Compac vs Silestone

Compac vs Silestone. Many of my readers have reached my blog looking for an answer to Compac vs Silestone. I figure many of you will be confronted with the choice Compac Countertops or Silestone Countertops. One thing for sure they are both Spanish companies and 2 of the biggest in the engineered stone sector.
 Things Compac and Silestone have in common?
  • Compac and Silestone both use the same technology
The technology that both Compac and Silestone use are Italian know how. In MHO the one that has best results in this business. Although the main technology is similar they tend to differentiate themselves in product R&D. Which I figure Compac is slightly ahead at the moment.
  • Compac and Silestone are Spanish owned companies
 Although Compac has it's quartz manufacturing plant in Portugal, due to exclusive rights of the Italian technology. Back in the 90s, Silestone went through a very tough and devastating period, they bought a few production lines and the product was not having such a great acceptance by the market. They negotiated with the Italians a exclusive rights to the Spanish market, basically protecting them from their direct competitors Compac of installing another quartz plant in the Spanish market. So, Compac installed their production plant in Portugal, which is a pain in terms of Logistics, but has proven to be a profitable project.
Compac has it's main headquarters near Valencia in a town called Gandia, which is where their engineered marble plant is located.
Silestone is manufactured at Macael, a town close to Almeria, south of Spain. Home of the Cosentino Group, one of the biggest in Spain.
  • Silestone and Compac are both big marketing investors
Silestone was the pioneer, with the advertisement during the Super Bowl a few years ago, really brought them into the spotlight. Never before had anyone in the stone business been so aggressive with marketing and publicity. They've become leaders in this domain. After that they've sponsored other important VIP, namely Fernando Alonso the F1 racer, and other famous chefs.
Compac is a follower, although they've been picking up with the marketing and publicity, they've also sponsored several VIP, being Antonio Banderas one of them. Both Silestone and Compac have been on top of the industry at this level.
  • Compac and Silestone have similar expansion strategies
Although Silestone has a wider International network, they both have used the warehousing strategy.

Things that differentiate Compac from Silestone?
  • Core business focus
Silestone is more focused than Compac, they only deal with quartz engineered stone, therefore they have 100% of their efforts concentrated in this product line. While Compac has two manufacturing units the quartz engineered stone and the marble engineered stone. They have to concentrate in two different types of products at all levels, from investment to marketing. It's been a difficult task, as they tend to centralize both strategies, which some how slows things down.
  • Silestone is the biggest
Yes Silestone is bigger than Compac, they have almost triple the production lines in quartz, and Compacs engineered marble company is having problems in selling their production capacity at the moment.
  • Silestone was a bigger sales network
True, Silestone has obtained Worldwide recognition, while Compac has been focusing specifically in certain markets, Compacs main markets are Spain, Portugal and United Kingdom.
  • Silestone has more colours available
True Silestone has more engineered quartz colours available. Although if you consider the marble based material, then Compac will be ahead, but in quartz Silestone has more than 50 standard colours available.
  • Pure White
For those who have not been aware, Silestones Blanco Zeus was for a few years an objective for many engineered quartz companies. Not until recently did Compac produce on it's own a pure white colour comparable to Silestones Blanco Zeus. Inclusively, Compac in the past was buying from other producers, before they actually dominated technically the pure white production.
  • Quality
Between both Compac and Silestone, I would say you'd get a better quality product from Compac, they are ahead in polishing and they've brought some very innovative products to the market lately. The raw materials in one and another are more or less similar.

  • Price
Silestones price strategy has placed them at a higher level than Compac. Compacs price list is normally slightly cheaper than Silestone, but that's strategy, Compac is a follower in price list emission.
  • Guarantee
Silestone innovated in the 10 years warranty a few years back, this helped them overcome the doubts the consumers had regarding the product. Now they give out lifetime warranty, so does Compac. Although if you have a problem Silestone will be a quick solver, they cherish their market image and an unsatisfied client is something they avoid at all costs.


Interior and Exterior Wall Cladding

Interior and exterior wall cladding with engineered stone has become common, although exterior wall cladding may have more risks associated with this type of application. Interior and exterior wall cladding has specific ruling, especially when related to the fixing techniques. Needless to say that exterior wall cladding above 3m should be done with mechanical fixing.

What is mechanical fixing?

Mechanical fixing is a method which is used to install wall panels, basically stone panels are fixed to the facade of a building with the use of mechanical fixing devices, these devices are normally made from stainless steel or aluminum. In the last decade or so, many anchoring systems have appeared in the market, being that each one has a specific characteristic.
The most common and one of the first wall cladding systems used was the hook or anchor system. This system is the least expensive, but also the one that is more difficult to apply on building facade. It's basically mounted on a one piece hook, the quartz panel (same system for stone panels as well) is held up by 4 hooks on it's ends. Each quartz panel will have to be drilled on the end to fit the plastic bit before it gets set into place.

Although price will play a big part in deciding which system to choose from, the one I recommend for engineered stone application is the ones that are window type anchoring systems.
These systems are easier to install, as you don't have to level each panel, the building facade will have vertical or horizontal grids pre-levelled, therefore the quartz panel will be fitted in quickly.
Their are different types of mechanical fixing elements, some require you to drill or cut the edges of the quartz panel, but you can also find ones that are window type, which the panel just slides into place and is held in position by a simple hooking system.
Due to engineered quartz and engineered marbles thermal expansions and contraction variances these mechanical fixing systems work well, as the pieces will have some room to settle in. Nevertheless the window type system, have no tension points on the material and work perfectly with engineered stone.

What problems may arise with exterior engineered stone applications?

So we've gone through the mechanical fixing, these systems solve most of the application problems regarding engineered stone. However their are other problems which we should mention. Regarding quartz engineered stone, UV effects will in time (think of a 10 year period) destroy the polyester bonding, making the surface look dusty (which is the disaggregation of the resin and the quartz grit), this erosion process will take years and on a building facade you will not notice it due to distance. Some exterior applications have been done with bush hammered finish, which hides the problem. Another thing regarding exterior use, be careful with colours, use white or light colours for external application, or you might end up with a funny looking wall. I once seen engineered quartz wall turn from a navy blue to a baby/greenish blue .... the image of the company was based on a navy blue, they ended up bush hammering the facade improving slightly the colour.
When we look at engineered marble, well as natural marble it has the acid rain effect, this means polish will disappear in the first six months or so, and it will also have the UV problem just like the quartz based material.
Looking at exterior applications, I figure every product which is going to be exposed to weather will eventually end up having less durability, you just have to plan ahead and enjoy the unique look of your facade while it lasts.


How do I take care of a granite countertop ?

Most of you have asked yourselves this question: How do I take care of a granite countertop ? If you have a granite countertop or are planning on buying a granite countertop, to avoid damage and enhance the granite beauty for a longer period of time, you should look into it's care and maintenance issues before it's too late.
People picture granite countertops as something indestructable, however it has some care issues.

Granite countertops come with a nice shiny factory polish which may last forever. It's a very durable material, you can use kitchen knives to cut on top of the granite countertop without damaging or even set hot cookware on it, it's really very resistant. Your granite countertop will not chip or crack, unless it has some manufacturing defect, in normal circumstances it's really the most appropriate stone to have in your kitchen.
Granite as other natural stones have some porosity, this is granites most negative aspect, besides the limited colours available. To avoid staining, you should use a proper granite sealer, water based to seal the surface of your countertop, avoiding oil and water spills to stain it. Sealing should be done at least twice a year, however read carefully the instructions of the sealer your are currently using.
Daily cleaning on your granite countertop, make sure you use non abrasive cleaning agents, like the ones used on windows, this will protect the surface polish it has, avoid abrasive cleaning agents as they will in time damage the superficial shine of your countertops.
Granite Countertop Care Tips:
  • Apply sealer to avoid staining
  • Use non abrasive cleaning detergents, it's will keep your countertops shiny forever
  • Clean with a damp cloth
Search Amazon.com for granite cleaner
Search Amazon.com for granite sealer

Quartz vs Granite Countertops

Quartz vs granite countertops has been mentioned several times in this blog. Today I want to look at quartz vs granite countertops in a production point of view. My intention is to breakdown the cost and figure out who is winning in quartz vs granite countertops business.
I'm going to work with the current pricing in my market, it's a European country and very competitive in the stone sector, so it can be a little different than the prices you will find in you local market, but the proportions may give you similar results.
In my market a few quartz brands stand out from the rest namely Compac Quartz, Silestone and Caeser Stone. I can say that these three brands hold a joint position of over 80% in my local market.

In this post I will use the current slab price (2010 price list)  for Luna (Compac Quartz colour). Luna from Compac Quartz is similar to other colours in most manufacturers, Silestone has a Blanco Norte, Caeserstone has a 3141 Eggshell.
The current cost for 3 cm thickness slabs in my local market per sqm is around 80-85€ (they usually give you a discount on this price).
Please note that the Luna type colour is normally in least expensive group of the quartz manufacturers, so I will compare it to first choice most bought granite. The most sold granites are either light grey granite or a Rosa Porrino in my market, but which ever option the price range for 3 cm granite slabs will be between 30-35€/sqm. Imported granite will be a bit more expensive over 50€/sqm.
One thing that separates granite from quartz is the size of the slab, quartz being a man made stone, or engineered stone, it comes in standard sizes, most manufacturers offer 3000 mm x 1400 mm, which is ideal for kitchen countertops. When we look at granite, well the ideal situation would be a 3000 mm x 1400 mm slab also, however the normal size is over 3000 mm x  1500 mm.
To account for costs, I have chosen the following kitchen countertop. The kitchen countertop should be an L shape 3000 mm (on the long side of the L)  and 2000 mm (on the sorter side of the L) long. No doubt that the ideal situation would be a one piece unit, which is impossible to make from quartz engineered stone, but even if we had a slab that big of granite (which is possible), managing such a big and awkward piece of stone in the countertop fabrication plant and all the way to the kitchen counter... is almost impossible. So what is commonly done, it's divided into two pieces, in our case it'll be one with 3000 mm and the other with 1350 mm, counting with a 650 mm width on the countertops all the way around. So we'll be fabricating 2 pieces: one with 3000x650 with front edge polished and with a slight bevel (leaving an unfinished 650 mm, this is where the other piece is going to be fitted in); the second piece will be 1350 mmx650mm with front edge polished and with a slight bevel. We can add two cut outs, one for the oven and another for the sink.
So let's get down to numbers:

1. Quartz Countertop:
  • Total cost of raw material: 1 slab 3000x1400 x 80€ = 357 €
We added the whole slab, as the countertop fabricator will also do the same, as the piece which is left over 1650 mm long will not be sold, or it's future sale is not guaranteed

2. Granite Countertop
  • Total cost of raw material: 1 slab 3200 x 1600 x 35€ = 179,20 €
I have not accounted for transport costs involving the delivery of the slab, however it should be the same for either products. The granite raw material comes out cheaper, 50% cheaper in fact.
The production process is very similar to both products, tooling is also very alike, although the consumption of diamond tools are different, the wear on tools is greater on quartz than on granite.

Countertop production cycle

  • Cutting the slab : The slab is cut to size with a bridge saw
  • Polishing the edges: The front edges are polished and finished according to the project specifications
  • Doing the Cut-Outs: The two cut outs for the oven and sink are done manually using tools for that purpose
  • Packing, delivery and sometimes installation
You may find CNC machines which do all of these 3 steps in one operation, although in most workshops, this is made in 3 steps, being the first two mechanically assisted, and the last one using manual tools.The cost excluding the raw materials needed to fabricate the countertops should be similar for both products with a slight increase on quartz, due to the higher consumption of diamond tools. So the final price will include some variables which is difficult to measure as the fabricator himself will add a markup to cover his operating costs.
To resume this whole issue, I believe granite should in most cases be cheaper than quartz, so if you are looking at price focus on granite countertops.