America's demand for countertops will grow between 2008 and 2013 at close to twice the annual rate that is 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.

"While the residential remodeling segment will post below-average advances in demand through 2013, gains will be promoted by the large stock of homes requiring countertop replacement, as well as the desire of consumers to renovate their kitchens and bathrooms by installing larger-sized countertops," Freedonia said. The residential market accounts for three-quarters of all countertop demand, it 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. 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." Craig Webb is editor of ProSales magazine.