authors Janice Anne Costa
Countertops remain an essential part of today’s kitchen designs, valued for both their beauty and functionality, though interest in different materials continues to shift, even as the “mix and match” trend remains strong.
That’s according to a new survey that polled more than 220 kitchen and bath dealers and designers about what countertop materials are hot, what colors and materials are trending and how countertops fit into their overall project budgets.
While the vast majority of consumers say they sell and/or specify multiple surfacing materials for the kitchen, some materials are clear favorites, while other once-popular choices seem to be on the downswing.
Asked what the fastest growing countertop choice is among their clients right now, dealers and designers polled were nearly unanimous in their response: Quartz products win the day. In fact, the vast majority (86.4%) said that they see demand for this material growing, while fewer than 1 percent (0.9%) see interest in the product waning (see Graph 1).
At the opposite side of the spectrum, a mere 1.8 percent of those polled see tile use growing in the kitchen – quite different from the bathroom, where tile is all the rage (see related Bath Remodeling Report) – while 73.6% see it waning and 24.6% see demand remaining the same.
Laminate is also seeing decreased interest in the kitchen, with 60.8% of those polled saying interest in the product is waning, while metal (37.4% versus 11.7%) and glass (39.4% versus 9.9%) were also seen by more people as waning than growing.
Granite, marble, soapstone and concrete continue to have a strong foothold, but after years of dominating the market, interest in natural stone seems to be falling off a bit, with more than a third (33.5%) seeing consumer interest in this material waning compared to only 16.7% who see demand on the upswing.
Solid surface, increasingly common in commercial design, seems to be losing ground in the residential arena, with roughly half (48.2%) of dealers and designers polled seeing interest in this wane among their clients, compared to 21.9% who see the category as growing and 29.9% who see demand remaining the same.
Sintered stone/ultra-compact surfacing was cited by equal numbers of dealers and designers as growing (25%) and waning (25.4%) among their clientele.
When it comes to color, all-white kitchens never seem to go out of style, so it’s no surprise that shades of white top the list of most popular kitchen countertop hues. Indeed, a whopping 92.3% of those surveyed say they continue to see strong interest in white, off-white and cream shades (see Graph 2).
Of course gray is also still trending high, with 76.4% of those polled citing it as a hot choice with their clients. Brown, taupe and other earth shades are considered desirable by 38.2% of survey respondents, while 28.2% see black as a hot kitchen countertop color.
Classic colors never go out of style, but bling is seeing a bit of a resurgence as well, with 14.4% of those surveyed saying metallics are hot for kitchen countertops right now, while nearly 20% are going bolder with colors, favoring countertop shades of blue (9.5%), green (6.5%) and red/terracotta (3.2%).
What else is trending? Mixing and matching of surfacing materials remains in vogue, with 59.6% of dealers and designers saying they “frequently” mix two or more countertop materials in their kitchen projects (see Graph 3). Reasons cited ranged from aesthetics to budget to added functionality.
But while the mix-and-match trend remains strong, designers surveyed say clients seem less passionate about choosing environmentally friendly countertops than in the past, with only 6.8% saying this is “very important” to them, and more than half saying it’s “not very important” (45%) or “not important at all” to them (9.1%). Another 39.1% say that choosing a kitchen countertop with green properties is “somewhat important” to their clients (see Graph 4).
The value of countertops can be seen in consumers’ increasing willingness to invest in these materials, with less expensive materials trending downward as homeowners look to designers to help them select countertops that will be both durable and beautiful.
To that end, more than half of those polled invest 10-20% of their clients’ kitchen budget (55.9%) in countertops, with another 29.1% saying that countertops account for 20-40% of the project budget. Additionally, 7.3% note that their clients spend as much as 41-60% of their overall budget on the countertops (see Graph 5).
Their willingness to invest in countertops might be related to their view that countertops add both beauty and function to the kitchen; indeed, when asked whether their clients were more interested in aesthetics or durability/function/ease of maintenance, more than three quarters of those polled (77.7%) said their clients valued both equally. ▪