It’s a pretty good bet that you’ve got porcelain or ceramic tile on at least one wall or floor in your home.
You may also have granite, quartz or marble on your countertops, stainless steel on your appliances and wood veneer on your cabinetry. These are all well-known materials that have been around for years. Chances are, when you were — or will be — selecting your new-construction home options, these show up in your choices.
You may not be aware of some new surface options that you may want to ask your builder about and use in your new construction home. Many were featured at Design & Construction Week 2018 (DCW) in Orlando in January. DCW combines the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show with the International Builders Show in one massive three-day expo that brings together the latest products, designs and professionals. Here are new surface options that were on display at these shows that are worth considering:
Stainless steel has been the finish of choice for high-end kitchens for more than a decade, with glass front and custom panels also going into those projects. In recent years, black stainless has been gaining appeal.
Until recently, though, it was largely showing up as a semi-gloss look for mass market appliance brands. Its appeal was in a fresh look and its smudge-free properties. Bosch and Dacor both introduced black stainless lines with sophisticated brushed finishes at DCW. (Given all the buzz around this finish, and its increasing appeal to different design levels, premium-fixture brand Rohl introduced a black stainless sink to coordinate.)
Countertops and More
This is a category with some terrific new choices. Each is durable and low maintenance. The first comes from a long-time material being used in innovative ways. When you think porcelain at home, you think tile. Now imagine that tile expanded to cover a large kitchen island without grout lines. Imagine it having the thickness of your marble, Corian or granite tops with smooth edges. These slabs — sometimes called porcelain, sometimes called sintered surfaces after their manufacturing process — are gaining fans for their livability and style versatility. Sophisticated printing processes give them the look of wood or natural stone without the upkeep.
Dekton is another surface growing in popularity. This brand name from Cosentino, the Spanish maker of Silestone, blends porcelain, glass and quartz into a countertop that can take a pot directly from the oven or the heat of a midday sun of an uncovered Arizona deck. (It’s also available in thinner panels for shower walls.)
Another extremely durable, low maintenance option is 2017 KBIS award winner GEOLUXE. Made completely from natural minerals without resins, it can also be used outdoors. GEOLUXE comes in honed or polished finishes and can be recycled for greater sustainability. (Like Dekton, this surface can be ordered in thinner dimensions for wall tiling.)
FENIX NTM debuted several years ago as a nanotechnology improvement on high-pressure laminates and is now available for use as both countertop and cabinet surfacing. It has a soft, matte surface that is repairable.
Made from acrylic resins with a high-pressure paper core (like laminate, but stronger, more hygienic, easy to clean and heat resistant), FENIX NTM has a soft sheen and velvet touch. It was being shown off on doors and vanity tops at KBIS by Northern Contours, a leading cabinet door and component manufacturer. It’s also available through Arpa USA, the American branch of its Italian manufacturer, as wall and furniture cladding.
Another new material for cabinetry and countertops, as well as shower trays and wall panels, is Akron, a mineral and resin blend that’s repairable, low maintenance and extremely durable.
Part of the Acquabella brand from Spain, it’s designed for contemporary bathrooms with textured neutrals, modular vanities and integral sinks. Say goodbye to cleaning shower grout! These components make it unnecessary, but don’t sacrifice style like so many home center shower sets do.
Maybe you think of paneling as your grandmother’s fussy wainscot or your uncle’s wood-clad man cave. Stikwood is neither. It is DIY-friendly, sustainable peel and stick wood wall covering. Made from reclaimed and sustainable woods, you don’t need to feel guilty about covering a wall or room with its rustic planks. Made with oil finishes and VOC-free paints, it isn’t going to pollute your space with toxic fumes either. Its 2018 release added more water resistance, so you can use it on your kitchen backsplash or bathroom walls, but don’t put it in the shower!
While there are great new materials worth considering, you should always take your personal needs, tastes and property into account when choosing finishes. They’re meant to last for a very long time!
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCTWC is a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press). Jamie can be found online at jamiegold.net.