A Brief Tour of Sintered Stone
If you have been looking around for hard surface materials to use in your next home project you may have heard the term “sintered stone” in your research. What is sintered stone? What is it made of? How does it compare to other engineered surfaces? These are all questions we will address as we take a brief tour of sintered stone.
When it comes to stone surfaces used in home or business construction, the options are many and varied. There is however, a relatively new material that is projected to emerge onto the scene. Sintered stone can be challenging to get information on since it is a collection of materials that are engineered using variations of a technique called “sintering”. So, what is sintered stone?
Sintered Stone – What Is It?
There are a number of ways to precisely define this promising material. However, sintered stone is engineered through a process that combines extremely high heat, minerals, and another force of some kind (i.e. pressure or electrical current) to produce a durable, versatile, and resilient material.
You may be familiar with sintered stone and not realize it since there are a number of companies that produce the material. Some of the labels that you will see on sintered stone include:
Yet, each product carries enough intellectual property that the final material is different enough to make it a unique material. Without getting into all of the variations of different materials, let’s explore some of the features that the various sintered stone products have in common.
Perhaps the most prominent feature that sintered stones share is that they are very tough. The material is very hard, this means it resists scratching. Additionally, it resists extreme heat. So much so that you can place a hot pan directly on it. Finally, the surface is non-porous so it does not require sealing and won’t stain. So how is it made?
How Sintered Stone Is Constructed
The process of making a sintered material is related to the name of the material. “Sintering” is the process of forming a solid mass of material using heat and pressure. In fact, Wikipedia defines sintering as:
Sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction.
The result of the process is a durable and unique material that many feel is going to continue to rise in popularity when it comes to hard surfaces.
What Is Sintered Stone Made Of?
The short answer to that question is, “minerals”. However, a key piece of information is perhaps the answer to the question, “what is it not made of?” To answer that question, we need to consider what most other engineered materials are comprised of.
Many of the engineered materials used in construction contain resin as a binder. This includes materials like quartz; for example. In contrast, sintered stone has no resin in it. This contributes to the durability of the material as mentioned in the previous section.
The lack of resins is not the only difference when comparing sintered stone with materials such as quartz. Sintered stone also has a much lower silica content when compared with quartz materials. This is a factor when it comes to the fabrication of the materials. Silica is becoming more of a safety concern in fabrication shops as one article on Filter Project USA discusses.
Sintered Stone Compared With Quartz
As we alluded to above, sintered stone surfaces bring a host of features and benefits to the hard surfaces market. We touched on some of them earlier, but in this section of our “tour” we will look at some of the differences between sintered stone and quartz.
The primary differences between these two materials lies in what they are composed of. When quartz is engineered, chunks of the mineral quartz are pulverized into a powder and then mixed with a resin to form a non-porous surface that can be used for work surfaces. The properties of a quartz surface include the following:
- Stain Resistant
- Heat Resistant
- Scratch Resistant
- Maintenance Free
Similarly, you will find statements like these on sintered stone websites:
- Resistant to Staining
- Heat Resistant
- Scratch Resistant
- Easily Cleaned
In contrast, you will find that some of the advantages listed on various sintered stone websites will include:
- High UV Resistance
- High Resistance to Heat
Most of the characteristics of quartz are determined by the qualities of the resin used to bind the material. As a result, you will find statements like the following regarding heat on the websites for quartz materials:
using inexpensive and readily available hot pads or trivets is always recommended, especially when using cooking units such as electric frying pans, crock pots, or roaster ovens.
Always be sure to put closed-weave hot pads or solid trivets under hot pots, pans, griddles, electric frying pans, slow cookers, and roaster ovens before placing them on Cambria.
Conversely, regarding sintered stone, which contains no resin at all, you will find the following types of statements:
Another advantage of its production process is that Neolith is heat resistant. Hot pots or pans do not discolor nor damage the surface.
Dekton withstands high temperatures without burning, scorching or cracking. Hot Pots and Appliances like Crock Pots can be placed directly on the surface with no worry of damage.
As you can see, the composition of the materials has an impact on how you can treat the surface. Each material will have its own advantages and limitations. If you are in the market for new worktops or kitchen countertops, you may find that sintered stone is a viable option for your project.