We are a leading, high margin manufacturer of gypsum wallboard and complementary finishing products. Gypsum wallboard is a low-cost, widely used building product for interior and exterior walls and ceilings in residential and commercial structures. It is highly regarded for its ease and speed of application and its superior performance in providing comfort, fire resistance and thermal and sound insulation. The principal sources of demand for gypsum wallboard are residential construction, repair and remodel ("R&R"), and commercial construction. The commercial construction market encompasses areas such as office, retail, healthcare, hospitality and government building projects.
Our manufacturing facilities and sales efforts are concentrated in the eastern United States and eastern Canada. We estimate that in 2018 our market share in the United States east of the Mississippi River, a market which accounted for more than 55% of total U.S. wallboard demand, was approximately 18%, and our share is significantly higher in many of the major metropolitan areas within a shipping radius of 300 miles of our facilities, which include New York, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Nashville, Jacksonville and Hartford.
We estimate that new residential and R&R construction accounted for more than 80% of 2018 industry wallboard demand. Demand for gypsum wallboard is cyclical and closely follows construction industry cycles, particularly housing construction. For example, U.S. housing starts fell from a peak of 2.1 million in 2005 to a 50-year low of 554,000 in 2009. Correspondingly, U.S. wallboard consumption declined by more than 50% from 36.2 billion square feet, or bsf, in 2005 to a low of 17.1 bsf in 2010. Recently, the U.S. housing market has experienced moderate growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. housing starts reached 1.17 million in 2016 and 1.20 million in 2017. According to the February 2019 Blue Chip Economic Indicators report housing starts are estimated to be 1.26 million in 2018. This drove wallboard consumption to 24.7 bsf, 25.3 bsf and 24.9 bsf, for 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We believe that there is room for continued improvement in housing starts. Housing starts have averaged 1.44 million over the past 50 years, which is approximately 14% greater than the 2018 starts of 1.26 million.