Portuguese limestone tiles are probably the first type of limestone finished product to be exported. The manufacturing was simple and there was a market demand from several countries, therefore several Portuguese manufacturing companies specialized on this type of finished product for export with standard dimensions and thicknesses. However and with growing competition from Chinese products, most of these companies had to close and today there are very few companies working on standard-size tiles for export.
If today we see less companies specialized only on the manufacturing of standard tiles, we see more companies that produce standard tiles as a complement to their regular production of other finished products. Standard tiles are now normally produced from left-overs or waste from slabs, to reduce price per m2 and minimize slabs wastage. But, there is still an interesting market for Portuguese limestone tiles and many Portuguese companies manage to be quite competitive on this field.
The tiles export market is dominated by limestones such as Moca Creme (both fine and classic variations), the Moleanos (fine, classic and blue variations) and the Azul Valverde. These 3 main limestones have built its reputation in markets like the USA or the UK, and have today a steady demand from these countries.
Limestones that have seen a growing demand in past years are Cabeca Veada, Rosal, Ataija Creme or Creme Fatima.
The main markets for the export of Portuguese limestone tiles are the USA, several European countries and the Middle East. While the indisputable market leader is for many years the USA, there is a growing demand from European countries for Portuguese limestones tiles, mostly as an alternative to less affordable French limestones. The Middle East also has some level of demand but for the low priced material.
Other markets with some representation are Latin America or few Asian countries.