More than 35 years ago the Italian company Breton, that is also known
for their fine machinery, invented a new way to make marble blocks
from small rocks who were left behind in the quarry. The binder for
this new block was cement and the process was done by vibrating the
block under vacuum. The first production of these small sized blocks
started in 1965. The first vacuum breton plant for the production of
large blocks using the mixing and vibration under vacuum process was
installed for the Italian company Santa Margherita in 1968.
Later they made blocks from small pieces of marble and granite rock
and when a block was hardened they used a gangsaw to cut it into
slabs. Calibration and polishing is the same as with marble and
granite. The advantage of this new process was that the slabs where
stronger and the patterns more even. The finished product was ideal
for making floor tiles and when they were polished it was hard to tell
that this new product was not a natural stone. In fact it was for more
than 90%. Knowing the old terrazzo process you could say that this new
product was just one step further using the same natural raw material.
When the sorts of granite they used became smaller and harder (and
later quartz) they had to invent the slab plant to produce more
efficient, it took them more than 24 hours to cut a granite/quartz
block . A slab plant makes a slab with a polyester resin (6%) instead
of cement and the slab is calibrated and polished after it comes out
of the press and the oven. Today the latest Breton system is the
Terastone system, look for more details at www.breton.it
Uses for Engineered Stone:
Most engineered stone plants (located in more than 30 countries)
produce blocks/slabs for floor tiles or wall cladding who are perfect
for high traffic areas like airports, shopping malls. For the last 10
years there is a growing market worldwide for engineered stone
countertops, vanity tops, buffet counters, shower walls etc. etc. At
Erbi in The Netherlands (where I work as a product manager) we were in
1991 the first Dutch company that made kitchen countertops out of this
new material. We selected the quartz based material for it's overall
good qualities and the ability to produce the best colors that could
match with our Dutch kitchens. We still design and develop our own
colors together with the people of Caesarstone.
Engineered Stone Types:
1. Quartz based
Many of today's engineered stones used for countertops consist of
natural quartz. Quartz is very heat resistant, has a very low
absorbency and is not sensitive for household acids (only made in slab
2. Granite based
Mainly used for tiles and wall cladding (block plants) For countertops
it's in combination with quartz (block and slab plants)
3. Marble&Limestone based
Mainly used for tiles, wall cladding and vanity tops (block plants).
In combination with resin the absorbency is lower but it's still
sensitive for acid. Because the absorbency is low it's very dificult
to use an impregnator. (block plants)
Pigments, glass, mirror, seashell, fossil, metal, minerals, crystal,
Brands of Engineered Stone:
1. Cosentino from Spain and the US known for their Silestone
2. Quarella from Verona known for their tiles worldwide
3. Sdot Yam (Israel) known for their Caesarstone and good colors
4. Santa Margherita near Verona is the oldest company in the business
5. Stone Italiana also from Verona
6. Technistone is a Czech company
7. DuPont USA is known for their Zodiaq
How to Select an Engineered Stone:
Think about the application (floor, countertop,shower wall etc.)
Consult an expert before you buy
Use only quartz based material for countertops
Engineered stones with resin have a higher thermal expansion than
cement based, this is very important for flooring.
Test the material yourself on cleaning, scratch and acid resistancy
and don't expect any wonders from sealers and impregnators because
they won't last long or don't work at all. If the material is not good
enough than forget it, go for something else.
Testing on scratch and stain resistancy:
would recommend to use a waterproof marker stain, clean that with a
new piece of Scotch Brite and some mild kitchen polish. It's hard work
but you'll see the result and you can check if the material is getting
dull. With quartz based material you won't have a problem and you
don't need thinner, alcohol or other stuff to do the trick. Test it
yourself is the best way to understand the quality of this material.
After you've bought it you have to do some cleaning anyway. When you
do your test with a pocket knife or with something made from metal
don't get confused when you see a metal colored stripe, you can clean
it because it's not a scratch.
Honed is less reflective so it can give peace to an area with a lot of
light and it's also not as slippery. It's harder to clean because the
surface is rougher and on darker colors you notice grease spots
Polished is easy to clean but it can't reach the high gloss level of
granite. You can only repolish floors, on countertops made from quartz
it doesn't give the same result as when it was done in the factory.
You can check it with the reflection of the light.
When you try something different than a bullnose than pricing can be
very competitive. For a Bullnose or semi Bullnose you need expensive
equipment and it's very difficult to get a good result on dark colors.
Colors with some larger quartz are very hard on diamond tools so you
pay the price for that. There are a dozen of other options if you have
(for this part I used the Caesarstone website www.caesarstone.com)
The long lasting finish requires only simple and routine care to
good looks. Cleaning with a damp cloth and a little liquid detergent
will do the job.
Because quartz based engineered stone is impervious to stains, it will
withstand exposure to tea, soda, wine, vinegar, lemon juice, and
strongly colored spices. Just wipe away and the surface is like new
again. To remove grease spots from a honed surface you might need some
mild kitchen polish
Stubborn stains or dried spills
Any multi-purpose cleaner or detergent can be used on these stains.
For extra-stubborn spills, use a green scouring pad to shift the dirt.
It won't damage the tough surface. Cleaning liquids like bleach are
good for removing stains that seem to be hard to remove at first.
To remove adhered materials like food, gum, nail polish, dried paint,
scrape away the excess with a sharp blade. If there are any gray metal
on the surface, one of the regular cleaning agents will remove it.
and rinse the surface in the normal way.
quartz based engineered stone is non-porous and will therefore keep
its lustrous gloss and
ultra-smooth surface without polishing. However occasional home
can enhance stain resistance and ease of cleaning. Any
agent may be used.
quartz based engineered stone can tolerate moderately hot temperatures
for brief periods of
time without warping, discoloring or otherwise being damaged. This
makes the surface ideal for kitchens because a tray from the oven or
an accidentally misplaced hot pot will not ruin the countertop.
However, take care to avoid direct contact for a long time with very
Tough - Yes, Indestructible - No
As with any surface, quartz based engineered stone can be permanently
damaged by exposure
to strong chemicals and solvents that undermine its physical
properties. Do not
use products that contain trichlorethane or methylene chloride, such
paint removers or strippers.
Avoid any highly aggressive cleaning agents like oven/grill cleaner
high alkaline/PH levels.
Should your surface accidentally be exposed to any of these damaging
products, rinse immediately with water to neutralize the effect.