US demand for cast polymers to grow 5.4% pa through 2014

Demand for cast polymers is forecast to increase 5.4% pa to 216 mln sq ft in 2014 as per Cast polymers will continue to gain market at the expense of more traditional decorative surfacing materials, such as laminates, especially in the residential countertop market. Homeowners will opt to install cast polymer countertops due to their performance qualities, such as minimal maintenance requirements and resistance to stains, impacts, moisture and other damage caused by wear and tear. Cast polymer demand gains will be led by engineered stone demand, which is projected to advance 11% pa to 52.5 mln sq ft in 2014. Consumers will desire engineered stone surfacing due to its resemblance to natural stone surfacing, and its perception as a high-end material that adds value to a home. Solid surface materials will continue to account for the largest share of demand for cast polymers, with nearly half of demand in 2014. However, these materials are forecast to have the lowest growth rate of all cast polymers. Advances will be restrained by competition from natural and engineered stone surfacing, which are seen as a more aesthetic material to many homeowners. Growth will be supported by the low cost of solid surface compared to most natural and engineered stone grades, which will make solid surface more appealing to value-conscious consumers. Countertops will account for the largest share of cast polymer demand in 2014, comprising 85 of the total. The most rapid gains will be derived from the new housing market, as housing completions are forecast to rise from the depressed 2009 levels. Builders looking to make homes more marketable will install cast polymer countertops instead of laminates or tile. However, the majority of countertop demand will be supported by the residential improvements and repairs market, as homeowners replace worn or less fashionable surfaces with cast polymers. Design trends that call for larger kitchens and multiple bathrooms will also promote demand. In nonresidential applications, gains will be derived from rising use of solid surface in institutional settings, such as schools and hospitals, where the material is desired due to its resistance to biological contamination. Imports will account for nearly 26% of cast polymer demand in 2014, up from 20% in 2009. Many producers, especially those based in Asia, will take advantage of that region's low cost structure to produce solid surface and engineered quartz for export to the US market. Moreover, limits on domestic engineered quartz production will create further opportunities for offshore firms. Among geographic markets, the South is forecast to remain the largest market for cast polymers, accounting for 41% of total demand in 2014. The West will register the strongest growth during this period, led by the Mountain subregion. The subregion is expected to post above average gains in population growth through 2014, while housing completions are projected to rebound from the low levels of 2009.
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