If you've been looking at various stone kitchen benchtops, you may have noticed that natural stone benchtops are sometimes not uniform across a countertop surface; the colour and pattern can fluctuate unevenly. You also may have noticed how uniform an engineered stone benchtop is across its surface. Why is this when both are made from stone?
The reason is that natural stone benchtops, made from granite or marble, for example, are carved from a chunk of stone which has evolved from variable organic processes. On the other hand, engineered stone is constructed from a carefully crafted mix of crushed stone and resin: combined to create specific colours and patterns.
Natural Stone Irregularities
The look of a natural stone chunk depends on its origin and the particular organic process it has undergone across eons. Each slab of granite consists of a unique combination of minerals which produce its colours and patterns. For example, feldspar and hematite disperse whites, pinks and reds throughout the rock. The combination of various minerals, their amount and placement within the slab, accounts for its changing colours and patterns. Similarly, marble develops organically over time from crystallised limestone and other materials, including mineral deposits that produce specific colourations.
While natural stone benchtop manufacturers select particular chunks of stone to smooth into countertops, they have no input into these long-term organic processes. Their only control is to choose one over the other.
Engineered Stone Regularities
Engineered stone, on the other hand, is part nature, part human-made. A combination of crushed stone, usually quartz, and a binding resin are combined and processed before being shaped into a countertop. Because the crushed stone and other selected materials are evenly dispersed throughout, the final engineered slab shows similarly uniform colourations. Engineered stone does not display the same 'flaws' and irregularities as natural stone slabs in which the mineral deposits are unevenly dispersed throughout as a result of natural organic processes.
Also, even before the engineered stone mixture is thoroughly and evenly combined, manufacturers have carefully selected the type and colour of crushed stone that is added to the mix. So while engineered stone is part-nature in mainly consisting of crushed stone, manufacturers have tamed the natural irregularity of stone by crushing, selecting and evenly mixing it to create beautifully crafted benchtops for kitchens that look both uniform and natural.
Which surface you prefer, depends on your subjective view. If you crave consistency across one benchtop or across several benchtops, engineered stone can provide this. On the other hand, the irregularity that natural stone displays mean that each countertop surface is one of a kind and unique.