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Engineered stone products are an increasingly popular choice for homeowners. A composite material, engineered stone consists of crushed stone that has been bound together with an adhesive (typically a resin based material). Marble and quartz are the most commonly used stones for these products. How they are used depends solely on which material was used, for example, engineered marbles are generally used for indoor flooring and walls, while engineered quartz is used primarily as a countertop material.

Engineered stone products are generally comprised of 93 percent stone aggregates (by weight), although materials like colored glass, metals, or shells, may be added, with about 7 percent resin. Epoxy and polyester resin are the most commonly used binders. Additionally, stabilization and UV absorption chemicals are also added, along with hydrogen peroxide, which helps with the curing process.

Vena Calacatta Infinita

Vena Calacatta Infinita Quartz

THE BENEFITS

Engineered stone is not just strong and durable but has become a popular choice for homeowners. Consumer Reports found practically no difference in performance between sealed granite and quartz-based products. Quartz also offers a consistent look, in addition to being heat-resistant and non-porous (meaning bacteria or mold won’t accumulate). Its uniform structure means it doesn’t have any of the hidden flaws or cracks that can exist in natural stone, and the surfaces are easily maintained while looking similar to some of the most sought after natural stones such as marble.

Engineered stone products made to resemble marble, will give the homeowner the look they want with much better performance. For the environmentally conscience, engineered stone is a great way to recycle natural stone, thus protecting natural resources.

V114 Roca

Roca Quartz

THE COST

The cost of engineered stone is comparable to natural stone, and, like most natural stones, you’re investing in outstanding performance over a lifetime of use. Like all stone materials, some patterns and colors are more expensive, although some are quite affordable. So, with that being said, It would be tough to say that quartz countertops are more expensive or less expensive than other stone countertops.

THE PROCESS

The manufacturing process for producing engineered stone is relatively straightforward. Industrial equipment is used to form the block or slab after the large stones are crushed to the appropriate size. Some manufacturers crush the rock themselves, while others purchase the material pre-crushed. Then, the aggregate and resin mixture is pressed into slabs or large blocks.

After the slab or block is formed and cured, which generally takes between 3 and 7 days, the product can be processed into tiles, countertops, or other products, in basically the same way as their natural counterparts – with a water jet cutter or a diamond saw.

V109-CALACATA GOLD

Calacatta Gold Quartz

THE FINE PRINT

Performance and consistency do have a cost. For example, it can be challenging to create curves with engineered stone products, and the resin-binding agents often continue hardening, which can reduce the flexural strength over time. Additionally, some resins aren’t totally UV stable, therefore, engineered stone is not recommended for outdoor applications. Continuous exposure to UV rays over time can cause discoloration.

Quartz engineered stone is not as heat resistant as other stone surfaces such as granite. Temperatures higher than 300 °F, (150 °C), may cause damage to quartz. Manufacturers typically recommend that hot cookware not be placed directly on the surface. A hot plate should be placed under hot items to avoid damage.

To summarize, there are some very attractive features attached to engineered stone products, and they are by no means any “less” than natural stone products. Realistically speaking, the options for countertop materials just got larger.

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