Why We Can’t Recommend Porcelain Countertops

Why We Can’t Recommend Porcelain Countertops

Kitchen remodel McLean Virginia


Why We Can’t Recommend Porcelain Countertops

Porcelain countertops are quite popular in European countries for quite some time. However, these countertops have only recently gained attention among users in the United States.

While it looks like that the porcelain trend will likely grow due to its numerous benefits, there are some downsides of using this material that you must know and consider.

We will discuss all that in detail below.


What are porcelain countertops?

Porcelain is made from heating powdered stone and white china clay at an extreme temperature. The mixture is traditionally known as ‘kaolin.’

The extreme temperature causes the stone to vitrify into a thick, robust material, whereas the object maintains its shape because of the kaolin.

Various impurities such as silica, mineral oxides, and feldspars are present in the clay, and they further add and enhance its strength and shades making it one of the sturdiest out there.

However, things don’t go like that when porcelain slabs are manufactured for kitchen countertops. These slabs are further coated with a pigmented glaze that offers them an aesthetic appeal similar to granite, quartz, or other natural stones.


Why We Can’t Recommend Porcelain Countertops

Because porcelain is not a natural or stone product, porcelain slabs’ available sizes are often sold as an advantage. We agree that porcelain countertops are simple to install with fewer seams and cuts to cover those long cabinet runs. But this advantage or selling point also works in a negative way. Below we’ll explain why.

As the countertop is formed, it’s possible for designs resembling marble and granite to be poured into the form along with the porcelain for aesthetically impressive results. We admit some porcelain countertops are flat-out gorgeous.

Further, you can also use it over your existing countertops as the porcelain can be too thin and light enough but keep in mind this is a mixed blessing and might bring up various challenges that you’ll have to deal with later.

Below we will discuss the porcelain countertop’s pros and cons to give you a better and clearer idea about this new thing in the market, along with our verdict.


The Pros of Using Porcelain

Of course, porcelain sinks, tubs, showers, and tiles look fantastic, and many people are using them. Neither are we denying their superior stain resistance properties and ease of maintenance. Both of these make porcelain suitable as a countertop material. Apart from these, porcelain countertops have other benefits as well. So, let’s check out the “pro” side of the porcelain.

Wide Range of Designs

As with any manufactured or “faux” stone product, porcelain is available or produced in a wide variety of designs. To some extent, we can say that the patterns and color combinations are a bit hard to find in natural stone. But this doesn’t mean that porcelain will give your space a whole “unique” look that you cannot get with granite or quartz.

Porcelain Durability

There is a common myth related to porcelain durability among the users that it is 30% harder than granite. While this is true but only for one specific product, it is not the norm. It depends on which stone you are comparing it with. Similarly, hardness is not the only consideration when it comes to durability.

It can be said that in terms of scratching and etching from both wear and chemicals, porcelain does well. The lack of porosity makes it nearly bulletproof to stains.

The hard, baked-on finish also prevents everyday scratches, but these are common characteristics of some natural stones.

Lightweight Material

In comparison to any natural stone, porcelain is much lighter. It is also simpler to work and use during installation, and depending on its thickness, you can also place it over plywood-backed countertops, such as laminate or butcher block. If weight is a major concern in the installation, this is a plus point of porcelain.


Houzz best of service awarded contractor
Houzz best of service awarded contractor

Ease of Installation

Porcelain is available in large slabs. This also means fewer cuts and seams. And as it is a lightweight product, it is easy to install. But that doesn’t mean that anyone can perform the installation neither it makes it a DIY installation.

The Cons of Porcelain Countertops

Honestly, with all of the benefits of porcelain that we have mentioned above, there are some ‘major’ negatives to record. Having said, here are some significant cons of using porcelain for your kitchen countertops as compared to the other natural stone countertops.

Can get damage with the Blunt Force

Porcelain countertops can easily chip, break, scratch, or crack by any blunt force, such as if you drop a tool in a sink basin, toilet, or bathtub. This is partly due to the hardness of the surface.

Furthermore, when any natural stone countertop gets chipped, you can quickly repair or buff it out. But when you have a porcelain countertop, most breakage will leave sharp edges and require professionals to do the job adequately.

Fragility during Installation

The more giant slabs and thinner material, along with the inflexibility of porcelain, make it too delicate during the installation. Porcelain slabs often crack or break during the installation. Moreover, these giant slabs are difficult to cut and require special tools and considerable skill to get clean, chip-free seams. In some cases, seams can also be hard to finish, so we don’t recommend porcelain countertops to our clients.

Limited Edge Options

In solid natural stone or quartz kitchen countertops, you have plenty of options for the edges. But that’s not the case with porcelain.

To be precise, you will only get two options: square or mitered. If you prefer round-over or ogee cuts, you’ll have to check out some other countertop material.

It has a Moderate Life Span. 

Porcelain is not only fragile, but its lifespan is also moderate. Hence porcelain countertops will not last for centuries like other natural stone countertops. If maintained adequately, you can also use them for one or two decades, and after that, you will have to replace them with other contemporary materials or natural stones.

Cracks, breakages, scratches are more frequent in porcelain countertops than the others and end up with a short or moderate life span.

It doesn’t enhance your Property’s like Natural Stones Do 

As we have mentioned above, porcelain is a fragile material with a short or moderate working life compared to natural stones. The real estate industry doesn’t see porcelain as value-adding because of its low reselling value and less lifespan.

Cost Comparison

As compared to other natural slabs like granite and quartz, the cost of porcelain is equal. In a few cases, porcelain’s price can go higher than natural stones.

Supply is Limited

Presently, porcelain has not been such a popular choice for kitchen countertops in the USA. As such, its market is small as compared to natural stones. Similarly, it cannot be easy to find a professional and expert fabricator who knows the material well.


Another reason why we cannot recommend porcelain countertops to our users is the low return on investment. The primary reason for porcelain countertops low ROI is that it is too new in the USA. Similarly, it’s too early to determine that users will get all the benefits.

On the other hand, granite or quartz countertops serve in our kitchens for decades and have proven benefits. Plus, they add value to your property.


dditional Concerns

As we know, porcelain can be laid over your existing kitchen countertops, but many contractors use it as a ‘selling point,’ which is unethical and just another advertisement tactic.

The central issue in this approach is laying porcelain over plywood will form double layer counters. Contractors can place them over plywood, MDF, or particleboard bases to make them more good-looking. Still, these double-layer counters can cause several moisture retention issues over time and are not beneficial in the long run.

Similarly, many will show you considerable savings in the demo but remember that the existing countertop’s demolition is not typically a significant expense in the kitchen remodeling.


We love and are always excited about new home improvement products and materials. We also like porcelain due to its versatility and patterns.

We feel that the drawbacks outweigh its benefits, so we cannot recommend porcelain countertops over other natural stones.

We will continue to offer high-quality and reliable quartz, granite, and marble from our exclusive wholesalers until we become convinced that porcelain provides a superior value to all of our clients.


Read More:

Decisions You Should Make Before Calling a Kitchen and Bath Contractor

Cabinetry 101: Everything You Need To Know About Transforming Your Kitchen or Bathroom

How Thick Should Your Granite Countertops be?


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Did you miss our previous article…

Nemo Tile + Stone Acquires Modern Stone

Nemo Tile + Stone Acquires Modern Stone

NEW YORK, NY — Nemo Tile + Stone has acquired Modern Stone Consulting, the leading specialists in the sourcing, project management and quality control of natural stone, the company announced. Modern Stone Consulting is active in both Europe and the United States, with consultants in New York, Boston and Carrara, Italy, a city known for its natural stone production and concentration. The company’s founders, Robert McArdle and Alvaro Torrecilla, bring over 40 years of expertise in the natural stone industry and will develop a comprehensive education program to complement the current knowledge and expertise of Nemo Tile + Stone employees to ensure a skilled and custom approach to stone project management, the firm added.

“We are thrilled to join Nemo Tile + Stone, and together, expand Nemo’s stone division in the company’s 100th year and beyond,” says McArdle. “With decades of experience in natural stone procurement, our team at Modern Stone Consulting is ready to arm Nemo Tile + Stone’s sales force with the tools to offer their customers the most competitive pricing, quality and lead times for any size project. This acquisition will diversify and modernize Nemo’s approach to stone selection and distribution.”

Modern Stone Consulting specializes in evaluating materials at quarries, assessing the quality as it is related to the budget of a project, curating alternate solutions specific to each client, and selecting factories for the work. Following the integration with Nemo Tile + Stone, Modern Stone Consulting will bring natural stone education to all sales channels, with a sharp focus on “cut to size” stone projects.

“As we continue to expand the portfolio of Nemo Tile + Stone, we have identified natural stone project management as an important segment of the design market that has been historically underserved,” says Matt Karlin, president and third-generation CEO of Nemo Tile + Stone. “Modern Stone Consulting’s comprehensive management package, as well as their connections to a large network of factories and quarries, allow us to curate an experience for our customers that exceeds what is currently offered in the industry. In turn, we can pass this benefit on to the design community, as stone projects are seamlessly made more efficient from a project’s concept to completion.”


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Did you miss our previous article…

Wren Kitchens Opens Long Island Showroom

Wren Kitchens Opens Long Island Showroom

Europe’s kitchen retail specialist Wren Kitchens has launched its third U.S. showroom, this one located in Levittown, NY, bringing its total number of branches to 108 across the U.S. and the U.K.

The kitchen remodeler opened the biggest ever kitchen showroom in Milford, CT last November and its expansion plans will continue with the opening of showrooms in Selden, NY and Lawrenceville, NJ in the coming months.

The brand-new Levittown showroom at 2993 Hempstead Turnpike has created a significant jobs boost to the local area, with 30 new roles in retail. In addition to this, it’s created a further 30 jobs across manufacturing and logistics at its state-of-the-art headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where all Wren kitchens are made to order for its U.S. customers.

All under one roof, the new 19,500-sq.-ft. showroom has 61 full-sized kitchens on display, as well as various cabinet styles, colors, appliances, storage solutions, countertops, sinks, faucets, accessories and much more.

“The state-of-the-art showroom is a one-stop shop for everything that kitchen remodelers need to transform their kitchen space,” notes James Langdon, Wren Kitchens Levittown design manager. “We pride ourselves in offering quality luxury kitchens at affordable prices, and all of our kitchens are designed and made by us in the USA.”

At the heart of the showroom are two virtual reality studios where customers can use VR headsets to view their kitchen in 3D. It also encompasses two dedicated interior design suites that are free to use for local designers and architects to work with clients. Sessions can be booked by calling or visiting the showroom.

There are 16 design desks where customers work with expert designers to create their dream kitchen. They have L-shaped sofas and a large screen for customers to watch their dream kitchens come to life in 3D.

A child-safe kitchen is on display at the showroom, and it features design tips to keep children safe, such as door safety catches and locks, appliances located out of reach, cool-to-touch induction hobs and storage ideas for cleaning products.

Wren has invested $15.4 million in its 252,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and is transforming its onsite headquarters to provide support for showrooms across the East coast. Wren has also invested in its own fleet of trucks for delivery across the country.

All of Wren’s showrooms are pet and child friendly with play zones, baby changing facilities, a stroller park and a relaxing coffee area.


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Decisions You Should Make Before Calling a Kitchen and Bath Contractor

Decisions You Should Make Before Calling a Kitchen and Bath Contractor


Having a poorly functioning kitchen can ruin the fun joy of cooking in no time, even if you are a dedicated cook. Your kitchen should be a place that makes your cooking tasks easier and encourages you in preparing great meals, not a sad scullery where creativity dies.

If your kitchen does more hindrance than support, it’s probably time to think about a kitchen remodeling. But going into a major kitchen renovation without a solid action plan can be a perfect recipe for disaster.

Before calling a contractor or even clicking on those beautiful photos on Pinterest (yes, we understand they are tempting but try to repel), it’s essential to determine precisely what you need and what you want to accomplish by remodeling your bath or kitchen. And to do that, you should ask yourself some critical questions.

Below we will share some less known secrets about the process. Are you ready?

The Approach

In reality, think about the process as you starting a small business, and whether you like it or not, you are the CEO of this remodeling business. Yes, we are serious. You will be engaged in a partnership with your contractor, and the primary goal will be to increase the value of your place and make your kitchen or bath better than ever before. To make your partnership and project a success, you need to be hands-on in the process.

This is the reason we request users to do some homework and research before calling any contractor.

Having said, before you start your small business, AKA, remodeling your kitchen or bath, here are a few things you must decide before calling or hiring a contractor.


Best of Houzz contractors 2021
Best of Houzz contractors 2021

Do the research and determine your budget.

We at Explore Kitchens try to offer higher returns for your bucks. We thrive our best to deliver the desired results within your budget. We request all of our clients to calculate what they can afford to spend realistically.

When you decide on your budget beforehand, your contractor can recommend or suggest the best products and designs without breaking your bank.

Once clients share their overall budget, many are pleasantly surprised at the options they can afford. Here are some vital things in this regard:

Secure financing or keeps funds available before hiring a contractor. It allows us to lock in the best deals, as prices and supply can change overnight.Ensure that you have set a realistic budget and you are comfortable with it. Don’t forget to keep some funds aside for any change in the order and the add-ons you decide on in the process.Get up-front pricing for as many items as possible to get a clear picture of the cost of your bath or kitchen renovation.

Establish a schedule.

No one likes the presence of contractors and teams in their homes for long. Hence, before you engage a crew of home improvement experts to rebuild your kitchen or bath, establish a schedule and try it as per your preferences.

Construction timelines can be tricky, and our primary goal is to finish the project on time. Unnecessary delays and changes to the schedule can be expensive.

Every project is our top priority, but please remember that you are not the only one to whom we are answerable; many others are on our calendar for your project.

Some other important things that you must think about are:

Consider your family calendar. Do you need your newly designed kitchen for a birthday, anniversary, or other family celebration?Are you expecting any guests that need the spare bath, which is under remodeling? That’s important to know.How soon will you be starting your project? Contractors need lead time to order material and products. Please try to reach out as early as possible for bath or kitchen remodeling projects.

Furthermore, discuss the schedule in detail with your contractor. It would be best if you had a clear picture of when they will start the work and when it will be completed and understand every milestone along the way.

Even if the contractor promises to finish the renovation in three months, you should ask them follow-up questions to ensure that they are well-prepared for potential setbacks and considered every contingency.

Some common but important question that you must ask your contractor are:

Are they working on any other project that might affect the timeline? How will they manage any delays in the schedule?Will they inspect any structural issues that can affect the renovation?Can I use my Kitchen during the renovation?

Not all owners can go on vacation or rent another place for the duration of the renovation. So, ensurethat your contractor has a practical plan to make a living as pleasant as possible during the process.

Note your existing space.

Have a cup of coffee and take your time to look over your existing kitchen and bath before opting for any significant change or before making important decisions about the renovation.

You may find there is a lot to love in your present kitchen or bath. While the renovation is tempting, it can be an expensive core, so as the CEO of this business, think wisely and make the right decision.


Mid-luxury Arley wholesale bathroom tile
Mid-luxury Arley wholesale bathroom tile

Here are some handy tips for you:

You can keep things that are in working order. If they require any change or design upgrades, your contractor can suggest a replacement that provides you the same feeling.Insist on replacing the things or accessories that you don’t use or like. You will have to live with them. Renovation is not the task that you frequently perform.Take some clear smartphone pictures to show your contractor. This is invaluable when it comes time to plan the job.

Spending some time planning the project on your own will give you a better idea about your space and what you exactly want. Thinking about colors, styles, and materials in advance will put you and the whole project on the right path.

How do you use the space?

Everyone is not a gourmet chef. Seriously, if you don’t need a massive granite island countertop to bake for an army, we don’t want to sell it to you. On the other hand, you want to include as many of the features you’ll use as possible. We want you to be deliriously happy with the kitchen or bath we install for you.

Need a large double vanity in your bathroom? Great! But deciding this halfway through the process will cost you time and money.

Start with the workspace; how much and what kind do you need?If it’s a bath remodel, go over your daily routine. Are there definite changes you want to make or features you want to upgrade?Consider tool and linen storage, appliance layout, and traffic patterns. Does your family eat in the kitchen? Do you need extra seating?

It’s all about your preferences and style

Don’t hesitate to share images of your dream kitchens with your kitchen designer and your contractor. Please make an idea file with pictures, notes, and links to all the sources.

However, if you’re not sure what your flair is, give our style a try. Whether you are looking for new and creative ideas or know exactly what changes you need in your kitchen or bath, consult with our professional designers early in the renovation process.

Designers at Kitchen Kitchens can provide you suggestions that will be money-saving, increase your storage option, add a unique touch, and you can get the maximum advantage of your space.

Some other vital considerations beforeCalling a Kitchen and Bath Contractor: 

With a positive mindset and approach, you can get your ideal kitchen or bath. In our opinion, it would be better to follow these simple things:

You should know the exact place to start working on your design palette.Provide your contractor with options instead of any specific demand in each category as it will give you the best chance to get your dream place.Be sure you incorporate the rest of your existing decor in your design decisions, especially areas that can be seen from your kitchen or bath.Select a color palette and some images of designs you can draw inspiration from. The more you bring us to work with, the easier our partnership will be.

Lastly, our experts are always willing to do the best for you. We’ve set up our site expressly to help you envision your ideal kitchen or bath. Feel free to consult the project with us anytime!


Read More:

Cabinetry 101: Everything You Need To Know About Transforming Your Kitchen or Bathroom

How Thick Should Your Granite Countertops be?

Explore Kitchens Now Offering Kitchen Cabinet Repainting


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Kitchen Island Dimensions – What’s The Best Size for Your Home?

Kitchen Island Dimensions – What’s The Best Size for Your Home?

MSI Surfaces, Sterling, VA, quartz countertops showroom

Kitchen Island Dimensions – What’s The Best Size for Your Home?

When it comes to transforming your Kitchen of Island, an island is one of the most popular additions to make. A kitchen island is not only highly functional but an aesthetically pleasing addition too. However, how do you know the best dimensions to choose?

Finding the right size kitchen island for your room is crucial. Too big, it will dominate your kitchen. Too small, and it will lose its functionality. It is also important to remember that not all kitchens will be able to accommodate an island.


What size should your kitchen island be?

There is no such thing as a standard kitchen island size. That means finding the right size for your home can be a challenge. This guide will help you find the right height, width, and depth for your home.


Kitchen Island Height

The most common height for a kitchen island is 36 inches. This will give you enough room to stand and prepare your food while cooking. This height will also give you a comfortable space to sit and eat food at. However, if you are primarily using your kitchen island for eating, then increasing the height to 42 inches is recommended.


Kitchen Island Width

The width of your kitchen counter will depend entirely on the size of your kitchen. It will also depend on the appliances you want to include. Most are typically at least three feet in width, but if you’re going to incorporate a sink or cooktop, then you should expand further.


Kitchen Island Depth

In terms of depth, a kitchen island should be at least two feet deep. Whatever the depth, you should ensure you have enough room to move around each side, giving yourself at least three feet of floor space.


Commonly asked questions on kitchen islands

Along with the sizes, some of the other most commonly asked questions about kitchen counters include:


Can kitchen islands be taller than my counters?

This is a very common question, and kitchen islands are often taller than counters. The additional height helps hide clutter and acts as a focal point for any room.


How do kitchen islands differ from a peninsula?

Kitchen islands and peninsulas are often confused as the same item, but they are different. An island is free-standing and can be used on all four sides. A peninsula will have one end attached to a counter or your wall.


What should be included on your kitchen island?

Your kitchen island can be a simple breakfast bar or the central hub of your kitchen. The right solution will depend entirely on how you use your kitchen. It is important, though, to remember to keep it a size that suits your room.


Should a kitchen island match the cabinets?

This is another very common question. While a matching kitchen island can be aesthetically pleasing, it does not need to match. Utilizing a different color can help to create an attractive contrast that draws the attention of visitors.


Looking to install a kitchen cabinet in your home?

Are you looking to install a kitchen cabinet in your home? Here at Explore Kitchens, we can help you discover your dream kitchen. We work across northern Virginia, providing kitchen counters in McLean, Fairfax County, Arlington County, and beyond.

Our highly experienced team can help you transform your kitchen through innovative solutions designed for your home. We know the importance the right kitchen island can play in your property, so get in touch today to find out how our kitchen renovations can help you.


Read More: 

Explore Kitchens Offering Virtual Site Visits

How to choose your kitchen cabinets with 3 easy decisions

How to Measure Your Bathroom Tiles

Blum cabinet door hinges


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Flexible Design in the Kitchen

Flexible Design in the Kitchen

Today’s kitchens are delivering more multi-tasking than ever, as islands and niches now act as places to do homework, bill-paying and game playing in addition to eating breakfast and entertaining. Function remains vital to the way a kitchen is designed, and as lifestyles change, so do the elements of the overall space.

In addition to multifunctionality, trends impacting kitchen design include advancing technology and wellness. Aesthetically, color is upping its presence in appliances, tile and countertops, so cabinets need to provide the right complement – whether that means a striking, bold selection or calm, neutral backdrop.

Key trends impacting the kitchen cabinet segment include:

–The selection of flexible and specialized storage features continues to expand as homeowners try to make use of every inch of space in the kitchen.

–Wood tones are making a comeback, with finishes ranging from pale, natural wood looks to rich, dark grayed browns.

–Texture continues to trend, with weathered woods and soft-touch options among the most popular.

–The interest in color is skyrocketing, with painted and powder-coated finishes now available in an almost endless selection.

–Among the most popular colors trending for cabinets are blues and greens with a hint of gray, as well as black and, of course, white.

–Creative storage for cabinets includes pullouts, peg systems, pull-downs and blind-corner options, while drawers feature dividers and elegant organization for utensils and other items.


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Did you miss our previous article…

Builder Confidence Steadies as Material, Labor Woes Persist

Builder Confidence Steadies as Material, Labor Woes Persist

WASHINGTON, DC — Builder confidence inched up this month on lower lumber prices and strong housing demand, even as the housing sector continues to grapple with building material supply chain issues and labor challenges, the National Association of Home Builders reported.

According to the latest in a series of monthly NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Indexes, released yesterday, builder sentiment in the market for newly built single-family homes edged up one point, to 76, in September, ending a three-month decline, the NAHB said.

“Builder sentiment has been gradually cooling since the HMI hit an all-time high reading of 90 last November,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “The September data show stability as some building material cost challenges ease, particularly for softwood lumber. “However, delivery times remain extended, and the chronic construction labor shortage is expected to persist as the overall labor market recovers.”

“The single-family building market has moved off the unsustainably hot pace of construction of last fall and has reached a still hot but more stable level of activity,” added Robert Dietz, chief economist for the Washington, DC-based NAHB. “While building material challenges persist, the rate of cost growth has eased for some products, but the job openings rate in construction is trending higher.”

The NAHB said it expects housing affordability will be a key demand-side challenge in the coming quarters, given the rapid rate of growth for home prices and construction costs over the last year.

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Doing White Right

Doing White Right

When designers hear their clients utter the request, “I want a white kitchen,” it can be met with dread or excitement…or a mix of both. Regardless, whether designers love them or hate them, white kitchens continue to be immensely popular with homeowners.

Often defined and characterized by their foundation of white cabinetry, a white kitchen’s impartial palette gives it a go-with-anything neutrality that can serve as a backdrop for the introduction of color and personality via other design elements. However, when combined with an abundance of white elements, especially countertops and backsplashes, white kitchens can turn into a monochromatic sea of sameness.

This month, KBDN asked designers to share projects and design tips that take white kitchens to a new level.

Jena Bula collaborated with Ekren Construction to include white cabinetry as a base that is complemented with dark gray quartzite countertops and a lighter warm gray porcelain tile backsplash for dimension.

Jena Bula, principal designer

Delphinium Design; Charlotte, NC

When discussing white kitchens, Jena Bula’s clients still often ask for white cabinetry.

“They want an aesthetic that is lighter and brighter with an airy feel,” she says. “While there are different ways to achieve that, people often associate it with white.”

However, she has noticed a bit of a shift in what exactly that means and what else is included.

For starters, white doesn’t always mean bright white.

“There are so many different ways to do white,” she says. “It can mean bright white, but it can also mean a warm white or a country white depending on the space, the aesthetic and what other colors are included.”

Plus, clients also seem more open about bringing in other colors.

“There was a time when white kitchens were a lot of
white-on-white-on-white,” she indicates. “But now, they seem to have a little more dimension. People are mixing in different colors and warmer materials. White kitchens aren’t always all white cabinetry, white countertops and white islands.”

Such was the case for a recent kitchen remodel completed in collaboration with Ekren Construction. White shaker cabinets serve as the base, but Bula brought in dark gray quartzite countertops and a lighter warm gray porcelain tile backsplash for added dimension.

“She didn’t want a white-on-white kitchen,” says the designer. “Countertops are an important element in the space. My client needed something durable because she cooks a lot for her family, so the dark quartzite was a great choice for functionality. It also has some texture from its honed and leathered finish, which gives it dimension. It’s a really special element, and in person you can really see that texture.”

Flooring is another way that Bula freshens up today’s white kitchens. Often, she chooses to use warmer toned hardwood for balance. Lighting and plumbing fixtures as well as hardware can also add diversity.

“We used dark hardware in this kitchen, which gives it great balance so everything isn’t all light and bright,” she says. “Fixtures, such as a really cool faucet or fun pendants, and hardware are also a great way to add personality.”

Crystal Kitchen and Bath Design Build – 2506 Tournament Players Cir S, Blaine, MN 55449


Crystal Kitchens + Bath; Crystal, MN

As a designer with a remodeling company, Mary Maney sees a lot of outdated kitchens, especially those from the 1980s with their distinctive abundance of oak…including oak cabinetry, oak flooring and oak trim.

“People want to tone that down so everything isn’t the same,” she says. “They also want to get rid of the busyness of oak, which, in those dated kitchens, usually has a lot of grain. Often, they do that by keeping the oak floor, and sometimes the oak trim, but they replace the oak cabinetry with white cabinetry. White doesn’t necessarily designate a decade or date a kitchen as much as wood like oak, maple or cherry. White is also popular because it allows everything else – such as a countertop, backsplash, flooring and island – to stand out.”

White inset cabinetry serves as the ‘quiet’ backdrop for one recent kitchen remodel where Maney’s client wanted a ‘statement’ ventilation hood that would serve as the focal point for the room. Reconfiguring the space, the designer eliminated an awkward, angled walk-in pantry to pave the way for the inclusion of a walnut hood that echoes the tones of the dark floor and island base cabinetry. She also tied the kitchen into the adjacent living room by replacing the existing maple bookcases that flank the fireplace with walnut bookcases.

“My client had redone the maple floor a few years previous with a dark stain,” she indicates. “She didn’t want an all-white kitchen, so it seemed logical to include other dark elements. We chose walnut because it allows some grain to show through, which provides texture and isn’t quite as harsh as black. Walnut also gives the kitchen an ‘upscale’ look that she wanted.”

A quartz countertop with a subtle gray veining pattern with ‘movement’ and a backsplash that features a light crackle finish reinforce the white theme while offering variety.

“You don’t want elements of the same color to all have the same tone,” she says. “When that happens, there’s nothing to define the different planes. It’s important to have some contrast.”

Adding paned glass doors to select perimeter wall cabinets also adds interest and makes this space feel special.

In this kitchen Scott Dresner celebrates timelessness and diversity by combining white perimeter cabinetry, white paneled refrigerator and white quartz countertops with gray cerused oak island cabinetry ‘framed’ in a waterfall of white quartz.
Photos: Jim Tschetter

Scott Dresner

Dresner Design; Chicago, IL

Scott Dresner credits, in part, his love of white kitchens to growing up in a modern home with a white kitchen in Detroit, MI. Now, he incorporates that love of white into his kitchen design business.

“I’m pro-white kitchens,” he stresses. “The white kitchen – and stainless – is my favorite. White kitchens definitely are not dead.”

Part of that affection is due to its classic design appeal.

“A white kitchen will stand the test of time,” he says. “There are still mill shops making the same [cabinet] door they made in the ‘80s. A white kitchen is like Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe…beautiful and timeless.”

Dresner also appreciates the hue’s diversity.

“There’s super modern bright white, warm white, cream white, off white…” he says, referencing a variety of white kitchens posted on his website. Some showcase multiple white elements, including one recent renovation that includes sleek, smooth, bright white back-painted glass cabinetry and a white quartzite countertop with a waterfall edge. Silver trim border details on the cabinets tie them to the countertop’s gray veining pattern, floor and stainless steel appliances. Conversely, another white kitchen features more traditional paneled cabinetry painted in a creamier white, similar to the color of a cameo, which he contrasted with a brighter white coffered ceiling to create separation. Dresner also included a natural stone white/gray veined countertop and matching accent wall and stainless steel appliances.

“I often use stainless steel appliances in white kitchens,” he says. “The combination is like peanut butter and jelly.”

While variations of white with stainless steel dominate some designs, others highlight a mix of materials, including one kitchen that combines white perimeter cabinetry, white paneled refrigerator and white quartz countertops with gray cerused oak island cabinetry ‘framed’ in a waterfall of white quartz. Dark wenge drawer interiors, visible when exposed, provide dramatic contrast.

“It certainly feels like a white kitchen, and everyone considers it a white kitchen,” he says.

This time, the designer blended the cabinetry with the wall color and ceiling beams to create a seamless visual.

“I wanted the cabinetry to essentially go away, to blend into the wall so the huge picture windows ‘speak’,” he says. “There is a lot of white in this kitchen, but it isn’t a sterile space. There are parts of ‘sterileness,’ such as the countertop that is white and shiny. But the rest of the whites have a matte finish so that, overall, there is a Zen, quiet feel to the space. People love this kitchen.”

Christina Simon and senior designer Brittany Gunst joined forces in this kitchen to create a modern farmhouse vibe with timeless elements, plenty of storage and an open concept…all with a foundation of white cabinetry, white countertops and a white backsplash. The reclaimed wood shelves serve as a statement piece and the taupe/gray painted island complements the veining pattern in the countertops.
Photo/Styling: Stylish Productions; Charlotte Safavi and Robert Radifera

Christina Simon, CKBD, ASID, president

c|s Design Studio; Clifton, VA

Christina Simon works in a relatively traditional part of the country – the Washington DC suburbs – where she often fields requests for white kitchens.

“People here simply love them, and we’re happy to oblige,” she says. “White is timeless, clean and bright…all things people want for their kitchens. White is also neutral and plays well with others, making it easy to coordinate with appliances and hardwood floors, which is a big element for us.”

These days, the white kitchens she designs often include updates via natural and rustic elements as a complement.

“We introduce texture and contrast into the space to make it more interesting,” she explains.

As an example, she and senior designer Brittany Gunst recently joined forces on a remodel where the clients wanted their new kitchen to have a modern farmhouse vibe with timeless elements, plenty of storage and an open concept…all with a foundation of white cabinetry, white countertops and a white backsplash, as well as a white farmhouse sink, which is another popular choice for her clients.

“When there is a lot of white, it’s important to bring in some statement pieces,” she notes. “In the case of this kitchen, the statement piece is some reclaimed wood corner shelves.”

Additionally, Simon indicates that black accents can add contrast, so she brought in black cabinetry hardware and lighting. In another recent remodel, she made a striking statement with a black ventilation hood.

To provide differentiation amongst white elements, Simon utilizes a variety of sheens throughout a space, such as in this kitchen where the matte finish of the cabinetry plays against the glossy sheen of the elongated 3″x12″ subway tile backsplash.

“This client wanted a simple subway tile backsplash,” she reports, “but its glossy sheen sets it apart from the other white elements. We also like to use handmade tile, which can have different glazing or it may be a slightly different white, such as an off white. We’re seeing a lot of people using a variety of different whites in their kitchens.”

When using white as a countertop, Simon likes to include materials with some veining, such as a marble or marble-look quartz.

“Instead of plain white, we like to use something with a light veining pattern against a white background, because those veins allow us to pull in other colors,” she explains, citing the marble-look quartz in this kitchen that gave them the opportunity to incorporate a taupe/gray painted island.

In this remodel, Nicole Zeigler contrasted the white cabinetry and white backsplash tile with a custom edge-grain walnut bar top on the island and walnut floating shelves that coordinate with floor, as well as a custom hot-rolled steel ventilation hood.
Photo: Lucy Call

Nicole Zeigler, NCIDQ

enzy design; Salt Lake City, UT

With a trend towards design that integrates a furniture-style appeal, Nicole Zeigler sees many of her white kitchens offering an assortment of materials beyond just white.

“White kitchens are definitely still popular,” she says. “They never go out of style. They have always been around, and they will continue to be around. But I am seeing more mixed materials rather than straight white. I think that’s because, overall, there’s a trend in kitchen design that incorporates furniture-look pieces, rather than all of the same cabinets. For example, you might see an island with a wood finish and a furniture-style base, or something unique.”

Zeigler sees that updated look as offering a way to add personality and warmth to the space. In particular, wood – or even wood-look vinyl – floors are popular. The designer also adds personality via ventilation hoods or accent cabinets and hardware, which she dubs as the ‘jewelry.’ She also indicates there is still a trend for open floating shelves in a material or finish that offers a contrast to white.

Several of those elements were included in a recent renovation, where gloss white wall cabinets are combined with natural rift-cut oak base cabinets. The hood and the cabinets around it feature a charcoal finish.

“It’s stunning,” she says. “I feel like it’s still a white kitchen, but it’s not an in-your-face-white kitchen because of the other elements we’ve added to it.”

In another kitchen, where she collaborated with cabinet maker/installer Paramount Cabinet and builder Spiro Brothers Construction, wall and base cabinets are white, as is the island cabinetry and the backsplash, which is comprised of elongated hexagon-shaped subway tile. The tile’s glossy finish adds reflectivity while its geometric shape adds interest, without making it busy. However, to mix it up, she included a custom edge-grain walnut bar top on the island that coordinates with the floor and a few floating shelves that frame the window to make it feel more open.

“The wood bar top and shelves bring natural elements into the room and add some contrast,” she says. “They also bring up some of the darkness from the floor to create more balance, without overwhelming the light space.”

Another ‘dark’ element is the custom hot-rolled ventilation hood.

“It’s a really simple box shape,” she says. “But it has a beautiful finish that offers natural depth and subtle marbling. It’s gorgeous against the white backdrop.”

Quartz countertops that mimic honed concrete and slightly oversized pendants that offer the feel and look of linen also prevent the white space from being too sterile.

“Having those elements – the backsplash, the shades, the bar top, the ventilation hood and the countertops – are all important to make this white kitchen more inviting and less institutional,” she says, “especially since it has white slab cabinetry.” 

Tamra Pumpelly often uses white cabinetry’s door style and construction to set the tone in a space. In this kitchen, inset cabinetry was appropriate given the historic value of the home. She included a flat-cut white oak island, stained in Driftwood, to add warmth and depth. Incorporating it as an accent on the ventilation hood brings up the eye and ties the perimeter and island together.
Photo: Steve Hershberger

Tamra Pumpelly, operations manager

District Cabinets; Washington DC

Even though Tamra Pumpelly indicates that white kitchens can be a ‘safe’ choice for her clients, that doesn’t mean they can’t be special and beautiful.

“White cabinets can become a backdrop of a kitchen, rather than them being the focal point,” she explains. “Quality cabinetry is expensive, and I think homeowners see it as an investment they want to get right. Elements like hardware and lighting are easier to change out.”

As the foundation, those same white cabinets can also set the tone with their door style and construction.

“An inset or mission door style sets a completely different tone than a slab door,” she says. “The sheen factor also changes a kitchen. A rich matte finish represents a completely different style than a gloss finish.”

As an example, in one recent kitchen remodel, the designer collaborated with Build by Four Brothers to incorporate white inset Elmwood cabinets into their clients’ new kitchen.

“Inset cabinetry was appropriate for this kitchen because of the historic value of the house,” she says. “Clients often are concerned with losing storage with inset, but it immediately elevates a kitchen without looking fussy.”

The team also included a flat-cut white oak island, stained in Driftwood, to add warmth and depth. Incorporating it as an accent on the ventilation hood brings up the eye and ties the perimeter and island together.

The white cabinetry also complements the existing hardwood floor.

“Maintaining the floor was important to the client, so we didn’t want to take away from it,” she says. “The white cabinetry allows the floor to be the focal point and we built the kitchen around it.”

In addition, with a neutral foundation of white cabinetry, Pumpelly sometimes brings color or a wood element to an island to ground it while adding warmth and personality.

“Pops of color can also be used in the lighting, and we love mixing metals and textures in white kitchens,” she adds.

In addition, white cabinetry allows countertops and backsplashes to be the stars of the show in a traditional white kitchen, such as in a recent renovation where white cabinetry and white backsplash tile give the dark gray countertop and gray/white chevron backsplash insert the opportunity to stand out.

The post Doing White Right appeared first on Kitchen & Bath Design News.

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Connected Serenity

Connected Serenity

The desire to create a spa-like environment in the bathroom, a place to rest and rejuvenate, has long impacted trends in shower systems. With multiple users in the home, flexible, innovative products that allow each person to tailor the experience as needed are in high demand.

“At Duravit, it is essential that our product offerings, integrated technology and design sensibility aid designers and homeowners in creating and enjoying a bathroom space that is relaxing, rejuvenating and offers benefits to achieve a healthy lifestyle,” says Tim Schroeder, president of Duravit North America in Duluth, GA.

Patrick Weidl, director, business development at ThermaSol in Round Rock, TX offers, “Homeowners understand the importance of self-care, and more and more they want to incorporate steam showers and all the attending attributes…chromatherapy, aromatherapy and yes, even technology.” From a design standpoint, he adds, “Less is still more. Minimal design in showers remains a strong trend.”

“People want more than ever to be able to relax and enjoy their time in the shower,” states Jayson Auger, product designer at Kalia, based in Sainte-Marie, Québec, Canada. “They want to be able to activate multiple accessories at the same time, up to two or three items, such as the rain head, hand shower or tub spout,” he adds.

Technological advancements also have an impact on shower space. “Consumers continue to be excited about the convenience offered by smart technology and voice-activated products, and the bathroom is no exception,” stresses Lindsey Jovanovic, director, marketing – bath for Moen, based in North Olmsted, OH.

Other top shower system and enclosure trends include attention to sustainability, convenience and flexibility, and continued interest in both matte black finishes and a natural look. That’s according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.

Personal Refuge

Customizing the shower system allows homeowners to create an individualized restorative space in which to relax and rejuvenate. Flexibility is key in allowing all family members to create their own spa-like experience at home. Features such as music, chromatherapy and variety in spray are all essential to creating these experiences, manufacturers remark.

“Moen understands that consumers are really looking for a personalized experience in the shower and want to feel like their space suits their needs,” Jovanovic says. “The new Nebia by Moen Quattro products offer four distinct showers all in a single showerhead – individually designed to relieve, soothe, clarify and cleanse unlike ever before. Now, everyone in your home can dial in the perfect shower to meet their preferences, while also saving nearly half the water of a traditional showerhead,” she explains.

The features available to customize the showering experience vary widely. Manufacturers say that music is one important feature and having speakers that hold up well is essential.

“Music continues to be among the most popular elements to customize your showering experience; streaming the right playlist or meditation practice into your shower instantly transforms a more utilitarian moment of the day into one that focuses on relaxation and self-care,” stresses Tom Sindelar, performance showering product manager for Kohler Co. in Kohler, WI. 

“Just as with our other showering systems, Kohler has developed innovations at various price points to make this experience an attainable one, whether it’s with the Moxie Showerhead + Wireless Speaker, or integrating the amplifier module into the DTV+ system,” he reports.

“Good solid speakers are very much in demand; if you’re going to listen to music or watch a soothing video, you’ll want the best in-shower speakers,” Weidl says.

“Chromatherapy is becoming more and more recognized for its ability to both soothe and/or energize,” he adds.

In addition to features that create a soothing environment, such as music, scent and color, variety in how the water flows is also an important consideration. “The demand for multiple water delivery outlets, such as body sprays, handheld showers and rain heads, continues to grow,” says Sindelar. “We’re also seeing a growth in demand for showerheads and hand showers that deliver multiple functions, empowering the user to transition between full coverage sprays [and] massage settings to customize the experience even further.”

“While it’s important for designers to dial into their clients’ desired experiences, it’s also especially important to address who in the household will be using the shower regularly,” he adds. “For families with young children, solutions like the HydroRail and hand showers can help ensure different users can make the necessary adjustments for an enjoyable experience.”

Sustainable Showers

Manufacturers strive to be environmentally responsible in their practices, and with showers that means finding ways to conserve water, not only to meet legal restrictions in various regions, but also to satisfy consumer demand for sustainable options.

“There has been a shift in the way products are designed from the get-go,” notes Stephanie Dietrich, marketing, Blu Bathworks based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.“The environment and sustainability have been placed in the forefront for most consumers and designers alike, and water conservation is no exception. While places like California are forced to put in place regulations to conserve water, many conscious consumers across North America place importance on purchasing an environmentally focused product regardless of regulation.”

“There continues to be consumers who are looking for more sustainable options in the shower. For those who are interested in an eco-friendlier showerhead, the Nebia by Moen spa showers are a perfect fit,” offers Jovanovic. These showerheads use atomization, the process of breaking up water into tiny droplets, to create the sensation of more water while using nearly half the water of traditional showerheads, she says.

“Duravit has long had a respect for water conservation and environmental awareness – it is a part of our company heritage and applied widely across our product design,” explains Schroeder. “We are a proud WaterSense partner and are always following along with updated regulations.”

Sindelar reports, “Rather than scaling back to one showerhead, designers are instead using it as a moment to educate and show homeowners how digital valves or mechanical diverters enabled for water usage from one outlet at a time can address water conservation without compromising on the ability to customize the experience.”

Auger says that new requirements for hot water regulation also have led to the development of new products, such as a thermostatic pressure balanced shower valve that has a hot water temperature limit of 43°C (109°F), making it suitable for the new senior residences (SR) standards of safety in their territory.

Steam showers are a spa-like feature in the bath that offer therapeutic benefits without using excess water. “The average steam shower uses less water than the average shower, and once everyone learns this they are (a) surprised and (b) relieved,” says Weidl. “On average, a 30-minute steam shower uses just two gallons of water, and that’s considered a long steam. Showers use that amount or more per minute. The average American shower lasts about eight minutes, so water consumption for a traditional shower can surpass 16 gallons.”

Smart Spray

Smart technology has woven its way throughout the home and has made it into shower system controls as well, manufacturers say. Digital controls add convenience and the ability to easily personalize the shower experience.

“As existing technology advances and new technology is developed, we have seen more and more inclusion throughout the household,” Dietrich notes. “The bathroom is no exception. The popularity of digital controls is growing in the market as they offer desirable features such as superior temperature control and flow-rate customization.”

“As smart home controls play a bigger role in how people live and interact with their homes, there’s an increased demand for bringing that same level of control and connectivity to their showers and baths,” Sindelar explains. “Digital showering systems, including our budget-friendly DTV Prompt and more luxurious DTV+ Systems, offer a streamlined, clean aesthetic – eliminating the need for multiple valve trims on the wall.”

Jovanovic remarks, “We’ve seen smart, connected products become more popular in the bathroom, especially products that offer consumers options to customize their experience. When our U by Moen Smart Shower launched in 2017, we were first-to-market with this kind of technology. It provides homeowners with countless ways to create their ideal showering experience – including the ability to set up to 12 personalized presets for everything from shower temperature to the length of your shower, and three choices to control the shower: voice activation, a smartphone app and an in-shower controller.”

Moen has recently expanded U by Moen’s capabilities, she says, to offer even more innovative ways to interact with water. These include enhanced functionality with Amazon Alexa, and compatibility with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant. “Homeowners can have the shower incorporated into their smart home ecosystem and enjoy the ease and convenience of a totally connected lifestyle,” says Javonovic.

ThermaSol’s steam system is also compatible with Alexa, Weidl reports. “People may think that technology and steam showers are contradictions, but in fact our ThermaTouch controls are completely waterproof, and they allow users to customize their steam shower experience from water temperature, chromatherapy colors, downloadable videos, music, sports channels – whatever it is that makes them feel comfortable,” he adds.

When incorporating technology into shower products, convenience and ease of operation are imperative, manufacturers say. “People are looking for user-friendly products in every aspect of their life,” explains Auger. “Keeping that in mind, customers are starting to look at shower valves with the push-in button for the diverter, to go from one accessory to the other instead of operating a handle. The shower valve is then as easy to ‘control’ as a car dashboard with multiple options for AC/Radio, etc.”

Schroeder says Duravit has seen an increased interest in thermostatic valve technology in the shower space. “Duravit’s Blue Box offers easy installation and is temperature controlled with an anti-scald setting. The shower cartridge comes with trim to avoid damage during construction or installation and can use any of the different trims pending the installation type. The Blue Box has a six-point fixation, allowing for uneven surfaces and adjustable alignment of the handle and plate up to 3.5mm. This type of flexibility in installation and design is what consumers and designers are looking for to create a seamless aesthetic from start to finish,” he remarks.

Individual Style

Finishes, tile patterns and door styles depend heavily on the consumers lifestyle and taste. Manufacturers strive to offer a wide range of options to meet this demand. Still, there are some finishes that stand out, including matte black, brushed gold and natural looks.

“We are seeing a lot of matte black being specified, along with the perennial favorites of polished chrome or nickel,” says Weidl.

“In finishes, matte black is still growing in popularity, and brushed gold is also trending upward,” concurs Kiersten Jung, director of marketing for Basco Shower Enclosures in Mason, OH.

Auger agrees that matte black is a high trend for every bathroom product, including shower doors, faucets and even shower bases. “What we call an ‘Italian shower base’ is also in demand, which is a very shallow base that is nearly as thin as the floor,” he adds. Shower shields, like the company’s Pratika, “are a way to build your own Italian shower, which is very minimalistic,” he remarks.

Dietrich says that, along with matte finishes, “We have seen a design focus on the inclusion of organic materials and finishes. Things like Blu’s solid surface blu•stone, which emulates the look and feel of natural stone, helps to cultivate a native atmosphere in the bathroom setting.”

Products that allow consumers to express their sense of style are essential, but the way the products operate is equally important. “Consumers want beautiful looking fixtures for their homes that won’t sacrifice on function,” Jovanovic stresses.

For door styles, Jung notes, they see trends in heavy glass and frameless enclosures continuing. “Clear glass is the most popular by far, so that homeowners can showcase their entire shower space design and tile,” she offers.

Barn door style rolling doors are also continuing to add a modern flair into the bath space, Jung adds. “When considering layout, a rolling door often allows for a more generous shower space because there is no need to plan for the out-swing requirements of a swing door.”

Auger, on the other hand, says they are seeing a big comeback of framed structures. “For a long time, frameless shower doors have been in high demand. Now, people who are looking to make a statement in their bathroom choose a framed shower door, especially since black is such a big trend. Our Ikonik shower door is a matte black framed sliding shower door that has become an instant hit,” he notes.

Weidl observes, “While we see a lot of interest in open showers, as the manufacturers of steam showers, we always advise designers to include some sort of separation between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom.”

The footprint of the space often dictates the size of these shower systems. Designers and homeowners make use of all available space, installing a larger shower, when possible, manufacturers say.

“In bathrooms with larger footprints, freestanding baths double as a focal point and beautiful, sculptural element, bringing an energy of luxury and relaxation to the space. This shift toward more organic, sculptural forms reflects a growing preference for contemporary designs and clean lines,” offers Sindelar. “Rather than existing independently, designers are finding ways for showers and freestanding baths to coexist – whether it’s converting the entire suite into a wet room or housing both bathing experiences in a shared space ensconced in tile behind a glass wall to contain and control moisture.”

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Re-Bath Parent Acquired by Private Equity Firm

Re-Bath Parent Acquired by Private Equity Firm

PHOENIX — Home Brands Group Holdings Inc., the parent holding company of Re-Bath, the nation’s largest bathroom remodeling franchise, has been acquired by TZP Group LLC, a New York-based private equity firm, and a group of co-investors, the company announced. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are thrilled to partner with Re-Bath and its terrific management team, serving a group of committed franchisees across the U.S.,” said Vlad Gutin, a partner at TZP.

“Re-Bath complements our growing portfolio of leading consumer brands (and) we believe that Re-Bath’s unique, high-quality service offering, loyal customers, best-in-class products of leading brands and partnerships with premier, national retailers, coupled with TZP’s relationships and resources, can accelerate Re-Bath’s growth,” Gutin added.

Re-Bath, headquartered in Phoenix, operates more than 100 locations across North America, according to the company, which offers complete bathroom remodels, tub and shower updates, plus aging and accessibility solutions.

“We are excited to embark on our next chapter of growth with TZP’s investment representing a strong validation of the growth and success we’ve achieved and where we are headed,” said Re-Bath CEO, Brad Hillier. “Through this investment, we will be able to leverage TZP’s expertise and resources to further expand our brand to a wider audience and better serve our customers, franchisees, partners and employees.”

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