Growth of the Ceramic Tile Industry

Man installs ceramic tile on floor while following ANSI TCNA guidelines.

Appreciating ceramic tile for its elegance and practicality is a custom held as far back as the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Ceramic tile and architecture have a venerable compatibility, and most people today have encountered the tiling in one way or another. Therefore, ceramic tile is by no means an up-and-coming material, but its adoption is on the rise as the industry grows.

From 2009-2016, the global ceramic tile market grew at a compound annual gross rate of 7.1 percent, and the global production volume of ceramic tile reached a whopping 14 billion square meters in 2016. In 2021, the US ceramic tile market saw an all-time high consumption at 3.11 billion square feet installed. These tiles, highly durable and resistant to frost, water, and thermal shocks, are increasingly being used for flooring materials throughout the world, and are heightening in favor for places like hotels, hospitals, laboratories, and pharmaceutical industries where their anti-bacterial properties make them ideal.

Beyond these specific applications, the massive growth of the ceramic tile industry can be correlated with several trends that are vastly prevalent in our current society. Industrialization, driven by economic growth throughout the world, and urbanization, resulting in more than half of the human population residing in urban areas, are responsible in part for this growth. Related to this is the growth in the real estate sector, which accommodates advancements in ceramic tile quite well, as the floors and walls of new and renovated homes and buildings are the primary locales for the material. Increasing personalization and customization trends have driven the market expansion as well.

Just as the recent years have been generous for the ceramic tile industry, the future looks bright. There is no reason to assume that current trends will subside, especially not with continued growth in new construction and renovation activities. Furthermore, with almost 70 percent of the population expected to live in cities by the year 2050, odds are there will be a much greater abundance of ceramic tile in the years to come.

The tile industry, much like most other industries, is managed, represented, and supported by the existence of standards. Tile standards contain some level of uniqueness due to the visibility of their specifications to the consumer. For example, the tile sizes, shapes, and aesthetic classes, which can be observed by any viewer of installed ceramic tile who retains at least some knowledge on the subject, are covered in ANSI A137.1:2022 – American National Standards Specifications for Ceramic Tile. This standard is a reference standard for buyers and specifiers of Standard Grade and Second Grade ceramic tile, Decorative Tile, and Specialty Tile, as well as a guide for maintaining quality control in the manufacture of ceramic tile.

ANSI A137.1:2022 was written and developed by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), an ANSI accredited standards developing organization and administrator for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/TC 189. TCNA standards are commonplace in the American tile industry, and, other than general specifications for ceramic tile, they are focused on the installation of ceramic tile and specifications for glass and other tile types.

Standards for the testing of ceramic tile, used to assure the characteristic durability and waterproofing of the material, are published by ASTM International, such as the standard test method for measuring warpage of ceramic tile.

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