Value Engineering: Laminate and Solid Surface Rising in Popularity

by | Jul 11, 2019 | LE Smith News & Blog | 0 comments

For over a decade, granite and quartz have topped the charts for popular kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities. In addition to being a coveted material in private homes, rental properties also jumped on the trend in order to offer high-end upgrades that would attract loyal tenants.

Unfortunately, the granite and quartz trend has been dramatically impacted by rising costs and increased tariffs.  What once was a smart investment, is now priced so high that a return on investment is no longer a guarantee.

Offering low cost, high-value alternatives

Value engineering is defined as a systematic approach to improving the value of products by substituting high price materials with less expensive alternatives. The key to understanding value engineering is that it does not mean you are sacrificing quality or choosing a substandard product in an effort to cut cost. Instead, you are offering a lower cost, high-value product as an alternative to a high-cost product.

Solid surface offers competitive advantage

A great example of value engineering in kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities is the resurgence of solid surface materials. Solid Surface was the trend-setting countertop material in the early ’90s before the rise of granite. Not willing to be left behind, solid surface manufacturers have spent the past 20 years improving the material and developing competitive, high-quality alternatives to natural stone countertops. “I would encourage anyone interested in quartz or granite to take a look at the color options that are launching this year in solid surface,” said Carrie Welling, pricing analyst at L.E. Smith.

In addition to offering hundreds of colors and styles, some of which effectively mimic the look of natural stone, solid surface materials are also incredibly low maintenance. Stain and impact resistant, solid surface countertops are easy to clean and do not require regular sealing like natural stone surfaces. If a solid surface countertop is damaged, it can also be easily repaired.

All of these qualities are what make solid surface a high-quality, lower cost alternative to ensure your next kitchen or bathroom project stays on-budget and brings in a healthy return on investment.

Laminate counters that everyone can love

Laminate countertops will always be a mainstay for kitchens and bathroom surfaces. What is surprising to some is that laminate can also compete with some of the most in-demand materials in the industry.  “To the untrained eye, laminate countertops can be designed to look just like natural stone surfaces,” said Brian Smith, director of sales at L.E. Smith.

Laminate countertops have come a long way since the avocado green and harvest gold trends of the 1970s. Now, the material is offered in high definition colors and patterns that give the appearance of depth and movement. Add in custom edges, and your laminate countertops can compete with many high-priced alternatives on the market.

Not to be outdone by style or resilience, laminate countertops have also improved in durability over the years as well. Today’s laminate is scratch and heat resistant and can last up to 20 years with little to no maintenance. Another thought to keep in mind is that trends change quickly. White countertops may be in vogue today, but dark, moody colors may be the trend of tomorrow. If you want a kitchen that can easily be upgraded to match the current trend, you can’t go wrong with laminate countertops. “With laminate, you have the flexibility to change out the countertops in five years to match the current trend,” said Brian. “You can’t do that as easily when you spend large amounts of money for granite or quartz countertops.”

Value engineering made easy

It can be difficult to stay current color trends for countertops and surfaces. Understanding all of the pros and cons of each surface type is an added challenge. The good news is, with L.E. Smith in your corner you don’t have to worry about any of that.

As your single supplier for countertops and surfaces, our team stays current on all industry trends and value engineering strategies. If you have questions, or simply want to learn more without spending hours researching, simply give us a call at 419-636-4555 or send an email to

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