Although natural stone countertops will remain a popular choice in the market, another category of countertops that seems to be the latest and remarkably popular trend is based on engineered stones. Engineered stone countertops are unique since they blend the best of both worlds in terms of aesthetics, durability and other impressive qualities. Engineered stones are developed to look and feel like natural stones yet possessing enhancements that are not naturally found like cleanliness and durability offered by non-porous surfaces.
Engineered stones do a great job mimicking the texture, appearance, and feel of natural stones. Patterns, styles, textures, and colors have evolved to a level where these artificial engineered stone surfaces look incredibly natural and spectacularly beautiful. The best part is that maintenance has also been made much easier with such products. With engineered stones, homeowners can now get their desired natural feel for countertops at much lower costs.
Engineered stone is the blend of a crushed natural stone and resin binder that holds the stone particles together. This blending leads to an engineered stone with enhanced properties of a natural material. Engineered stones are comprised of 95% natural stone such as quartz, marble or granite, and 5% resin binder.
Engineered stone countertops are developed in relatively thinner slabs. The stone aggregate and resin are blended under intense pressure and heat, while pigments are added to give various colors to the product. The resulting slab can either be honed to a more matte look or polished to a high degree of gloss.
Engineered granite stone is composite material formed by mixing crushed granite with an adhesive, or polymer resin.
Engineered marble is recycled natural stone that is crushed and bonded with a small amount of resin binder, under high pressure and heat.
Most of the time, engineered stone is made up of quartz. Engineered quartz is different from Quartzite. It is a man-made stone created from 90 to 94% quartz and 6 to 10% binders and pigments. The resulting product is a non-porous and durable slab, best used as countertops.
Products created from the reengineering process, bring enhanced benefits that are offered by naturally occurring stones, including:
Many homeowners admire engineered stones because they match their kitchen décor perfectly. Common and most popular colors for engineered stone kitchen countertops are usually earth tones including highlights of grays, rose, and whites. Most of the color in these products come from natural colors of stone used; however, colorants can always be added to get the desired tone. This way, an endless variety of colors are created.
Engineered stone is almost as hard as granite. It doesn’t crack easily and provides higher resistance to heat than natural products. The surfaces of engineered stone countertops are also resistant to cuts, scratches, wear & tear and staining.
All natural stones are vulnerable to staining to a certain extent because of their porous nature, and hence require sealing at the time of installation as well as periodic sealing once a year. Engineered countertops are especially good at resisting staining. They look new longer than quartz, marble, and granite.
The porous nature of natural stone may lead to bacterial growth on the surfaces, where sealing and resealing is recommended. The surfaces of engineered stones are not porous and don’t absorb liquids, making cleaning easier, therefore, making engineered stone user-friendly.
If you are not keen of pattern variations offered by natural stones, engineered stones are a great choice. The particulate color patterns are more consistent and uniform over their surface area better than natural stone.
Engineered stone countertops cost ranges from $45 to $120 per square foot. This cost is almost similar to granite, a naturally occurring stone. However, based on the brand manufacturer and quality, the price may vary, but the difference is generally minimal.
From a durability, aesthetics and functionality perspective, the benefits associated with engineered stones outweigh the negatives. In conclusion, engineered products offer the same great benefits of natural stones while eliminating their weak points.