America's demand for countertops will grow between 2008 and 2013 at close to twice the annual rate that it showed during the preceding five years, reaching 760 million square feet in 2013, the Freedonia Group forecast today.

Engineered and natural stone countertops will see the biggest percentage gains, climbing 8% and 9.6%, respectively, but laminates will continue to account for nearly three-fifths of all sales, the Cleveland-based research group said.

Demand for all countertops increased from 631 million square feet in 2003 to 674 million square feet in 2008--a 1.3% annual growth rate. Over the next five years, it should rise by 2.4% per year en route to 760 million square feet in 2013, Freedonia said.

This speedup in overall growth comes despite an expected slowdown in the growth of sales of countertops for kitchen and bath remodeling projects, both in the residential and non-residential markets.

In the kitchen, countertop sales will rise 1.8% each of the next five years to reach 293 million square feet in 2013, Freedonia forecast. That's down from a 3.8% annual growth rate between 1998 and 2008. Meanwhile, demand for bathroom countertops in remodeling projects is expected to increase 1.5% per year to 194 million square feet in 2013, again marking a slowdown from 1998 through 2008. Demand for other countertops in remodeling construction application--such as home theater rooms, laundry rooms, and wet bars--is forecast to rise 1.6% per year to 53 million square feet in 2013.

In all three cases, the recession, tight credit (especially on home equity loans, which no longer make sense with many mortgages underwater), and the fact that so many remodels have taken place since 2003 all will combine to damp the remodeling market, Freedonia said.

As for the subgroups:

  • Laminates, which had grown 0.1% per year between 2003 and 2008, will grow 1.3% over the next five years, climbing from 426 million square feet in 2008 to 455 million square feet in 2013.
  • Cast polymers, tile and other countertops, the No. 2 category in 2008 at 88 million square feet, will see its growth rate jump from 0.9% in 2003-2008 to 2.4% in 2008-2013 to reach 99 million square feet of demand.
  • Solid surface countertops saw a 0.5% annual drop in demand between 2003 and 2008, falling to 84 million square feet. But over the next five years, demand will grow 1.6% annually to reach 91 million square feet.
  • Demand for natural stone saw the second-biggest growth rate in the 2003-2008 period, jumping 12.5% annually to reach 45 million square feet. Those increases are expected to slow to 8% annually between 2008 and 2013, as demand increases to 66 million square feet.
  • At 19% per year, engineered stone was the growth-rate leader for 2003 through 2008, hitting 31 million square feet, and Freedonia believes it will keep that title, with demand climibing 9.6% annually through 2013 to reach 49 million square feet.

"Consumers view [engineered and natural stone] as durable, aesthetically pleasing surfaces that are highly resistant to scratches and extreme temperatures," Freedonia said. "Engineered stone will benefit from its resistance to biological contaminants and its resemblance to natural stone, while remaining impervious to moisture. Natural stone will benefit from consumer interest in the luxury and style that granite and other types of stones offer."