Supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic continue to impact the construction industry.
Before the pandemic, we could offer the most innovative and fashionable products from Europe and, at the same time, offer better prices on even basic import items like 12×24″ porcelain tile. Now, with the cost of ocean freight quadrupling and lead times on imports doubling, we are seeing a swing towards our domestic suppliers for the basics. During the past two years, we have been adding to our domestic inventories and partnering with more domestic suppliers.
In the past, some U.S. manufacturers were importing more products than they made here because product options were infinitesimally greater and overseas production costs and ocean freight costs were low. Now we are seeing domestic manufacturers expand and step up to produce larger sizes like 24×48″ — they are even producing porcelain panels and landscaping pavers! But domestic manufacturers are facing challenges of their own as demand outstrips supply and worker and trucker shortages are also adding to lead times.
We are still quoting 10-16 week lead times on Italian imports. 10 weeks if your order is available at the factory and 14-16 weeks if it needs to be produced first. Occasionally it takes even longer, due to container shortages, overbooked vessels, port and rail congestion, etc. Domestic shipments often run 3-4 weeks and sometimes we must wait two months or more to get a product produced. We are also experiencing delays with courier services and package deliveries.
So, what’s next for the tile Industry?
We may see manufacturers try to produce ceramic wall tile in the U.S. again. Currently, all ceramic wall tile is manufactured overseas or in Latin America. For many reasons, we will continue to see Italy and other European countries lead with the most innovative and design-forward products. U.S. manufacturers will continue to expand and there will be some new U.S. factories too. Tariffs on Chinese tile may or may not be reduced, with a lot of Chinese production already transferred to other Asian countries.
We are here to help you in any way we can!
- Our large inventories serve as a hedge against rising prices and delivery pressures.
- Our price quotes are only good for 30 days (typical), but we have avoided surcharges and other unpopular devices.
- We recommend you order early since delays and price increases are likely too
- We usually cannot hold old pricing, but we do absorb the increases that occur after you place your order
- We have added a lot of Inflation Beaters to our Bargain Room — We have floor tile starting at $1.99/sf and mosaics at $5.99/sf.