Zero maintenance, no scratching or staining, endless design options — it’s no wonder quartz is tops when it comes to stylish surfaces.
Counters made from the mineral de jour may set you back a few bucks, but it’s a worthwhile investment for a home you’re planning to live in long-term.
“You put it in and 10 years later, it looks exactly like the day you put it in,” says Ted Sherritt, the Winnipeg- based CEO of FLOFORM, one of the largest countertop fabricators in North America with 13 retail locations and five facilities across Canada and the US.
Homeowners and builders have been opting for quartz over granite for about a decade now because quartz is available in more subtle, trendy styles than its busier natural- stone competitor.
White quartz countertops with grey veining, for example, resemble a more unattainable (aka expensive) Calcutta marble and account for a large proportion of sales, says Sherritt, who has been with the company for 27 years.
But of course, the future of countertops isn’t written in stone. Even quartz will be soon be facing some competition. The contender? Porcelain.
“Large-format porcelain has been out for five to 10 years, but it’s just starting to become popular in North America. So that’s going
to start stealing market shares from quartz,” Sherritt says.
Brands such as Infinity are making a huge statement with stunning porcelain surfaces created by imprinting images on large- format tile and running it through a fiery hot kiln for added durability. The fact that the tiles can be imprinted with pictures means there are no design limits.
“They’re taking a picture of the nicest marbles that exist in the world, printing it on the top of the tile, and making the tile,” Sherritt says. “They look outstanding.”
Expect porcelain to have a price point like that of higher-end quartz — anywhere in the $50-$200 range per square foot. The two counter types also have similar heat resistance (though porcelain may hold up better against scalding pots and pans) and endurance (both are difficult to scratch or stain).
Despite its popularity, quartz isn’t the only big-selling countertop at present. Granite is still going strong, and laminate makes up 40% of the market, square-footage wise.
Sherritt says laminate does perform poorly in the long-run — it’s prone to scratching — but on the plus side it’s affordable, doesn’t make a loud noise when you set a glass or plate on it and it can be surprisingly chic.
“The laminate manufacturing companies over the last five years have done a really good job of keeping people interested with better designs,” he says.
Those aiming for a rustic look can opt for wood countertops, a common go-to for cabins or kitchen islands. FLOFORM distributes and installs Caribou counters, which have a special finish to protect them from staining and water damage, so you don’t have to oil them. Still, Sherritt suggests whipping out the cutting board if you have butcher-block counters to avoid nicks and contamination from raw foods.
If you’re in the market for a new countertop — whether for the kitchen, powder room or a basement bar — the first step is to figure out how you’re going to use it. Will it be in a high traffic area? How do you want it to look? Do you have kids? Do you do a lot of baking and cooking? What is your budget?
“There are plusses and minuses to all of these products, not just price,” Sherritt says. “A good sales consultant should be talking to you about how you plan on using it.”
Customer service has been FLOFORM’s founding principle since brothers Harry, Frank and John Dyck opened the company’s first location at the corner of St. Mary’s Road and Oustic Avenue in 1961. In the ’80s, they expanded into Alberta and Saskatchewan, and by 2016 they had showrooms in B.C. as well as in cities in Idaho, Utah and Washington.
Even when FLOFORM faced the fallout of a defective glue back in the 1990s, they did 30,000 customers a solid by repairing every last affected countertop.
“That’s why we’re in business today, because we looked after those people,” Sherritt says. “Customer satisfaction is what we strive for every day.”
Credit: Counter Intelligence