Terrazzo, Tile, Marble, and Mosaic Work

SIC 1743

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers special trade contractors that primarily set and install ceramic tile, marble, and mosaic, and those that mix marble particles and cement to make terrazzo at construction sites. Companies that primarily make pre-cast terrazzo steps, benches, and other terrazzo objects are in SIC 3272: Concrete Products, Except Block and Brick.

Terrazzo, tiles, marble, and mosaic have been used in construction for centuries, lending charm and elegance to houses, churches, and public buildings. This respected craft requires skill and offers the opportunity for artistic expression, particularly in the use of terrazzo and mosaic materials.

According to Dun and Bradstreet, the terrazzo, tile, marble, and mosaic work industry was worth $4.7 billion in 2009, down from $5.1 billion in 2008. Ceramic tile installation accounted for most of the sales, with almost $3.1 billion in revenue. Marble, terrazzo, and mosaic work and installation made up a much smaller portion of revenues. Together California, Florida, and Texas accounted for 41.5 percent of all firms and 40.9 percent of all revenues in 2009. There were about 16,800 establishments in the industry in 2009, down from 21,500 establishments in 2008. Over 92 percent of firms employed less than 10 workers. Even the handful of largest firms employed less 250 and only a couple employed more than 250.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported employment of 76,000 tile and marble setters in 2009 (down from 79,000 in 2008) among a total of 160,500 professional carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers (down from 196,000 in 2007). About 35 percent of all carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers were self-employed. Those employed by contractors tended to be assigned to nonresidential construction projects. Overall, employment for carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers was expected about as fast as average from 2008 to 2018. However, growth in the tile and marble setter sector was predicted to grow faster than average during that time due to population and business growth, which, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, would " result in more construction of shopping malls, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and other structures in which tile is used extensively." Furthermore, "tiles, including those made of glass, slate, and mosaic, and other less traditional materials, are also becoming more popular, particularly in the growing number of more expensive homes." Much of the marble and other material used in this industry is imported, with Italy accounting for nearly 27 percent of U.S. domestic tile consumption. Demand for carpet installers was expected to remain stagnant or decline slightly over the same time period as more and more homeowners chose tile and hardwood floors over carpet. Hardwood sanding and refinishing businesses were expected to grow about as fast as average as the need for these niche markets continued with the increasing popularity of hardwood floors.

Tiles traditionally are square pieces of fired clay used to cover exterior or interior surfaces such as floors, walls, or roofs. Craftsmen in this trade also use thin slabs of vinyl, wood, cork, and other materials in a similar way. Most civilizations since 3000 B.C. have used ceramic tiles, often for decorative purposes. Because they are durable and easy to clean, tiles are commonly used in areas such as bathrooms, swimming pools, and medical operating rooms. Terrazzo originated hundreds of years ago when Venetian craftsmen discovered a new use for discarded marble chips. Terrazzo is made by mixing pebbles or chips of stone or glass in cement, then polishing the surface to make it smooth. In addition to being one of the most durable flooring surfaces, Terrazzo has pleasing aesthetic qualities.

Marble is a metamorphic rock, often with irregular markings from impurities which add to its appeal and beauty. It has been used in many architectural landmarks, including the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal.

Mosaic is a decorative surface made by setting small colored pieces, such as tile, in mortar or other adhesive. Employed in architecture since 3000 B.C., mosaic is still used in places where a waterproof, hygienic surface is required, especially if decoration is also desired.

Although this industry is based on a craft that is centuries old, some new methods have been developed to make the work easier and less expensive. In contrast to the traditional methods of setting and polishing terrazzo or laying out tile and mosaic at the construction site, some manufacturers began selling prefabricated materials. Other innovations included vinyl tile designed to look like natural formations, as well as new lightweight panels and bonding materials that made tile more suitable for exterior surfaces, even on high-rise buildings.

After experiencing sluggish sales in 2001, U.S. tile factories produced a record 638 million square feet of tile in 2002. Fueled by brisk sales in the residential construction market, including new housing starts that reached a 25-year high in 2003, the tile industry flourished. Consumption in 2005 reached 3.37 billion square feet, a 7 percent increase over the 3.14 billion square feet consumed in 2004. Factory shipments of ceramic tile totaled 2.71 billion square feet in 2004, according to the Tile Council of America. The dollar volume of ceramic tile was $2.8 billion in 2004, an increase of 12.6 percent over 2003. As the housing boom ended in the late 2000s, however, the U.S. ceramic tile market fell with it. Production plunged a record 19.5 percent in 2007. Market prices for ceramic tile, on the other hand, rose 6.3 percent that year.

Exports of U.S.-made ceramic tile (which were primarily to Canada, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom), increased by 26.9 percent in 2004 on a per-unit basis, while dollar volume posted a 12.6 percent increase. By 2007, the percentage of increase in volume of exports was a mere 7.6 percent, whereas value rose 1.6 percent. Canada was the largest export market in the late 2000s. At that time the United States ranked ninth among the world's leading tile exporters and was the largest importer of tile. Imported ceramic tile captured a 79 percent share of the U.S. market in 2004, reaching 2.5 billion square feet. The volume of imported ceramic tile fell by 554 million square feet in 2007 whereas the dollar value decreased by 17.1 percent, the largest drop since 1982. Italy remained the leading ceramic tile supplier to the U.S. market, followed by Brazil, China, and Spain.

Several trade associations serve contractors and manufacturers in this industry. They include the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), established in 1945 as Tile Council of America and renamed in 2003 to reflect its membership expansion to all of North America; the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association; the Ceramic Tile Institute of America; the Marble Institute of America; and the National Tile Contractors Association.

Some industry experts predicted growth in the tile industry, despite the lagging economy in the late 2000s. A report by The Freedonia Group stated that demand for decorative tile would increase 4.3 percent per year to reach 4 billion square feet by 2011. The group predicted nonresidential use would account for much of the increase in demand, although residential remodeling would also play a part. Another article, published in March 2009 in National Floor Trends, stated "Ceramic tile has evolved to designer-level styling and better manufacturing processes. Ceramic is now positioned to give hardwoods and natural stone a run for the money."

Despite these optimistic predictions, the industry could not sustain growth following the collapse of the residential housing market in the late 2000s. New housing starts plummeted from a record high of nearly 2.1 million units in 2005 to just 544,000 in 2009. Value of nonresidential construction also dropped, from $709.8 billion in 2008 to $654.2. billion in 2009. As a result of the poor economic conditions, U.S. consumption of ceramic tile declined for the third year in a row in 2009.

In 2008, U.S. production of tile totaled 485 million square feet. Imports totaled 1.69 billion square feet, and exports totaled 50.5 million square feet for a net consumption of 2.12 billion square feet, down 20.8 percent from 2007. In 2009, consumption of domestically produced tile increased to 535 million square feet, but imports declined to 1.33 billion square feet. Exports also declined, to 45.6 million square feet. Thus, net consumption in 2009 declined, compared to 2008, by another 14 percent to 1.82 billion square feet and was down significantly compared to the 3.32 billion square feet of consumption recorded in 2006.

Based on square footage, Mexico was the top source of imported tile into the United States in 2009 with 374.3 million square feet, followed by China (232.3 million square feet), Italy (234.8 million square feet), Brazil (107.5 million square feet), and Thailand (78.3 million square feet). Based on value, Italy was the top importer into the United States, with tile imports valued at $429.7 million in 2009, followed by China ($216.3 million), Mexico ($205.0 million), Spain ($104.0 million), and Brazil ($78.3 million).

Carpet sales also suffered during the recession. In 2009 this industry sector posted its fourth year of decline, recording sales of $7.88 billion and 11.19 billion square feet. Although the U.S. economy began to show signs of recovery during 2010, the residential housing market was volatile at best and overall relatively stagnant. The carpet industry was expect to finish 2010 roughly flat with its 2009 results.

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News and information about Terrazzo, Tile, Marble, and Mosaic Work

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO); May 17, 1998; 700+ words
...owner of Wilson Tile & Terrazzo Inc., is proud...of the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association Honor...was for an indoor terrazzo floor that featured...colors of crushed marble and glass with...mosaic artists would work on church ceilings...
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); February 22, 1997; 700+ words
...each colored tile individually...man. Some tiles represent flesh...Ferguson. A tile setter by trade...learning to work with tile, marble, mosaic and terrazzo. He also travels...dimensional mosaic globe at a...trade show. "Mosaics had been a...accomplished ...
Mosaic Magic
Louisville; September 1, 2000; 700+ words
...patterns of colored marble chips. Silvery...eye-catching terrazzo floor was constructed by Rosa Mosaic and Tile Co., which...marble and terrazzo floors in the...than 60 years. Terrazzo surfaces - made...A lot of work went into the...wife team that works under the ...
Business licenses
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA); May 21, 1995; 700+ words
...633 N. Madelia, wood products. Broyles Tile Co., Reardan, Wash., terrazzo, tile, marble, mosaic. Calpurnia's Reusable Grocery, 2303 E...Construction Inc., 702 N. Walnut, concrete work. Q A Concepts, 7410 W. Greenwood, retail...
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); September 5, 2002; 700+ words
...by the state for child-care work. Davis said volunteers had donated...Labor Local 338 of Wood River, Tile, Marble, Mosaics & Terrazzo Workers Local 18 of Ferguson...and Re/Max River Bend. "The tile workers drove all the way over...
Bricklayers, Allied Craftworkers Union Endorse Gore for President.
US Newswire; September 21, 1999; 452 words
...the type of change that works for working families...our members have good work opportunities at good pay...skilled trowel tradespeople work in brick and block, tile, marble, terrazzo, stone, mosaic, plastering, concrete...
Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India); June 6, 2007; 700+ words
...deal in glazed tiles, ceramic tiles...tiles, sanitary works, porcelain, mosaic tiles, insulated tiles, terrazzo tiles, marble...tiles, tera marble tiles, heat...stone chips, marble powder, ceramic...all types of marble, ...
Today at the Folklife Festival
The Washington Post; July 4, 2001; 700+ words
...Parliament: Mosaic 3:30 Transatlantic...Ceremony: Mosaic 5 p.m. Traditions...15-Noon Terrazzo Work: A 500-Year...grotesques; making mosaics, stained glass...stone and marble masonry, terrazzo work, tile and mosaic set

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