September '14

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56 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2014 rv-pro.com "It really doesn't cost us," he says. "When we trim out the edges, we just grind it down and put it back into the batch and then there's recycled content. If we were using post-consumer material, it would be more expensive." Still, Braun, with LG Hausys, says if demand for environmentally friendly solid- surface products was much greater in the RV market today it might be difficult to keep up with. "With the RVs, we're just selling so much of it that there isn't enough recycled material to support it fully," he says. "If we truly sold it as a green product, we'd have to make it just to grind it up, and in the RV market we don't have the ability to support that cost effectively." So, is solid surface the end-all and be-all for the RV countertop market for years to come? Not necessarily. Solid-surface manufacturers often make natural quartz products as well, and while that product is currently taking a minimal amount of the RV market, some see that changing. Maxstone's Juang is a particular fan of natural quartz because it's stronger than either solid surface or natural stone, and while it requires diamond tooling to fabricate, it also can be imported already fabricated. "I'm not sure, with the RV industry, if they have enough volume to order like that," he says. "When it's prefabricated, it's about half the cost of what our custom fabrication shop can do here. All they'd have to have is a model and a blueprint." At this point, Braun estimates that only about 1 percent of his RV customers are using LG Hausys' Viatere natural quartz. "And, that's with the higher-end RVs," he says. "e main thing is the weight of the quartz; I think solid surface still has a lot of life left in the RV market because of the versatility of the product, but the quartz is coming." Nor is natural quartz the only other option out there. Robert Weed offers a 12-mil, three-dimensional rigid thermo- foil product, called "3D-FX", from two different manufacturers. at product can be vacuum-formed over a medium-density substrate that can then be used for counter- tops, backsplashes, and other flat surfaces. "The OEMs can select patterns that they like for use in their coaches," says Hosinski. "It's at a price point in between high-pressure laminate and solid surface, and it provides the look of solid surface but at a lower cost point." Regardless of what the next big thing is in RV countertops, all these manufacturers are optimistic about today's market and see it doing nothing but getting better. "We're enthusiastic about the RV industry," says Samsung's Dokko. "We view it as a growth segment for solid- surface products." "e RV industry is coming back pretty strong," says GSP's Moore. "Our only question is whether we can find a way to manufacture our product to be a little less expensive than it is now. at would get us into more of the manufacturers." "It's been great for us the last couple years," says Braun. "I see it continuing to grow. I also think we'll see more people crossing over from laminate to solid sur- face, and we're going to continue to push the envelope on additional colors to make sure we can help it do that." RV Countertops Samsung says a big attraction for solid-surface products is that they can be installed without visible seams for a "clean, sleek surface." PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMSUNG CHEMICAL USA

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