The use of quartz surfaces, commonly called engineered stone (e-stone), is increasing across the world today. Many new styles and designs are available and quite honestly e-stone is giving natural stone a run for its money. This is not to say natural stone will ever be replaced, but the advantages and benefits of e-stone has made a strong presence in the marketplace worldwide. These new finishes also present a new challenge when a scratch or stain occurs.
I asked several manufacturers about trends in finishes and here are some of their responses, as well as some tips on how to repair some of these new finishes and textures.
Standard Polished Finish
With e-stone, the most common finish is a polished one, meaning the surface is smooth and glossy. The high-gloss finish is possible because of the crystals found in stone. No chemicals are used to achieve this natural polished look. The polish is instilled by grinding the stone with abrasives and then finer grit polishing powders until the crystal facets on the surface are flat. This process usually takes place in the manufacturing plants and fabricators receive the slabs already polished.
Repairing Polished Finishes
Honing is performed to remove scratches. It requires the use of water, and can be quite messy. The honing process is usually achieved with the use of diamond abrasives. Which abrasive is used is not as important as the skill level of the craftsmen. Honing begins at 120 grit and proceeds upward. It is usually necessary to proceed through to the highest grit. Some craftsmen polish with diamond abrasives to the highest grit, producing a very high polish, while others switch from a diamond to a powdered abrasive.
Most fabricators use diamond abrasives for honing, then switch to a powdered abrasive for the final polish. Powdered abrasives contain superfine crystals of aluminum oxide or tin oxide, which are usually white, but can be yellow, brown gray or black.
The abrasive powder is worked into the stone using water and cloth or polyester fiber pads. The powder is worked into a slurry until a polish is achieved. The slurry is removed and the surface is rinsed to remove excess powder. It's a relatively simple procedure, but requires a deal of practice.
New Surface Textures
The latest trends in e-stone are new surface textures. Now, you can get all types of surface textures. The following are being offered:
Honed finish. A honed finish is smooth but has little sheen. Unlike a polished finish, fine powder abrasives are not used to create it. Instead coarser abrasives smooth the surface leaving the surface with a matte, nonpolished finish. A honed finish requires more daily maintenance than polished finishes. Fingerprints and other marks will show on honed material. Most of these can be removed with some effort.
Concrete. DuPont Zodiaq, inspired by the appeal of concrete, clay and gravel, offers a"concrete" matte finish as an alternative to the current glossy, more radiant look of e-stone.