by Jessica McNaughton
Hard and shiny are out. Warm and textured are in. This is a trend. This is happening now. The granite and quartz de facto polished finish, while the standard, is trending out. Most manufacturers are finding themselves forced into a honed or matte finish, and the stone fabrication market is having to scramble to make sure they are staying on top of this trend. Difficult to match the surface texture on the edges, most shops usually polish to a high gloss, and as customers are starting to ask for more texture, the industry is having to shift.
What does this mean for manufacturers?
STONE – TYPES
Granite as a category is trending out and being replaced with quartz. Quartz has a wary eye over its shoulder, looking at the much higher performing sintered stone materials that are catching on in Europe and making their way to the US. Dekton has been around awhile, unfortunately losing its cache by being offered alongside laminate at local hardware stores, like Home Depot. Its competitors, Lapitec and NeoLith are the sintered stones to watch out for, specifically Lapitec with its seven textures and through-body color. Out of the gate, Lapitec was playing the texture game and it is available textured in multiple thicknesses for walls, floors and counters both inside and out. Texture ties the material back to its natural roots and offers a nice respite from highly polished and dated granite.
PaperStone has been waiting for its time. That time is now. Warm to the touch, as durable as stone yet less brittle than granite, this material is poised to steal the show. With an organic color palette that actually wears IN (meaning the surface patinas over time, looking more natural), PaperStone performs like stone but is naturally textured, so it does not need any polishing, sealing or finishing. It fabricates and installs like wood, but performs like stone. So it costs less, performs better, and its natural finish is trending right now. Win, win, win.
I have heard repeatedly that solid surface is making a comeback. This is likely true, especially with health being a factor, and the seamless, hygienic properties of solid surface play well to the healthcare and education industries. The nice thing about solid surface is that you can finish it to whatever you want and some brands do have a warm feel. The brands that are all trying to look like granite and quartz are floundering a bit right now, trying to figure out how to stop copying each other long enough to innovate. It will be interesting to see how this market responds to the textured trend and whether it will be the manufacturers or the designers (through the millworkers) who innovate. Either way, change is in the air for surfacing and the new players are warm, natural, and textured.
About the Author
Jessica McNaughton is the president of CaraGreen, a distributor of sustainable materials, and co-author of the book Understanding Green Building Materials. She has her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and her MBA from the Ivey Business School. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP).