In the past two years, the competition in the Chinese ceramic tile industry has been very intense. To achieve growth and improve performance, various brands are continually introducing new products.
These products come with various features such as wear resistance, slip resistance, ultra-white color, and high hardness. Brands are constantly looking for unique selling points to stand out from competitors.
In 2023, some brands have introduced the “easy-to-clean” concept. Opinions in the industry are divided on this. Some experts think that easy-to-clean will become a standard feature in the future. In contrast, others think it is just a temporary innovation.
Table of Contents
Industry Shifts Focus to Easy-to-Clean Tiles in 2023
In 2022, some brands had already introduced the concept of easy-to-clean tiles. In the following year, businesses nationwide began to promote them more widely.
Currently, there are two main perspectives on what easy-to-clean tiles are. One view sees them as thick tiles used for curtain walls. These tiles are made with specific raw material ratios and firing curves to create a smoother surface texture. Because curtain wall products are exposed to outdoor elements like dust and stains, these tiles can easily be cleaned by a simple rain wash.
The other view achieves the easy-to-clean effect by using special dry granules and glazes. The products most actively promoted with the easy-to-clean concept are soft polished tiles and textured tiles, while polished tiles are much less common in this category.
Jia Nuo’s general manager, Feng Peng, explained that polished tiles that meet national standards generally are fine with hidden dirt. “These products are glazed with a sufficient amount, resulting in a thicker glaze layer. Additionally, the surface is smooth after polishing, so there are no hidden dirt issues,” said Feng Peng.
He also mentioned that some companies have rushed to market dry granule products without perfecting the technology, leading to issues with hidden dirt and even noticeable footprints.
Maintenance Challenges Slow Sales Growth of Textured Tiles
In the past two years, the ceramic tile industry has focused much of its innovation on textured products. These include fine dry granules, coarse dry granules, brushed finishes, and molded surfaces. Between 2021 and 2022, these textured tiles gained significant popularity. Both manufacturers and brands have invested heavily in promoting this category.
The tiles are known for their finely detailed surfaces and lower light reflectance, features that have made them very appealing to consumers. The social media platform Xiao Hong Shu (RED) currently hosts over 110,000 posts discussing the merits of textured tiles.
However, issues began to emerge in the second half of 2022. After the initial surge in popularity, the downsides of textured tiles became more apparent in daily use. The most notable ones are hidden dirt and the difficulty of maintenance.
Online platforms have seen a growing number of posts that discuss these challenges. Phrases like “If you have an enemy, advise him to install matte tiles” and “Matte tiles are good-looking but have no other benefits” have become increasingly common.
These problems have negatively impacted sales, leading to a contraction in the market for textured tiles.
Looking into 2023, the market has not recovered as quickly as hoped. Traditional, standard products have started to increase sales, outpacing textured tiles. This shift has been particularly noticeable with the introduction of new jade stone products, which have increased the sales of standard polished tiles.
Is Stain Resistance the New Standard for Textured Tiles?
Feng Peng said, “Jia Nuo has made some developments in recent years, primarily focusing on textured tiles. If every company can take good care of this category and perfect their products, it will help expand the market for textured tiles.”
However, some people think stain resistance is just a short-term selling point, a desperate move in response to sales weakness.
On this issue, industry insiders have commented that stain resistance will inevitably become a standard feature for textured tiles moving forward. The main obstacle tying the growth of textured tiles is indeed their need for stain resistance. In today’s information-rich environment, educating the public about a product’s flaws no longer lags behind. If brands wish to remain competitive in the textured tiles market, stain resistance will be the bare minimum requirement.
Li Guoliang, the North China Marketing Center Manager for Lang Yi Ceramics, agrees with this assessment. He stated that textured tiles meet the demands of today’s consumer upgrade and fulfill the core requirements of rational consumption.
He points out that when it comes to stain resistance in tiles with similar basic characteristics, the key is the surface glaze material. He explained, “For instance, by using dry granules of a more regular shape, coupled with a protective glaze and skillful brushing techniques, we can reduce the number of pores on the glazed surface of the tiles, thereby improving their stain resistance.”