16.11.11

Trade Show 2012

The Stone business Trade Show 2011 are just ending, I believe Trade Show 2012 is something we can all look forward to, 2011 was dominated by finantial crisis, we can expect 2012 to be the corner stone, and hope that business gets back on track. I guess all my followers already know that of all International fairs I favour Marmomacc, besides the wonderful place which is Verona, it is an exhibition which shows the worldwide industry at it's best, we have many countries exhibiting, from high tech to design, you will find just about everything, marble, granite, slate, engineered stone and much more.

However for 2012, I recommend Vitoria Stone Fair in Brazil, the countries economy is booming, the World Cup and the Olympics will certainly keep them in the spotlight during the following years. 
Regarding 2012 stone trade shows, Piedra 2012, after the 2011 leap year, lets hope it is much better than the 2010. The last Piedra fair was a great deception for many visitors.


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




  •  STONA 2012 - Bengaluru, India (1st-4 th of February 2012)
  • VITÓRIA STONE FAIR- Vitória, Brazil (7th-10th of  February 2012): 33rd Edition
  • TECHNO STONE - Kiev, Ukraine (29th February til 2nd of March 2012)
  • STONE XIAMEN - Xiamen, China (6th-9th of  March2012)
  •  MARBLE 2012 - Izmir, Turkey (26th -29th of March 2012)
  •  COVERINGS- Orlando, USA (17th-20th of April 2012)
  • STONETECH - Shangai, China (25th-28rd of April 2012)
  • THE NATURAL STONE 2012 - London -Great Britain (30th April to 2nd of  May 2012)
  • PIEDRA - Madrid Spain (8th til 12th of May 2012)
  • CARRARA MARMOTEC- Carrara, Italy (23rd-26th of May 2012)
  • EXPOSTONE - Moscow, Russia (19th - 22nd of June 2012)
  • INTERBUILD EGYPT  - Cairo, Egypt (   21st -26th of June 2012)
  • BUILD ASIA 2011 - Karachi, Pakistan (11th-13th of September 2012)
  • MARMOMACC - Verona, Italy (26th-29th of September 2012) : 47th Edition
  • KAMIEN- Wroclaw, Poland (7th-10th of November 2012)
  • THE BIG FIVE - Dubai, U.A.E. (November 2012)
2012 is also a leap year for Stone + Tech fair in Nurnberg Germany, one of my favorites! Next Stone + Tech will be in 2013.
The great thing about the stone business is that change has been a part of it from the beginning, so I guess we all adapt quite quickly to it. The trends, the colours, the designs, everything is on the move, we have to just keep up with the market to be in the market.
These stone fairs are in my opinion some of the most important in the stone business, however a few of them are really considered global fairs. Selecting which you should attend as a visitor or as an exhibitor should really be done carefully.



15.8.11

Marmomacc 2011

Marmomacc 2011 is just a month and a half away. For those who have visited this stone fair before, I guess all the potential Marmomacc has you have viewed it in the past. I've been to Marmomacc several times, actually haven't missed a fair in several years now. It's my favorite stone fair for several reasons, one it's location is great, mild weather and excellent food, you can find exhibitors from every corner of the World, and finally, Italian design is encountered in every hall, it's a great inspiration well for me.
Marmomacc as everyone knows is nota big city therefore room and board can pose as a problem, actually a quite expensive problem, if not done timely. You can find room and board around Verona at more reasonable prices. I have in the past few years been staying quite a bit far from the city centre at affordable rates, however in the evening, driving to city centre can be difficult, especially parking.
It's delightful city and the countryside is just beautiful, it's mid distance between Milan and Venice. The flights to Verona, may also be a complicated thing to arrange, as Verona has a small airport, and little low cost companies fly in directly, so to Marmomacc we may find people flying in through Milan or Venice. For those who do arrive at Verona directly their is a shuttle bus to the fair ground which may be a little awkward if you carry your luggage.
I usually take advantage of this precious time out of the office, to inspire, and to define strategies for my business. Take advantage of it, you'll see how wonderful it is ... every corner of the Marmomacc Verona fair ground will inspire you with hundreds of great new and stylish ideas, which you can adapt into your business to improve.
Have a nice trip to Verona, Marmomacc is really a special place, and everyone in this industry should take a few days off to look and see the trends. Plus, never forget, anyone who is anyone in the stone business will be within a two mile radius, so don't discard any potential business.
Almost forgot the most important thing, this year is the 46th International Stone Exhibition, Marmomacc 2011 will be held in Verona Italy from the 21st to the 24th of September 2011.

26.5.11

Blanco Zeus is now Zeus Extreme : How does the color naming work in this business?

Blanco Zeus, Glaciar, Nero Portoro, Botticino, and many others are names most peole in the engineered stone business hear about daily. I believe most of you have wondered how the naming process of the colors and series is done. Can say that their are no standards that influence the name or the series, it's mostly a marketing decision of the manufacturer. I've participated in some of these name picking marketing activities, and many times I believe the consumers must also wonder why they named the color with that specific name.
Historically, we have had an evolution regarding naming and products. Prior to the 90s, the most common and sold engineered stone products were engineered marble products, these colors are currently still available and most producers have settled to call them the Traditional Series. Way back then and as you can see in the picture, the majority of the texture was true natural marble, some very similar to the natural stone, so manufacturers in general started to call these products using the natural stones name, which quickly helped marketing these products, as most traditional marble stone names are easily recognized by the general consumer.
From the 90s until today, the evolution of this industry has surpassed all expectation, in the 80s most manufacturers had a very rigid offer of colors to the market, and the same color range besides limited it also would last several years practically unchanged. In Italy, even today, some manufacturers even use the same names for similar colors like Botticino, Nero Portoro, etc. While other producers would just use the color type and add it's origin, like Bianco Carrara (White is the color and Carrara is the place where it’s extracted from)
Another curiosity regarding color and series naming, in Asia most colors are identified by local manufacturers by numbers or a combination of letters and numbers, rarely do  we see Asia manufacturers using names. Although they tend to name the series with names, very common to see flower series, as one of them.
In the last few years, engineered stone colors have become similar to fashion item, which is constantly renewing itself. In general, 80% of sales is attained by 20% of the colors sold, in most companies it will be less than 10 colors. But the manufacturers need to keep renewing to keep their marketing machine working, so their research and development departments have become an important part of their business.
Most manufacturers have the products divided by type, especially producer who have both engineered marble and engineered quartz plants, so their top level product range will be divided into 2 or 3 groups. In the intermediate level they’ll have range or series, these are named according to the physical characteristics of the colors, the naming is based on the creativity of the marketing department and management. For example, Silestone created a few years ago the platinum series, with all colors using grey shades, this year they are launching the Nebula series, which is a vein series, a base color with a contrasting vein. So most colors in each series will have similarities, these can be made up on shade/color, raw materials used or even technology.
The naming of the colors, as I said before there is no standard and the creativity of each manufacturer is revealed through this naming effort. Some have used mythology in the names, others use ancient cities, and I’ve even seen Las Vegas casino names. Besides these non-related names to the colors, you will find that some manufacturers will just associate a word to the color, like a beige color is called sabbia (sand in Italian), arena (sand in Spanish), Dune, etc…
Behind the scenes there is logic behind the color naming process. And one of the latest curiosities, is that currently every producer is looking for the whitest white, and looking for the perfect name to define the color, we have seen colors like Blanco Zeus become Zeus Extreme (Silestone colors that have evolved) and Glaciar become Absolut White (Compacs Color range).

17.5.11

Creme of Marfil Mable

Crema of maril marble, is probably one of the most sold natural marble in the World. For those who may not be familiar with it, it has a light beige colour and normally some veins that combine perfectly with the stone. Today I’m dedicating this post to creme of marfil marble. Yes, natural marble, and creme marfil or crema marfil. A few years back a close friend bought creme marfil marble tiles 40 cm x 40 cm for his home. At the time, we had spoken about engineered marble, but he and his wife had the natural stone choice in their mind, and went ahead with the installation. I was invited to the home inauguration party, and it was a really good combination, and the floor looked fine back then regarding: shine, finish, edges, instalment, etc.  Well, a few weeks ago, my friend called me and asked for my opinion, after 6 years of living in the home and using it with some care and maintenance, I went to his home and quickly noticed a few things that had happened, namely:
  1.  Big chips of pure stone just jumped out of place 
  2. The resin from the veins has changed color, probably due to UV exposure, noticing a horrible effect on the tile
  3.  Some veins have become small craters as the softer stone has disapeared
  4. The shade of the stone has become uneven, due to some humidity that came in from the ground
      The creme of marfil marble is a really beautiful natural stone, and in this specific case it has currently several problems, some easy to solve, but others a bit more costly.
      To be honest with you, every product has pros and cons, in this case unfortunately due to several factors, problems arose, with the humidity that he has coming in through the ground underneath the floor, I figure he would probably have bigger problems if he installed other products that are less porous than this stone, like engineered quartz or even porcelain tiles.
      It's not my intention to reveal specific problems with creme marfil marble, it's more to say, choose wisely the product you intend to install. Make sure you follow all the manufacturers requirements to avoid installation problems. Everyone does mistakes and  the decision to install a product should be taken seriously, and other aspects besides colour should be carefully evaluated.
      Sometimes the information available regarding a specific product may be hard to find, in the engineered stone business fortunately it's standard procedure by most manufacturers to have installation, maintenance and care guides. A few years ago, the natural stone business lacked of documentation and certification. Today things have changed, and also natural stones have CE standards to obied. So when buying or installing make sure your creme of marfil marble or any other natural stone has a CE certificate.
       

        20.4.11

        Nature by Compac Quartz finally revealed


        Well the big kept secret that not even the personnel at the factory had noticed, and that they’ve been working hard in the last few months to complete and improve for the market debute was the Nature Series.
        I try to avoid publicity stunts although this one was really something I enjoyed, as it has some interesting technical work behind it. First the colors which have been chosen for the launch of this new series have natural marble names and are basically imitating the finest marble colors.
        Perlino, Negro Portoro, Pierre Bleue, Bianco Carrara, Botticino, Noce, Imperial
        So the nature series is said officially to be made with Bio-Resin, being a nature friendly product which associates natural colors of natural stone with the best that engineered stone has to offer, and with an environmental background.
        Technically they say that this new product is more resistant to heat, impact, food natural acids, UV rays, to cut, to erosion, less contraction and less porous. Sounds like a super product which little information is given so far about it, the sales rep part sounds like a Engineered Quartz 2.0 product, however I will continue to gather information to confirm the little public information that at the moment the market has been given.
        And to top off this cake with a cherry, they are offering in some markets a coffee machine with your kitchen top, actually marketing is getting a bit out of hand in this engineered stone business.
        Anyhow back to what is important, I did get a chance to check this material out, the polish looked fine, the fine grain, surely will need more resin than the other Compac Quartz products, unfortunately no technical data available to confirm this. And the type of Bio-Resin is also something I’m going to be looking into. Actually I’ve already started to investigate how bio it really is?
        I really am waiting to see how fabricators are going to deal with this product, if it is more durable than the other series, they’ll surely have more problems with this one. I await feed-back from my reader on this one, on my end I will continue to investigate.
        I know that they’ve have been working very hard and with great secrecy on this nature project, sincerely I was expecting something more …. They speak of quartz, I have serious doubts that the fine grain materials really have high percentages of quartz … I will wait for the official technical information, the website has most of the commercial information, surely the next few weeks will help me fill in the blanks.

        18.4.11

        Eco by Cosentino Reviews

        Many of my readers are currently looking for Eco by Cosentino Reviews ... I had a chance last Friday to review on location at a local fair their product, and I even had a chance to speak with the Lisbon office official for Eco by Cosentino. Anyway, looking at a distance the product looks ok, the problem is when we get into certain details, the sales representative gave me the sales rep speech, which personally I don't like.
        First he said that was Silestone, I told him that it was a Cosentino product called ECO, he corrected himself and said it was a new green Eco product by Cosentino, made up with recycled glass, porcelain and other recycled products, and is bonded together with bio-resin. I had to correct him on a few things, namely that they don’t use 100% bio-resin, so technically he should not be giving that information in that way, but he is a salesman ....
        Another big fat lie this guy told me is that they use 95-97% pure quartz on all their products, I told him that was non-sense, and that most of their products had different formulations and it was closer to 10% resin than any other number, I just regret not getting his name card, he surely needs some Silestone education about the products he is selling.
        The fair was a relatively small fair dedicated in part to stone and construction materials, Silestone or better Cosentino was represented indirectly by a kitchen manufacturer, but their sales personnel were giving support to the kitchen cabinet manufacturer and promoting the Eco and Silestone brand.
        I spent a while checking the Eco by Cosentino product which was actually very nice at a distance. After checking their on-line catalogue the color which I saw at the exhibition was from the Revived Series namely the Riverbed color. 
        I found out that they use much more resin than the usually use for normal Silestone products which, doesn't make much sense, but the salesman did say that they don't user fillers on these products which may justify the use of more resin. He also confirmed that the ECO by Cosentino product is also made with the same machinery as the Silestone brand material which should give it some quality.
        However, I noticed a very bad superficial finish, with tiny scratches on the glass, and pinholes which I noticed have been filled with some kind of product. If you pass your hand on a normal Silestone surface and after just run it  through the Eco by Cosentino product you will quickly understand what I am trying to explain.
        I figure they have tons of problems polishing let alone making the ECO by Cosentino product.
        Quality wise, the normal engineered quartz Silestone brand in my opinion is a better and more durable product than the ECO by Cosentino, and my review is not a good one for that product as I have viewed it from a technical angle, it looks good on the outside, but when you look up close you'll find problems which need urgent attention by the manufacturer.

        14.4.11

        Crystalline Silica Quartz : Health Issues


        Crystalline silica quartz has a serious health issue. Many of you have not heard of NEPSI, neither have the slightest idea of what it stands for. Well I’m sure you all are aware of the health dangerous behind the use of silica, and today it’s used in several industries, being engineered stone one of them with great exposure. Also granite workshops and other types of materials have similar health hazards issues.
        So NEPSI is a European network for silica, on the 26th of April of 2006 and important agreement was attained between employers and employees the “Agreement on Workers’ Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Products and Products Containing It”. This is a true landmark for health issues regarding the use of Crystalline Silica or as some may frequently see it chemically as SiO2.
        Although crystalline silica is little harmful in it’s natural environment, truth is that in a dust state if inhaled it can be very harmful for ones health. And when we look at engineered quartz or granite, and the way it’s fabricated, great hazards may arise if the fabricating units are not of aware of these dangers.
        The agreement that I mentioned involves several industries, however every fabricating unit for stone is included and my effort goes towards these fabricating units to prevent dangerous to the workers. The main danger is for the worker who inhales the dust that normally originates from the cutting of the countertop or other cut-to-size pieces.
        But  the danger of inhalation may also occur at the installation point, frequently, adjustments have to be made, and small adjustments are made locally in your home, in your kitchen, and anyone who is exposed will inhale this dust that is extremely dangerous to human health.
        The consequences of inhalation of this type of dust can in time cause irritations or inflammations of the upper respiratory system, may cause bronchitis, inflammation of the bronchia and of the pulmonary tissues. These cases facilitate the deployment of the harmful effect of toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic dust particles, that occur in the respiratory passages to other organs of the human body. Cancer is a harsh word to use, but it is the main health hazard involved in this issue.
        The protection against dangerous caused by silica dust have been in Europe with the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC of 7/4/1998. Basically it indicates the necessity to substitute dangerous particles with others. Silica type substances as a raw material have not been able to be replaced in most of the industries and inclusive and increase in use has been noticed in the last few years, especially regarding the Engineered Stone sector.
        It’s obvious if the dangerous silica dust can not be substituted then it must be, seriously accompanied by the employers involving their health and security personnel, applying measure and physical protection to the workers to minimize health hazards.
        Some measures that should be taken:
        • Protective respiratory masks should be worn at all times;
        • Cutting should be done with water avoiding dust particles;
        • Aspiration or vacuum  units should be functioning to filter the air of the fabricating units;
        • Workers should be aware of the dangerous involved in these operations
        • Re-designing work processes to minimize the hazards involved
        •  The shop floor air should be tested frequently to ensure that the filtering systems are working properly and complying with safety measures
        • Health Check-ups on personnel should be done frequently to ensure their safety and health
        • All working procedures that involve health and safety are compulsatory, the ruling has to be taken to the limit;
        •  Cleaning of the workspace, avoid brooms, proper vacuum systems are advised with the proper disposal of the accumulated dust extracted by these equipments.
         

        11.4.11

        Engineered Quartz : Countertop Edges


        It has been a common issue miter joint skirts and countertop edges, today I’m going to hopeful give you some  really interesting  ways to perfect, other types of countertop edges. As I have said times before in my prior posts, a hidden joint is synonymous to professional perfection.
        The miter joint skirt works well on some countertops, although other need a wider underneath support for a correct fitting on the cabinet, and in some cases it requires a thick solid edge of 40mm or even 50 mm, that may need a inner width of 100 mm for stability reasons.
        So basically in these cases, you will find several ways of doing it, although one of the easiest and following these steps will be near perfection, with little risk of damaging raw materials while working on the counter. We always have to look at the risk we put on the countertop, after all the raw material is quite expensive, and after we have the shade variations, so we have to keep a keen eye on every detail.
        Things you will need to make a perfect union, is proper adhesive, it’s normally a bi-component similar to the ones used on your day to day work, although with some special additive due to the fact of being quartz, quartz has very low porosity, for a resin to do a proper and lasting chemical link a chemical additive is  used for this effect, anyone interested in this type of information feel free to e-mail me. So we have component 1 as a polyester resin based adhesive glue pigmented to the right color (as I mentioned on my prior post, it’s iron oxide pigment, anyone with some practice can do it easily). The component 2 is a hardening agent, is basically a PBO catalyst paste used to accelerate the hardening of the glue.
        Regarding the use of glue, read the instructions carefully, and remember temperature affects the hardening speed, so keep adapting your adhesive glue according to the weather conditions.
        As before you’ll need some useful tools and in this case a few rubber tipped clamps and a good worktable.
        Clean thoroughly the areas to be glued, make sure they’re as calibrated as possible, the glue like before the thinner the better.After it starts hardening clean the surface of the excess glue.
        Some people to avoid the problems the joint area causes, just bevel both ends and use this solution commonly, everyone easily notices that they have been glued together.
        My suggestion which has improved greatly the final finish and quality of the joint, is after gluing the two pieces, do an extra pass on the head polishing machine, and you will see wonders happen, it literally hides the joint fairly well, however it is important that the glue mixture is made to a perfect color combination.
        Looking at other improvements that can be made in most countertops, however I know very few of us really want the bother with it and cost to add this feature is never worth it, but I believe it’s really a great add on to the final client. It’s an anti-drip cut underneath the counter. If you spill a glass of water on top of your counter the most probable thing that will happen is that it’ll just drip down your beautiful wood cabinet. With this ant-drip cut, just as we normally do on wall coverings or windowsills, the water will drip directly onto the floor. In this case, avoiding humidity on your kitchen cabinets.
        When it comes to countertops either in granite or engineered stone we have so many options, and so many possibilities, I just hope to contribute with useful information.

        7.4.11

        Engineered Quartz : Counter top miter joint edge

        How to miter join two pieces of engineered quartz or granite.

        If you are a do it yourself person or even a professional, I think this post will help you on your current projects either a do it yourself countertop edge made of granite or engineered quartz.
        I’ve seen several techniques done, and many with really great results. Hiding the joint in a front skirt of a engineered quartz countertop is one of the major problems for all fabricators. I guess some skirts are easier to hide than others; however in this post we will actually focus on  the miter cut technique, but there are a few others which may also bring you very positive results. The main objective is to to hide the joint area making the end user believe that it’s a unified piece of engineered quartz or granite.
        Before we go ahead with details, it’s important that you choose the appropriate gluing adhesive for the material you plan to glue. Adhesive for marble use is different than the one for engineered quartz, the porosity is different and may pose difficulties to the gluing chemical process. Just as an example doing a basin out of engineered stone can be a great disaster if you do not use the appropriate technique with the gluing process, the continuous humid, dry, heat, cold processes will gradually destroy the linkage between the several engineered stone pieces.
        As I already mention we will be dealing directly with miter type joints, in my opinion one that requires perfect cutting accuracy but in the end will give you a fabulous result. I will try to the best of my knowledge explain the correct way to actually do a perfect job. 

        What is a miter type joint?

        A miter joint is made up with a perfect 90º angle, by joining two separate pieces of engineered stone (or any other product for the general matter) with a 45º angle on each one. Gluing them together we will end up a perfect 90º angle piece of stone.


        Gluing miter type joints

        A miter type of joint are one of the easiest to actually hide the joint area. It’s main characteristic is to give your worktop a side view of a great thickness, since standard thicknesses for quartz slabs are between 1,2 and 3 cm, some like a 4cm view. However there are some important things you should be careful while preparing the pieces to cut and glue:
        • The longer the piece the more difficult it is to get a perfect job done, use auxiliary tools to help you with this tough job, scrapples and hooks will be needed to hold the pieces in place during the gluing process and a good worktable will also be essential.
        • Perfect cutting, the 45º cut on both ends will have to be perfect as they’ll have to be joined together to make a perfect 90º angle.
        • The adhesive glue, should not be too thick as it’s thickness will also increase the joint area and therefore make it difficult to hide, so make a relatively liquid paste for this type of gluing.
        • Make sure you adapt the color of your paste to the color of the stone, use iron oxide pigments for the job, make certain the color is well balanced . Some manufacturers will sell you putty or professional glue already mixed to the right color, with some experience in mixing colors you may easily dominate this and be independent. (in my example it's yellow)

        Now the trick that will definitely hide the joint is the beveling of the edge, beveling the joint corner will disguise everything and make your job perfect. So a do it yourself granite or engineered quartz countertop may end up looking very professional, all you need is to follow some simple steps and precision cutting to ensure a really great countertop edge.