Vetrazzo has taken that one step further. Labels from actual Corona bottles are visible in the firm’s countertops. “That’s one thing that is distinctive about our recycled glass product – you really do see the recycled material and you can tell it’s post-consumer recycled content,” says Righthand. Vetrazzo even sends the consumer a certificate of transformation that explains what the source of the glass in the countertop was, so the consumer can be connected to the idea of repurposing waste in a bigger sense.
Cosentino utilizes an exclusive five-color mix process, which allows the company to add depth while maintaining the quality performance of its products.
DuPont has introduced eight new colors to its Corian Private Collection this year that embody the depth appearance trend. “We’re able to create this look by combining natural base tones with golden and bronze shaded veining, dotted with harmonizing particulates,” explains McGeehan. “The veining has an aura of translucence, giving the countertop a softer feel and a sense of graceful movement.”
Formica claims to have started the trend of stone finishes on countertops back in 2003 with the introduction of its Etchings finish. The company’s 180fx features a multi-faceted, three-dimensional Radiance finish that reflects and refracts the light, while highlighting veining and quartz patterns. “180fx also uses a four-color process instead of the usual three colors – adding a fourth dimension of color realism,” says Roush.
Imperial Marble is creating a line of cast vanities with a textured stone finish. The firm’s new Impressions by Imperial line also allows the company to add an unlimited array of 3-D images to its products, from natural granite and travertine to city skylines and oceanfront views in shower surrounds, the firm notes.
Hanwha L&C USA in Atlanta, GA utilizes clear acrylic chips in its Brionne solid surface to achieve a 3-D look. Hanwha’s HanStone products are composed of 93% natural quartz and 7% resin to create the “natural” depth, the company notes.
“Thanks to new technology and design from major laminate manufacturers like Formica and Wilsonart, laminates now come with embossing and gloss finishes that really mimic natural stone,” states Rick Liddell, senior v.p. for Fine Laminate Countertop Division, VT Industries, in Holstein, IA. These laminates, which are postformed by VT Industries on countertops with ogee edges, provide the finishing touch to appear like stone, but without the maintenance and at a fraction of the cost, he adds.
In a struggling economy, budget countertop options have gained ground among some consumers. This has created new opportunities for the laminate industry. In response, laminate manufacturers are getting more creative with their designs, according to Rousch.
“The 180fx with the Radiance finish is causing a buzz in the marketplace [because] it has an exotic granite look, without the high costs. 180fx veining runs deep and throughout the countertop and options of an ogee, beveled or rounded edge add to the realism.”
Liddell agrees that both consumers and builders are looking for value and are returning to laminate countertops, but with premium edges and laminates. “The talk at the cocktail party is no longer, ‘Look what I spent on my countertops,’ but rather, ‘Look what I saved on these beautiful countertops,’” he says.
Of course in many markets, high-end products continue to flourish. Additionally, high-end products may be incorporated into mix-and-match applications to cut costs.
While McGeehan says that DuPont is still experiencing demand for all of its products, she has noticed a few trends that reflect the state of the economy. “We’ve seen consumers take on smaller projects,” she says. “Instead of redoing an entire kitchen in the highest-end countertop material, consumers will instead reserve that material for just the island.”
Additionally, she notes, “Countertop replacement is a way consumers can get the feeling of a full remodel, but for less of an investment.”
Dunevich agrees, noting, “If consumers really want to make an impact by changing their kitchen without doing a complete remodel, changing countertops will do the trick!”