What Home Appliance Finish Will Replace Bisque?

Bisque is dead. Long live... Slate?

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Long, long ago, folks in the midst of a kitchen remodel had a choice other than white, black, or stainless. It was called bisque, and its off-white finish coated appliances from coast to coast.

Now, the only places you might see bisque appliances are on reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or in a kitchen with older appliances. (My own outdated appliances are, sadly, three different shades of it.)

As stainless grew in popularity, manufacturers dropped bisque from their production runs, focusing only on the most fashion-forward finishes. Today, only a few budget models are in production, intended to satisfy consumers who want a replacement match for a single, broken, bisque appliance.

But a slew of new finishes challenge the hegemony of stainless steel. There's Whirlpool's glossy White and Black Ice, Frigidaire's shiny gray Classic Slate, and GE's dark, textured Slate.

When GE first unveiled Slate back in 2012, it was one of the first "alternative" finishes to debut since the days of almond, avocado, and harvest gold. Unlike stainless, the textured, dark gray finish was magnetic and resistant to fingerprints.

At the time, we weren't sure if customers would bite. But it turns out that the finish has caught on—especially among those redoing bisque kitchens who can't stand the idea of switching to stainless. Many of those consumers want to hang their kids' artwork on the fridge, but don't want to see their fingerprints in the same place.

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GE's Slate lineup adds built-in cooking, including a wall-oven, cooktop, and over-the-range convection microwave. View Larger

GE shared some interesting data with us about Slate. Around 65 percent of customers who buy one Slate appliance buy another, and 30 percent buy the whole suite. It's particularly popular in certain regions, including the upper Midwest.

Now, the lineup is expanding, with built-in wall ovens debuting in August, over-the-range convection microwaves hitting store shelves in September, and built-in cooktops going on sale in October.

Pfister is also expanding its lineup of Slate finish faucets and fixtures to match the new appliances, with new bathroom and kitchen cabinet pulls, handles, and faucets.

The growth allows homeowners, remodelers, and new home builders to choose all-Slate kitchens and bathrooms, and GE is expecting to sell even more Slate appliances.

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