With a booming real estate market, plenty of area homeowners are considering a move. Simultaneously, other homeowners have taken advantage of a homebound several months and embarked on renovation projects to improve their home’s function or outdated design. Both groups are likely calculating or considering their homes’ resale value, and this season, we’ve checked in with area experts on the various ways stone, tile, and flooring — large components of kitchens and baths — can increase or decrease value.
“Resale value is important,” says Kelly Sutton, interior designer and owner of Kelly Sutton Design. According to Sutton, resale value factors in more to a design approach when a client plans to sell in the near future versus when a client plans to live in the home for the next 10 or more years. With regard to stone, tile, and flooring, Sutton recommends keeping it light, fresh, and neutral if you intend to sell.
“When a home is for sale, the design really has to appeal to a wide audience, so anything too specific in style or too bold could potentially be a deterrent for people,” she says.
According to interior designer Penny Francis, you don’t have to sacrifice design because of resale — you just have to make less trendy design choices. She says it’s important to discuss return on investment when designing and to be careful not to over invest what the market can bear. With regard to flooring and increasing a home’s resale value, Francis recommends tile or stone for entries and foyers and bathrooms and porcelain tile or wood flooring for kitchens.
“Wood flooring is very transitional and works with all design aesthetics,” says Francis, owner of Eclectic Home. She adds that wood floors can be refinished, and that while they require more maintenance than porcelain, natural stone requires the most care and maintenance.
Owner and GM of MLM, Inc., a general contracting firm specializing in historic home renovation and new construction, Machi Medrzycki is also partial to solid wood as a top choice for flooring. But, he also acknowledges the popularity of Luxury Vinyl Planks due to unlimited design options, ease of installation, price, and water-resistant properties.
“We always ask the customers what is the exit strategy for the house [or] project first before we discuss any prices or textures,” says Medrzycki. For owners looking to sell within a couple of years, he recommends keeping flooring design choices current and mainstream with tile cost not exceeding $2 to $3 per square foot.
“If the client has a 10 plus year plan, then we can offer much more in the form of design and tile choices,” he says. “Ten years from now, none of the design will be relevant, so why not enjoy it in the meantime,” he says.
Legend Interiors Kitchen & Bath designer Nicole Ruppel Jones likes the bang for the buck that you can get in flooring with Luxury Vinyl Tile, which is modular, easy to install, durable, and easy to maintain. She also likes the durability and price point of porcelain tile, which can convincingly mimic natural stone. Whatever you choose, she recommends having materials in hand before beginning demolition on your project — in the aftermath of the pandemic, production delays, discontinued items, and very long lead times have unfortunately become common.
At Floor & Decor Design Studio, store manager Julea Greenberg sees benefits in both approaches to increasing a home’s appeal: natural hardwood and stone that have been popular locally for 100 years and highly durable luxury wood-look and stone-look vinyl flooring that come with lifetime residential warranties. According to Greenberg, Optimax, Floor & Decor’s exclusive new wood-based, natural product with no VOCs, offers a textured-wood look and has been an industry game changer.
“It is waterproof, scratch proof, dent proof, and pet proof,” she says. “Like our luxury vinyl, it is a floating floor — no adhesives necessary for install — with a tongue and groove clicking installation system.”
Another game changer for Greenberg has been large-format porcelain tile, which creates a high-end, natural stone slab look with minimal grout lines and impressive visual clarity at far lower prices.
Countertops made of stone slabs, whether natural or man-made, factor heavily in whether kitchens and baths succeed at providing a high rate of return on investment. According to local experts, it’s important to know the differences between the materials, including look, durability, maintenance, and quality.
One of the most popular choices is quartz, a man-made stone, consistent in pattern and color.
“Every slab of the color you choose looks the same as the next one,” says Rachel Jones, vice president and co-founder of Triton Stone. “Conversely, natural stone is one-of-a-kind, and every slab can look different. It is a way to make your home stand out and be unique when so many home designs are similar,” she says.
That said, natural stones — such as marble, granite, and quartzite — are live surfaces that require protection and proper cleaning to reduce wear and tear.
“Man-made products have come a long way in mimicking natural stone, and I think that’s been a game changer for people who don’t want the maintenance that comes with natural stone,” says Jones.
When considering quality, try to match the project selection with the architectural style of the home, suggests Paul Romain, president of Palatial Stone and Tile.
“Savvy buyers can discern if the quality of the product doesn’t match the quality of the home,” he says.
While man-made quartz products are popular, Romain recommends looking at natural quartzite slabs as more of the stone becomes available at better prices than ever.
“They are stunning, natural, extremely hard and durable, and for those who are looking for marble-type character, this can fill the gap,” he says.
Durability is important when considering the placement of your stone slabs — which countertops take a beating and which simply hold only a toothbrush and hand towel? At Tuscan Stone Imports, managing partner Keven Hicks recommends natural quartzite and granite or man-made quartz for kitchens, as these three materials are the most durable. These products also work well in bathrooms, but natural marble is a favorite in this application because of its timeless look.