4 Consumer Trends Driving the Behind-the-Wall Plumbing Market

A new Freedonia Group analysis projects demand for behind-the-wall plumbing in the US to climb 8.1% annually through 2025 to $17.9 billion. In addition to growth in building construction spending – the primary driver of demand – a number of consumer trends growing in popularity around the country will bolster growth, particularly in the residential market. We highlight four of them below.

More Bathrooms & Sinks Per Structure

The behind-the-wall plumbing market is benefitting from increases in the number of bathrooms installed per home. Builders continue to add more bathrooms to new homes compared to older residences. There is a large stock of older homes in the US that were originally built with only one bath. As these residences undergo renovations, homeowners frequently install new bathrooms to improve convenience and boost property values. As the amount of plumbing installed per structure increases, so does the need to improve and repair these products.

Other leading bathroom design trends include:

  • larger master bathrooms with his-and-her sinks or larger shower areas
  • “showpiece” bathrooms to impress guests and significantly add to the value of a property – these bathrooms often feature standalone bathtubs or more decorative lavatories
  • features that make it easier for homeowners to age in place, such as grab bars, toilets with elevated seats, sloping shower surrounds, and cabinets with touchless opening and closing devices

Design trends in other rooms of the house that support demand for plumbing include:

  • designated laundry rooms (which often have separate sinks to rinse clothes)
  • outdoor kitchens, which often include sinks
  • installation of sinks in family rooms or recreation areas for enhanced convenience

Aging-in-Place Renovations

Aging-in-place renovations are a key opportunity for plumbing products. Aging in place allows consumers to remain in their own homes as they grow older and as their health or mobility changes. Although the simpler changes mean simply adding grab bars in showers and near toilets, in many cases, such renovations involve major improvements such as:

  • adding a bathroom on the main level
  • enlarging a bathroom to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • installing a walk-in shower in place of a bathtub or smaller shower stall
  • installing a mobility-friendly vanity
  • moving the toilet to allow for more space for mobility aids

Interest in aging in place increases as consumers age. The share of consumers who somewhat agree that they would prefer to age in place, tends to hold steady through various age groups at around 30%, according to consumer survey data collected by The Freedonia Group. However, the share who strongly agree that they would prefer to age in place rises in each age group until more than half of consumers aged 75 and over strongly agree.

This is likely due to the immediacy of the concern. For people still in their working years, aging in place in an abstract idea (at least as it pertains to for themselves), even if they are involved in the care of or aware of the desires of older friends and relatives or are aware of how their loved ones prefer to be treated if or when the need arises.

Heightened Interest in Home Safety & Security

Fire suppression systems such as sprinklers are another set of products that appeal to a particular customer. One such characteristic is the desire to protect family and property. The desire to protect family and to keep loved ones safe is considered very important by most people. Since 2015, that response has been at or around 90%, per Freedonia’s consumer survey data. While not all of these consumers will choose to install fire suppression systems, those with discretionary income, undergoing renovations, or living in areas with high fire risk may choose to take this precaution, especially since the desire to protect family has increased since

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that desire increased.

In 2021, the share of population that saw protection and safety of loved ones as very important increased even further to 93%. As families lost loved ones or saw life as fragile, the desire to protect rose.

This trend presents an opportunity for safety and protection investments such as fire suppression systems, including sprinkler systems.

Plumbing-Intensive Home Design Trends

Kitchen and bathroom remodeling activity are good indicators of demand for behind-the-wall plumbing products. Since 2015, the share of people who either completed either a kitchen or a bathroom remodeling project has held relatively steady, but that share rose sharply in 2021 when the share of the population who completed these projects jumped. This reflects the shift in spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers who could not spend on vacations and away-from-home activities turned their spending to their homes.

This home-centric trend is expected to continue. The number of people who reported in 2021 that they were likely or somewhat likely to complete a kitchen or bathroom remodel in the next 12 months increased, according to Freedonia’s consumer survey data. People who were unable to complete such projects in 2020 or 2021 due to feelings of financial insecurity or inability to get the materials delivered in a timely manner or at a price point they were willing to pay are still looking to make these improvements to their home.

A number of home design trends will bolster gains for behind-the-wall plumbing products in kitchen and bath remodeling projects. For example:

  • Growing preferences for larger kitchens for family gatherings and entertaining guests and rising interest in professional-style kitchen amenities that involve installing more fixtures and fittings will boost growth in the larger kitchen segment.
  • Bathroom renovation spending will be supported by such projects as bathroom additions to improve convenience and functionality and design trends like exposed plumbing and spa-like features. Older US consumers installing fixtures like walk-in bathtubs and elevated toilets to facilitate aging in place will bolster gains, as well.

Want to Learn More?

Behind-the-Wall Plumbing is now available from The Freedonia Group.