Sintered Stone Surfaces
When it comes to hard surfaces in a construction project or architectural endeavor, there are several materials from which to choose. Some materials used for hard surfaces are natural materials like stone or wood. However, there are also other materials that are man made. One of the relatively new man made materials is sintered stone. In this article, we will take a brief look at sintered stone surfaces including what they are made of, the characters they possess, and how that translates into working with and caring for sitnered stone surfaces. Let's get into our consideration of sintered stone surfaces.
What is Sintered Stone?
As a newer material, sintered stone has only recently begun making its mark in architecture. It is easy to get this unique material mixed up with other materials. Yet, although sintered stone surfaces share some similarities with other materials like say, porcelain, it is a unique material.
Sintered stone is a material produced by using the process alluded to in its name. Sintering is a term used to describe a method of one material being transformed into another. Wikipedia.org describes the process as follows:
Sintering or frittage is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction.
In the case of sintered stone, the "material" used for the process is particulate matter commonly found in natural stone. These particles are heated and exposed to intense pressure and in this way, they are transformed into a solid mass of material. This process is one that occurs in nature and creates natural stone that is used for surfaces.
Sintered Stone Properties
As with any material, natural or man made, the composition of the material produces a variety of traits in the resulting material. Sintered stone's properties make it a very practical material for hardsurfaces used indoors and out.
Sintered Stone is Non-porous
One of the traits that makes sintered stone a desirable material is that it is non-porous. Because of this property, sintered stone needs no sealer to be applied. Other hard surface materials such as many natural stone surfaces must be periodically sealed to reduce the absorbtion rate. Not so with sintered stone. It has no pores and thus does not absorb liquids. Any liquid that spills onto this material simply stays on the surface of it until one of two things occurs; evaporation or cleaning.
Hardness Means Scratch Resistant
Another characteristic of sintered stone is that it is a very hard material. In fact, sintered stone is harder than some natural granite surfaces. Sintered stone resides at 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness; putting it on the high end of the scale. This affects the durability of the material.
The harder a material is, the more scratch resistant it is. This fact is seen in how hardness is measured. The hardness ratings of the Mohs scale are determined by performing a "scratch test" wherein a material or object with a known hardness is used to try to scratch the material under test. If the surface is scratches, it is softer than the object being used and if it does not scratch, the surface is harder than the scratching tool. Thus, the hardness of the material is directly related to its scratch resistance.
Unlimited Color Choices
Because sintered stone is man made, it can be produced in virtually any color. In line with that statement, sintered stone has been provided by many manufacturers and some of them include:
It would be an understatement to say that sintered stone is made in all sorts of colors. The reality is that this intriguing material is produced in such variety and with such control the brands in the list above have surfaces that either resemble natural stone, or look like a natural stone that nobody has ever seen.
So, sintered stone is a man made material composed entirely of natural material with properties that translate into practical benefits making it a good choice for many applications.
Fabricating Sintered Stone Surfaces
The properties of sintered stone that we have mentioned above not only effect how the material may be used, but they also affect how the material gets fabricated. For example, let's ponder the hardness of the surface. Hard materials need to be fabricated using specific tooling. In the case of sintered stone, specific diamond bridge saw blades are designed for cutting sintered stone. In fact, you can even find bridge saw blades for Dekton. Additionally, specific core bits and other tools are also designed for use on sintered stone surfaces. These tools are made in such a way that they cut the material while at the same time minimizing chipping.
Sintered Stone Care & Maintenance
In addition to fabricating sintered stone using specific materials, professionals and consumers alike use surface treatments to care for and maintain sintered stone surfaces. Again, how the surfaces are cared for and maintained is affected by its properties.
Sealing and Stain-resistance
Since sintered stone is non-porous, there is no need for periodic sealer applications. Sealer is meant for materials that have pores. It makes its way into the pores of the material (usually natural stone) and produces a barrier that reduces the absorbancy of the stone. Yet, although sintered stone is non-porous it is not stain-proof. Rather, it is stain-resistant. Why the distinction? Well, sintered stone can be stained. It is just that the stains remain on the surface of the stone and do not make their way into the pores of the material.
Removers for Different Stains
In addition to its non-absorbancy, sintered stone also withstands chemicals very well. That means it can be cleaned with various kinds of cleaners. In fact, there are relatively few chemicals that harm a sintered surface. That is not to say that any cleaner can be used. Consumers should always read and follow the care and maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer of a particular surface.
Stain-causing agents come in many forms and are treated using a variety of cleaner types. Acids, alkaline detergents, solvents and oxidants are all among the kinds of cleaners that may be used on sintered stone surfaces. Depending on which kind of stain the material has, you can use the most effective cleaner type. Some substances that can cause stains include:
- Hair Dye
- Metal Marks
- Mineral Deposits
- Permanent Marker
- Finger Nail Polish
Of course, that list is not an exhaustive one. But it does accurately reflect the point. Namely, that many substances can cause discolorations to occur on sintered stone. Additionally, each of those substances responds better to some cleaners than they do others. One example from the list above, is mineral deposits. Using a cleaner for removing limescale on a surface for mineral deposits is very effective.
Although no sealers are required for cleaning sintered stone, there are other factors to take into consideration when selecting a cleaner for sintered stone. For example, choosing a streak-free cleaner allows for a clean surface that is not marred by streaks that happen on all sorts of materials.
As we have seen, sintered stone surfaces are truly an intriguing and unique option for use as hard surfaces. They have a number of benefits and are available in a variety of color and texture options. Whether sintered stone is a fit for your project will depend on a number of factors. But, knowing something about this durable and interesting material will help in the selection process.