Some manufacturers, such as Samsung Staron, offer Quartz products that are comprised of 93% mined natural quartz crystals and 7% fillers and polymers. The result is an engineered surface that looks natural, but is consistent in look across slabs, according to Dale Mandell, director of sales – Surfacing Products for Samsung Staron, in La Mirada, CA. “This is important when you’re trying to match an island to an outlying countertop area,” Mandell notes.
“And the surface of quartz has also been proven to be harder than granite.”
Consumers are also looking for surfaces that are more functional, manufacturers agree. “As consumers increasingly dine in, they are selecting surfaces that [simplify] food preparation and are integrating knife slots, a secondary prep sink and waste holes to increase the function of the surface,” says Denise Grothouse, owner of The Grothouse Lumber Company in Germansville, PA.
McGeehan also noted the trend toward material mixing at KBIS. “We saw high-design installations that were not just the traditional Corian and Zodiaq, but wood integrated into a kitchen island along with Corian countertops,” she says. “We believe that consumers have many good options for surfacing, and mixing it up allows them to personalize their space.”
Countertops, like many aspects of a home’s décor, are a very personal decision, so it’s important to offer a range of style and color options. This year, monochromatic colors are hot, while navy adds a splash of color.
“Our CaesarStone international R&D team, with its pulse on the latest in trends, determined that ‘white is the new black,’ and is the hot new color choice,” says Arik Tendler, president of CaesarStone.
Simple, clean and bright, kitchens employing white counters offer a crisp look ideal for food preparation, McGeehan agrees. “A white kitchen can go many routes – modern, beach-inspired, farmhouse – it’s a blank canvas for clearly translating a homeowner’s vision.”
Mandell reports that Samsung Staron has seen a recent surge in white and black countertops, often paired with the opposite color in cabinets to provide a striking color contrast. “Because of the increased popularity in quartz, surfaces that offer natural, earthy colors are also in demand,” he says.
For some consumers, it’s all about keeping up to date with the latest fashions, and for others it’s about having something classic and timeless. “Right now, we definitely see a strong continuing trend for whites, grays and blacks,” says Ed Rogers. “These color trends go hand-in-hand with the desire to have clean lines in the kitchen and bath.”
Neutrals are in demand now more than ever. Of the neutrals, Herreth believes gray is on top. “It is so versatile; a cool gray can resemble concrete in a modern application and a warm gray can generate warmth in a traditional setting,” she says.
“Gray has become the new beige,” Kath adds.
Mainstream countertop buyers continue to look for neutral colors that fit best with their existing cabinets, flooring and wall colors, according to James Rogers. For solid surface, he feels patterns with larger particulates or more variation in colors and patterns are growing in demand, but still with colors that are more neutral. “The same can be said for quartz, although the looks in demand are those that match closely to popular granite stones in the warmer browns, tans and beiges,” he reports.
This is not to say that monochromatic colors are the only hot colors, says Tom Costello of MS International in Orange, CA. “Our number one selling color is dark green,” he points out. “And I believe it’s primarily because it is one of the most affordable choices and it works in many kitchen color combinations.”
Ed Rogers states that summer’s hottest color was definitely navy, and anything aquatic inspired. “Colors such as our Deep Ocean, which is a rich navy, work in any design application,” he says.
Lean and Green
While aesthetics and value matter, homeowners are also looking for surfaces that keep the environment in mind. Herreth explains: “I think in the future, people will move away from countertops made exclusively from finite sources.”
While green is still a relatively small percentage of the countertop industry, according to Costello, it will become increasingly important as incentives to build green grow.