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US demand to rise 5.0% annually through 2018
Demand for decorative laminates in the US is forecast to grow 5.0 percent per year to 12 billion square feet in 2018, a rebound from the declines of the 2008- 2013 period. Renewed economic growth, along with rebounding construction activity, heightened credit availability, increased interest in home improvements, and pent-up demand for nonresidential upgrades, will provide opportunities for decorative laminates. These materials are utilized to surface a variety of building components such as cabinets, countertops, store fixtures and wall panels. The perception of decorative laminates as the workhorse surfacing material will support sales, particularly among value-conscious users. In addition, laminate manufacturers continue to focus on improved textures and printing techniques that rival the aesthetics of solid wood, natural stone and other materials, but at a lower cost.
Competition from alternative materials, however, continues to restrain gains. Decorative laminates will face intense competition from wood in cabinet and flooring applications, and natural stone in countertops. Additionally, while recovering from the recession, end-users may have the resources to select higher-value materials. Laminates will also face competition as the number of potential surfacing options widens. For example, increased consumer awareness of luxury vinyl tile in flooring, engineered stone in countertops, and powder coatings in store fixtures will place some pressure on laminates as early adopters of new trends focus on these materials rather than the tried and true laminates.
Low-pressure overlays to post above-average growth
Demand for laminates made from lowpressure overlays (i.e., low-basis weight papers, saturated papers, decorative foils, and vinyl films), which account for more than 80 percent of decorative laminate sales in area terms, is forecast to post above-average growth through 2018. Demand will be driven by increased penetration of saturated papers in several markets, including cabinets and store fixtures, where the cost savings of lowpressure laminates outweigh the durability benefits of higher-priced high-pressure laminates. Performance improvements in all types of low-pressure laminates are continuing to fuel their adoption as a lowcost decorative surfacing material for furniture, cabinets, and store fixtures. Sales of high-pressure laminates will continue to benefit from their enhanced decorative properties, and advanced performance characteristics such as longterm durability, and resistance to scratches and other types of damage caused by wear and tear. Edgebanding demand will be limited by increased popularity of postforming and other curved edges, reducing requirements.
Cabinets to lead gains among the largest markets
Cabinets, furniture, and store fixtures were the largest markets for laminates in 2013, accounting for a combined 65 percent of total demand. Of these, the cabinet market is projected to post the most rapid gains, primarily due to a rebound in the housing market, which will provide greater cabinet requirements as cabinets are included in nearly all housing and are commonly replaced during home remodeling. Additionally, more cabinets will feature engineered wood, such as particleboard and mediumdensity fiberboard, and laminates will benefit from this trend.
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