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2016 Countertop and Kitchen Trends

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2016 Countertop and Kitchen Trends

Posted on 19 February 2016 by cradmin

Although we are less than two months into 2016, this year’s countertop and kitchen trends have already started to become clear, and the Internet is abuzz with all the latest developments. As in past years, our annual countertop and kitchen trend roundup will include all of the relevant information we have sourced from across the Web combined with what we have been hearing from our audience, industry suppliers, countertop fabricators, other industry professionals and consumers.

Kitchens Going From White to Gray

gray tilesSeveral general kitchen trends will play a role in the specific types, shapes and colors homeowners will be choosing for their new countertops this year, and chief among is a softening of colors. A recent article published by Houzz declares that soft color palettes have taken center stage, knocking out glossy whites and bold primary colors.

In another trend report, Daltile claims that white has officially been ousted by gray not only in the kitchen but also in other rooms of the typical American home, including the bathroom, living room and bedrooms. I must’ve been ahead of the curve because we just had our living room repainted in oyster gray and chose a similar gray to accent the white ceramic tiles of our new backsplash.

However, I am certainly not alone, as the Washington Post reports that 61 percent of renovators painted their own walls gray, beige or white within the last year, with green and yellow trailing at 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

“Charcoal, grays and even neutral pastels like pale blue, pale green-gray and tinted whites are the new alternative to the standard white,” said Jane Lockhart, a popular interior designer in Ontario, KitchenAid-Black-StainlessCanada. She also said that new and remodeled kitchens will include light wood tones, such as walnut, white oak and whitewashed wood in place of bolder accents.

In a sharp contrast to white and other lighter colors, all-black kitchens have begun to make an appearance this year, and the color is being contrasted with metallics to create a look of luxury. Decorator’s Wisdom, a DIY decorating blog, reports that Kitchenaid has already gambled on this trend by releasing a new line of kitchen appliances in black stainless steel.

Kitchen Becomes the Heart of Home

This year, the trend to transform the kitchen as a central meeting place and utilitarian common room as expanded beyond belief. With the ability to take in information at will and on the go thanks to smartphones, hanging out in front of the living-room television is largely a thing of the past.

Couples, families, housemates and even single individuals are increasingly forsaking the comfort of the living room and are going straight to the kitchen where freestanding tables are quickly becoming passé. People now want the convenience of upgraded countertops, and with the range of support brackets available for overhangs, it is certainly no wonder. Islands, side counters and nooks are making kitchen tables inefficient, impractical and obsolete.

Countertops: Thin Is In

When it comes to countertops, the word on the street is the thinner the better, and compact sintered surfaces have come in to fill that demand. However, not everyone has the moolah for such extravagance, and granite and quartz remain top competitors. However, before we get to specific surfaces, let’s take a look at colors and styles.

An Angie’s List article on 2016 countertop trends written by Haley Johnston of Moss Building & Design hits the nail on the head when it states that “white marble tops the list of the most popular kitchen countertop colors.” Every brand, no matter the specific material, has come out with a slew of white marble-like designs. Some people with money have sprung for actual marble, but those who know better go for quartz or solid surface, and upscale laminate designs have entered the market and infiltrated the homes of people who could afford much more.

When it comes to style, homeowners have followed the eye-catching, floor-to-surface design that has come to be known as waterfall countertops. This is really just a countertop that extends beyond the horizontal plane to include an integral vertical surface of identical composition and color. Even if consumers decide against waterfall countertops, the trend for 2016 is to choose mitered, yet inconspicuous edging, which is notable for creating a sleek appearance with continuous lines.

A final style guideline for countertops, which has been great news for fabricators, is that they are quickly replacing kitchen tables. Where kitchen tables once stood, countertop islands are being built to match the surrounding countertops. These islands often include overhands and stools, and in addition to kitchen tables, they have largely replaced home-office desks. Home businesses are more popular than ever, and the kitchen has emerged as a central workstation.

Countertop Surfaces for 2016

As far as surfacing materials go, the big winners in 2016 are as expected: quartz and granite. Quartz continues to make the strongest gains, but granite remains the most popular surface after laminate, which once held its position solely on price but has come into its own with the help of modern designers and improved durability.

  • Natural Stone – Beyond laminate, granite remains the leader in countertop materials, and with good reason. It looks fantastic, has durability and is more affordable than ever, not to mention unique. However, it is losing market share quickly as quartz takes center stage in the arena. When it comes to natural stone countertops, though, many of us forget that there are alternatives to granite. Soapstone and slate have garnered loyal followings, and some end users are adamant in their promotion and defense against criticism, which has newly emerged this year. While many prefer natural stone, 2016 has brought out the factions.
  • Engineered Stone – Not too many years back, quartz remained relatively unknown to the masses, but its exceptional properties and range of colors and patterns have quickly brought this surfacing into the mainstream. Many fabricators and designers reckon that quartz will take second place only to laminate in the next decade.
  • Concrete – Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) is also edging its way into the market, but it has not been gaining as much strength as it did only a few years in the past. Likely it is held back by its need for sealant and a slower fabrication process. However, those who do it well have found a solid niche for themselves, and the look of masterfully customized GFRC is incomparable to anything else.
  • Sustainables – Eco-friendly surfacing of all types is quickly gaining ground, but perhaps Butcher Blockmore so with commercial and industrial builders than in the residential sector. The odd aspect about the rise of environmentally friendly surfacing is that it is being driven by consumers while largely seen as impractical or too expensive for these same consumers’ homes. On the other hand, hundreds of communities across the nation have successfully promoted sustainable lifestyles, and the trend to do all that is possible for the perceived health of people and the planet has been taken up by both baby boomers and millennials. (Read more about sustainable and eco-sensitive countertop products here, at our sister website www.GreenSurfaceResource.com.)
  • Sintered Compact Surface –Sintered compact surface is, by far, the hottest countertop material available – on an upscale price point. This seems to be the future or next generation of countertop material and new competitors are entering the market to get a share of the spoils.
  • Solid Surface – Still holding onto third place in material popularity, is solid surface material, a close cousin or perhaps parent to the newer quartz surfacing/engineered stone, originally branded by 9203CE_Dusk_Ice_(3)DuPont as Corian. However, fabricators report it is being relegated more to the bathroom, and its real growth seems to be in the commercial sector. Like it’s younger quartz-based relative, in the past, it has been driven by its nearly unlimited designs along with its hygienic properties. However, many predict it will be overtaken in the kitchen by engineered stone, which is growing doubly fast as solid surface. That said, lately, there has been an influx of new companies into the solid surface market and some unique new color options, so perhaps, this will spawn awareness and a return to growth for the product, but that remains to be seen.

Consumer Reports Weighs In

Caesarstone Symphony GreyThis year, Consumer Reports broke out and published an article on the top countertop trends of 2016, and it was very specific. Rather than general trends, this most-respected of consumer-review organizations named names, and the choices were largely based on the new products presented at Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas.

Formica LaminateThe surfaces Consumer Reports is backing as this year’s trends are as follows:

  • Wilsonart Solid Surface – Dusk Ice
  • Formica Laminate – Gray Josef Linen
  • Caesarstone Quartz – Symphony Grey

But for all of the 2016 trends, the real question from most countertop fabricators is how to keep pace with the economic upswing. Both new structures and renovations continue to make a steady comeback, and the ability to read and forecast trends, while inherently risky, often works to increase revenue, no matter how you choose to go about it.

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Franke to Add 9 New Granite Sink Models in 2016

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Franke to Add 9 New Granite Sink Models in 2016

Posted on 21 December 2015 by cradmin

Franke-Granite-Ellipse-Series-60-40-Bowl

Franke Granite Ellipse Series 60-40 Bowl

Launching in January, Franke will have nine new models of Granite Sinks in six finishes: Champagne, Mocha, Onyx, Oyster, Storm and Vanilla. The sinks feature antimicrobial protection to inhibit bacteria growth that may affect the sink surface, reports the company. They also have a durable surface that is heat resistant. The Franke Granite Orca Single Bowl sink comes with Franke’s integrated ledge system.

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MS International Expands Natural Stone Countertop Collection

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MS International Expands Natural Stone Countertop Collection

Posted on 08 December 2015 by cradmin

MSI New natural stones - Agusta White Marble

Agusta White Marble is one of the new stone slabs added to MSI’s collection

M S International (MSI) introduced more than 30 new colors to its natural stone slabs and countertops collection. Included in the expansion are unique granite slabs, marble and quartzite. This increases the number of natural stone colors and patterns offered by the company to more than 350. The new additions include a variety of colors and were hand-selected to match up with the latest countertop trends. Blacks, grays, whites, subtle earth tones and dramatic, exotic stones are included. Because of their growing popularity, a priority for the additions were high-movement white and gray natural stone slabs, including 15 new exclusive granites and marbles .

You may also be interested in this article about Antonlini’s new stone colors.

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Chemical Concepts Introduces C-30 Seam Adhesive for Marble and Marble-like Quartz/Stone

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Chemical Concepts Introduces C-30 Seam Adhesive for Marble and Marble-like Quartz/Stone

Posted on 24 November 2015 by cradmin

chemical concepts c30 marblemaster adhesiveChemical Concepts introduced its C-30 Marblemaster seaming adhesive, designed to form a strong bond and a good color match with a variety of marbles and marble-like quartz, granite and other natural stones. It is suitable for fabricating countertops, bathroom vanities, and other marblesque surfaces, and is usable on mitre joints, laminated edges and seams. Available in a range of colors that are specifically blended to match many popular types of marble looks, including many shades of white that are often difficult to match. Depending on the color, they cure to either an opaque or translucent finish.

You may also be interested in this article on Integra Adhesives Surface Bonder Ultra.

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Antolini Adds to its 2015 Signature Stone Collection

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Antolini Adds to its 2015 Signature Stone Collection

Posted on 13 November 2015 by CRadmin3

Antolini Fusion Wow

Antolini’s ‘Fusion Wow’ color

Antolini’s 2015 Signature Stone Collection now offers six new natural stone choices with A Zerobact treatment. According to the company, A Zerobact treatment prevents the growth of bacteria and mold on natural stone without altering the color or properties of the stone. The bacteriostatic treatment seeps into the stone and allows for the application of a sealer or other treatments. The six recently released signature stones are Copper Dune, Angel Jasper Brown, Black Cosmic, Fusion WOW (pictured here), Naica Quartz and Quartzite Cielo. These stones are available in a large slab format.

You may also be interested in this article on options available from Granite Transformations.

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Wood & Stone Co. Offers Stone/Surfacing Glues

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Wood & Stone Co. Offers Stone/Surfacing Glues

Posted on 15 October 2015 by cradmin

wood and stone 2 acrylic penetrating gluesWood and Stone Company has two types of acrylic penetrating glues made for repairing and laminating granite, quartz surfacing, marble and engineered stone. The first is Wood & Stone Acrylic Penetrating Crack Sealer, which is a thin liquid designed to flow like water and made to fill cracks and reinforce stone and stone-like products. It is for very thin, hairline cracks that flowing glue has difficulty penetrating. It is  clear and cures quickly, according to the company.

The second adhesive product is Wood & Stone Acrylic Super Penetrating Glue, a low-viscosity system for bonding and filling on horizontal surfaces. While it is thinner than standard polyester flowing glues, it is not as thin as the company’s crack sealer, which allows broader usage. According to the company, it is suitable for filling larger cracks, pits and holes. Additionally, because it is clear, users can mix in ground up stone powder to assist in color matching with larger holes, chips and blowouts. And, because of its thinness, it is very suitable for laminating, as it will spread very thin to create tight seams, reports the company.

The company also makes an acrylic knife grade adhesives as well.

You may also be interested in this article on Integra Adhesives bulk adhesives.

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Indian Granite Empire Falls to Charges of Corruption and Human Sacrifice

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Indian Granite Empire Falls to Charges of Corruption and Human Sacrifice

Posted on 12 October 2015 by cradmin

20TH_GRANITE_1183696fIn this strange, but apparently true story, new allegations against the largest granite exporter in India, PRP Granites, brings to light why it is important to consider the source of your slabs. Even though the price may be the lowest around and the quality seems to be top notch, the success of the exporter may be resting on fraudulent activity, local scams and, believe it or not, even human sacrifice rituals.

The Rise of PRP Granites

In the 1990s, a seemingly meek and mild-mannered general contractor, PR Palanichamy, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu quickly rose through the ranks to become the largest granite magnate in the country. Early in the decade, Palanichamy bought several acres of land rich in pink-hued granite, and he started his company in the town of Melur.

Only a few years later, Western nations began to impose strict regulations on granite quarrying, which caused domestic production to fall as fabricators sought cheap, quality imports. Palanichamy was able to make a few large deals very early in the game, and only two decades later, his company was mining 35,000 acres across the state, and his net worth had risen to more than $3 billion.

The Great India Granite Scam

For the last five years, Palanichamy has been investigated by the highest legal authorities in India after rumors of corruption and shady business practices were disclosed by former associates and employees. The investigation seemed to reach its apex in August 2012 when Palanichamy and his two sons were allegedly among 23 people operating four granite firms arrested for illegal quarrying.

The investigation continued, and by the following month, authorities had uncovered what would be called one of the largest scams of modern India. Police had pinpointed 18 mining barons, arrested 40 people, issued warrants for 12 others and seized thousands in cash and 72 vehicles. In addition, all granite exports in India were halted, 12 revenue officials were suspended and 40 other government officials were investigated.

From 1978 to 1992, the state held a monopoly in the granite industry under the blanket of Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN). When TAMIN was dissolved, its land was leased and licenses for mining were issued to about 175 private companies. According to the public record, 94 of these companies have been accused of violating licensing terms and 51 others were accused of major violations, such as land encroachment.

“We have deployed 200 government officials and 100 police personnel for the job,” District Collector Anshul Mishra was quoted as saying. “All the quarry owners have illegally mined granite blocks over and above the permitted quantity. They mined public roads and private lands without the consent of the owners and have grabbed land at will.”

“Our investigations in Madurai district reveal that 70 percent of violations were committed by PRP Granites Exports Ltd”, Mishra added.

Granite Empire Relies on Corruption and Scandal

As Palanichimay’s business grew throughout the past 20 years, he and his cohorts are said to have lived life to the most. They reportedly held vast sums of money, and wielded social and political power in a mafia-like fashion, but on the surface everything seemed legitimate. Palanichimay was awarded as the country’s top granite exporter by the Chemical and Allied Export Promotion Council of India (CAPEXIL) eight times and by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry twice.

Anonymous police sources said that PRP Granites had been distributing “gifts” to several government officials in amount of up to $7,700 per month. Officials up and down the ladder allegedly enjoyed these benefits in exchange for turning a blind eye to violations of exporting laws.

A few people had uncovered the scam in recent years but were quickly silenced. S. Manimaran, editor of the local newspaper Dina Bhoomi, published several articles about unclaimed granite exports. Shortly afterward, Manimaran and his son were arrested on several charges, including wrongful restraint, causing fear of death, extortion, robbery and committing obscene acts in public. The arrest was made after a complaint was issued by the president of the Madurai Granite Quarry Owner’s Association. The journalists were released on bail the following day after a public outcry by other media outlets, and charges were later discovered to be unfounded.

After the elections of 2011 instilled a new General Assembly, District Collector U. Sagayam began an official investigation into illegal mining, and he submitted a 13-page report detailing all of the violations he discovered. Five days later, he was turned away while boarding a flight back to Madurai, being told that he had been transferred to a different region. However, Sagayam’s report had already leaked to the media, and his successor reopened the investigation.

Reports of Human Sacrifice Upon Business Expansion

2C99620B00000578-3240277-image-a-1_1442837489285It would seem that this story would work its way through the courts without much more to be said, and it was summed up nicely in India’s national magazine Frontline. Some charges would stick, others would not – fines would be paid, jail-time imposed and stricter oversight of granite exports would begin, but the story took a strange, new twist just last month. News agencies around the world, including NDTV, The News Minute, The Indian Express and even the Daily Mail have reported that Palanichamy is now being investigated for murder after claims that ritual human sacrifices were being performed in the PRP Granites boardroom. Yes, you read that correctly – human sacrifices in the boardroom.

Sevarkodiyan had been a truck driver for PRP Granites from 1998 to 2003, and he revealed his reason for leaving in 2004 when he told local police that he had witnessed multiple murders at the company’s headquarters. The allegations seemed unsubstantiated at the time, but as Sagayam continued his investigation, the bodies of four to seven people (reports vary) and miscellaneous bone fragments were uncovered from one of Palanichamy’s quarries.

Sevarkodiyan tells a shocking story that seems barely believable in the modern world, and even more unbelievable among those in the granite industry. As a driver, he says that he was asked to go out to the city streets looking for mentally impaired or other vulnerable people. He was allegedly told that they would be rehabilitated as a public service, and he believed them until he reportedly witnessed the unthinkable.

He said that one night he saw the bodies of two men being dragged out to a riverbank where they were buried. “Their throats were slit, and they were buried,” said Sevarkodiyan. “I soon realized that it was a human sacrifice and that they had done it before an idol.”

Sevarkodiyan states that he was asked to find and pick up mentally ill people whenever he would go out to inspect a location for a new quarry. According to his statement, he never forced anyone into the vehicle, and they simply held their hand and let them inside. He said that they immediately fed them good food and let them eat as much as they wanted. When they got back to the company headquarters, the people were locked in a room for several days, according to him.

He went on to state that one night as he was crossing a dry riverbed to reach the headquarters, he met a supervisor driving a Jeep. In the back were two of the men he had picked up about a month earlier, and their throats had been cut. He said he continued to watch from a distance as the bodies were buried with the help of a bulldozer.

Police confirmed that several bodies had been found at the site named by Sevarkodiyan. They said the bodies were tied with coconuts in a ritualistic fashion, and they are investigating the role of a Hindu Godman, an Indian term for a charismatic religious leader, who allegedly presided over the human sacrifices.

The lawyer for PRP Granites, Verrpan Manoharan, replied to the charges saying that they are completely false and that Sevarkodiyan is just a bitter ex-employee.

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Fabricator Profile: Craftmark Solid Surfaces’ Common-Sense Approach

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Fabricator Profile: Craftmark Solid Surfaces’ Common-Sense Approach

Posted on 26 August 2015 by cradmin

downloadCraftmark Solid Surfaces, headquartered in Norcross, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, built its success by taking a common-sense approach to business. After an 80 percent reduction in construction jobs during the recent recession, Larry Pulliam, president of the company, knew drastic measures would be required to make it through the economic downturn. Pulliam had been saving a good deal of profit in case of emergencies, and he was able to use it to stay afloat.

In addition to dipping into its emergency funds, Craftmark Solid Surfaces had to be drastically downsized, but all key workers were retained and cross-trained to perform multiple jobs. The company also shifted research and development into overdrive in order to generate demand by producing new products.

Craftmark Solid Surfaces was founded in 1987 as a subsidiary of AGCO, Inc. AGCO had been around since 1979 as a manufacturer of cultured marble vanity tops but later expanded into cultured marble tubs and showers. In 1985, the company became the first manufacturer of cultured marble in the Southeastern U.S. to become fully automated, and the following year, AGCO expanded again as a manufacturer and supplier of a new solid surface product: Diamonite.

Craftmark Solid Surfaces was formed to fabricate AGCO’s Diamonite solid surface, and over the next 12 years, it became one of the most popular brands in the Atlanta area. In 2000, Craftwork Solid Surfaces began fabricating granite and marble, and two years later, quartz fabrication began.

Today, Craftmark Solid Surfaces is one of the three companies located in AGCO’s 70,000-sq.-ft. headquarters, and it has expanded its market to include builders in all 15 Atlanta-area counties and parts of South Carolina.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: Craftmark Solid Surfaces

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Fabricator Profile: Granite Source, Inc. Embraces Automated, Online Ordering

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Fabricator Profile: Granite Source, Inc. Embraces Automated, Online Ordering

Posted on 14 July 2015 by cradmin

Woodland-Sutton-lo-res_12Long before implementing automated processes at his countertop fabrication business in Chantilly, Va., Nicholas Draper, owner of Granite Source, Inc., knew that they would eventually become necessary for keeping an edge in a competitive marketplace, and he has personally witnessed the benefits of automation.

Granite Source, Inc. is in a unique class of countertop fabrication shops. The company has two locations serving Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C., greater metropolitan area and employs more than 90 full-time granite and stone technicians. Despite the facts that, until recently, the company has had neither a showroom nor reception and only one salesperson, the team completes more than 150 jobs every week.

The above scenario would seem virtually impossible until you understand that Draper has evolved his business to take advantage of online communications. Nearly all of the information they need to complete an order is received via automated forms available to customers on the Internet.

Even though some customers and dealers disbelieve the efficiency of his automated ordering process and put up some resistance to the system, Draper knows from experience that he can complete up to 80 percent of his orders without having to resort to traditional communication methods, i.e. the telephone. And he claims the only reason he cannot accommodate the other 20 percent is because the jobs contain too many custom elements.

Draper says that his greatest challenge in implementing his automated ordering system is teaching his customers how to use it. If customers do not enter the requested data correctly, the system begins to break down, which can lead to delays.

To help stave off frustration, Granite Source, Inc. works only with general contractors who have been trained to use his automated ordering process. Although 50 percent of jobs are for new residential and commercial construction and the other half is remodels, the company never deals directly with homeowners.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: Granite Source, Inc.

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WEHA Offers Redesigned Achilli Track Rail Saw System

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WEHA Offers Redesigned Achilli Track Rail Saw System

Posted on 21 May 2015 by cradmin

WEHA Achilli Track Rail Saw SystemWEHA now offers the redesigned Achilli TSA 3 HP Portable Track Rail Saw System for granite, marble, quartz surfacing/engineered stone, quartzite and all other natural stones. Designed for cutting one or two granite or stone countertops per day, the saw is made using the same heavy duty 3 HP motor as the large Achilli ANR Saws. These motors offer a strong torque output, allowing cutting up to 4cm granite. The Track Rail Beam System isn’t a tw0-beam track, but rather uses the same 1/8-in.-thick galvanized steel beam and bearing system that Achilli uses on its full bridge saws. The saw will not deflect, twist, cut out of line during the full length of cut, reports the company. The blade housing that accepts a full 14-in. blade with up to an 18mm height segment. It also offers dual water ports for continuous water on the blade. The saw is suitable for hard surface countertop laminations, and has a full depth adjustment knob that allows plug cuts anywhere needed. If cutting extremely hard material and step cutting is required, it is easy to control the depth of cut during each pass, according to the company. With full rubber lining the length of the rails, once the rail has been placed in the exact spot you want, the rail and saw will not slip or slide out of place during the cut.

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