Sintered Stone Worktops
When it comes to renovating a kitchen, choosing a worktop can be a difficult decision. The worktop is often the largest surface area in the kitchen, and has a major impact on the look and feel of the whole space.
As if we didn’t already have a myriad of options to choose from for our worktops. For example, marble, granite, quartz, concrete, butcher block, laminate, tile, soapstone, stainless steel, and recycled glass. Now there is another surface to add to the list: sintered stone worktops.
Considered the next generation of kitchen work surface, sintered stone worktops offer significant advantages over granite and quartz. Sintered stone worktops are non-porous, highly scratch resistant and come in a beautiful range of colours and finishes. There are several brands of sintered stone available, including the prominent brands Lapitec® and Neolith®. You will see more on these 2 brands at the end of this feature.
But what is sintered stone?
Sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material. This is achieved by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction. Sintering happens naturally in mineral deposits or as a manufacturing process used with metals, ceramics, plastics, and other materials. Sintered stone is a new and innovative material category. Where the finest natural minerals are exposed to extremely high pressure (5900 PSI) and temperature (over 2700o C) in a furnace. This gives the product outstanding physical and mechanical properties in terms of compaction, resistance and durability.
Unlike quartz, however, which uses a small percentage of resin that may fade and yellow over time, sintered stone is colour-fast. Not only is sintered stone UV-stable and chemical resistant, it has the best compressive strength of any comparable products currently on the market. Sintered stone also has no warping and essentially no thermal expansion, regardless of temperature and moisture changes. Not to mention it is completely non-porous and will not stain.
Sintered stone manufacturers offer an array of textures and a multitude colours to add interest to any space. And whatever the finish, from a high polish to a very rough-cut-edge, it still has the UV-stable and chemical resistant properties. These allow it to be easily cleaned and maintained (and no sealing required!).
The heat-resistance of sintered stone also allows it to be applied in some very cool possibilities for fire places and outdoor fire pits.
Sintered stone worktops are produced with anti-microbial properties and therefore becomes a food-safe surface. In other words, you would be able to prepare your raw foods directly on the surface. Additionally, you can put your hottest pots and pans directly onto the counter without worrying if the surface will hold up to stains, heat, and scratches.
Although it’s a relatively new product and solid colours are most common, several of the companies that manufacture the product have begun producing slabs that have a marbled and veined look. Depending on the manufacturer, this is either printed onto the slab or manufactured as a through-body design. The printed slabs have a larger variety of looks> But the through-body slabs will have the pattern showing through the edges and therefore provide a more “natural” look.
If you are considering a kitchen renovation, sintered stone worktops may very well be the surface for you. You can “treat it like quartz which does not stain, and it’s as strong as granite.” In other words, you get three things at once. These are the marble look, the strength of the granite, and the simplicity and ease of use of the quartz.
|Benefits of surfaces like stone and quartz without the drawbacks of porosity, staining, and other limitations of those materials
|Requires skilled trades and proper equipment for fabrication. The availability of experienced installers familiar with these products may be limited
|Very durable surfaces; non-porous, highly resistant to physical damage like scratching and cracking
|Cost is generally in the mid to high-end range for countertop surfacing; can be expensive depending on the specific product
|Very heat resistant; some products can integrate induction cooking features right into the material
|Tolerant to all temperature extremes making these surfaces good for outdoor kitchens
|Some products have “through-body” construction meaning their colour goes through the material
|Product sizes large enough to cover kitchen islands and large areas similar to natural stone slabs