An update: What I've recently seen in new luxury construction in Manhattan is beautiful recycled glass! Recycled glass tiles, as back splashes (and even as wall treatments in bathrooms) and countertops made of recycled glass and concrete and/or terrazzo or resin. The only drawback is that the countertops seem to need some sort of maintenace...Icestone is local here in Brooklyn: http://www.icestone.biz , there is also Vetrazzo:http://www.vetrazzo.com; Seattle http://www.environmentalhomecenter.com has some large glass tiles
My favorite are the stunningly beautiful recycled glass tiles by Bedrock : http://www.bedrockindustries.com
I'm disturbed to see continued use of cheap granite tile with the belief that these are going to appeal to buyers. They're tacky and easily break since they're so thin. It doesn't fool many and to see this in higher end homes screams 'cheap' in all other facets of that home's construction.
Thank you Jason for such a great question!
Granite still seems to be the most popular upgrade here in the Bay Area, but we agents are wondering when the granite counters are going to start looking dated! Granite has been so popular for so long now, that it's past time for a new trend. I've preferred concrete for about 4 years now, and I think it will be the next big thing. Recycled glass is also up-and-coming as a "green" choice.
Consider 6 counter-top materials popular on the West Coast.
Colorful, recycled glass mixed with cement. Contractors can color or stain them for more variation. Recycled glass along with cement mixed with fly ash from coal-burning stoves saves these products from the landfills. This option makes your home attractive & cutting edge.
End-Grain Bamboo Kitchen Counters
Bamboo is an Eco friendly substitute for wood--it's fast growth makes it more renewable. (I know this for a fact, as I was forever cutting down the ever-growing bamboo branches at my home in California.)
Recycled Paper Kitchen Counters
Recycled paper in a resin base. Comes in thickness from .25 to 2 inches. Not only can it be integrally created in many hues, but it's a lot more stain resistant than marble or laminates.
Comes from coconut palms, & it's stronger than oak. Don't worry about destroying palm trees. This one comes from old, non-fruiting palms.
Created from recycled fly ash, stone & shells. It beats granite for durability.
Popular on the West Coast, this countertop displays a stupendous patina. it's created from reclaimed wood from wineries, such as oak wine vats.
Marcia Kelly, CRS
Keller Williams, Topeka, KS
The name of the company is UltraGlas. You can check them out at the website: http://www.UltraGlas.com. They only sell to the installers or contractor, but you can see what they're doing and then aim your glazer or contractor directly at them. Pricing can be comparable to granite, and the look sparkles in the kitchen and bathroom areas!
For high end projects and luxury properties, you'll start hearing more and more about thermoformed (fused) glass countertops made by ThinkGlass. Our glass has a 25% recycled glass content and is 100% recyclable. We can fabricate glass countertops without a seemin sizes of 84" x 126" and thicknesses from 3/8" to 6". Our glass countertops are very sturdy, don't require any surface treatment, no risk of cross-contamination (100% non-porous), they are stain, heat and scratch resistent. Most importantly, they are very easy to maintain. You can light our countertops with an LED lighting system. People know very little about glass countertops but take a minute to visit our web site and see for yourself.
Cheers to all,
Montreal, QC, Canada
Very nice to see loads of folks chiming in...I liked the stainless reference as I have rarely seen that, but liked it each time I did. Caesarstone? Can you elaborate? Another name perhaps...soapstone...limestone??? Thanks
Although I am not an interior designer, nor am I a certified expert on countertops, but I do disagree about your Silestone comments to a certain extent. Silestone is one of the most expensive countertops (depending upon the grade or level) that one can purchase. Check out your local costs on the Silestone "Leather" lines and you will find that only the highest grades of granite rival it in cost. As to the resin percentage (or its composition period for that matter) I cannot speak.
Thanks again all -
Granite is still popular as is marble and other types of natural stone but I did recently see a corian type of counter-top in a luxury "new development" model apartment here in Manhattan..
The italian high end kitchens designs are integrating a lot of stainless in their kitchen designs...
Although I was a docent at the Eichler Homes and Exotic Car show, a fundraising event at for the Hospice by the Bay last weekend; the owner had gorgeous granite counter and then a brushed stainless steel bar counter top with a special pattern; that received a lot of ooohs and aaahs. Those Eichler enthusiast were all taking notes, so I think that might be something that;s going to be popular at some homes here :-)
The composite marterials are too much of a "learning curve". The conservative thing to do is granite....at the end of the day, it takes too much time to teach people about new materials. From my experience from Shanghai to Buenos Aires, Chicago to LA, granite is the common denominator.
Thanks for all of your responses. It seems that granite still reigns supreme from coast to coast. Not much positive input from the man-mades (i.e. Zodiaq and Silestone). A few folks seemed to be suggesting concrete is gaining favor. I particularly like soapstones/limestones but are not ideal for everyone. Thanks again for all of your responses...