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imzz

Importing marble from China

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Hi all,

Anyone has positive or negative experience to share regarding importing marble from china? There are listings in alibaba which show a good range of marble selection at an attractive price, eg. Carrara marble for 50-100usd per square meter. This is almost 1/2 of the price compare to the local supplier like hafary, so I am thinking of importing from there.

Any feedback is welcomed.

Thanks,

Imzz

 

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I'm also thinking of doing the same thing. Bro cymon had done so but his wife flew to China to do the selection. Buying from alibaba is cheap but also have the risk of them supplying something of lower grade since we are not there to see the actual product. In fact, alibaba has also a few suppliers from Greece which can supply the marble at even lower price than the China sellers.

to do this, the time line coordination must be done properly else you will have problem in finding space to store the crates if the marble is purchased too early. not to mention need to arrange for transport using lorry crane as well once the marble arrives in Singapore.

I think after all the costs involved, should be able to save maybe 30% to 40% from local pricing. I'm still thinking if should take the $10k risk or not to do this self importing. worst case is end up having to buy locally if really kenna conned. :P

 

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I have made 2 trips and if u hv interest in this topic, i strongly recomend everyone to make the trip to Ceramic City in Fosan. 

We brought tile samples from Sg to source for cheaper suppliers. They said our samples were low quality ones from 3-5yrs ago and no longer made. Probably ours were made in vietnam. Tiles were easily 30-50% cheaper, everything factored in.

We thought we brought grade A marble sample there, but they said ours was lower than their grade B. And their grade A was still cheaper than our expected price. 

My experience is, china is leaps n bounds ahead of SG, and they are a lot more sincere than we perceive. Was really an eye opener. Eventually we ordered newer generation designs way beyond our expectations.

take note.. shipments come in 20 foot container to site. To be cost effective, need to standby storage space n forklift to minimise high sg logistic costs.

Everyone shd make the trip if can use up 26 tonnes of tiles

 

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1 hour ago, yoongf said:

I have made 2 trips and if u hv interest in this topic, i strongly recomend everyone to make the trip to Ceramic City in Fosan. 

We brought tile samples from Sg to source for cheaper suppliers. They said our samples were low quality ones from 3-5yrs ago and no longer made. Probably ours were made in vietnam. Tiles were easily 30-50% cheaper, everything factored in.

We thought we brought grade A marble sample there, but they said ours was lower than their grade B. And their grade A was still cheaper than our expected price. 

My experience is, china is leaps n bounds ahead of SG, and they are a lot more sincere than we perceive. Was really an eye opener. Eventually we ordered newer generation designs way beyond our expectations.

take note.. shipments come in 20 foot container to site. To be cost effective, need to standby storage space n forklift to minimise high sg logistic costs.

Everyone shd make the trip if can use up 26 tonnes of tiles 

Thanks for sharing your experience. how much savings did you get from doing this (after factoring in shipping and transport charges)?

I was discussing this topic again with my wife during dinner earlier and again it's the concern of being conned if buying over the internet. but if fly over there to buy, it's just whether there is still savings after factoring in the cost of air tickets and accommodation.

shipment wise in containers I think is best to get a local freight forwarder who can do the transfer of the cargo from containers (at a warehouse) to lorry cranes so that these can be offloaded on site. else I don't think any sites for landed house will have a forklift on standby.

personally, I am quite keen on doing this but my small quantity of less than 600sqf of marble may end up not having much cost savings (if any) if need to fly over there to buy. unless I can buy all the tiles for my house from the trip and have cost savings maybe it's worth doing it.

 

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For 600 sqft marble, not feasible. Marble requires local supplier to dry lay at their warehouse for confirmation. That process involves many swapping of tiles. 

Natural stones is a very personal relationship much like custom fitting a wedding gown. Opinions can differ greatly. Imagine u kiasu over order say 30% to make sure enuf buffer to get the perfect look, after project finish, hv to throw/give away the excess stock as qty not big enough for any new commercial jobs. In the end no savings. 

Making the trip is more of a learning trip rather than a pure cost saving exercise. I travelled a lot, but going to fosan was my most humbling experience. SG market is really an expensive peanut. 

 

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if need to involve local supplier to dry lay, then becomes another challenge on which company will do it since you're not buying the marble from them in the first place. the other option is not to dry lay at all but don't know what pattern the marble floor will look like then. best possible option is to be able to go to the china factories directly and have them do the dry lay there before shipping over the tiles.

another "problem" is how to pay them if fly over to buy. bring load of cash over to pay? haha

 

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4 hours ago, yoongf said:

For 600 sqft marble, not feasible. Marble requires local supplier to dry lay at their warehouse for confirmation. That process involves many swapping of tiles. 

Natural stones is a very personal relationship much like custom fitting a wedding gown. Opinions can differ greatly. Imagine u kiasu over order say 30% to make sure enuf buffer to get the perfect look, after project finish, hv to throw/give away the excess stock as qty not big enough for any new commercial jobs. In the end no savings. 

Making the trip is more of a learning trip rather than a pure cost saving exercise. I travelled a lot, but going to fosan was my most humbling experience. SG market is really an expensive peanut. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I am thinking of making 1 trip, either to xiamen or guangzhou to view the marbles. I intend to get tiles here in SG, but if there's so much savings and tiles are of better quality in China, i might take a second look. Can I know if you actually imported the marble back to SGP? I was told by one builder that marbles from China may have issue though he didn't specifically say what was the issue. And also if you have done the dry lay there, do you have to stay there till the marble is dry laid and shipped out? Please briefly describe the process after marble selection? Thanks!

 

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After the trip, we ordered 3 containers of tiles. But for the marble, after the local supplier heard abt our trip, they offered us a counter offer that was slightly more than the complete china price. They had excess stock from another big project and our timing was just right. A big advantage of using local supplier is that we take stock as and when tiles are installed. 

Alibaba suppliers are wholesale suppliers, selling by 20ft container vol. dry lay is an installer issue. 

Personally, i won’t use natural stones anymore. The latest homogeneous tiles look as real as natural stones and are much more scratch and acid stain resistant. Substantially cheaper too. Natural stones only look good with regular maintenance. Overtime, marble will look dull, which then requires polishing, maybe every 2years. Homogeneous tiles require zero maintenance. 

There are huge 800x800 or 1000x1000 tiles that can give that grander look that 600x600 marble tiles just cant replicate. All these “different perspectives” can be experienced at Ceramic City at Fosan. Bangkok has an annual architect expo around May. Another eye opener event.

 

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1 hour ago, yoongf said:

After the trip, we ordered 3 containers of tiles. But for the marble, after the local supplier heard abt our trip, they offered us a counter offer that was slightly more than the complete china price. They had excess stock from another big project and our timing was just right. A big advantage of using local supplier is that we take stock as and when tiles are installed. 

Alibaba suppliers are wholesale suppliers, selling by 20ft container vol. dry lay is an installer issue. 

Personally, i won’t use natural stones anymore. The latest homogeneous tiles look as real as natural stones and are much more scratch and acid stain resistant. Substantially cheaper too. Natural stones only look good with regular maintenance. Overtime, marble will look dull, which then requires polishing, maybe every 2years. Homogeneous tiles require zero maintenance. 

There are huge 800x800 or 1000x1000 tiles that can give that grander look that 600x600 marble tiles just cant replicate. All these “different perspectives” can be experienced at Ceramic City at Fosan. Bangkok has an annual architect expo around May. Another eye opener event.

wow! you big time developer or building a huge GCB which needs 3 container loads of tiles? getting those left over project tiles can be cheaper but again like you mentioned, depends a lot on the timing since these are not always available and also in the colour and quantity required.

there's some sellers on alibaba which sells by min 50sqm or 100sqm. of cos the psf pricing would be higher than buying by the container load.

one issue with using homogeneous tiles is the risk of popping due to poor installation which we always hear about in the news. the tillers install the tiles with gaps which are lesser than the recommended 3mm to 5mm. also expansion strips are not installed at intervals to cater for the expansion/contraction of the tiles. whether using those bigger 800x800 or 1000x1000 tiles will prevent the popping issue or not no one knows. also not sure if using homogeneous tiles can achieve the seamless look due to the grout lines in between tiles.

if $$$ is not an issue and still want to achieve the grand look, can always cut the floor tiles from marble slabs which should be able to get the 800x800 or 1000x1000 ones if the slab is big enough.

 

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Let me chip in my limited knowledge on tiles and stone differences:

1. For porcelain tiles, the bigger and longish size tiles will end up will slight bent along the edges which can be felt by the foot after laying. Tiles are made made and during the firing process, they are not 100% flat. Marble and granite can be precision cut to achieve flatness to 0.5mm or less, even more demanding tolerance on countertop. Even if the cut to size is not flat, marble can be polished after laying to achieve 100% flatness. Tiles is impossible to be polished. Granite can do very mild polish but still cannot polished off to achieve a 100% flatness after laying due to its hardness. A super heavy polisher is needed to create a down force to wear the top layer and this is an issue for a single man polisher to handle, like for marble.

2. Gaps are required for tiles due to the edges are not 90 degrees to each other. Again because it is man made. Stones can achieve 90 degree angles during cutting. That is why the bigger the tile, the bigger is the gap required, else, the tile layer will have difficulty laying. Imagine the cumulative effect of this small angle difference will propagate a few tilesaway and will end up with a ‘curved alignment’ between 2 ends of a living room. Because of a precision cut of stone, one will notice the gap is only 1-2mm and once polished, the gap lines is hardly noticeable. For tiles, due to the big gap required, the gap lines is forever very noticeable and they will blacken over time and even more noticeable if a white marble tile lookalike was used.

So end of the day, there is no perfect solution. Accept the noticeable gap lines or get a nice looking marble floor but with regular maintenance. For tiles, once laid, the gap lines is permanent. For marble, with regular maintenance, it will still look nice and shiny and non noticeable gap lines. 

Edited by AWS
 

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hmmm. the curved edge of porcelain tiles doesn't seem to be an issue now especially for floor tiles. I remembered my flat had homogeneous tiles and the edges don't have the curve from tiles like 20 or 30 years ago. in fact, as we had bought a resale flat, I even managed to find back the same tile pattern but had to pay to cut them down to the 500 x 500 size from the 600 x 600 as they didn't sell the tiles in 500 size anymore. the replacement tiles fitted perfectly in as well.

 

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Snoozee, there are 2 issues with tiles, flatness and 90 degrees angled edge length. A bit hard to put it on writing though.

Nowadays, can easily get vetrified edge tiles. 

Edited by AWS
 

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Biggest stone city in the world is in ShuiTou 水头, Xiamen. It’s about 45 minute drive from Xiamen GaoQi International Airport. One can spend weeks just visiting the 水头stone market 市场 alone.

Biggest manufacturer of tiles is located in FoShan 佛山, Guangzhou. It is about 60-70 minutes drive from Baiyun international Airport. There are thousands of tiles shop in the tile street.

Import container load into Singapore Port is limited to 27 ton. So use a 20 ft container is good enough. A estimate guide for stone of size 600x600x20 is about 500 sqm. Like wise, tile of similiar size but thickness of 10-12mm can load close to 950 sqm. A 20 ft container can load about 15-20 pellets for stone. Shipping usually takes 10-14 days, depends on distance from Singapore. Xiamen is further compared to Guangzhou. Port clearance will cost about $1200-$1300, including transport to site. GST will be charged by government before the container can leave port. If your container arrived too early, storage facility is available and chargeable at $30 per pellet per month limited to 1m cubic size.

This a bit of info for people who intend to self import stone/tiles from china.

 

Edited by AWS
 

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AWS, good info. 

You mentioned direct from port to site. Are you going to have forklift on site to unload the pallets? Do note that the forklift have to get into the container to unload those pallets which are all the way inside the container. So I think you will need to factor in additional costs for the transfer of cargo from container to lorry crane for delivery. 

 

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My port clearance agent is able to settle everything after the container arrive singapore port and truck the pallets to reach site and unload everything. Only catch is if one fully maximize the 20ft container to 27 ton, a bigger triple axle  truck will be required as normal truck is limited to ferry 24 ton, so extra $50 thereabouts. All the truck comes with build in crane to off load from truck onto site floor.

To answer your query, a special crane(unloading device) is required to get the pellets out of the container if you buy slabs, not a normal fork lift. If you buy cut to size tiles, a fork lift is ok to do the job. Slab pallets and cut to size pallets are totally different. The pallets are then placed on the cargo area floor and the truck’s crane is used to load the pallets onto the truck bed and off the truck bed after reaching site. But if one buys slabs from China, then it will be transported to the cutting facility in Singapore. Average cutting service in Singapore is $10 psf thereabouts.

Edited by AWS
 

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