LA CROSSE, WI - Sales of solid surface countertops - primarily luxury granite and quartz tops - were up 215% in 2012 compared to just two years ago, says kitchen remodeling franchise Kitchen Solvers.

LaCross, WI-based Kitchen Solvers, which says it pioneered high-end cabinet refacing in 1982, now also handles full kitchen redesigns and remodels through its 48 franchises in the United States and Canada, serving about 1,000 customers each year.

As the economy has improved, Kitchen Solvers says it has seen an uptick in spending, an average roise of 6% more on refacing, and 27% more on new cabinet remodeling last year compared to 2010. But countertops are the big story, says Kitchen Solvers President Gerry Henley.

Kitchen cabinet refacing gerry henley

Video: Kitchen Solvers' CEO Gerry Henley 

Cabinetry refacing franchise Kitchen Solvers' president Gerry Henley joined the Market Leaders Forum at Woodworking Network's IWF 2012 Innovation Sound Stage.

"Laminate was the main choice for countertops during the recession, but granite started making a comeback in 2011," says Henley. "And last year granite and quartz eclipsed laminate." Now that the economy is better, they're investing more in solid surfaces. 

Granite and quartz countertops, while extremely durable, is also expensive, and heavy. Material handling costs are built into the pricing, but when it's time to remodel the kitchen again, most remodelers won't take granite or quartz off and put them back on later - the chance of breakage or a poor fit is too high.

Henley says this investment in permanent countertops bodes well for his franchisees, who can keep them intact while refacing the surrounding cabinetry.

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