Mark McMunn

Right off the bat, you should know that Dekton® is a very hard material. We knew this going in with our bid on a BBVA Compass Bank job in our local market. The job was bid 20 percent higher than what is normally charged for harder granites or natural quartzites just as a contingency for any unknowns we would come across, and it was a good thing, too, because there were several unknowns we came across during fabrication and installation.

Tackling a Dekton® miter? Know what you’re getting into.

Tackling a Dekton® miter? Know what you’re getting into.

Dekton® is a newcomer to the American market, and it has been well received by the designer community. It has increasingly shown up in the specifications for countertops on commercial projects, and if your shop has not become an approved fabricator, then that should be remedied so that your shop can profit from this new material. However, because of the challenges in fabricating Dekton®, it is not a material that should be fabricated by novice fabricators or newer shops, and especially not shops where the owner does not come from a stone fabrication background. 

We bid the above-mentioned job in the fall of 2016 and received our contract this past January. In between, we educated ourselves with readily available videos on YouTube and from fabrication guides available from the manufacturer. For a while, we felt that perhaps we made a mistake in taking this job on, but after practicing on an actual slab of Dekton® in our shop we became confident in our ability to pull this job off.

Some shops have expressed a concern about fabricating this material because it has some peculiarities not common with natural stone. First is the fact that you have to relieve stresses within the slab by cutting off about a ½ inch on all four sides of the slab before you can begin to cut your parts for your job.

What is so challenging about that? Those cuts have to be done in a very specific order or you may break the slab before you even begin fabrication! Secondly, if this material breaks you cannot repair it. While you can glue a broken piece back together, the repair will show, but this is also the case with most granites and many other natural stones. Third is that the now very popular mitered edges being specified around the country can be very difficult to profile, versus natural stones and quartz stone. No argument there, but this is a problem that requires communication with the designer community. 

Dekton® is basically a giant ceramic tile. It cannot be mitered to a fine point without chipping, and all it takes is one large chip to ruin the whole piece, because the chips cannot be patched well enough to match the factory surface — especially if the surface is textured. The manufacturer clearly states that when making a mitered edge that 1mm of the edge should be left to prevent chipping. 

However, in its zeal to reach perfection, the American fabrication community wants its mitered edges to produce a seamless monolithic look with minimum beveling, but it is an unrealistic goal with Dekton®. We found that even with 1mm left behind, chipping still occurs, but to a much, much lesser degree that is manageable, compared to attempting to achieve a fine knife-edge miter (which for this material, is truly an exercise in futility). If you leave behind a 1mm edge as the manufacturer states, then you will have to make a bevel to grind out all of the chips.

One unexpected fabrication hurdle we discovered is that Dekton® needs to be cut on a very flat, stable surface. If the slab vibrates during cutting and it’s not fully supported, then it will vibrate enough to possibly cause the slab to crack. Putting the slab down on a saw bed that has boards or even concrete that has hundreds of grooves in it will surely cause the slab to vibrate. To solve this we placed the second slab we fabricated on top of blue Styrofoam (a very stiff material) while cutting on the saw, but we used regular white Styrofoam when we cut on our waterjet. Our first slab actually broke while cutting on the waterjet.  We discovered we had a slat that was high, holding up the slab on one end. Fortunately, the slab broke in such a way as to not cause any harm.

A waterjet, we found, is by far and away the best piece of equipment to fabricate Dekton®. If it was possible, we would simply lay the entire slab on the waterjet and cut the entire job, but unfortunately for us Dekton® is produced in slabs that are 126 inches (10.5 feet) long, which is longer than our current waterjet cutting envelope of 123 inches. That would not be so much of a problem, except we end up having to cut three inches off the end of the slab, which increases the waste-factor cost.

Another unknown we quickly learned about was that you should not drag the edge of Dekton® along any surface, because it will chip. In their haste to get the work done, our fabricators put a finished edge on a carpet-padded cart, but when they removed it from the cart, they slid the piece to one side while also lifting, causing the edge to just slightly touch a metal part of the cart – and you guessed it, the material chipped. We learned the hard way to be careful to always transport this material with finished edges up, and to lift the pieces straight up from a cart, and not slide them off.

If you do not have a waterjet, that is okay. There are plenty of readily available blades and tools that can work Dekton®. A waterjet certainly removes a lot of risk from the fabrication, but a well-trained fabricator can achieve very good production if proper care is taken, and procedures are carefully followed during fabrication. Also, do not be afraid to raise your fabrication price, because this material does require more money per square foot to fabricate.

The final word from our shop is that Dekton® has a very promising future. The material is very sound and runs about the same price as the natural quartzites. Also, there is uniformity of material in size and strength, meaning that you do not have to deal with any hidden natural seams or irregular-size slabs, making it easier to calculate the number slabs required for a job. 

Get your shop ready for Dekton® and the profits that will surely come from it. Check the Cosentino website for Dekton®  distributors in the USA.