As the market has seen vast changes, so, too has the role of countertops. Texture is now a hot trend; the ever-popular granite is increasingly sharing the stage with quartz, solid surface, glass and wood; splashy colors are ceding to monochromatic hues, and eco-friendly products continue to grow in popularity.
With smaller-scale remodels growing in popularity, consumers are looking for affordable yet visible ways to update their kitchens. And changing out the countertops offers an upgrade that combines powerful aesthetic appeal with strong functional benefits. Manufacturers have responded to this demand with choices that mix visual appeal, ease of maintenance, green sensibilities and value.
On the Surface
According to the manufacturers interviewed by KBDN, countertops with texture are the next big thing.
“The hottest trends in countertops at the moment are fashion-driven textures and colors,” says Ed Rogers, director of business development for CaesarStone USA, in Van Nuys, CA. CaesarStone recently launched a line called Motivo, which comes in both Lace and Crocodile patterns. “This is definitely on trend for fall/winter,” he says. “These patterns are right off the runway.”
Lisa Herreth, product designer at Hanwha Surfaces, in Atlanta, GA, believes that countertops are going to become even more exciting in terms of texture and color. “We’re going to see them stand out as a design element rather than blend in,” she says. “Exotic patterns are going to be making a debut.”
“We’re seeing that consumers, particularly in Europe, are gearing towards surfaces with texture, such as the Volcano Finish,” says Lorenzo Marquez, v.p./marketing for Cosentino North America, in Stafford, TX.
Rogers believes that color and pattern can only take a manufacturer so far, and sees a movement toward more interesting textures than what are traditionally found in hard surface materials. “We are investing heavily into developing new textures that turn the countertop from not simply a visual expression, but a multi-sensory experience that will now include touch,” he says.
Textures aside, consumers are looking for products that will not only improve the look of their home, but also provide good value. “Stone is generally the most preferred look, but quartz is regarded as the best value because it has the stone look that everyone likes, but does not require any maintenance,” says Summer Kath, director of brand for Cambria USA, in Eden Prairie, MN.
“We are seeing a shift in what consumers are choosing for their countertops,” affirms Maureen McGeehan, retail marketing manager for DuPont Building Innovations, in Wilmington, DE. She says that homeowners are getting smarter about their countertop decisions, opting for surfaces that are not only beautiful, but durable and low-maintenance.
Both quartz and solid surface satisfy these demands, agrees James Rogers, residential marketing director, Surfaces Division, LG Hausys America, in Atlanta, GA. He notes that “hard and shiny” has emerged as the hottest trend in recent years.
“Granite had gained in popularity over the past eight years, however, its reputation as an ‘aspirational’ product has diminished as price has decreased, access increased and quality in general decreased,” he says. “Quartz has been positioned to step in as the new, most desirable ‘hard and shiny’ surface. With new quartz manufacturing technology comes dramatic new aesthetics, which further positions quartz as a trendsetter.”
James Rogers notes that solid surface manufacturing has also stepped up to produce clear-chip technology, which replicates the look of natural minerals as well as colors and patterns that vary and have directional movement, similar to natural stone.
“Now consumers can have the look and feel of natural materials with the benefits of man-made advancements like no need to seal, repairability and manufacturer warranties,” he says.