiles, cartoons and even Pop Art.


Do you think large-size ceramic tiles might have a strong potential in the North-American market in the future?

Yes, I do. For the last several years, I’ve seen more manufacturers introduce larger sizes in their porcelain tile collections. When they were introduced, they spanned more than 10 feet. Over the years, they’ve only continued to grow, both in size and thickness. These panels/slabs are also being utilized on countertops, tabletops and even end tables.


Which are currently the main trends in the ceramic tile market in the USA?

In the U.S., there is a focus on a modern, contemporary aesthetic. Neutral colors, such as whites and grays, will always remain popular choices for common areas, as well as private spaces. Pops of color are often seen in more private areas, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. Stone-, concrete-, cement- and wood-inspired looks are commonly seen throughout both residential and commercial spaces, as well as industrial-inspired looks. Geometric shapes have also become popular choices for both walls and floors. Patterned, textured and metallic tiles are a few “go-to” choices.





Distribution of ceramic tiles went through deep changes in Italy and the whole of Europe. What about distribution of ceramic tiles in the USA?

In 2017, in terms of total consumption, the U.S. ceramic tile market surpassed 3 billion square feet (over 278.7 million m2), for the first time since 2006. U.S. shipments of ceramic tile rose by 4.1% from 2016 to 2017. Domestic production, which has increased each year for the last eight years, has also been boosted recently by the expansion and opening of additional manufacturing facilities in Tennessee.

Although exports decreased since 2016, the total consumption increased by 5.1%. Imports also increased by 5.6%. Italy remained the largest exporter to the U.S. in 2017, comprising 33.7% of U.S. imports, with China second at 26.6% and Spain third at 13.9%.


How relevant is the choice of installation products for ceramic tiles in North America?

It is crucial that installers and contractors select the correct types of installation products. There are various mortars and materials that have been formulated with different properties, which are suited for specific situations. To ensure a long-lasting tile installation, it is also pertinent to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines/instructions.


Is sustainability a plus in the choice of ceramic tiles and related products in the USA?

Ceramic tile in itself is one of the greenest products available on the market. It is made of natural materials, with a lifecycle of several decades. It also emits no VOCs. Architects, designers, contractors and installers alike are always looking for ways to be sustainably sound in their design approaches. Many professionals have made a positive impact on the environment by using ecological tiles and building materials that are eco-friendly.


How do the eco-sustainability standards (LEED, etc.) effect the US market of ceramic tiles?

Manufacturers of tile and installation materials are always looking for a way to lessen their carbon footprint, especially since LEED-certification is a large focus in the U.S. They recycle old materials for re-use, use wastewater and recycled materials to create their new products, and even utilize solar panels to power their factories and plants. Various efforts are being made in order to save natural resources and contribute to improving the environmental performance.


TILE Magazine


Tile Magazine is a B2B magazine published in the U.S. that provides information on the latest trends and technologies to the professional tile trade.

It is the U.S. tile industry’s leading publication covering manufacturing, design, distribution and installation of all tile products.

Realtà Mapei Tags: #insights #ceramics

Keep in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter to get Mapei news