Sam Kim, senior vice president of product for MSI, provides insight into the residential building market, as it applies to hard surfaces
SW: When it comes to the current state of residential building, are you finding there is more remodel work going on or new construction?
SK: Each year, we build a little more than a million new homes, whereas there are 85 million existing homes in America, so naturally, the residential remodel market is a much bigger piece of the remodeling pie. That said, the willingness of the homeowners to improve has increased in recent years, with the nesting trend and surging home equities.
SW: Shades of white and gray have been all the rage for quite some time. Are you seeing any other color choices in stone or quartz on the rise?
SK: White and gray continue to remain the dominant colors of choice. However, we are seeing splashes of wow-colors, such as blue or green, on the rise on accent colors of mosaics.
SW: Are there any particular stone varieties that are most popular these days for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities?
SK: Quartz remains the king, as are natural quartzites. Porcelain slabs, such as MSI’s Stile, continues to gain momentum, due to its unparalleled high-definition graphics and incredible durability that can withstand heat and UV like no other engineered surface can.
SW: When working with homeowners or designers to select stone and/or quartz for their home designs, what are some points of consideration that are discussed?
SK: Worry-free proposition is big -- no need for resealing, buffing, enhancing or worrying about etching and staining. Plus, a lifetime residential warranty for ultimate peace of mind. Only quartz and porcelain slabs can offer this level of protection, but natural quartzite comes close. As it relates to design, now that we have a large demand in gold/brown, it is important to present a curated offerings with the right shade of gold -- as our Design Group at MSI has done. The market offers so many golds with the wrong shades.
SW: Is there any new innovative applications you are seeing in residential design?
SK: Stile Porcelain Slabs is the hottest new innovation in the countertop industry, with its ability to go indoor and outdoor. In the traditional quartz market, there are cutting-edge new innovations such as LumaLuxeTM and LumaLuxe UltraTM (MSI’s featured in our American-made Quartz), which is a chemical engineering that features vivid white backgrounds with dimensional color depth. You have to see it to believe it.
SW: Since the pandemic, we have heard about supply chain issues. As a distributor, how has planning for jobs changed over the past year or two?
SK: The supply chain mess is a widely known issue, and people also know about Home Depot, Amazon, and the likes, chartering their own vessels. We tend to stay under the radar, but MSI is actually the 13th largest importer of any goods in America. We’ve also chartered our own vessels and other specialty shipment arrangements to help expedite the orders for our customers, and minimize any disruptions.