When you’re in the middle of trying to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, the last thing on your mind would be international politics. Unfortunately, politics can have a major impact on your remodeling plans. This is especially true if you’ve been considering putting in some new granite, marble, or natural stone countertops or tiles.
At first glance, these two concepts have little to do with the new design you want to pursue but don’t be fooled. The United States’ current trade war with China is currently having a massive impact on granite and marble countertop prices.
Understanding the Trade War’s Impact
Trump’s tariff war was meant to give Americans better prices on imports and bolster the U.S. economy. Sadly, things aren’t quite going to plan. China’s tariffs on both manufactured and raw goods have hit American manufacturers and markets in ways that weren’t expected.
It’s no secret that China has made moves to impose tough tariffs on natural stone, but most people don’t understand how that matters to American consumers. After all, America has a plethora of quarries to extract materials from already.
China’s Mining vs. American Mining
It is absolutely true that you can buy American marble countertops and granite accessories, however, there’s a huge difference in price point and regulations. The American mining industry is heavily regulated and also requires miners to be paid a living wage. China, on the other hand, isn’t.
The extreme difference in regulation makes a huge difference in the price of natural stone. Tariffs are now beginning to increase the price of Chinese stone is starting to match, sometimes even exceed, the price of American stones as well.
Supply and Demand
Another issue that the trade war impacted is the overall supply of stone. China’s mining industry is far larger than America’s. It’s also stocked with a wider variety of stones and is basically required to keep up with the growing demand for stone countertops.
Assuming that the demand for natural stone countertops continues to increase, China is going to remain far better equipped to handle the demand. One of the issues that trade wars can cause is a sudden influx of demand for smaller companies who now tend to be more affordable.
The tariffs in the trade war, unfortunately, mean that American companies will likely struggle to meet a newfound demand, which, in turn, can drive up the prices even more. Depending on how extreme the trade war becomes, there may even be shortages in certain stone markets.
Should You Worry?
The trade war has already imposed a massive series of price increases on the average American consumer, with prices of some items increasing by as much as 10 percent. News reports are currently starting to air, revealing the war’s full impact on the home renovation sector.
So far, President Trump’s list of taxed goods has included the vast majority of natural stone materials used in both kitchen and bathroom renovation. Granite slabs, in particular, received a particularly high upcharge due to the trade war’s policies.
To make matters worse, tariffs are expected to increase to 25 percent by next year. If you were hoping to get a good deal on natural stone countertops for an upcoming renovation project next year, you should be worried.
Could You Get Priced Out of Renovation?
The volatility of the trade war is, without a doubt, going to make renovation planning more difficult. Due to the sheer increase in tariff prices, budget-hunting families looking to renovate their homes may find themselves priced out of the renovations they want to have.
If you are already feeling the strain on your wallet, your best bet is to try to stock up on materials prior to the tariffs increasing prices. Another option would be to have a backup plan for your renovation materials, just in case marble and granite countertop costs become unaffordable.
When Should You Buy Your Stone Countertops?
The good news about the trade war is that many of the tariffs won’t go into effect until early 2024, and that includes the tariffs placed on granite slabs. Several price projections suggest that the price of granite alone may top $200 per square foot by mid-2020, according to this website.
Depending on how long the trade war lasts and how high tariffs are placed, the prices of your countertops could easily become far higher than initially expected. The problem is that no one knows when the trade war will end or how high the prices of granite will get if current trends continue.
Many economists are assuming that prices will continue to escalate since the trade war doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. So, right now is the best time to buy your natural stone goods—at least for the foreseeable future.