Recently I took my staff to Spain to explore Spanish design influences and celebrate our 10th anniversary as a design studio. While we were there, we took a trip to meet up with one of our favorite slab vendors, Cosentino, to tour the factory that manufactures some of the best countertops in the industry. Maybe it’s my inner design nerd coming out, but learning how countertop slabs are made was one of the highlights of the trip! So often, we take what we see in the showrooms for granted and don’t stop to think about the people and processes that go into creating these materials. When designing a home, we’re bringing these finishes into a very personal space, and they need to function and look beautiful. As a designer, learning how something is made is just as important as learning how to style it in a home. So, here’s what we learned about manufacturing countertop slabs in Spain!
Visiting Cosentino: A Solid Surface Slab Manufacturer
We traveled from our interior design studio in Austin, Texas, to Almeria, Spain, to visit our friends at Cosentino. Consentino is a solid surface slab provider founded in 1979. It continues to operate as a family-owned business, employing thousands of people at its offices and factories in Spain and stone quarries around the globe. The team quarries natural stone and produces manufactured quartz slabs from all-natural materials, placing innovation, education, safety, and environmental consciousness as their top priorities.
Cosentino has become a significant player in the world of design and architecture for its quality product and unique manufacturing process. Their team has developed highly technologically advanced surfaces, including their lines of Silestone and Dekton, that are incredibly durable and strikingly beautiful. In addition to creating quality products, Cosentino invests in sustainability. The company devoted over 1.8 million euros to environmental investments in 2015 and 2016 alone, addressing water purification and energy efficiency.
“Sustainable” is often used as a buzzword in the design world and positioned as a trend homeowners are jumping on to be current. However, investing in sustainable materials is an integral piece in doing our part to preserve the lands we call home.
Learning How Countertop Slabs are Made With Cosentino
Cosentino is one of the original quartz slab producers, combining natural aggregates under high pressure to create a solid surface. My team and I were so excited to see production in action! The Cosentino team graciously welcomed us, wining and dining us before taking us on a behind-the-scenes tour of their facilities.
The R&D team took us through the factory, showing us how they bring in a combination of aggregates from their quarries to ground and combine, creating a wet mix. From there, they add pigments to produce the stone color and pattern. Next, they recreate the natural process of stone formation through intense pressure, using a press that applies 25 thousand tons of pressure (about 2 Eiffel Towers). As a result, the stone is formed in seconds, compared to the thousands of years the Earth takes to make it. Finally, the slabs are decorated, dried, and shipped out for installation in design projects like ours.
Unlike other slab manufacturers who use resins and fillers, Cosentino only uses natural products. So the product won’t degrade over time. (This means almost zero maintenance for the homeowner!) They have two lines of manufactured slabs, Silestone and Dekton. Additionally, they have two natural slab lines, Sensa and Scalea.
How Dekton Slabs are Made
Types of Cosentino Slab Counters
- Silestone – A hybrid surface slab made from premium minerals, quartz, and recycled materials. This slab is manufactured with Cosentino’s HybriQ technology and contains a minimum of 20% recycled materials.
- Dekton – An ultra-compact and high-performance surface designed for indoor and outdoor use. This low-maintenance slab is scratch, heat, and stain-resistant.
- Sensa – A line of natural granite and quartzite with special stain-resistant protection, giving homeowners the beauty of natural stone with less maintenance. Unlike traditional marbles and stones, Sensa slabs don’t require yearly sealing.
- Scalea – A natural stone selected under the highest standards of excellence, including marble, granite, limestone, travertine, and more in over 200 colors. These natural stone slabs require sealing and more maintenance than Cosentino’s other lines.
Designing With Natural and Manufactured Slabs
Primarily, we use natural and manufactured slabs on our kitchen and bathroom counters. However, Cosentino’s slabs can be creatively applied in other ways.
- Counters – Dekton is a beautiful and durable choice to finish kitchens for active chefs.
- Flooring – Slabs can be used to create large-scale or seamless flooring for a contemporary look.
- Cladding – Natural Scalea slabs are an excellent option for cladding fireplaces or an entire wall for a dramatic effect.
- Backsplashes – Backsplashes highlight the beauty of a slab and set it up for all to see.
- Facades – Slabs designed for exterior use are a unique and modern way to accent a home facade.
Finding Design Inspiration
Sure, you can find design inspiration in a showroom. However, there is something about encountering how a material is made and seeing the behind-the-scenes that brings a whole new view to it. Learning about the process and asking questions allows you to get more out of the design experience. While we visited the manufacturing facility and the quarry, we met the people creating these items for our clients’ homes. There is a history and passion at Cosentino that goes into the design, as there should be. Our homes are cherished spaces, and we need to do the work of knowing what we put into them.
Even if we have to fly across an ocean to find out.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.