Germ paranoia among consumers seems to have reached an all-time high. That makes the home-improvement market a perfect breeding ground for products that promise to shield homeowners from ever-present microbes. A couple of products in particular have zeroed in on two places that germophobes fear most: the deck and the kitchen counter.

Silestone Leather with Microban
Silestone Leather with Microban

The fact that mold and mildew can grow on composite decking is that industry's “dirty little secret,” according to Will Scott, marketing manager at CorrectDeck. The company worked for four years to develop CorrectDeck CX, the first antimicrobial composite decking. CX uses Safeguard, an antimicrobial agent that is applied to each plank during the proprietary co-extrusion process. The company says that the agent resists mold and mildew by preventing colonization of bacteria that cause black spots. “We put [Safeguard] right at the surface where it's needed,” Scott says.

He believes that the trend toward antimicrobial products is driven by consumer demand. Media stories about “dreaded black mold” make these products attractive, Scott says, even though mold growing on outdoor products isn't necessarily a health hazard. “For the decking market, it's more a matter of aesthetics.”

The kitchen countertop is another ripe target for microbes. Consentino recently introduced Silestone Leather, the first countertop product with Microban, a popular antimicrobial agent. The quartz surface, which has a unique matte texture, continuously fights the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew, resulting in a countertop that is easier to clean and that stays cleaner between washings, according to the company. Consentino points out that Microban is not formulated to protect against disease-causing microorganisms. As with Correct-Deck, the antimicrobial agent in Silestone Leather primarily performs an aesthetic benefit by resisting stains and odors. Still, that should be enough to create quite a buzz among consumers.

Microban appears to be the antimicrobial agent of choice for most companies. A few acrylic sink and tub manufacturers are using it in their surfacing, and it's showing up on the labels of a lot of paints and sealants. Clearly, manufacturers see marketing appeal in antimicrobial agents. “More companies will come out with similar products within the next year,” Scott predicts. These products will help consumers rest easy knowing that the invasion of germs in their homes is being brought to a halt.