Engineered Stone Surface Materials
Essentially, worktop surfaces separate into either 100% natural stone
or engineered surfaces, with the exception of an acrylic-based Corian
, which is better classified as an engineered surface.
Both engineered and natural materials come from same source, by different methods. Natural is cut directly from the source rock. Engineered stone differs in that it is composed of the same material but refined and reconstituted with additional binders and ingredients.
Quartz, Dekton and Lapitec
differ mainly because of their ingredients. The manufacturing techniques are different in respect of the minerals and raw materials used for each. However, each surface type would still undergo extreme pressure and heat-to-catalyze reactions in the mixture it is formed from.
How are they Manufactured?
The processes used to manufacture engineered stone
is a replication of the processes used in the formation of rock deep inside the earth.
Extreme pressures and intense heat are applied to a specially formulated mixture. Firstly it is compacted, then using heat to catalyze a reaction between mineral content, crystal growth is stimulated and various other chemical reactions.
When cooled, the mixture, having been transformed into an extremely dense and hard material, is classified as an engineered stone.
Several processes, which include polishing and calibration are required to prepare these surfaces. They are then packed and shipped to suppliers worldwide before reaching the end consumer through.
A more detailed manufacturing procedure for engineered quartz
may give you a little more insight into such processes.
The minerals used along with the amount of compression applied will also determine the end qualities of each surface in regards to its hardness, porosity and other resistances.
Additions of polymers as binders also have an effect on the final appearance and resistances.
For quartz, the polymers not only increase the flexible strength but also make it a non-porous material with huge positive effects of bacterial resistance.
Engineered Dekton and Lapitec are both sintered materials. The sintering process involves much higher heat and pressures to catalyze reactions in the raw materials.
This results in extremely dense engineered stone materials, very similar to porcelain (more so for dekton).
benefits attained from the hardness and density of the material is increased scratch resistance and reduced porosity, making these engineered stone surfaces resistant to weathering.
Both dekton and lapitec surfaces are widely used for external cladding and flooring.
However, with any material that leans towards particular strengths, something has to give.
Denser materials with less binder content in the form of polymers, have a reduced flexible strength, which is a key to the success of quartz worktops as kitchen worktops.
The lack in flexible strength results in surfaces with characteristics very similar to glass.
Highly polished surfaces are sought by many for worktops, but, for polished dekton worktops, these are coated with a glazing.
The glazing is noticeably restricted to the top surface, and without care, the glazing can chip along outer edges, leaving exposed razor sharp edges.
We advise the use of matt finishes for dekton, especially if requested for worktops. Dekton has a variety of surface finishes, each designed for specific purposes.
Manufacturers place their materials in as much as six different price groups; the more natural the slab looks in its imitation of its counterpart, the higher it will be grouped.
Manufacturers price groups differ in respect of the brand, design, and where they are manufactured.
Worktop surfaces can be expensive, but they can also be fairly cheap! Quartz materials suppliers are many, unlike the one of a kind, unique dekton and lapitec
With so many quartz manufacturers and suppliers, the market is very competitive allowing for quartz materials to be the lowest cost engineered stone by comparison.