Office Fit Out And The End of The Engineered Stone Era

Office fit out finishes can make or break the look and feel of your business interior. For years, our love of engineered stone has driven many decisions but times are changing. Following the government ban on the use of engineered stone with silica content, many people have been left wondering what on earth they can use now. Fear not! There are many alternatives on the market that you can consider and there will be many more released over the coming months to fill the big engineered stone void.

Why the ban?

The rise of silicosis cases has definitely forced this decision, and it should be seen as a positive and progressive one. Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica particles that can cause scarring on the lungs, often resulting in death. It has become a growing concern for those who work with or install engineered stone benchtops, as they contain up to 97% silica. So the ban is a step in the right direction. And rest assured, anyone with engineered stone installed in their interior has no need for concern. The issue is with fabrication, not static, installations. If you wish to read further about the government ban and silicosis, check out these links below.

Alternatives for your office fit out

So now you know the reason, it’s time to look at alternatives for your own office fit out and this can be broken into two categories. Those with zero silica and those with minimal silica that meet all government requirements.

Timber – 0%

Timber surfaces add warmth and come in various species, including oak, walnut, teak, and bamboo. They do require maintenance such as sanding and re-finishing but develop character over time, making them unique and safe. In years gone by, almost every office fit out had furniture finished in timber veneer. Times have since changed, no doubt due to cost, but adding touches of timber in your fit out can look great.

Stainless Steel – 0%

Stainless Steel, with zero silica content, offers a durable and sleek, modern appearance. While it can scratch and dent, its resistance to heat, stains, and bacteria makes stainless steel a preferred choice for many. It’s great properties are likely why we usually see it used liberally these days in commercial kitchens. Used as feature elements in office fit outs, it can also add that special piece of shine.

Solid Surface – 0%

Solid surfaces are devoid of crystalline silica and promote a safe working environment. Their seamless appearance, ease of maintenance, and repair ability make them a practical and attractive option. They can be thermally shaped and their anti-microbial surfaces are perfectly suited to medical and food preparation spaces. And when used in office fit out, it makes a great reception surface or benchtops which will be heavily used.

Laminate – 0%

Laminate technology has advanced significantly over the years. There are now multiple selections available of pattern, texture, colour and even self-healing nano-particle flat matte options. They provide an affordable and low-maintenance option for surfaces. And they look good. Additionally, laminate materials do not contain crystalline silica, making them a safe and in most cases, budget-friendly choice for any office fit out.

Porcelain – minimal

With their low crystalline silica content, porcelain surfaces combine durability and low maintenance. Their resistance to scratches, heat, and stains makes them an excellent investment for for both commercial and residential interiors. And they also deliver for those seeking a long-lasting and safe surface choice. Porcelain comes in various thicknesses which makes it suitable for cladding reception desks and feature areas.

Concrete – minimal

Concrete surfaces may contain about 30% crystalline silica, but compared to engineered stone, they are a safer choice. Their durability, heat resistance, and customisation options make them attractive for those seeking a unique aesthetic. These days, concrete can be coloured and formed to almost any shape so design is not limited by using such a permanent finish. It also works well if you are chasing an industrial vibe for your commercial interior.

Natural Stone – minimal

Natural Stone provides an authentic alternative to engineered stone. While it contains some silica, the levels are significantly lower than those in engineered stone. Marble is the best alternative compared to granite and limestone. Especially regarding porosity and maintenance. And there are so many colour and pattern choices available, you can definitely source one that will work well with your office fit out.

The only drawback for using some of these surfaces may be centred around cost. That said, it’s definitely worth doing cost comparisons and seeing what may fit within your allocated budget. As design and fit out professionals, we understand that budgets need to be met and work with our clients to get the best outcome for their project. If you need help deciding what works best for your business, get in touch and let us help you through this process.

Have a look at some of our completed projects in our project gallery.

Some of our valued clients
Phone+61 (08) 6141 1030Office

79 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000, Australia