/How Tariffs Could Trickle Down to Your Kitchen Remodel

How Tariffs Could Trickle Down to Your Kitchen Remodel

The U.S. has agreed to suspend a planned January increase in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, as the two sides negotiate on trade. But tariffs are already having an impact in kitchens across the U.S., and the truce isn’t expected to soften the blow.

Just about every material you’d need to remodel a kitchen is now subject to the earlier round of tariffs. Many U.S. vendors import the majority of their materials from China. Flooring, cabinets, countertops, sinks, refrigerators and lighting fixtures are on the list of imports from China that now have a 10% tax, as are many of the materials used to make them, from plywood and quartz to stone and granite.

Companies across the construction supply chain have tried to mitigate the impact, including by looking for alternative suppliers in neighboring countries like Vietnam and Cambodia or loading up on inventory in the event that the tax jumps to 25% in January. But many say they have had to raise prices to offset the effects of tariffs. American suppliers are now raising prices as well, as tariffs on foreign products have boosted demand for theirs.

Taxing Job

Tariffs have hit just about every material you’d need to remodel a kitchen.

How tariffs affect a remodeling project

One vendor’s price increase

How tariffs affect a remodeling project

One vendor’s price increase

How tariffs affect a remodeling project

One vendor’s price increase

How tariffs affect

a remodeling project

Companies say prices will remain elevated even if the U.S. and China reach a trade deal in which Washington would hold off on future tariffs.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to manufacturers and distributors of the various components of a kitchen to assess the added cost of a remodel. We based our price increases on interviews with individual vendors. For the percentage of the budget that each piece of the job makes up, we used a cost calculator from KitchenCraft Cabinetry, a subsidiary of MasterBrand Cabinets Inc., based in Jasper, Ind.


•Imports from China: $1.06 billion

•Total imports from all countries: $1.52 billion

•Percentage imported from China: 69%

•One major vendor’s price increase: 10%

Multi Family Cabinet Installers, a 50-employee company based in Charlotte, N.C., says it absorbed the 10% tariffs for every contract it signed before September, but it is raising prices for new projects. William Howie, the company’s CEO, said his company is in a difficult position because it sources 100% of its products from China. “I’m not trying to grow, I’m not pursuing more work because it’s too uncertain,” he said.

Countertops (quartz/stone/granite)

•Imports from China: $692 million

•Total imports: $1.8 billion

•Percentage imported from China: 39%

•One major vendor’s price increase: 5%

MS International

president Rupesh Shah ordered an extra month’s worth of porcelain tile and natural stone flooring and countertops to cut costs in anticipation of 25% tariffs next year. China is the main source country of the roughly 2,000-employee company in Orange, Calif., and some of the materials it sells, like glass mosaics or rigid core tile, are hard to find elsewhere, Mr. Shah said.

The labor cost for granite countertops is higher than the cost of the material and if prices keep going up, Mr. Shah said, customers will shift to materials that require less labor.


•Imports from China: $442 million

•Total imports: $817 million

•Percentage imported from China: 54%

•One major vendor’s price increase: 6%

Sam Cobb, CEO of Real Wood Floors in West Plains, Mo., said he is bracing for a sales hit as a result of price increases. He said three of the company’s four Chinese suppliers agreed to absorb half of the added costs from tariffs expected in January, and that the company is still figuring out how to handle the rest. “If you put a 5% increase, it’s going to slow down sales,” he said.

Mr. Cobb said some of his suppliers have already moved to Cambodia because of the anti-dumping and countervailing duties, and that more of them are looking to do so now because of the tariffs. For its part, Real Wood Floors was planning to make new hires but will wait until after January to consider such a move.


•Imported from China: $607 million

•Total imports: $1.9 billion

•Percentage imported from China: 32%

•One major vendor’s price increase: 10%

The tile and stone industry formed a coalition to lobby the U.S. Trade Representative for relief from the tariffs but ultimately was unsuccessful. For Bedrosians Tile and Stone, that meant adding 10% to the cost of every product from China.

“China is our biggest producer,” said Marisa Bedrosian, owner of the Anaheim, Calif., company.


•Imports from China: $4.66 billion

•Total imports: $8.1 billion

•Percentage imported from China: 57.5%

•One major vendor’s increase: 10%-15%

Most lighting products come from China, leaving the industry with little room to maneuver around tariffs. “We don’t have a lot of options of lighting products made elsewhere,” said Dave McKee, chief operating officer of Seattle Lighting.

Mr. McKee said most of the 300 vendors his employer buys products from have increased prices by 10% or 15%. “We’re having to tell our customers that prices are going up,” he said.

Some members of the lighting consortium are rushing to get more products from China, but they’re having problems with shipping times, said American Lighting Association vice president Michael Weems. “There’s no way around price increases,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how strong you are financially.”

Write to Inti Pacheco at inti.pacheco@wsj.com