We just put counters in our kitchen and I did a TON of research. Here
we go: Silestone, Zodiaq, Technistone & Caeserstone are all the same
product made under patent license from an Italian company. They are 93%
quartz with 7% colorant and resins to hold it together.
These synthetic stones are not quite as glossy as granite (due to the
manufacturing process and the stones natural properties), but they are
available in a wide range of colors. They also have "shimmery" spots
where a facet of the quartz crystal shows through and reflects glints
of room licht just like a mirror. It is an interesting effect.
Pricing. Oh boy, here we go. We had a pretty normal kitchen with
about 60 square feet of counter and about 20 of backsplash (we wanted
to go to the bottom of the cabinets). Since the only way to obtain
these quartz/synthetic counters is through a manufacturer apoproved
installer. They offer a list on their website. So, we got bids from 4
area (i.e. within 40 miles) installers. We also got one from Home Depot
(although we figured they would just sub-out the work to one of the
The local guys bids were $8,000-$9,000 or about $110/square foot. Home
depot was about $7,600. Go figure. They's hire tyhe local and botht he
local guy & HD would make money.
Then I found e-counters.com. ALthough they are located in Minnesota (I
think), they came in at $5,200! They subbed it to a company aboiut 100
miles from me as well.
So here's the process (for any of these guys): You fax in your measured
drawing and they give you a rough estimate. If you like it, they come
out and measure (typically they'ss charge $150 or so if you don't buy -
that's OK). They make the final measurements and then go adjust the
quote. For HD or e-counters.com, you have your credit card charged for
the 1st bid amount and then either A0 get a refund if you measured too
big, b) pay more if you measured too small, or c) cancel and get all of
your money except the measurement fee back. Pretty fair.
Therse are the things that make it expensive in a hurry:
Bullnosed edges - figure about $28-$30 per lineal foot
cutouts for switches, outlets etc - $20-$60 each depending
sink cutout - $300
Holes for fauctes etc - $20-$30 each
Usually the standard edge profile is an eased edge (no sharp edge) and
a 3" radius corner. With about a 1-1/2 ro 2" overhang of the cabinet
it looks good to my eye.
We ultimately went with e-counters.com, have mostly standard edging,
undermount sink, 8 or so cutouts and a raised dining bar with
bullnosing. E-counters was $65 per sf for their top tier color
(naturally what we wanted...) plus any fancy edging or cutouts. We are
pleased with both the materials and the installation. The service was
fast, courteous and all in all a pleasant experience. Plus I liked the
added advantage of using a credit card to buy, as it gave me a bit of
leverage if tings went south.
Why I paid a Minnesota company to hire a California contractor about
100 miles from my house and got the lowest price, I don't know. I do
know that it was about $1,500 less than HD and $2-3,000 less than the
local authorized fabricators. I really did try to use the local trades,
but, for a 40% difference, i think not.
Othe rquestions you asked: Thickness - it is (I think) 3cm thick, or
about 1-1/8". That's the size the solid pieces are made, the tiles are
bout half that.
Things relative to the installation: Most quotes are for "a ready to
install" kitchen --i.e. old counters out, just plain cabinets. I think
e-counters wanted $16/sf plus dump fees to remove, and HD was $1,900.
So I saved about $1,000 or so by doing it myself. Not hard. Just messy.
If you have tile, use an air hammer and a compressor to break out the
old stuff. It's a must.
Overaal, I had 4 bids for Silestone & 3 fro granite, and other than
e-counters, they were all pretty much indistinguishable in price.
Disclaimer: I don't work for e-counters, Silestone or anyone else in
the building industry. I'm just a homeowner who didn't want to pay more
than was fair for a project.
I just hope this helps, because I pretty much had to invent the wheel.