“Recently Upgraded with Granite!”
“Brand New Granite Countertops!”
Can someone tell realtors that they’re really out of date? Granite was SO 1990, yet here we are 30 years later with a product that needs to be sealed every year, is susceptible to stains, and – guess what – is mined from the earth (which is the stone equivalent of deforestation). We know, we know, there are sustainable natural stone extraction standards now, but in reality, these are very recent and came on the heels of granite becoming commoditized and ubiquitous – or basically, everyone has it and can get it on the cheap.
So, what’s next?
Quartz is a man-made or engineered stone. A polyester-based resin is combined with ground-up quartz, which is also called crystalline silica and can be made into virtually any color and design that people can imagine. With the resurgence of the marble look, much of the quartz you see today is veined and emulates marble without the high cost and staining and etching that can happen to marble. Sounds ideal, except that there are hundreds of suppliers, causing quartz to lose its appeal because it too can be easily obtained at a low cost. Quartz also has faced tariffs as part of the political landscape, a lawsuit filed by one of the largest US manufacturers, and most recently the fact that airborne crystalline silica that is created during its mining, manufacture, fabrication, and installation can cause deadly lung disease. Quartz is still popular but it has a lot of challenges to stay on top.
Check out this article here about how the quartz industry is attempting to change: https://www.caragreen.com/blog/entry/changing-face-of-quartz-isfa
To circumvent the crystalline silica challenge, glass is a great option instead. GEOS uses large pieces of glass to create a Terrazzo look with a polyester-based binder. GEOS evokes the sea and is the brainchild of Ken Trinder, an avid surfer who grew up on the east coast shoreline of the US and whose travels have lent themselves to the GEOS family of countertops and their naming convention. Colors like Avalon, Marina, and Rincon all embody the coast and bring a biophilic element into the home. Suitable for commercial or residential use, more information on GEOS can be found here.
Listen to Ken Trinder talk about GEOS and the future of surfacing: https://www.caragreen.com/podcast/entry/episode-49-an-interview-with-ken-trinder-founder-of-eos-surfaces
A new category, sintered stone, (other names that are similar are ultra-compact or pyrolithic) is the surfacing material of the future. Lapitec, who claims to be the only true sintered stone, is a complex matrix of minerals, uses no binders, and is heated under pressure and vacuum to create a solid mass of surface. Sintered stone can withstand very high and very low temperatures, mostly due to the fact that there are no binders to yellow or crack. The matrix is so compact that it does not stain, etch or discolor like natural stone and quartz. This engineered stone is the natural upgrade to quartz. Lapitec is also through-body, meaning its patterns go all the way through the slab, so edging is not an issue and there is no mismatch between the top of the slab and seams or edge profiles like can happen with porcelain.
Porcelain tile has been around for centuries, and when sintered stone began to emerge, porcelain companies saw the similarities and started to scale up the tiles to countertop sizes. Thinner than traditional countertops, porcelain is very durable and lightweight and can be used over a substrate to create a very durable countertop. Like sintered stone, porcelain is heated and formed into these large scale tiles, and unlike sintered stone, the colors and patterns are virtually unbounded. Porcelain is one of the fastest-growing market segments, and due to the fact that there are suppliers all over the world, it is quickly becoming a performance upgrade for quartz, although commoditization does remain a threat as everyone is jumping in the game.
Stone can be so….stoney. Hard, shiny, cold, sometimes people want a durable surface but with a little more welcome and a little less cold shoulder. PaperStone is a great solution for that. It has a warm organic feel to it, like wood, but far more durable. It holds up like stone because it is recycled paper compacted in a proprietary petroleum-free (yay!) resin and formed into a solid mass. Like a really dense hardwood, PaperStone does not stain or etch and offers a unique ability that stone products generally do not have – it can be refinished and it can be cut with normal woodworking tools with carbide blades and bits. PaperStone is also made in the US and is an eco-friendly countertop that feels good and makes you feel good.
So there are five options to drag the real estate industry kicking and screaming from their 1980 glamour shots into 2020. Granite was great, but it’s not ‘98…come join us in Century 21.