Engineered quartz overtakes natural stone in kitchen remodels

Homeowners losing interest in granite and other stone countertops
Homeowners are looking for durable options like engineered quartz for kitchen redos. (Photo: Omid Nakhjavani, Dreamstime)

When Americans upgrade their kitchens, much of the remodeling focus is on central components like countertops and backsplashes.

A fabulous countertop pulls the entire kitchen together, and with 93% of homeowners upgrading this fixture, according to the “2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey,” it seems most Americans agree on this point. This year, one of the sharpest trends in countertops is marble. Timeless and classy, the variegated nature of this stone makes incorporating palettes pulled from its innate beauty into other parts of the kitchen elementary. Yet since marble is one of the priciest surfaces, builders and designers have discovered more budget-friendly alternatives, and they’re catching on among homeowners.

Materials such as engineered quartz, with plenty of rich veins and speckles like its costlier genuine marble counterpart, are gaining traction with homeowners. Durable, stain resistant and available in a variety of patterns and hues, engineered quartz was more popular among homeowners than natural stone for the first time. Indeed, 48% of kitchen remodelers upgraded their countertops with engineered quartz, while natural stone surfaces slid to 43%.

Of the natural stone surfaces, granite is still the most popular choice for 30% of homeowners, although it’s been on a three-year downslide.

[Related: Slower remodeling growth expected in 2019]

Far easier to maintain than most surfaces, these designer stone surfaces are also showing up in larger countertop slabs as well as in “waterfall” looks.

Letting it sink in

Kitchen sinks are a naturally popular upgrade—the third most popular according to Houzz, with 85% of kitchen remodelers upgrading this area. This year, look for more creative options such as butler-style, trough or farmhouse-style sinks. With stone on-trend everywhere else in the kitchen, it also applies to the sink, where units carved from a single piece of marble or other natural stone are on the rise, especially with high-net-worth clientele.

Backsplashes with serious splash

If they’re making upgrades to their kitchens, you can bet homeowners will be looking for dramatic, statement backsplashes. Once limited to tile, new trends in backsplashes include elegant, floor-to-ceiling statement units as well as classic above-the-sink brick patterns. A whopping 87% of kitchen remodels involved replacing a backsplash (making it the second most commonly replaced piece). Of those, 55% of homeowners opted for ceramic or porcelain tile, while 23% elected natural stone. Crafted from marble, granite, slate, travertine, quartzite or even limestone, in many cases, stone backsplashes are appearing as a single slab. In addition to making that all-important statement, single-slab backsplashes are also far easier to clean, since they lack all that pesky, prone-to-mildew calking of tiled surfaces.

[Related: Customization is key for kitchen remodels in 2019]

Single slabs of stone aren’t the only way to make a backsplash pop. Fantastic geometric and creative patterns—or even more detailed, almost wallpaper-like themes—are climbing to the ceiling to create feature walls, and they’re not just behind the sink. Flanking or above the hood, framing a picture window or adding floating shelves and other strategic points of interest, they may demand more time and effort, but a lovely feature wall is worth the effort.

But homeowners with a more traditional palate still comprise the majority, and they are loving the classic brick-like backsplash (54%). Less popular but still worth mentioning are herringbone, hexagon, diamond, grid and other patterns.

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