Engineered stone products have made a substantial impact on the natural stone industries in most countries. Clearly, they have taken a significant market share of all products used in domestic and commercial applications, be it stone, laminex, wood, or stainless steel. In Australia, marble and granite fabricators who were using about 5% of engineered product to 95% natural stone at the beginning of 2002 were abundantly aware that the drive of the market was causing a rapid shift in this ratio so that by the end of 2002 the ratio for some of these fabricators was in favour of the synthetic material. Stone fabricators who resisted the use of synthetic material were forced by competitive factors to adopt new strategies which incorporated the manufacture of this synthetic material. There are a number of reasons for this sudden surge of popularity including advertising and promotions, especially directed towards interior designers and developers. Much of this advertising compares the virtues of the synthetic product against natural stone. However, not all of the advertising is honest and it is the misrepresentations that are made verbally and in written form that has the natural stone industry objecting.
Among the many deficiencies of the synthetic products are the high coefficient of expansion (about 4x that of natural stone), fading with UV, generation of VOC’s (especially if in enclosed areas), easy chipping of edges, frequent fracturing and catastrophic failure of bench-tops, repair difficulties, difficulty in matching the surface with the edging, discolouration, bowing, delamination from the carcass, may catch fire with applied heat, dates the installation, and commonly poor after-sales support.