Why Are Engineering Stone Benchtops Banned?

Current Update

As of the 1st of July 2024, Australia has introduced a ban on the sale and use of engineered stone and slabs to be used for benchtops. Any projects that are in use of any type of material will be required to be completed prior to this date. Any work that requires removal, minor modification, repair or disposal after the 1st of July will require contact with WorkSafe prior to any work being done.

What Is Engineered Stone?

Engineering stone, also known as engineered stone or quartz, has gained popularity in recent years as a durable and aesthetically pleasing material for kitchen and bathroom benchtops. It is composed of crushed quartz crystals mixed with resin and other materials to create a solid surface. While it offers several advantages over natural stone, such as being non-porous and resistant to stains, there have been growing concerns about its safety.

What Is The Safety Concern?

One of the primary reasons for a potential ban on engineering stone benchtops in Australia could be related to health risks associated with silica dust exposure. Silica is a common mineral found in quartz and when engineering stone is cut, drilled or polished it can release fine silica dust particles into the air. Prolonged exposure to silica dust has been linked to respiratory issues such as silicosis, a debilitating lung disease.

Workers involved in the fabrication and installation of engineering stone benchtops are particularly at risk of inhaling silica dust if proper safety precautions are not taken. Even with protective measures like dust masks and ventilation systems, the risk of exposure may still exist, especially in poorly regulated or monitored work environments.

Additionally to this, there is also an environmental concern with chemicals and resins having an impact on pollution of water and habitat destruction. 

Alternative Options

With engineering stone consisting of durability and stain resistant qualities it is key to find an alternative that can replicate these qualities.

Our market has seen a huge shift towards using either porcelain or natural stone as they can replicate these qualities while having other benefits that are lacking from engineering stone.

Porcelain

Porcelain benchtops are made from a mixture of clay, minerals, and other natural materials that are pressed and fired at high temperatures to create a dense, non-porous surface. Porcelain is what is commonly used to produce tiles. The key difference between using it for tiles and for a benchtop is that tiles usually come in 8-10mm thickness while benchtops come in 12-20mm which prevents them from cracking. PPM Stone have been a leader within the porcelain market with a huge range of designs and have become one of our main suppliers.

Key Advantages 
– Heat Resistant (unlike engineering stone) 
– Various Colours and Patterns
– Low Maintenance Required
– Various Finishings (Honed, Matte, Polished & Natural)
– Perfectly Matched With Splashback
– No Silica Risk

Natural Stone

Natural stone benchtops are highly popular mainly to their aesthetic appeal. Each slab of natural stone is inherently unique with variations in colour, veining and patterns that add character and sophistication to any space. Whether it’s the dramatic veining of marble, the speckled appearance of granite or the subtle elegance of quartzite; natural stone benchtops can enhance the visual appeal of a room and increase its overall value. Natural stone benchtops come in 20mm similarly to engineering stone. AC Stone, a popular supplier of engineered stone, have now diversified into both porcelain and natural stone.

Key Advantages
– Beautiful Designs & Aesthetically Appealling
– Durability & Less Prone To Cracking
– Longevity
– Each Slab is Unique (Able To Book Match If Require Multiple Slabs)

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