Engineered Stone(e.g. CaesarStone, Quantum Quartz, EssaStone, etc.)
These stones have been the “flavor of the decade”, as it were. Mostly thanks to the excellent marketing of the CaesarStone brand.
However, the fact is, it is only one of a number of excellent brands in the marketplace. Technically, as far as the main brands are concerned they are all similar to one another, it really comes down to: “which one do you like”?
As mentioned above, probably the major reason for the growth of these “engineered stones” as they are correctly called is due to the market demonstrating a very strong bias towards white, off white or white speckled benchtops in stone. As Granite couldn’t fill the bill, these new stone products carved out a substantial market share for themselves.
What are Engineered Stones?
Engineered stone is a composite stone manufactured from about 91-94% crushed quartz aggregate and 6-9% polyester resin. This composition creates a stronger slab than natural stone with better scratch & stain resistance properties. It is processed by a stonemason in the same way as granite.
Importantly, it is just like every other stone it has its good and bad points.
- Stonger than granite
- Large range of light colors available
- Very predictable uniformity of color
- Does not have veins, or cracks, so is less likely to crack than stone.
- If cleaned reasonably promptly, Stain resistant, (but not stain proof)
- Can be machined to any shape just like granite.
- Very cost effective as standard slab sizes keep “offcuts”, to a minimum
- Very stable product for indoor use.
- Visible joins are unavoidable over 3000mm
- It will still stain if you are not vigilant
- Is not UV stable and can’t be used outside, (no Al Frescos unless no sunlight).
- Prolonged UV exposure will also cause the stone to lost “plasticizers” & become brittle
- Polyester is flammable and it can burn when exposed to a naked flame
- Cannot be used behind a gas hotplate as a splashback
One overriding thing that should be said about all stone benchtops is that they should never be manufactured with a 20mm thick edge. Again while such edges might give a nice clean, thin, architectural look to the benchtop, stone is too brittle to be used without a substrate underneath it.
Many architects specify it, because it does look sharp. Most display homes show it and many kitchen salespersons offer it also. However, they do it because it makes the project cost cheaper, but unfortunately, so is the product’s structural integrity.
When using a fragile, 20mm thick edge, there is a greatly increased chance of fracturing the stone. This is particularly so, in front of, and behind the sink & hotplate cutouts. It should be remembered that in these areas, especially at the front edge, the strip of stone might only be 50 or 60mm wide, front to back. One only has to lean hard on the edge and it can and will snap. It is cheaper, and many kitchen firms advertise “stone for the price of Laminate”, but this is what you usually get.
Never forget you always get what you paid for!
As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.
Having an edge like this probably saves the fabricator as much as $1000, so he is not really doing you any favors here.