The worktop market is evolving. While laminate continues to be the most popular choice when it comes to work surface installation, other products are now gaining ground.
According to Trend-Monitor’s 2018 report, a quarter of households chose to have laminate installed in their new kitchen in the previous two years, but this is down on earlier figures, which showed laminate to have been installed by 48% of householders over the previous 10 years. The market analyst also states that quartz is up by 10%, granite by 7.5% and porcelain by 6.6%.
The look of natural materials remains extremely popular, but the impracticality of a surface like marble in a hardworking food-prep zone has become clear to consumers and technology is now able to give them the best of both worlds – the natural look they crave alongside a longer lifespan.
“Engineered stone in particular is perhaps the best example of how science and innovation have been able to improve on the original material,” says Jon Stanley, VP marketing at Caesarstone UK.
Worktops Consumer Purchasing Trends: Stats at a glance*
Laminate – 26.6%
Solid Surface – 19.1%
Granite – 14.5%
Quartz – 12.1%
Solid Wood – 9.9%
Compact Laminate – 8.7%
Porcelain – 7.6%
*Figures taken from the Trend-Monitor Kitchen Purchasing Trends Consumer Insight 2018 report
“Quartz is naturally a much harder rock than marble and the resulting engineered composite reflects that durability. Compared to solid natural stone, such as limestone, engineered stone has a much-improved resistance to high temperatures and chemicals, giving it a distinct advantage, especially for use in kitchens.” Simon Boocock, managing director for CRL Europe, agrees. “Quartz and ceramic are both perfect for the kitchen as they are hardwearing, heatproof, and scratch and stain resistant,” he says.
“Although they can be chosen as imitations of natural materials such as marble and wood, they don’t need to be sealed, which means maintenance is straightforward.” The rise in open-plan living, which places the kitchen island front and centre, and the trend for design flourishes like ‘waterfall’ worktops, have meant that visually striking work surface designs are becoming increasingly popular.
A flowing piece of worktop creating a centrepiece on an island plays to the natural beauty of the material
“There is a clear trend in the market for metal finishes, mixing materials and layering textures and colours,” says Jeanette Ward, communications manager at Franke UK. “In the upper segment of the market there is a move towards personalisation, where consumers desire products that are luxurious and bespoke to them.” Added to that, many solid surfaces now present both the designer and the installer with possibilities that weren’t previously available to them.
“Surfaces such as Aria can be cut on site without using specialist tools or requiring templating. This speeds up build time and fitters used to working with laminate worktops will be able to use this material without specialist training,” says Nina Bailey, UK design manager at Formica Group. Says Karonia MD Andrew Pickup:
How to create a waterfall worktop
Graeme Smith, head of design at PWS, gives his top tips:
The luxury of a flowing piece of worktop creating a centrepiece on an island is something that plays to the natural beauty of the material and gives the impression the piece has been hewn from one piece of stone.
Most materials can be used to create this look but it depends on the edge detail at the point of the joint you would like to create where the top meets the waterfall downstand. Quartz is perfectly formulated for this type of install as it machines well to give a crisp mitre.
For a natural stone, you have to consider a butt joint at this intersection or go completely seamless with a solid surface like Corian.
If you are creating a knee space or perch point, don’t forget to specify underpolishing where you may see the underside of the stone.
Allow for adequate support for the downstands – full panels or cabinets beside these pieces may be required. They don’t always have to go right down to the floor – create drama by hanging the material over the sides by a proportion of the height
“Solid surface solutions are way ahead when it comes to flexibility as virtually any shape or size can be offered without conspicuous joins. Design features such as curves and edge profiling are straightforward owing to the completely solid nature of the material, and it is also easy to incorporate items such as chopping boards, sinks, ports and sockets.”
But there’s more good news for retailers – according to Trend-Monitor, almost 80% of kitchen worktops are purchased at the same place as the kitchen units. This confirms that being able to offer a varied portfolio of innovative products to the consumer has never made more sense.