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Engineered stone ban: What it means for Hunter households 

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A popular choice for household bench tops, engineered stone is a mixture of resin and quartz, making it hard wearing and often cheaper than marble and granite.

In recent years, however, it has been linked to silicosis – an incurable lung disease, with the dust produced during production thought to be the cause.  

In December, Workplace Health & Safety Ministers agreed to implement a ban on the use of engineered stone, with many large suppliers already opting to no longer stock the product.  

While the ban did not surprise industry members, the timeframe has.  

The ban will apply from 1 July 2024.  

“Engineered stone has been the predominant product specified for use in kitchens and bathrooms for many years,” said HIA executive director Craig Jennion.       

“HIA is concerned that the impact of the short commencement timeline of the ban will be considerable on both the construction sector and consumers, especially as details on how this will be implemented is unclear.  

“It is critical that industry and homeowners have certainty in relation to the implementation of the ban, including the availability and suitability of alternate products.   

“The risk is that the significant volume of new homes and renovation work approved or already under construction, will lead to extended delivery timeframes.”  

Projects with an installation date prior to 1 July 2024 can continue to specify the use of engineered stone.

Existing benchtops are safe once installed, however Mr Jennion warns further research is needed to provide certainty for industry, and homeowners, on the availability and suitability of alternate benchtop products.  

“There is need for a comprehensive support package for industry that assists businesses transition, deals with existing stock, and supports businesses looking to exit the industry.” 

Contracts signed before 13 December 2023 with installation expected after 1 July 2024 may apply to allow for the use and installation of engineered stone after 1 July 2024. 

Alternative products

The ban on engineered stone means home builders and renovators will need to source other suitable products.

Other alternatives available include:

  • Natural stone

This refers to a number of products quarried from the earth including granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate, quartzite, sandstone, adoquin, onyx etc.

  • Porcelain

Offering a similar finish to engineered stone, porcelain is an eco-friendly alternative, also remarkable in strength, heat and stain resistance.

  • Laminate

Laminate is a cost effective material. It’s durable surface makes it easy to clean and it is also resistant to surface wear and stains.

  • Tiles

No longer stuck in the 1970s, benchtop tiles have seen an amazing resurgence in recent times. Ceramic tile is impervious to heat and water and also stain resistant.

  • Concrete

Concrete counters are easy to customise, incredibly solid, and with proper care they can last for many years. The hard surface is also very good at resisting scratches and chips.

  • Wood/Timber

Choosing a timber benchtop will create a luxurious finish, providing a work surface that is warm and inviting to the touch and will patina with age.

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