Tony Ball, State Manager – South Australia for Caesarstone®
Q Contemporary kitchen benchtops are often made of stone. Tony, what’s the difference between natural stone and engineered stone?
A Natural stone, such as granite and marble, is created from slabs of rock cut from stone quarries. It’s a natural product out of the ground that is simply cut and polished. Engineered stone is a mix of natural and manufactured product. Caesarstone® surfaces are made of up to 93% quartz and are designed with longevity in mind. In a unique Caesarstone®-patented process, we take the innate strength of quartz and combine it with numerous polymers and dashes of pigments. The result: a range of durable and beautiful quartz surfaces in a wide variety of colours and finishes.
Q In what ways are natural stone and engineered stone similar?
A Both natural stone and engineered stone have exceptional hard-wearing properties and an equally long life span. They both have a high heat tolerance and can be used around cooktops and as splashbacks. There are guidelines as well as building codes in place, which I recommend customers review before designing or considering either product.
Q OK, so how do they differ from each other?
A The biggest difference is how they look as they age. Natural stone will have unique variations in colour and pattern and will develop a worn, characterful patina over time. Engineered stone isn’t totally indestructible, but with basic cleaning and maintenance, engineered stone will retain the same look over time – it won’t develop a patina. So it’s really about which look you prefer.
Q Caesarstone® launched into Australia in 2001, how long have you been working with Caesarstone®?
A I’ve been with Caesarstone® for 5 years now.
Q What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry during that time?
A The expansion of the Caesarstone® range in terms of colours and textures has been phenomenal. It’s an international design-led business and I think that really shows. Caesarstone® products are not designed by computers! We have a team of dedicated designers who are expert in the highly skilled craft of premium surface design.
There have definitely been a lot of new, similar looking engineered stone products entering the market over the last few years. It’s important for consumers to understand that quality is as much about what you can’t see as what you can. The quality of the raw ingredients, the manufacturing technology and knowledge – kitchen benchtops are an investment in your family’s lifestyle and you want to enjoy years of trouble free service.
Q Do you have a tip for the OLIO Interiors community about selecting stone for their home?
A One important thing customers don’t always think about is ‘slab optimisation’. Basically, the customer will pay for the number of slabs their tradesperson needs in order to cut out the stone pieces for their project. For example, their project may only use 1½ slabs but they will pay for the full 2 slabs. (Caesarstone® slab size is 3,050mm x 1,440mm and other brands are mostly similar.) Instead of creating and paying for wastage – plan how you can use that extra ½ slab and make the most out of your stone investment – perhaps include a splashback or use the stone in your laundry or a bathroom.