The housing downturn and recession have resulted in cost-cutting measures in home remodeling, favoring lower-cost materials and an increase in DIY installations. Kitchens, however, have been relatively unscathed in terms of cost-cutting for remodeling expenditures. And, they often feature many high-end products and materials. This market is competitive at the top end, so convincing buyers of a superior value is critical to market success.

The NAHB Research Center’s Annual Consumer Practices Survey (CPS), conducted in early 2009 with input from about 40,000 U.S. households, sheds light on many changes underway in kitchen remodeling. A brief comparison of 2005 to 2008 CPS data reveals the following:

Countertops. The number of U.S. households purchasing kitchen countertops declined by about 20 percent. Laminate market share fell from 38 percent to 29 percent, while granite grew from 24 percent to 34 percent, making granite the most popular countertop material for replacements. Seeing slight market share increases were “other natural stone” and solid wood “butcher block” categories. Solid surfacing declined from 16 percent to 15 percent, as did ceramic tile, which declined from 6 percent to 4 percent. Quartz surfacing remained stable at about 6 percent market share.

Countertops have not seen a resurgence in DIY installations. Granite and natural stone do not lend themselves to DIY fabrication and installation. The popularity of granite has resulted in an increase of specialty retailer purchases but a decrease in home improvement warehouse (HIW) retailer purchases.

Cabinets. The number of U.S. households purchasing kitchen cabinets fell by 19 percent to about 2.7 million. Wood-finish cabinets remained most popular with about 90 percent share. However, consumers began to opt more for lower-cost flat-panel designs over more expensive cabinets with raised wood details and glass panel doors. Like countertops, there was no increase in DIY installations of kitchen cabinets, and HIW retailers lost share of the remodeling market while specialty retailers’ share increased.

For more information, go to: