5 ways the U.S.-China trade war is having an effect on natural stone prices

marble top

The natural stone that is used to make countertops is sourced from all over the world.

While shipping does impact its cost, regulations surrounding the process of extracting the stone have an even greater impact on the final price of natural stone.

In the US, there are strict regulations on mining natural stone. However, in China, regulations on this process are lax, allowing companies to mine as much as they want. This means that there is a greater supply of natural stone available in China, making them more affordable than their American counterparts (despite the additional shipping charges). With the growing demand for natural stone in the US, the availability from the Chinese market will directly influence natural stone pricing. The tariffs associated with the US-China trade war have highlighted the impact the Chinese market has on the US natural stone industry. Here are five ways the US-China trade war is having an effect on natural stone prices.

1) Granite is one of the hardest-hit natural stones by the tariffs

Granite has received one of the highest tariffs in the US-China trade war. Granite countertops are already some of the most expensive on the market and with these new tariffs are earmarked to get even more pricey in the coming months. Currently, granite countertops cost around $35-$100 per square foot installed. However, with the 25% tariffs and other duties applied to the natural stone, the cost of granite is expected to rise to over $200 per square foot installed by the end of 2020.

2) Marble prices have increased due to tariffs

Marble is another stone that has been hit by the tariffs with the US-China trade war, especially in the latest round of tariffs. Like granite, marble countertops are another expensive natural stone option for countertops costing $40 – $100 each square foot installed, according to Marble. With the new 10% tariffs that have been imposed in September, we are likely to see the price of marble rise in the coming months. This means that installing marble countertops can easily reach or even exceed $3000 by the end of 2020.

3) Limestone countertops are becoming exceedingly expensive

Limestone countertops were already expensive coming in at $70-$200 per square foot installed. With the new tariffs that have accompanied the US-China trade war, this natural stone countertop is becoming too costly for the average homeowner. As the price for this stone continues to increase, the demand for this natural stone is going to decrease significantly. Until the trade war ends and the prices start to come back down, new installs of limestone countertops will likely be a rare occurrence.

4) Antidumping duties applied on quartz

Quartz coming from China has found itself the victim of additional antidumping duties. These duties are essentially tariffs that are applied to goods that the government deems to be priced below fair market value. In this particular case, China is exporting quartz to the US for cheaper than and is selling in their own market, essentially “dumping” it onto the US market. While quartz is technically a man-made material, it is still comprised of silica and other natural stone materials. These additional tariffs on quartz, which is already $60-$100 per square foot installed, will increase its price substantially. This will likely result in decreased demand for quartz countertops in the coming months and years.

5) In general, countertops are becoming more expensive

As the supply of natural stone decreases in the US due to stock being used, the prices for these countertops is steadily rising. Companies now have to import more expensive stones from other markets to cover the demand for natural stone countertops. Even if companies continue to import stone from China, prices will increase to cover the cost of the additional tariffs and duties.

The rising prices as a result of the trade war have made home renovation more expensive. Homeowners are needing to increase their budgets by nearly 5% to cover the additional cost of the raw natural stone material. As prices continue to increase, we are likely to see a trend of homeowners moving towards more affordable countertop materials.

What’s next for the natural stone market?

As long as the US-China trade war continues, the prices of natural stone countertops are going to increase and it is going to become more expensive to replace countertops in a remodel. Even still, countertop demand is forecasted to continue growing, despite the increasing prices. However, we will see more natural stone countertops coming from other markets while the US continues fair trade war with China.

It should be noted that while the tariffs have been in place, the increased price has not yet trickled down to the consumer. Therefore, it is recommended that if a homeowner has a remodel project in mind, it may prove beneficial to start the project now so that the lower rates on natural stone countertops can be locked in and the budget won’t need to be increased to account for the higher prices that are going to result from the ongoing trade war.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash