From the Editor’s Desk: What’s Old is New
 
September 1st, 2006

by Janet Arden, Editor

September-October 2006

One—of many—incredible impressions I came back with from CTDA’s trade mission to Istanbul is a new appreciation for the ancient traditions of ceramic tile.

For a material that dates back 7,000 years, ceramic tile is remarkably modern. It offers dynamic designs (just take a look at some of the tiles featured in this issue) and state of the art manufacturing. Its durability fits well with environmental concerns. It even addresses the health issues of those insatiable—and aging—baby boomers.

Therefore it was no surprise to me that recent numbers released by Catalina Research report that ceramic tile sales in 2005 increased by 7.3% and square foot sales increased 3.8%. This is just slightly more than the 7.0% the Tile Council of North America predicted earlier this year.

But wait, you say. That was last year. Fuel costs have jumped and the housing market has slowed.

Despite those economic factors, and perhaps even in the face of them, the prospects for tile and stone continue to be bright. Simply put, there are more houses than ever, they have more and bigger bathrooms as well as more and bigger alternative spaces for tile, including kitchens, auxiliary kitchens and even outdoor living spaces.

As long as we’re looking at numbers, consider the recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that chart the growing number of bathrooms in newly constructed homes and the mounting popularity of outdoor amenities.

Specifically in 2005, 26% of newly constructed homes had three or more bathrooms. In 1975, this category represented just 5% of new construction.

Outdoors in the time from 1992 until 2005, the number of newly built homes with patios grew from 37% to 46% and the portion of new homes with porches grew from 42% to 53%.

These are trends to make a tile dealer smile

The numbers don’t stop there. This issue of TileDealer features some equally interesting numbers about the growth of stone. According to the Stone Product Industry Report 2006 compiled by Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants LLC and Catalina Research, stone products had 15.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 1998 to 2005. That’s a growth rate any business would love. Whether you include stone in your product mix or not, the tremendous growth of this product category is sure to impact your marketplace.

But tile and stone are not just installed in new homes. In fact remodeling accounts for a substantial chunk of these sales. You should also be aware that remodeling typically means upgrading to better, more fashionable materials. Look around your showroom. Do you have the products to meet this need?

Is this a good time to be in this business? We think so. The opportunities to install more and better products come with the opportunity to upgrade the installation process itself with better underlayments to meet the needs of new products and difficult surfaces (Editor’s note: See our cover feature on Getting Underlayment Right). Additional options such as mold-inhibiting products and undertile heat add value to every installation.

The message here is that what’s old is new, and this is as important as ever. Meet the customers needs. Sell quality products and follow up with quality installation. The marketplace is there, but so is the competition. At TileDealer, we’re committed to keeping you on top of an always changing 7,000 year-old industry!

A word of thanks…

As one of the CTDA staff members invited to participate in the Turkish Trade Mission, I want to take a minute here—and a little space—to express my sincere thanks to the many people who worked tirelessly to plan and then facilitate a wonderful venture for all of the participants. There is simply no alternative to meeting and getting to know your business partners in person. The opportunity to become better acquainted with both the industry and the culture is sure to signal more and better business opportunities for everyone involved.

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