I thought granite was so over. But according to a study done for the National Association of Home Builders, (NAHB) it still rules the American countertop, going into a remarkable 64 percent of new homes. TreeHugger has complained about granite many times, going on about how it is unsanitary (it is full of fissures and cracks that can harbour bacteria and has to be sealed) that it is environmentally problematic in many of the places where it is quarried, and even that it can be radioactive.
Countertops are so interesting because it is one of the very few things that homebuyers really have a choice about when they walk into a builder's sales office. Granite is popular because it used to be really expensive and luxurious, before it got globalized, commoditized, containerized and computerized.
I have tried to make the case that good old laminate, which everyone had 50 years ago, is still a good choice.
Clearly, I am in the minority. According to the NAHB,
Granite countertops are overwhelmingly the most popular with 64 percent of new homes having this material type. It is no surprise that only 14 percent of new homes have laminate countertops. Based on data from Houzz and NAHB’s Consumer Preference Survey report, laminate countertops are the least desired kitchen feature and are likely only installed when affordability is a major concern. Besides these material types, 9 percent each of new homes have engineered stone and solid-surface countertops.
The other surprise from the NAHB study is the choice of cabinet door design. My very last post was about how the modern kitchen is a direct descendant of kitchens from the 20s and 30s designed to be “clean machines.” Yet the most popular kitchen cabinet door is the wood finish, raised panel in frame, the perfect choice for more crevices and more ledges and edges to catch dirt and food.
And then there are the appliance choices, where now a remarkable 84 percent of homes have garbage disposal units, which are still illegal in many places, use up lots of water to flush away food and fat that clogs sewer pipes and then has to be removed at the sewage treatment plant, where stuff that might have been useful compost is now mixed with poop and waste and good for not much at all. (The table lists appliances supplied by builders, which is why only 65 percent have fridges; many people buy their own fridges while ranges and ovens are now often built in.)
Really, when you scroll through the most popular kitchens on Houzz, they are all huge, live-in open spaces with wood doors, wood floors, islands the size of continents and granite, granite and more granite. We’re not in Frankfurt anymore, Toto.
What's your dream countertop? Here's a poll using the categories the NAHB used.