What has changed and what hasn’t in home plumbing fixtures?

November 20, 2018

Don’t Be a Drip! Keep Up with Plumbing Fixture Trends

Updating kitchens and bathrooms is a sure-fire way to signal that an existing home has been kept current and is market ready — but simply installing new fixtures will not necessarily do the trick. Just because something is readily available to purchase, does not mean that it is in style or on trend. Having access to data on long-term and recent usage patterns is the best way to understand current trends and forecast future ones.

Home Innovation’s Builder Practices Survey gets feedback from more than 1,500 home builders annually to assess which products are popular in new homes. Based on the 2018 survey, examples of products that signal updated kitchens and baths include undermount sinks, quartz countertops, single-bowl kitchen sinks, and elongated toilets.

The following graph shows the average number of plumbing fixtures, by type, that is installed in the average new single-family home.

Average Number of Plumbing Fixtures Per New Single Family Detached Home

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Trends of Note

What’s in a Number?

The following graph compares the average number of fixtures by Starter, Move-up, and Luxury single-family homes.

Average Number of Fixtures Per New SFD Home, 2017

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Interestingly, the average number of bathrooms in Starter and Move-up homes is increasing over the past decade but has remained the same in Luxury homes at about 4.5 total per house. Regardless, Luxury homes have the highest average number of plumbing fixtures compared to Move-up and Starter homes in every fixture category. For example, Luxury homes are about 5 times as likely to have jetted tubs, bar sinks, and bidets than Starter homes; and they have about double the number of standing shower stalls and lavatory sinks compared to Starter homes.

In the Kitchen

Sinks: As has been the case for many years, Stainless Steel sinks are still by far the most popular material choice, but styles of kitchen sinks have seen dramatic shifts. Drop-in designs represented nearly 70% of the market in 2005 but had fallen to about 30% in 2017, replaced entirely by undermount. Double-bowl sinks fell from more than 90% to about 70% during this period, while single-bowl sinks have risen from less than 10% to nearly 30%.

Kitchen Sink Style & Basins, SFD Homes

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Other: Changes in kitchen design are not just limited to plumbing fixtures. There has also been a major change in cabinetry, countertops, and flooring. Painted finishes on cabinets are gaining ground on traditional wood finishes. Simpler flat panel cabinet doors, often without frames, are taking share from raised panel styles. Frameless, Euro-style cabinet boxes are becoming more popular as well. Quartz is quickly becoming a market leader for countertops, particularly in lighter colors. And wood-finished flooring is making inroads on tile and stone designs.

In the Bathroom

Sinks: Vitreous China sinks are now dominant in bathrooms — only a decade ago, one-piece cultured marble vanity countertops were most popular. Granite or Stone countertops are also becoming more mainstream.

Shares of New SFD Home Vanity Sinks

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Tubs & Showers: In showers and bath surrounds, site-built with porcelain, polished, or natural stone tiles, or fabricated solid slabs are popular modern features. These have become more popular than gel-coated fiberglass or acrylic surrounds.

Tub and Shower Surrounds in New SFD Homes

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

With site-built showers, tile remains by far the most popular, but natural stone is gaining some ground as well. Updated site-built showers are often designed using larger tile or bigger natural stone tiles in darker hues.

Shares of New SFD Home Shower Surround Material

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Toilets: Builders seeking a more updated look for toilets are sticking with elongated bowls. The Builder Practices Survey shows there has been very little change in builder preference for two-piece tanks/bowl sets over single-piece toilets in new homes over the past decade. However, there has been a big shift in the popularity of bowl shape – toilets with elongated bowls grew from 55% of all toilets in new SFD homes in 2004 to 76% in 2017.

Toilet Styles in New SFD Homes

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

As for flushing mechanism, dual flush toilets have become more popular but aren’t yet mainstream. They account for about 15% of new home installations in recent times.

Shares of Dual Flush Toilets in New SFD Homes

 Source: Annual Builder Practices Reports, Home Innovation Research Labs

Home Innovation has been tracking building product trends, and market volumes, in a highly detailed way for more than two decades with our Builder and Consumer Practices Reports. Our new capabilities allow us to provide data on a number of new home and remodeling material purchases at State, Metro, and County-levels. We also track purchaser, place of purchase, and more.

Interested in “flushing out” more interesting trends like these? Get in touch.