Change was all around in 2020. What remodeling product categories benefitted?

February 18, 2021

Boom or Bust: What Products Did “The Year of DIY” Favor?

The biggest trademark of 2020? Change! This was true in nearly everything that affects how we live in our homes and how we interact with others. Many in the building industry found these changes to be an opportunity; others found it to be a significant threat. 

Overall, home remodeling products and materials suppliers had an unexpectedly good year in 2020, but the windfall was not evenly spread across all categories. Our latest Consumer Practices Survey, which was fielded at the end of 2020, is now showing us which product and materials categories benefitted most from the change.

In terms of trends across product categories, we see a pattern that favored certain product and material attributes, including: 

In flooring, wood-finish products continued to make gains and tended to favor the more reasonably-priced options. Luxury vinyl tile and plank continues its meteoric rise in popularity, representing now one in six flooring purchases, gaining at the expense of more labor-intensive materials such as tile, stone, and solid wood. Below is a summary of how the flooring market fared for remodeling in 2020.

Shares of U.S. Home Replacement Flooring, 2020

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs Annual Consumer Practices Survey

There were pretty big changes in the kitchen in 2020, and I’m not just talking about all the bread baking! Painted flat-panel cabinets went to the head of the class, edging out raised panel, wood-finish products that have been the mainstay of kitchen cabinets for most of the past century. Share for Quartz kitchen countertops jumped to 25% overall, just slightly behind granite; in the West Census Region, Quartz rose to #1. For faucet finishes, there was a reversal from the rise of bronze and solid colors over the past decade, to two classic finishes—stainless steel and chrome. Many of these shifts may be due to the rise in the do-it-yourself segment, which tends to favor traditional materials and designs that are most familiar to consumers. 

In the outdoor space PVC/vinyl fences saw growth from 8% to 13% of market. This was no doubt spurred by the high price, and sometimes spotty availability, of treated lumber in 2020.

Vinyl siding saw a rebound to 38% of all siding installations in 2020, following two consecutive years of decline. Here’s another modestly priced, easy-to-install, and low-maintenance product that saw a market benefit as a result of the changes to homeowners’ new reality.  

Perhaps not surprisingly, whole-home mechanical ventilation systems saw a big jump – 2.8 million homes had one installed in 2020 after remaining flat for the previous two years at about 2.4 million. This was very likely driven by public health entities recommending that we improve indoor ventilation to reduce likelihood of virus transmission.

While some of these changes were a little more predictable or expected, a change I didn’t see coming was the increase in popularity of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves—up 18% year over year. This is likely a result of people spending more time at home and wanting to improve comfort and ambiance. 

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, drawn from just a few of our 35 reports, listed below.  And did I mention that we have all this for the Canadian remodeling market as well?

In the coming weeks, we’ll look at the geographic impact of slowdowns on remodeling materials. COVID-19 restrictions were heavier in some states than others, and this had a big impact on the number and type of remodeling projects undertaken. We’ll also look into which retail categories and specific home improvement retail chains did better by product category. Stay tuned!

If you are seeking to know how 2020 impacted your product categories—or those of your competitors – contact us today to discuss the specific market demand data available.