The differences between Silestone, Caesarstone, Soapstone??

cawfeegirlJuly 20, 2009

Im getting ready to look at countertops and am sooo confused by all the different types. What is the difference between Silestone, Caesarstone, Soapstone and Granite? Why would I want one over the other? What about price difference? Thanks for any input!

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Caesarstone and Silestone = quartz, which means 93% quartz in some sort of resin stuff
Soapstone = a relative of talc, completely natural stone (not even usually sealed), needs mineral or other oil to look dark otherwise is a shade of gray. Soft-- scratches and chips easily. Nonporous-- things don't stain it and you can put hot pots on it.
Granite = natural stone but has "sealer" on it, sometimes a lot of sealer to bind it. Without sealer may stain or absorb stuff. Lots and lots of kinds so it's tough to make a big statement about all of them, especially since quartzite is sometimes called granite in the stone yards.

This is just a brief summary-- there are tons of threads on all of these. Maybe find the look you like first on the finished kitchens blog and work from there? I started a thread called "why is it so hard to find a @*$& countertop?" that might be helpful- lots of stuff there on environmental concerns, etc.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:08AM
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Here's that thread:

I ended up choosing caesarstone, but there are lots of terrific choices. And no perfect ones!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:10AM
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Good question, OP, asking to define in a few words.

Okite, Cimstone, Zodiaq, Caesarstone, Silestone, Cosentino, etc are engineered stones, composites made of two or more materials.

Real stones have some h2O in them. A very small percent of their weight. The amount varies as the ambient conditions vary. So the stone picks up or loses moisture / humidity / water from one season to the next.

Except one.

One stone does not allow a water to penetrate, can feel oily when cut smooth + polished to a flat surface. "oily feel" = "soapy feel"
It could have been called oilyfeelstone centuries ago if our ancestors had wanted to be complex.
Otherwise there is nothing nothing soap_like about it.
Since soapstone is dense and nonporous, it could be valid to say it repels water.

Also, it shows no reaction to acids and strong alkali.
Other stones do.
And epoxy quartz composites do too.

It cuts more easily than other countertop stones.
One can polish its edges at home more easily than other stones.
Otherwise there is nothing soft about it.
It's a stone.

Summary: soapstone is a real stone.
Not talcum powder.
After cutting it, the dust one gets is like baby powder.
. About engineered quartz stone :
They ALL say "93% + epoxy" ;I've never found any greater information about this.
Web-digging, in all possible languages.

All stone can be reduced to dust.
Gluing it back together with resin or epoxy goo is an interesting concept.

I wonder how they separate granite dust into components so as to retrieve the quartz particles and not the other materials in particle form.

Summary: Engineered quartz is stone dust glued back together.
Quartz is very hard (when stone, not dust) and epoxy is very hard, so the two together make a very hard synthetic stone.

Designers say to have only one or the other, not the two in the same room.
Either real stone or synthetic.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 10:18AM
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I did a lot of reading when I knew I was going to replace my countertops. After reading the pros and cons I thought I would get Silestone. Then I went to a showroom to see samples and could not walk away from the granite. The cambria & silestone did not call to me. (The marble did, but my banker told me no!)

Sealing seems to scare some people off, as does the thought of staining. I'm glad I found out that sealing is similar to spraying windex once a year and staining has not been a problem with my light colored granite.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Some of the quartz counters have big pieces of quartz in them (mine do). So it's not all "dust." In general these discussions manage to acknowledge that lots of folks like lots of different kinds of counters and there is no "best" choice. I like all of them! No need to be partisan about it.

These boards have a tinge of anti-quartz, pro-marble and soapstone tinge to them. I think that's because folks really like the "something's gotta give" kind of kitchen, and I think they like those kitchens because they are... beautiful. Really beautiful. So I get it.

But it's possible to make a really pretty different kind of kitchen, too, and that other kind of kitchen might enjoy having quartz countertops. Or some other kind.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:49AM
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I think you have to go choose the look you like best. As someone suggested, look at finished kitchens or go to a granite yard or countertop place. All choices are good, have basically the same pros (no staining, heat resistence, & scratch resistent) will last a lifetime and have minimal maintenance. Soapstone having the most (maintenance). Allthough I love the idea & feel of soapstone, I'm not crazy about the "oiling" aspect, also I think soapstone is going to have the least color choices.
You need to decide what look you are going for and go from there.
One other aspect could be cost. Right now, in my area, granite is definetly the least expensive, depending on the color you choose.
Not an easy decision.
Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: granite countertops

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:04PM
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I chose Ceasarstone. When the template was being made for the countertop, the person said that he thought Ceasarstone was the best of all of the quartz countertops. He mentioned because of the guarantee for one reason, and I think he also said price point too, but I am not sure, and I did not price out other quartz. From researching for my own choice, I realized that it had to suit me and my vision. I would have been just as happy with other types of stone, but I think something kept pulling me in the direction of a light-colored practical stone with uniform shape for this project. ( I always have resale in the back of my mind for one) I think it is like choosing between several good just boils down to what you like best.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:26PM
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A little side note: It is not just about the look. It is also about the function and how you use (or plan to use) your kitchen. Some things to consider:

A lot of different stones are called "granite". Whether they actually are is another issue.

Some stones will etch or stain. This may or may not bother you.

Some stones are harder and some are softer. Again, this may or may not bother you.

Some stones will need to be maintained a lot, some not so much. Again, you need to decide what level is right for you.

Ceasarstone and Silestone are engineered stones (and look it, IMO. This is fine if you are going for a contemporary look, a little harder to pull off if you are going for a antique "feel"). The warranty is different in a honed finish vs a polished finish (it is better for a polished finish).

The first step is to take a look around and see if you can narrow down the choices based on look (and see if you can find a counter or slab of the engineered stones as that looks so much different than the little samples in most showrooms).

Whatever you do, when you find one you like, take a sample home and abuse it. See how it reacts to lemon juice, oil, vinegar, etc. (the things you use frequently in your kitchen). Try to scratch it, and see how it does with that.

My 1st choice was a disaster (it was sold to me as a true granite, but it turned out to be anything but. I didn't know enough to ask for a sample and trusted the stone place when I was told that it was virtually maintenance free (as they believed it was). The end result was that within a week after installation, it had etched and started to deteriorate. Eight months of trying to seal it (and failing) later, the stone yard offered to refund the cost in full (I was really lucky)). For us, we wanted a dark stone that looked natural and was not highly polished and we wanted it to look like it belonged in our older home. I have since put in Soapstone and could not be happier (in part because I knew what to expect from it, thanks to this board).

It is a tough decision, and I agree that no top is perfect.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:15PM
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Wow, you guys know your stuff!!

Where do they fall in price range? Is quartz the most expensive? Seems that most people choose granite. There's a Silestone out there that I love but I feel like since the majority of people choose granite, there must be a reason why!! I need to do my research and this was a great start!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:30PM
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I'm planning to buy an engineered stone counter. 38 square feet including the "return" side panel. It's a modern kitchen.

My factoids about soapstone were intended to reveal some of the most positive aspects that are hardly ever presented fully.
Even in this forum, where there is a discernible bias towards soapstone.

My factoids about engineered quartz do show my frustration.
I'm proquartz, not anti-quartz.
I love the product.
I'd like to know more too.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:54PM
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I don't agree that soapstone requires the "most" maintenance. It all depends on your tolerance and/or appreciation for patina, the kind of soapstone selected, how it was fabricated, etc. In fact, for those who choose soapstone for its natural appearance without oiling, it likely requires no more maintenance than that of simple, regular cleaning -- as you would do for any counter top.

Davidro- thanks for your "full" explanation of the positive qualities of soapstone -- especially since your own preference is for engineered stone!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:10PM
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Sorry, David! I misread you.

I have heard (directly from the Caesarstone folks) that the honed finish is a bummer for a lot of folks, so I would probably avoid a honed quartz counter.

A lot of folks say granite is becoming less popular, hence the price decrease. But it's still probably the most popular choice.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:14PM
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I'm still a newby in terms of experience in use, but I can speak about shopping around for a countertop. I think many people choose natural stone, including granite, marble, and soapstone because they have this beauty that comes from within. It comes from nature and there is just no way to reproduce what nature made. There are probably a little more maintenance to each of these, but some very little, and others worth it or even enjoyable. I would have thought with my art background, that I would then have chosen one of them, but instead the caesarstone. (guess I should learn how to spell it since I have purchased it!!) I think that I wanted something different. I wanted a very practical and very neutral surface....I guess I would say when I see it though that is a clean, pretty, light in color, and either slightly contemporary or even retro. I am hoping to put more focus on a colorful backsplash and to enjoy my beautiful cabinets. The caesarstone price, where I live, was just a little more than the price I was quoted for a more common granite.
Like rubyfig said though, it is not all about the look. Research the differences and think about what will suit your home and your kitchen function.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:33PM
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Fleur, you make a lot of sense. I agree that many of us choose natural stone primarily because of its beauty. But, then once we begin to live with these earthly countertop creations, we also start to agonize and despair over their natural properties! As for me, I chose both soapstone and marble for my counter tops, table top and backsplash. But, I live alone. As such, I don't have a daily concern about the way my soapstone looks (e.g.,Is it freshly oiled? Are there white areas around the sink and soap dispenser? Any visible water rings?) and I can take the necessary protective measures with my marble (e.g., No setting down of acidic foods or wines without a placemat. Wipe up all spills immediately). Although I'll never be a classic worrywort when it comes to housekeeping, I'm not so certain I'd be at ease with these surfaces if I had my family still living with me or was sharing the space with others. In that case, I may very well have chosen to go with a less "exotic,", more practical countertop which, as you have pointed out, can still be quite beautiful. As for my rental kitchen, it was a no-brainer -- I installed Wilsonart HD laminate. And I love it!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:55PM
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When caesarstone chips (which it does) it is a white chip. The color must not go all the way through. My daughter found out the hard way the first week when a kitchen utensil dropped on it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:54AM
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The price of granite is not dropping because it is becoming less popular, it's because it's becoming more popular. More and more granite shops are opening and competition is fierce. Price cuts are a way of drawing in new business. Granite used to be too expensive for the average home owner, and now most everyone can afford the more common varieties of it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 12:02PM
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I have heard lots of different things about how caesarstone looks when chipped, and I don't know if it always chips white. It's a little irrelevant for me now since I got a white-ish color anyway. But for repairs caesarstone is really easy, I hear-- they can come out and do (some magic thing) and it gets repaired. I assume whatever they do has the same color as the original quartz. They have some sort of silicon material that will fill in the chip. Your daughter (this is for gam51) might want to look into that-- no sense being unhappy because of a chip!

I have heard granite is cheaper now because it's less popular, too, but I have no idea if that's true.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:03PM
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I have Silestone in my kitchen and granite in my bathrooms. I like both of them but didn't want anything busy in my kitchen so Silestone works very well. It's very easy to care for and over 7 years later still looks very good.

Everyone who sees it thinks it's granite and I have had lots of compliments on it. I have told quite a few people about quartz countertops, most had never heard of them, though I think that is becoming less true.

I like my bathroom countertops but I do notice that even though I sealed them sitting water does darken them but it goes away.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 2:36PM
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I just had my kitchen done with Silestone and couldn't be happier. Here is an article that got me to go for Silestone."engineered and solid surfaces" These man made marvels have the look and heft of natural stone minus the upkeep. The engineered variety consists of pieces of quartz ( nearly as scratch-resistant as diamond ) embedded inan epoxy resin. To look for: Caesarstone, Silestone and Zodiaq. Solid surface toppers-sold under names like Corian ans Swanstone--are 100 percent synthetic and contain no natural stone. As a result, solid surface isn't as tough as engineered, BUT, here is the advantage: Its composition is consistent from top to bottom, so you can sand away minor burns or cuts. Both are readily available and cost about the same as real stone ( solid ranges from $35 to $85 per sq feet: engineered from $40 to $80 ). And, yes they
require professinal installation."

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:49AM
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Thanks for the tip nesting12. I'll pass it along. She did find that dabbing it with a little olive oil brought back the color and in blended in so well I couldn't see the chip without feeling it. She isn't sure how often that may have to be done but it is a quick fix for short term at least!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 7:27PM
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Thanks, boothbay. I think I am leaning towards Silestone, myself. I've been reading alot of posts here lately of people with granite freaking out because of staining, etc. I just don't have the heart for that!! I'd be a wreck worrying all the time, not mention, driving my kids crazy. Also, Im not into the whole "movement" thing that alot of people like with granite. I actually like very few granites with movement. I love Silestone's Sierra Madre. But Im getting Toffee Shaker cabinets and that may be too much brown.
Thanks everyone for all of your input. I've learned quite a lot. I am sooo addicted to this site and learn something new everyday. And haven't even started the renovation yet!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 7:42PM
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I've now been cooking a lot on my Caesarstone counters, which are almost white (quartz reflections is the color) and nothing stains or bothers them. I realize in my actual cooking how not suited for marble I am-- I am a slob! I clean up after but mid-cook I want to be wildly throwing things around, including wine or tomatoes or whatever. But quartz is smooth like marble and a joy for kneading bread, and I like being able to have a low-maintenance light counter.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 1:03PM
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