What you need to know
Are you considering Engineered Stone for your countertops? Do you know all the facts?
Some of the brand names are Caesarstone, Zodiac, Cambria and Silestone. This article is provided for educational purposes so�that homeowners�are informed�before selecting Engineered Stone as their countertop choice. The information below may surprise you.
It doesn�t scratch � or does it?
Yes it does. The polyester resin used to bond the quartz together does scratch. No knowledgeable person should tell you otherwise. Your knife (steel) is harder than polyester so it will scratch it. The promotions emphasize the �natural quartz� in Engineered Stone, which is indeed harder than steel. However, the bonding agent, polyester resin is softer.
The big secret
Well, actually there are two secrets.� Perhaps the biggest secret is not secret at all. It is written right in the Caesarstone literature, “Fabrication Quick Start Guide”. It says, “Slabs must always be stored so that polished faces are not exposed to the sun.� The guide even mentions that the slab can warp!� As explained in the previous paragraph, the bonding agent that holds the quartz together is polyester resin. Polyester resin will discolor after prolonged exposure to sunlight. If you have a window in your kitchen, does this mean you have to consider keeping the blinds closed all day? The fact that sunlight will yellow and discolor polyester resin has been known in the stone industry for decades. So why market a product like this? The only unknown is how much sunlight will it take to�discolor your Engineer Stone countertops and how much discoloration is acceptable to you over time.� Here is a test sample to show you the effects of sunlight on Engineered Stone after 3 months of exposure.�
The second ‘big secret’ is that�although most engineered stone manufactures brag about their�product being 95% quartz or higher,�they do not explain that that is�percentage is measured by�weight,�not by volume.� Recently I was told that the actual volume�of epoxy is close to�25%.� I�do not have the data yet to verify this; however, this would explain the reason for the discoloring�presented above.� Of course quartz is heavier than epoxy so they�use this data to�deceive their audience.���That really bothers me.�
Caesarstone warranties are not transferable when you sell your home. I wonder why? In my opinion, when a manufacture does offer a warranty transfer, it means they are concerned about the longevity of the product. Unlike granite, which has been around for billions of years, manmade Caesarstone is factory produced. Therefore, the manufacture inherits responsibilities for product defects and failure. The sooner the warranty expires, the better for the manufacture. By selling your home, you can inherit the liability for any promotional literature you provided about your Engineer Countertops. This concept is a little difficult to grasp, but be assured that you are exposing yourself as the only �deep pocket� because you have released Caesarstone from liability by selling your home.
Do not confuse the product warranty with the �installation warranty� that comes from the installer. In fact, you now have a potentially shorter �product warranty� than you do an installation warranty! This means that an installer can rightfully tell you that your countertop is no longer under warranty even if the installation warranty is still in effect. Now, you have no warranty at all.
Final words � Read it for yourself
This commentary was intended to avoid presenting bias about other consideration like �natural beauty of natural stone� vs Engineered Stone. While I think that the �big secret� is reason enough to avoid Engineer Stone for esthetic purpose alone, I encourage you to ask for the product warranty and all product literature before choosing an Engineer Stone for your countertops. It speaks for itself but it won�t be provided to you unless you ask for it.
The above comments are the opinions of Tom Cordova and provided for educational purposes only. With over 17 years of experience in the granite industry, Tom Cordova�s opinions are proven to be helpful to homeowners and contractors nationwide.