With Steep Tariffs on Chinese Engineered Stone, Countertop Producers & Fabricators Look Elsewhere for Low-Cost Supply

Cleveland OH, May 27, 2022 – Tariffs can cause significant disruptions in the US countertop market, as the US is largely a net importer of countertop products. This has been especially true in the market for engineered stone countertops, according to The Freedonia Group. Although US-based production of engineered stone continues to expand, the vast majority of the quartz slab supply in the US is imported from countries like Canada, India, Israel, Spain, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Prior to 2019, China was by far the leading source of quartz slab imports to the US, as suppliers were able to provide materials at a price level much lower than domestic producers, as well as being able to supply the market with a wide variety of colors that were not able to be made using the Breton process.

However, in April 2018, steep tariffs in excess of 200% were imposed on quartz imports from China. In response, US producers and fabricators sought other low-cost sources of quartz slab, most notably India and Turkey, resulting in Chinese imports plummeting:

  • In 2021, less than 1 million square meters of quartz slabs were imported from China.
  • Since 2018, imports from India have surged and now account for the highest share of US quartz supply.

In 2019, tariffs were also imposed on quartz slabs from India and Turkey, as firms from these countries were ruled to have dumped product into the US countertop market. Nevertheless, import activity from India and Turkey has remained strong since then, as the tariffs imposed on these countries were lower than those imposed on China.

Demand for Engineered Stone Countertops to Grow 9.6% Annually Through 2026

Through 2026, engineered stone will continue to expand its leading share of the US countertop market to account for 36% of demand in area terms. The rapid increase in low-cost slabs from foreign markets – particularly China, India, Turkey, and Vietnam – have made engineered stone countertops more affordable for middle-class homeowners:

  • As prices for engineered stone decreased as color availability expanded, consumers became much more willing to purchase higher cost countertops and grew to strongly prefer the aesthetics and quality of engineered stone.
  • As a result, engineered stone surpassed laminate to become the most used countertop material in the US in 2021, marking the first time in decades that laminate was not the most popular countertop material.

Want to Learn More?

Now available from The Freedonia Group, Countertops presents historical data for 2011, 2016, and 2021 and forecasts for 2026 and 2031 in square feet and US dollars by surface material, market, and area of installation (i.e., room). Also provided are data on installation costs and pricing. Additionally, corporate analysis including market share is included.

The surface materials broken out are:

  • engineered stone
  • laminates
  • natural stone
  • solid surface and other cast polymers
  • tile
  • other small volume materials, including porcelain slab/sintered stone; stainless steel; wood/butcher block; concrete; recycled materials; and other materials such as bamboo, cork, and glass

Countertop products by area of installation include:

  • kitchen countertops
  • bathroom countertops
  • other countertops, such as those used to top store display cabinets; home office, laundry room, mudroom, and hobby/craft room cabinets; wet bars; and garage work benches

The major market segments analyzed are:

  • residential buildings, which are segmented into single-family housing, multifamily housing, and manufactured housing
  • commercial buildings, which are segmented into office and retail buildings; lodging; institutional buildings; industrial buildings; other commercial buildings, including airport and bus terminals, civic centers, post offices, prisons, and recreational buildings
  • vehicles (e.g., recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, personal aircraft, trains)

Markets are also broken out by new and remodeling applications.