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Countertops

Countertops

INDUSTRIAL CODES

NAICS: 32-6199 Plastics Product Manufacturing not elsewhere classified, 32-7991 Cut Stone and Stone Product Manufacturing, 33-7110 Wood Kitchen Cabinet and Countertop Manufacturing, 33-7215 Showcase, Partition, Shelving, and Locker Manufacturing, 32-7122 Ceramic Wall and Floor Tile Manufacturing

SIC: 2434 Wood Kitchen Cabinets, 2541 Wood Partitions and Fixtures, 2542 Partitions and Fixtures, Except Wood, 3089 Plastics Products, not elsewhere classified, 3253 Ceramic Wall and Floor Tile, 3281 Cut Stone and Stone Products

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 32-61998, 32-6199A, 32-6199W, 32-79911, 32-79914, 32-79917, 32-7991W, 33-71101, 33-71104, 33-7110B, 33-7110F, 33-71220, 33-7215A, 33-7215E

PRODUCT OVERVIEW

The word counter designates any raised surface supporting work to be accomplished, be that the exchange of goods at a store, transactions to be accomplished at a bank or at an airline ticket counter, food preparation to be done in a kitchen, or personal care to be accomplished in the bathroom. The counter acquired its name in the early days of open markets where money changers set up operations and counted out coins and bills. Counters almost always take the form of a cabinet useable also for storing goods, supplies, or implements beneath the countertop. The countertop refers to the topmost layer of the cabinet usually sold separately from the cabinet itself because it has a specially formed layer of material chosen for its attractiveness or functional characteristics.

Countertops come in six distinct categories: laminates, solid synthetics, stone, ceramics, wood, or steel. The counter itself is usually framed in wood or metal and is finished in the same material or, in cases where architectural features are important, are faced in stone. Six different materials are used for countertops, each with particular strengths and weaknesses.

Laminates

The structural base of laminated countertops is a solid wooden board to the top and sides of which a covering made typically of plastics has been laminated to make a composite object. The laminating material may also be made of strong kraft or printed sheets sealed by protective layers of synthetics. By far the most common laminate, however, is a sheeting of solid-colored plastic material. Laminated countertops are the dominant product in the market for all applications, domestic as well as commercial. They are cost-effective and run approximately $10 to $40 per square foot of surface.

Solid Surface

The term refers to countertops made of a single synthetic material formed by the mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins. A popular mineral is alumina tri-hydrate, ATH. ATH is derived from bauxite ores and represents 45-70 percent of the content of the material and supplies the structural strength of the countertop whereas the polyester or acrylic lends the object sheen, water-, and stain-resistance. Solid surface counters are popular because they are seamless and offer uniform appearance. They are flexible and easy to shape during installation. Solid surface countertops have some disadvantages though, as they are vulnerable to high heat and scratch relatively easily—although the scratches may be buffed out. They run from $70 to $150 per square foot.

Stone

Stone counters come in two versions: those made of natural and those of engineered, or modified, stone. Natural stone is an attractive but expensive material more often encountered in flooring and on walls than on counters, but advancing efficiency in quarrying has reduced the cost of natural stone so that it is appearing in high-end counters as well. Siliceous and calcareous stone varieties are used. Siliceous stones include granite, quartz-based stone, serpentine, slate, and soapstone. Calcareous stones include limestone, marble, onyx, and travertine. These stones vary by color, thickness, texture, strength, and in the overall aesthetics of their appearance. Granite is the most durable but must be resealed periodically. Stone is porous. Marble is attractive but less durable and more easily chipped. Soapstone requires less maintenance than most of the other stones; it was the stone used as countertops in early New England settlements. A limitation of stone counters is that the user must refrain from cleaning them with abrasive powders or devices. Natural stone countertops range in cost between $70 and $100 per square foot in the usual installation. In more luxurious projects the stone may cost the buyer as much as $300 per square foot.

Engineered stone is a manufactured product in which a selected type of stone is combined with a pigmented polymer resin to produce a surface similar to solid surface (all-synthetic) countertops but with a more natural look. Stone is usually reduced to particles of various sizes and then slurried with polymer, the slurry used to form the countertops in molds. Before letting the mixture set, the producer must mechanically free all air from the slurry and must also pressurize it so that stresses that may be present as a result of particle alignments do not later cause the countertop to crack. Engineered stone offers some advantages over natural stone; it is more scratch-resistant, and the natural porosity of stone is countered by the presence of the polymer; the surface is thus water-resistant. Some consumers like such surfaces because they offer a consistent color often lacking in natural stone. Engineered stone countertops, however, cannot be seamed together invisibly.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are made from pressed clays with a matte finish or a glaze produced by the use of metallic oxides and colorants to pre-stain the ceramic before baking. Individual tiles are heat-resistant, seamless, and have the natural attractiveness of all ceramics if well made. The disadvantage of countertops formed of tiles is that tiles may be chipped or cracked accidentally if the user drops heavy objects; grout lines at the interface of tiles may become stained, and the stains may prove difficult to remove. The cost per square foot is affected by various factors. Handmade tiles may drive up the price. At the low end costs will run between $10 and $20 per square food.

Wood

Wood and butcher block counters are typically made of glued layers and pieces of hardwood maple. Other types of wood might be used as trim or as accents. Most counters are one to six inches thick. Part of the appeal of wood is that as a natural material it gives a room a warm feeling. But the material has its drawbacks: knife marks show, the wood needs to be resealed periodically, and butcher block wears out. Wood may cost $50 to $70 per linear foot.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is steel alloyed with chromium; the chromium helps the surface avoid oxidation, or rusting. Stainless steel is easy to clean and is attractive, but produces an industrial sort of ambiance. Noise problems can be minimized if a layer of plywood is installed beneath the counters. Stainless steel shows tracks or activity and leaves fingerprints showing if it is touched after cleaning. Apart from expensive natural stone surfaces, it is the most expensive counter on the market running in the range of $85 to $100.

The six categories briefly characterized above leave a wide range of other specialized solutions for the discriminating customer who wishes to install something unique. Such a buyer might opt for lavastone which is non-porous and thus delivers a natural stone-counter that will not stain, comes in many desirable colors, and offers takeoff-points for conversation, for example, about volcanic eruptions and such. Those inclined to show off wealth may opt for semi-precious stones set in binder materials that will show off the mineral, yet provide a smooth surface. Paper-based countertops have been used for some time in the commercial sector. Glass counters can offer rich textures and colors. The surface is non-porous and easy to clean. Modern glass products are able to withstand the rigors of most kitchens, bathrooms, and store counters where such tops are typically used—jewelry stores, optical departments, and many other department stores where allowing customers to look through the glass at the product is desired.

MARKET

Estimating the Market

Estimating the total market for countertops is difficult because data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census are available in detail only for a limited range of countertops—for kitchen and bathroom cabinets and for plastics tiles used for walls, floors, and countertops. Data for stone, metal, ceramic, or glass countertops are hidden from view. In the stone products industry, for instance, industry shipments for granite, limestone, and marble are provided, but categories are too broad for proper statistical analysis. Stainless steel shipments data do not break out countertops. The glass products industry provides a single shipment number for architectural glass and automotive glass in combination. The architectural glass mentioned is not windows; windows are reported separately.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports shipment data for countertops in three categories—kitchen and bathroom counters and plastics tiles used for wall and counter coverings. Shipment trends from 1997 to 2005 are shown in Figure 75. It is well to note that these are shipment data and not the value of the product as installed in a kitchen or a bathroom. This subset of the total market produced shipments in 1997 of $1.0 billion rising to $1.8 billion in 2005, growing at the rate of 7.1 percent per year. Most of that heady growth, however, came from plastic tiles, increasing at a rate of 16.9 percent per year. The category includes wall and ceiling tiling as well as counters though counters are a small percent of the total. Plastics-laminated kitchen countertops grew at the more modest rate of 2.4 percent and bathroom countertops actually exhibited a decline at the rate of 0.8 percent.

An overview of the market can be seen in market research data provided by Freedonia Group Inc., a research firm, as published in Wood & Wood Products magazine. These data show kitchen and bathroom countertop demand expressed in millions of square feet. Demand in 1997, as reported by Freedonia, was 353 million square feet rising to 467 million square feet by 2007, representing annual growth of 2.8 percent. In 2007 laminated countertops represented 59.3 percent of the square footage demanded. Other categories defined by type, in order of size, were solid surface countertops (11.2%), natural stone (7.1%), and engineered stone (5.4%). The second largest category was actually All Other, including plastics and ceramic tiles, metal, wood, and glass in combination. In order of overall growth, natural stone led with growth of 10.2 percent per year, engineered stone with 9.5 percent, solid surface with 2.8 percent, and the two largest categories, laminates and All Other, experienced demand growth at 1.7 percent per year each. The growth rate for engineered stone, a recently introduced product, reflects annual change from 2002 forward. Figure 76 presents materials shares, based on square footage demand for 2007.

Freedonia's uses an average cost per square foot of countertops of $25 at the production level, suggesting a total market in 2007 of $11.7 billion for the kitchen and bathroom cabinet market. The retail market, reflecting installation charges, would well double that amount. If the middle point of the price ranges shown above are assumed, laminated products would cost $25, solid surface $110, natural stone $85, engineered stone $100, and the All Other category $40 per square foot. If these numbers are applied a market size in 2007 of $21.2 billion is obtained at retail. How much larger is the total market including countertops in stores, banks, and in a great variety of service activities?

To get a feel for this expanded market, the following may be assumed. In 2007 construction activity, as reported by the Census Bureau in dollars is divided into private residential (46.3%), private non-residential (29.4%), and public sector construction (24.1%). If all the sectors used counters at the same rate as residential construction, the total market at the production level would be $25.3 billion. This approach, however, would overstate the market. Large components of nonresidential and public construction are marginal or non-users of counters—office buildings, utilities, and road construction. A closer look reveals that 29 percent of these other sectors are in the countertop market. These include commercial construction on the private side and educational construction on the public side. If the numbers are readjusted to include in total construction only sectors that are installing counters, residential construction represents 75 and all other 25 percent of the base.

This now permits us to produce a ball-park estimate of total countertop market. At the production level, starting with Freedonia's estimate, $15.6 billion is obtained and at the retail, installed level, $28.3 billion.

Trends in Materials

Laminates are the most popular countertop thanks to low cost and superior performance features. The category, however, has been under pressure from more expensive and more showy materials. Laminates have lost nearly 7 percent of their share between 1997 and 2007. They represented 66.1 percent of square footage in 1997 and 59.3 percent ten years later. The leading makers of laminate include Wilsonart, Formica, Nevamar, Pioneer, and Laminart.

Solid surface countertops have grown more rapidly than laminates but had 11.2 percent of the market (in square footage) both in 1997 and in 2007. Leading makers of solid surfacing include DuPont Corian, Formica, Wilsonart, and Avonite.

Consumer preferences have shifted to stone surfaces because of the luxury and style that such materials offer. Granite and slate were once quite expensive. Low cost providers from Asia and other regions have helped to drive costs down. Demand for natural stone was 12.5 million square feet in 1997 and 33.1 million squares in 2007. Engineered stone is a relatively new material. Its primary advantage is that it has the attractiveness of stone but is less porous and more heat-resistant. Stone has achieved the greatest gains in market share, natural stone a 3.5 percent gain in the ten-year period, engineered stone a 9.5 percent gain since 2002. Leading makers of engineered stone include Zodiaq, Clanfield, CaesarStone, and Silestone.

KEY PRODUCERS/MANUFACTURERS

DuPont Corian

The DuPont company's origins go back to the early nineteenth century. Founded by E.I. DuPont, the company made only one product from 1802 to 1840: gunpowder. DuPont expanded into other arenas and soon set up mining and manufacturing facilities outside of its home on the Brandywine River in Delaware. The company would go on to be a leader in high explosives, paint, dye, ammonia, and cellophane manufacturing. In the 1960s the company offered the public some of its greatest inventions: Lycra (1962), Kevlar (1965) and Tyvek building wrap (1966).

The 1960s also marked the development of polymethyl methacrylate as a synthetic type of marble surfacing suitable for kitchen countertops. In 1967 DuPont introduced the material as Corian in three colors: cameo white, dawn beige, and olive mist. The material was an improvement on existing nonporous surfaces because it was resistant to chipping, cracking, and staining; scratches and scorches could be scoured or sanded away. By the mid-1970s, Corian was also being used as a surfacing material in bathrooms.

According to DuPont, market research conducted in the early 1990s revealed that the public regarded Corian as a luxury item. DuPont set out to reduce the cost of the material, increase the number of colors, and to promote the product's durability and attractiveness. DuPont substituted a continuous single-sheet production method for the earlier batch process and substantially cut production costs. The company also increased available colors from eighteen in 1992 to eighty-one in 2000. DuPont has also successfully marketed its product outside the residential sector. Corian is now used in hospital counters and in furniture construction.

Formica Corp

Daniel J. O'Conor and Herbert A. Faber of Westinghouse invented formica in 1912. The material was originally conceived as an electronic insulator and a substitutive for mica, a mineral frequently used as insulation in electrical equipment. The two men named the product using its intended function (for-mica). The product was discovered in 1913.

The growing electronics market in the years after World War I prompted the company to move into other markets. Improvements in manufacturing processes allowed Formica to produce sheets that imitated marble or wood surfaces. This material was soon a hit with the public. According to the Modern Design Dictionary, in the years after World War II, approximately 2 million of the 6 million homes built in the United States had Formica countertops.

Formica was bought and sold five times during the late 1980s and in the 1990s. By the end of the decade, the company was heavily leveraged and could not pay its debts. One measure of how far the company had fallen was the loss of its market share. In the late 1980s Formica had 50 percent of the market for decorative laminates. Fifteen years later, the company's share was at 25 percent of the market. Wilsonart International, meanwhile, had seen its fortunes go in the opposite direction. Over the same period, according to a March 1999 Business Week article, its market share in this sector increased from 25 to 50 percent. In 2002 the company declared bankruptcy.

Formica is headquartered in Cincinnati and employs more than 3,800 people. It has 14 manufacturing plants in North America, Europe, and Asia. In May 2007 the company was purchased by New Zealand-based Fletcher Building Ltd.

Dal-Tile

Dal-Tile is the largest maker and distributor of ceramic tiles. The company operates ten manufacturing facilities in the United States and in Mexico and employs more than 10,000 people. Dal-Tile began operations in 1947; it established its first glazed wall tile manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, operations have greatly expanded and now incorporate the manufacture of glazed and unglazed floor tile, glazed and unglazed ceramic mosaics, and unglazed quarry tile. In 2002 the company was acquired by Mohawk Industries, the second largest maker of carpet in the United States. In that year Dal-Tile reported a 26 percent share of the overall ceramic tile market. Its annual production capacity was 527 million square feet. Top brands include Daltile and American Olean. In 2006 its parent corporation, Mohawk, reported Dal-Tiles sales at $1.9 billion.

Wilsonart International

Ralph Wilson founded the Ralph Wilson Plastics company in 1956. By the 1970s the company had established fifteen warehouses across the country to help distribute its laminate product to customers. By the 1980s the company began diversifying its product line and offering new colors and patterns. The company became one of the leading laminate distributors in the world. Its brands include many popular names in countertops and flooring including Estate Plus, DuoLink, Oasis, Roca, Earthstone, and Gibraltar. Wilsonart also sells adhesives, cleaning, and trim products. The company reported 3,402 employees and revenues of $742 million for the fiscal year ended December 2006. It is a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works.

MATERIALS & SUPPLY CHAIN LOGISTICS

Stone

Dimension stone is defined as natural rock material quarried for the purpose of obtaining blocks or slabs that meet specifications as to size (width, length, and thickness) and shape. Granite, sandstone, marble, slate, and other types of natural stones are considered dimension stone. Such stone is a popular choice for countertops. Part of the reason this sector has seen strong interest is that there are new supplies. New supplies of stone are available from China, India, Africa and other regions not available ten years earlier.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there were 100 companies in this industry in the United States. They operated 136 quarries in thirty-five states—Wisconsin, Vermont, and Georgia were most likely to be the location of these quarries. Stone production has been increasing since 1991 when production was placed at 1.16 million tons. In 2006 production was 1.53 million tons valued at $275 million. Limestone represented 38 percent of mine output in 2006, followed by granite (27%), marble (14%), sandstone (13%), slate (1%) and other types (7%). Imported stone is highly popular. An estimated 2.5 million metric tons were consumed in 2006, worth $2.7 billion.

Plastics and Ceramics

There are a number of ways to process plastics, including film casting, rotational molding, extrusion, and lamination. Laminate wall and counter coverings move in the market in the same production channel as a number of other products that are used every day, including wastepaper baskets, flowerpots, certain kinds of door hardware, and various parts of shoes. This industry saw shipments of more than $16 billion and generated employment of 63,400 people in 2005. Manufacturers should continue to see steady growth rates as plastics continue to be integrated into numerous consumer products. As for ceramics, more of the floor and wall tile industry is being satisfied through imports. According to Freedonia one-quarter of the ceramic market came from imports in the early 1990s. By 2001 three quarters of the ceramic tile supply was imported, largely from Italy and Spain, countries long considered expert manufacturers in the trade.

DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association is a trade association for cabinet and countertop makers. It lists nine points of purchase for consumers: builders, remodelers, retail showrooms, architects/designers, wholesale distributors, home centers (e.g. Home Depot or Lowe's), direct-to-consumer channels, lumber yards, and multi-family building projects. Among companies that claim more than $25 million in sales annually by outlet break down as follows: retail dealers represented the largest outlet of kitchen cabinets in the market, claiming 44 percent of sales in 2006. Home Centers continued to lose market share, falling from 20 percent in 2005 to 16.6 percent in 2006. Builders' position in the market slipped somewhat during this period from 17 percent in 2005 to 15.3 percent in 2006 owing in large degree to the housing slump. The market share held by distributors was up from 2005 to 2006 from 15 percent to 22 percent, respectively.

According to an estimate by Lowe's, building material stores and home centers represented 27 percent of cabinet and countertop sales in 2005. This was down only slightly from the 28 percent market share they held in 1999. Cabinets and countertops were also the fastest growing product at Lowe's stores. From 1999 to 2004 sales saw annual growth of 14 percent.

Customer Control

One growing trend in the distribution of kitchen cabinets and countertops is known as customer-controlled ordering. The use of sophisticated Web sites by cabinet and countertop manufacturers allows customers to log onto the site, make selections, and place orders themselves directly with the company.

Once only used by designers kitchen and bathroom planning software is becoming more available than ever as either downloadable software from a Web site or purchased at a store for home use. Such software allows customers to plan their own kitchens without the necessity or cost of a designer. Some kitchen planning software enables a direct interface with the cabinet company's inventory and ordering systems through which purchases can be made without having to deal with a salesperson. Planning software is also available increasingly for in-store use in conjunction with a representative at dealers, distributors, and home centers.

KEY USERS

According to Freedonia the remodeling segment accounted for 70 percent of all countertop sales in 2004. Bathroom and kitchen remodeling has long been seen as offering excellent returns on investment for the homeowner.

The Census Bureau estimates that $228 billion in total home renovation was performed in 2006. The renovation market continued to be driven in the new century by numerous factors, including a growing housing stock, the age of existing homes, and the increased wealth of homeowners, particularly the top fifth of the population. It will also be driven by consumers' desire for increased comfort and luxury. The total housing stock exceeded 126 million in 2006. The median age of these homes was thirty-two years in 2005, up from twenty-three in 1985. In other words, homes on the market were getting older and more likely to be in need of updating. Buyers of existing homes are likely to do some remodeling in order to make the home more their own.

Approximately 15.4 million U.S. households (14% of all households) remodeled a bathroom and 10.6 million remodeled a kitchen in 2005. According to data from Mediamark Research, reprinted in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, another 1.9 million households added a bathroom and another 5.8 million installed new countertops. Some homeowners do the work themselves while others contract out the work. The budget for such work varies as well. For example, of the 5.8 million households purchasing new countertops, 1.5 million households spent less than $1,000. Another 1.3 million spent $1,000-$2,999, and 1.2 million spent more than $3,000. Approximately $21 billion was spent on bath and kitchen remodeling in 2005.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association offered a slightly different analysis on remodeling done in the United States. The association noted that of the 10.3 billion baths remodeled in 2006, 5.5 million were master baths, 3.4 million were other full baths, and 1.3 million were powder rooms. A total of 5.2 million new bathrooms were planned; approximately half were full baths, one-third were master baths, and the remainder were powder rooms. A total of 9.2 million kitchens were remodeled.

ADJACENT MARKETS

The countertop industry is seen as something of a tag-along to the kitchen cabinet industry writ large. Both industries are ultimately separate with different players and material needs and uses. There is some overlap, however. Both are subject to changes in the housing market and are shaped by changing consumer tastes. There is also some overlap from a manufacturing perspective while some lumber companies that mill cabinetry will also mill the wood for countertops. Some companies assemble both cabinetry and countertops. There is also some overlap between laminate countertop makers and the laminate flooring industry.

Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen cabinet industry saw 127 consecutive months of growth at the end of 2006. This impressive performance ended in early 2007 when sales in January fell 12.7 percent. There were a number of reasons for the decline, including rising interest rates, record-high home costs, and a rising inventory of new homes. Most analysts see this downturn as a necessary economic correction. The industry is seen as strong and is seen as responding quickly to changes in consumer tastes, readily investing in new technology, and embracing new production strategies. Market research firm Freedonia Group Inc. estimated this market to be worth $16 billion in 2008. Trade journal Kitchen and Bath Business places the value of the market slightly lower at $14 billion.

Other Related Industries

The same companies that produce kitchen cabinets also produce bathroom vanities and related cabinetry. According to the July 2007 edition of Kitchen and Bath Business, of the more than $10 billion in sales by manufacturers, 86 percent was generated by cabinets and just over 10 percent by the sale of bathroom vanities. The remaining market share was spread among countertops, millwork, and other products.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

The most important area of research in this industry is the effect of countertop production on the environment. Concerns include environmental damage through the production of raw materials, energy used in the manufacturing process and in transporting goods, and the use and disposal of harmful chemicals.

Manufacturing and Materials Consumption

Many materials used in countertops (granite, quartz, slate) come through mining. This process notoriously consumes a great deal of energy and can cause harm to the land and surrounding ecosystems. Cement is a major ingredient of concrete; concrete countertops are a hot trend in high-end homes. However, the production of cement is the third largest creator of carbon dioxide, a gas linked to global climate change. Natural stone is a preferred countertop material for some people. It is not recyclable but is natural. Some countertop materials also consume considerable energy. Ceramic tiles must be fired twice in kilns. Stainless steel is another desirable counter material; its production consumes considerable energy but steel can be easily recycled.

Transportation

Shipping is an environmental issue because of the fuel burned by trucks and ships transporting goods. Environmental organizations have urged consumers to buy food and goods produced locally to reduce the levels of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases released into the atmosphere from the burned fuel. This energy consumption is an issue for countertop makers as well. Freedonia notes that net imports of ceramic tiles increased 13 percent from 1999 to 2004. Environmental organizations have urged consumers shopping for stone counters to seek out stone that might be taken from nearby quarries. Stones from local quarries would require less fuel for transportation and be more environmentally friendly.

Chemicals

Chemicals are also a concern for countertop makers. Laminates and paper-based counters are manufactured using particleboard and VOC (volatile organic compound) adhesives. VOC adhesives contain chemicals that affect the environment and worker health and safety. Formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals may be used in the manufacturing process as well.

Some companies have taken steps to make their counters more environmentally friendly. PaperStone and Richlite, for example, manufacture paper-based counters using pulp from sustainably managed forests. Durat manufactures solid surface countertops that are composed of 50 percent recycled plastics. Unfortunately, some materi-als are simply not environmentally friendly. For example, laminate counters are inexpensive and easy to clean but are not recyclable; an old counter will simply end up in a landfill.

CURRENT TRENDS

The countertop generally follows overall trends in housing. Aside from the temporary dead stop that this industry was experiencing in the latter years of the first decade of the twenty-first century because of the subprime lending implosion—lender practices to write mortgages for borrowers with low-to-no qualifications—the trends in housing were bigger and better. According to the Census Bureau the average new home in the first decade of the new century was 2,434 square feet, up from 1,660 in 1973. Kitchens have long been seen as the center of activity in a home; they have expanded in size with total square footage to accommodate the homeowner's taste for high-end, commercial grade appliances and for considerable storage. The average size of a kitchen in 2005 was 285 square feet, up from just 90 square feet in 1950. With larger kitchens, has come increased demand for more surface finished in more expensive materials.

Some homeowners prefer separate stations for food preparation and cleaning; one in four kitchens had more than one sink in 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). For some people the kitchen is even more important than the living and dining areas. Thirty-four percent of Americans favored a home in which kitchens were larger than average even if it meant smaller-than-average living quarters, according to the NAHB. According to the Census, 24 percent of single family homes had three or more bathrooms in 2004 while only 12 percent did in 1987. Another recent trend affecting countertops is separate facilities for men and women in the master suite. This typically means his and her vanities and dressing areas but may include separate toilets and shower stalls as well.

TARGET MARKETS & SEGMENTATION

Kitchen and bathroom improvements are among the more popular home remodeling projects, and countertops are a key aspect of many of these projects. A number of factors go into the selection of a countertop—cost, texture, durability, appearance, and availability. New colors and textures will help drive the market. In value terms, sales of kitchen countertops will continue to outpace those of bath countertops through 2009, a reflection of ongoing interest in larger kitchens as well as the shift in focus from viewing the kitchen as a work area to a social space.

RELATED ASSOCIATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS

Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, http://www.kcma.org

National Association of Home Builders, http://www.nahb.org

National Kitchen and Bath Association, http://www.nkba.org

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ahluwalia, Gopal. Home of the Future International Builders Show. National Association of Home Builders. 12 January 2006.

Christie, Les. "Honey, I Stretched the House Again." CNNMoney.com. 25 July 2006. Available from 〈http://money.cnn.com〉.

"Countertop Demand Expected to Increase 2% Annually." Wood & Wood Products. Available from 〈http://www.allbusiness.com/wood-product-manufacturing/sawmills-wood-preservation/774777-1.html〉.

Freedonia Focus on Ceramic Tile. Freedonia Group Inc. September 2002.

"How Formica Got Burned By its Buyouts." Business Week. 22 March 1999.

"Kitchen & Bath Countertops." Freedonia Group Inc. MarketResearch.com. 1 October 2005. Available from 〈http://www.marketresearch.com/product/display.asp?productid=1187213&g=1〉.

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2007. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. 2007.

Pennock, Alex et. al. "Choose the Best Countertop Material for Your Home." Green Home Guide, Inc. 18 April 2006. Available from 〈http://www.greenhomeguide.com〉.

"Soft Landing," Kitchen & Bath Design News. January 2006.

"Table 969: Home Remodeling—Work Done and Amount Spent 2005." Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. December 2006.

"Trends in Countertops for Kitchens and Baths." Solid Surface. July-August 2005.

see also Kitchen Cabinets

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