Size matters

Slab size is part of the cost of granite countertops. Basically granite counters or just any other stone counters have different prices regarding the colour and texture of the material. However the end client doesn't seem to notice but the size of the slab has a lot of importance when dealing with the manufacturers profit.
In Europe most commercial kitchens have a countertop width of 60-65 cm, so a multiple of 70 cm in size for a slab is a guarantee of profit. Obviously most engineered stone or better quartz producers have a 140 cm slab, if you check closely, most of them actually produce several size slabs depending on the end use of the slab.
Size matters, as a warehouse or a manufacturer, if I'm in the kitchen countertop business, I need slabs to guarantee a better profit for myself, and it certainly is an important part of the business. When engineered stone is involved, and with pricing normally close or above 80€/sqm, every cm of unused material is important to account for.
I'm certain that most manufacturers when buying raw material at the local warehouse or even blocks, they tend to take the size matter into account.

Trade Fairs 2011

Trade Show 2010 are just ending, Trade Show 2011 may have more to offer, marble and granite, marble flooring, slate flooring, quartz countertops, granite counters, and much more can be seen in the most important International Stone Fairs in the world. In Europe, Marmomacc has the best selection of exhibitors, with a great attendance.
Personally I've been visiting International Stone fairs in Europe and have my favorites pointed out, I figure most of us in the industry have a similar opinion. Without a doubt in Europe the most important stone fair is Marmomacc, held in the Italian city Verona, in the Northern part of Italy. You can find country representations from the 4 corners of the planet, from Argentina to China. This year 2010, was Marmomaccs 45th edition, just to have an idea of how big it is, in 2009 ( a year of crisis in the industry) there was 1507 exhibitors being almost 50% International delegations representing 54 countries.

My List of the most important International Stone fairs in the World:

  • INDIA STONEMART - Jaipur, India (20th-23rd January 2011)
  • VITÓRIA STONE FAIR- Vitória, Brazil (15th-18th of  February 2011): 31 st Edition
  • TECHNO STONE - Kiev, Ukraine (23rd-26th February 2011)
  • STONE XIAMEN - Xiamen, China (6th-9th of  March2011)
  • THE NATURAL STONE 2011 - London -Great Britain (15th-17th of  March 2011)
  • MARBLE 2011 - Izmir, Turkey (23rd -26th of March 2011)
  • STONETECH - Shangai, China (20th-23rd of April 2011)
  • COVERINGS- Las Vegas, USA (27th-30th of April 2011)
  • CARRARAMARMOTEC- Carrara, Italy (apparently not announced for 2011)
  • INTERBUILD EGYPT  - Cairo, Egypt (   23rd -27th of June 2011)
  • EXPOSTONE - Moscow, Russia (21st - 25th of June 2011)
  • STONE + TECH- Nurenberg, Germany (22nd-25th of June 2011)
  • BUILD ASIA 2011 - Karachi, Pakistan (16th-18th of July 2011)
  • MARMOMACC - Verona, Italy (21st-24th of September 2011) : 46th Edition
  • KAMIEN- Wroclaw, Poland (9th-12th of November 2011)
  • THE BIG FIVE - Dubai, U.A.E. (21st-24th of November 2011)
The last few years and due to the International crisis, visiting or exhibiting at International fairs has not been profitable. However, International stone fairs are still the place to meet up with the stone business, most of the International elite attend these exhibitions, and many manufacturers, and other business professionals are always present. I usually enjoy visiting and/or exhibiting at International fairs, it a great opportunity to meet people and check out the trends of the business.


    Granite vs Quartz

    Granite vs Quartz is currently a dilema which everyone is facing when picking a kitchen counter. More and more people are asking this question: Which is the best option for my kitchen countertop Granite vs Quartz?

    Well to simplify, as there is not a straight answer to it, I’ll do a quick comparison:

    1. Water absorption

    Quartz is near zero water absorption, while some granite have high water absorption indexes. It’ll be easier to stain a granite countertop than a quartz one.

    2. Resistance to heat

    Granite is more resistant to direct heat, I’ve seen superficial damages on quartz due to direct heat from pots and pans … on many granites this is not a problem.

    3. Coloring and texture

    Granites are limited to it’s natural coloring, although the black granite is very pure color, you can’t get whites or other fashionable colors with natural stone. With quartz you have no limits to your decoration and design. Although a natural pure black and a quartz black a normal household user can barely tell them apart.

    4. Breakage

    In theory quartz is 4 times less breakable than granite. However I’ve seen strange things happen to quartz, small cracks appear normally next to the cut outs … they say it’s due to tensions the material has … and to
    improper cut out technique

    5. Resistance to chemicals

    The way they publicize quartz it seams it’s indestructable, I believe that there are some chemical agents that can ruin your fine quartz countertop, however the normal kitchen use it’s safe to use. Granite also is ok, the absorption is one of the main problems, although salesmen will tell you the sealer or the impregnator story, personally, it’s best to be on the safe side, you spill it you clean it asap.

    6. Scratch

    As I said before, quartz has a hardness superior to granite, however when dealing with scratching the surface, remember to scratch any surface you’ll need an object that’s harder than it. However I have had some complaints regarding dark quartz … if you rub the bottom of a glass bottle with some intensity you may be able to scratch you quartz countertop, on the lite colours you may not notice this, but dark colours it’ll look really bad.

    7. Cost

    Granite countertops in general are cheaper than the quartz, excluding the special colours in granite. The reason are: Raw material costs and managing left overs. The most common granite is relatively cheap in slab format compared to the quartz, in my country the difference is 20-25€/sqm for granite and 60€/sqm for quartz. Managing the left overs, producing more granite countertops, the odd ends of the slabs are normally used to make other countertops … while quartz is more expensive per sqm and no manufacturer will accept to support the odd end cost…. And their next shipment of quartz may have a slightly different shade.