Engineered stone

Why We Say NO to Engineered Stone

As many of you may have seen the piece on The Project TV, which aired last Sunday night, it ran through the dangers of manufacturing engineered stone for kitchen bench tops and splash backs.

We learned that many lives [including stonemasons] are being lost due to silicosis, a terminal lung illness caused by stone fabricators dry cutting, polishing, and grinding the material, which can develop after breathing in dangerous silica dust. There is 90% silica content in this material which is more than double what’s in natural granite. What was even more surprising is that this is the main stone that is being used in home renovation programs that are aired nationwide. Furthermore, Australia currently has 46% market share for engineered stone. This has all lead to 1 in 5 or 35% of workers in this industry to be diagnosed with silicosis. This epidemic is more lethal than asbestos!

Part of the responsibility lies within the design industry to say NO to these products until they are made with materials that are safe to cut, and there are laws in place to protect people and to compensate them properly for damages done. Our studio will continue to say NO to engineered stone until there are legislative measures in place to ensure the product is being safely used.

Although our office has rarely used engineered stone in the past 5 years, we would like to start an online petition against engineered stone. So, if you are a designer, or know one, please consider doing the same and joining us. Share this with as many friends, family and loved ones as you can.

We also received a wide range of questions on our Instagram post regarding engineered stone, so we thought we’d answer a few common ones below:

1. What are your top alternatives to engineered stone ie. robust natural stone?

Granite [super white], Dolomites, Granite, Laminate, Quarzite, Terrazzo, and Porcelain This image here is the kitchen corner detailing at The Woolwich House where we used the stunning Cote D’zure Stone from CDK Stone for a truly elegant statement. You can take a look at The Woolwich House for some insight to the types of stones we used throughout this home.

2. Are there safe ways to work with this type of material? Like wet cutting?

Wet cutting is still has its dangers. In order to make it safer the stonemasons need to use vacuum cutting which is very expensive and not an option for most. Even when it is used wet (and) turns to sludge, the sludge then dries and gets on the workers boots which then turns back to powder.

3. Does terrazzo fall under this category?

Depends whether the terrazzo is cement-based or not. Always check before using terrazzo to see if it is indeed cement based – suggestion would be to not use it if so. Our studio does still use terrazzo if it is cement based.

Take a look at The Clovelly House where we used terrazzo throughout, seen in the image here.

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