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22|February 2020 Got Data?
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The sample of Dekton Trillium was unfazed by any of the tests. In part, this product is made of materials that resist staining and scratching, and in part, its dark color and uneven surface finish made it hard to spot discolor- ation or damage. That’s why I was careful to note the degree of visible effects – it turned out that the variations of each material’s color and finish played a role in the way it either masked or re- vealed different types of damage. Nonetheless, Dekton is clearly a strong performer and I’m curious to do more testing of this relative newcomer and investigate proper- ties such as chipping or cracking.
Absolute Black granite sailed through every test except the hot, oily skillet, which darkened the surface in a subtle way that observers did not notice unless prompted where to look.
The two samples of manu- factured quartz each had slight to moderate damage from the tests. The Caesarstone Eggshell was stained by food coloring, turmeric, and hot oil. Over time the turmeric and oil stains faded, while the food coloring persisted. Sequel Pure Black was more susceptible to scratching, and showed some hazing when ex- posed to high heat. Both types of engineered quartz became dulled when scrubbed with Barkeepers Friend.
Far and away, the concrete suffered the most damage from
Slippery rock Gazette
 these tests. Concrete is porous, and that’s what allows stains to penetrate. The cement that binds concrete together contains calcite (calcium carbonate), and thus ce- ment will etch from acids. Lastly, concrete is soft and prone to scratching. This is not to say that concrete should be ruled out as a useful material, but it’s paramount that clients fully understand the properties and performance of concrete before committing to it.
Performance Matters
If you’ve read this far, you now know more about countertop per- formance than most people, so congratulations!
So what’s the bottom line? First and foremost, think about the pri- orities and details of your specific situation. Is staining likely to be a problem? What about mishaps with hot pans? Do you tend to over-scrub a surface and are wor- ried about damaging the finish? Use the test results that are most relevant to your needs.
Secondly, it’s a great idea to try some of these tests on any product you are considering, whether you are a homeowner or an industry pro. That will give you the most specific information, and you’ll continue to broaden your under- standing when you interact with a material. Don’t be afraid to ask your countertop supplier for samples.
How does natural stone fit into all of this? The granite samples stood up very well to the abuses of these tests. Both Absolute Black and Thunder White gen- erally outperformed engineered quartz, they were head and
shoulders better than concrete, and they were comparable to Dekton. That’s good news to fans of natural stone – although be sure to investigate your particular material whenever possible.
A vast array of different prod- ucts, colors, and styles are avail- able for countertops today. Selecting materials can be a
dizzying choice, but usually comes down to the same question: Are its properties a good match for your situation? When in doubt, zero in on how a material behaves and performs, try some tests, and learn as much as you can. In an environment steeped in hearsay and marketing copy, real world information will always be your ally.
Thank you to Dave Scott of Slabworks of Montana, and Tony Malisani of Malisani Inc., for pre- paring materials for these tests.
Karin Kirk is a geologist and science educator with over 20 years of experience and brings a different perspective to the stone industry. Karin is a regular con- tributor to and the Slippery Rock Gazette. Contact her at karinkirk@gmail. com .
     Thunder White granite after the hot, oily skillet test and before cleaning.
Damage on Sequel Pure Black manufactured quartz from the hot, oily skillet test (foreground) and from Bar Keepers Friend (background, top right).
       A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but
more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George
Bernard Shaw

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