Material Trends in North American Remodeling Activity Begin to Favor Niche Products

Homeowners are remodeling again. They are on the lookout for products that compete with traditional high-end materials but come with a mid-range price tag. The underlying strength of the US housing market and the rising valuations of people’s homes are supporting robust activity in residential improvement, repair and remodeling.

This fact is underscored by the recent earnings of several big-box/DIY retail chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Home Depot reported in August that comparable (same store) sales rose by 4.7% in Q2 2016 over the same period in 2015 [1], and Lowe’s reported a similar 4.0% rise for its Q2 same store sales over 2015 [2]. Both stores expect full-year same store sales growth for 2016 to range between 4.4% and 4.9% as compared to the latest US Federal Reserve estimate of 2016 growth of approximately 2.0% [3]. Home Depot’s CEO, Craig Menear, specifically called out generally rising home valuations as the basis for his company’s optimism going forward regarding sales growth and overall residential renovation spending.


There are some subtle shifts taking place in the North American remodeling and renovation market, with newer, niche materials gaining greater acceptance among US interior designers, architects, home builders and DIYers. Furthermore, online environments have become the key forum by which consumers research products, form opinions about preferred aesthetics, and make initial brand selections for a series of products ranging from countertops to showerheads. We recently spoke to a major US manufacturer of kitchen and bath components, and the contact indicated to us that the company knows only a small portion of its sales are made directly online, but about “75% of all sales are researched over the internet prior to purchase through a traditional retail channel or showroom.” Consumers who are considering remodeling kitchens and baths are searching for products that fit within their budgets, but are also looking to identify products and brands that offer high-end aesthetics.

It is common for a consumer to identify a particular look or style online and then ask their local contractor to source this particular product, material or brand to achieve their particular design aesthetic. With that in mind, new products like porcelain slab countertops, such as Cosentino’s Dekton, Daltile’s Slimtile™ (which went into large-scale production in early 2016) or Caesarstone’s Quartz countertops, are growing above trend as they provide a lower price-point relative to many traditional high-end countertop materials like marble. Wilsonart’s line of quartz products introduced in 2015 is an attempt to capitalize on the interest for engineered quartz countertops and provide new looks at competitive prices. Although the durability, ease of cleaning and skill needed to install these countertop products can vary widely by material, what is driving interest is these products’ ability to convey a high-end look at a mid-range price.

Similarly, “green” products, while growing from a relatively small base, are able to command a price premium and are typically growing above trend for the entire sector. For instance, many homeowners are looking for new and interesting products that combine a specialty look and eco-friendly materials or resource conservation. California’s CALGreen standard – the state’s green building code – is setting the water conservation standard that is used in new product development of urinals, toilets and showerheads. American Standard’s H2Option toilet line allows for partial- (less than one gallon per flush) and full-flush options, both of which fully meet CALGreen standards and allow homeowners to better control their water usage.

More home improvement, repair and renovation trends can be found in the following Freedonia studies:

Additionally, Freedonia’s custom research team is also available to perform proprietary studies for industry participants regarding product specification factors (voice of the market), market entry and new product development assessments, and competitive intelligence and market sizing analysis. To learn more about our team, click here.

[1] The Home Depot Announces Second Quarter Results – Press Release, August 16, 2016

[2] Lowe's Reports Second Quarter Sales and Earnings Results – Press Release, August 17, 2016

[3] US Federal Reserve – advance release of table 1 of the Summary of Economic Projections

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About the Author: Daniel Meges is a Director of Client Solutions at Freedonia Custom Research, a leading global industrial market research firm. He specializes in providing custom market research engagements within the packaging and building & construction materials industries.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals House & Home Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group