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Tariffs Taking a Toll on Countertop Materials

A new study finds that tariffs are causing significant disruptions in the U.S. countertop market, as the U.S. 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 U.S.-based production of engineered stone continues to expand, the vast majority of the quartz slab supply in the U.S. 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 U.S., 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, U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 suppliers of mid-level products.

As prices for engineered stone decreased as color availability expanded, consumers – often homeowners and homebuyers – 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 U.S. in 2021, marking the first time in decades that laminate was not the most popular countertop material.

The study is available for viewing here.

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