Countertop Materials: What Does the Market Want?

Countertop and cabinet contractors discuss the current popularity of stone, solid surfacing, laminate, concrete, and green recycled composites as of mid-2009. February 14, 2010

What are you cabinet makers seeing in your areas as it relates to the countertop material of choice? In the Florida market, stone is king. Solid surface was there for year after year but with granite coming down below solid surface in price in many areas (and not always the best quality) and with the HGTV's of the world pushing all things stone, America certainly jumped on that bandwagon.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor F:
Up here in the Northeast I see a lot of stone also. Iíve done a couple jobs in the last two years where they used the artificial stone, but they were for vacation homes. My clients haven't really been excited by solid surface, although it certainly has its benefits. When you have a choice between a beautiful natural material and a sheet of plastic and the price isn't much different, well I can see why.

From contributor J:
In south Mississippi solid surface died three or four years ago in the residential market. Everybody wants quartz but are only willing to pay for granite. We haven't sold one single SS job since Katrina (and I've tried). It's gradually picking up speed in the commercial market particularly in the medical sector. Lots of shops that just do residential aren't even maintaining the capability to fabricate SS anymore.

From the original questioner:
That's pretty much what I see from customers around the country. Iím seeing solid surface in a lot of commercial - hospitals, restaurants, labs, and etc. Quartz is popular in certain segments but I have not seen the prices come down.

From contributor J:
We have granite shops on every corner too but haven't seen it quite that cheap. $30 a foot installed is entry level in this area. There's a Hood's store up the road that sells that prefab stuff but I don't know much about it. We also haven't had the flood of concrete countertops like many areas of the country. I only know of a couple of fabricators that do it and the tops I've seen are butt ugly (and cracked).

More and more, I try to stay out of the countertop business. I prefer to let the customer buy his/her own. The extra couple of bucks I make arenít worth the hassle.

From contributor J:
Yep, laminate will never die. When a customer asks me that dreaded question "what's the best buy?", I honestly (and painfully) answer "laminate". Then I start trying to talk them into granite. I think granite is the best investment but it's hard to argue good ole' laminate in terms of value. I just don't want to build them.

From contributor W:
In the southwest there has been a huge push toward stone countertops. That being said I still sell a lot of solid surface countertops. It has just been a matter of learning to outsell the granite reps in the area. Some great sales tools are available Wilsonart puts out a brochure comparing SS to granite and it can be very helpful. Itís a matter of having the right tools for the job and knowing the products limitations.