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Porcelain & Sintered Stone

Comparing Sintered Stone With Porcelain

You may have heard about these two materials in your professional career or by just browsing around in the local home improvement shop or design showroom. If so, then you may have wondered what the differences are between these materials. Or perhaps you have asked yourself, "Are porcelain and Sintered Stone the same thing?" In this article we will compare these materials and share some interesting facts that will highlight the similarities and differences between porcelain and sintered stone.

Why Compare Sintered Stone & Porcelain?

A good question to ask before delving into any subject related to hard surfaces is naturally, "Why make the comparison?" That question gets to the heart of our intention for this information. We are making the comparison between porcelain and sintered stone to inform interested parties of each material. We are not comparing them to sway a person's decision of choosing one material over the other. Rather, we will simply present facts that inform about not only the sintering process but how it is involved with our comparison.

Tenax provides products for all sorts of professionals that work with and process hard materials such as natural stone and engineered surfaces. As a provider of products for all sorts of materials, we naturally must be informed about as much of the hard surface landscape as possible. This means that we are always researching and developing products to make the industry better.

What is Sintering?

As it relates to our discussion we will consider a process called "sintering". To begin, let's get the actual definition of the word "sinter". You can view the definition when used as a verb with a quick Google search: click here to get the definition in a new window.

As the definition indicates, sintering is a process through which a powdered material can be transformed into another sort of material. From powder to a hard mass. This is transformation is achieved (as the definition states) by heating and compressing the original material to a specific point and no further. Knowing the definition of the verb "sinter" is very important to our consideration of the comparison between porcelain and sintered stone.

Porcelain - A Sintered Material?

What is porcelain? Porcelain is a term used to describe a variety of ceramic products that have been baked at high temperatures to achieve qualities such as translucency and low porosity; glass-like properties although porcelain is not glass. Sound familiar? It should sound familiar because it is basically the same process we mentioned earlier when we were discussing sintering. Let's elaborate a bit on what porcelain is.

When describing and even referring to porcelain some use the word "glass". Now, as we have already mentioned, porcelain is not glass, per se. However, it does have glass-like characteristics. Namely, translucency and low porosity. But porcelain is not the same thing as glass because it is much harder than glass. But why then is porcelain so much like glass?

As we mentioned earlier the sintering process begins with raw materials. The materials often used to produce porcelain are as follows:

  • Clays
  • Silica
  • Feldspar
  • Flint

It is the combination of the raw materials that determine what will be produced. Mixing the materials at various ratios and proportions affects the resulting material. Porcelain then, varies in its composition and it can be used for a variety of purposes. One of which is tiling. Another use, which is growing in popularity is flooring. And the list goes on.

The take away here is that porcelain material is produced through a sintering process and as technology continues to progress, more uses are developed all the time.

Is Sintered Stone the Same As Porcelain?

Since porcelain is produced through a "sintering" process, does that mean then that porcelain is the same thing as sintered stone? To ask the question another way, "Is sintered Stone just another name for Porcelain?" No. Let's consider why that is the case.

We have already explained why porcelain is not actually the same thing as glass even though it shares some properties of the material. The same exact reasoning is behind sintered stone not being the same as porcelain.

The Raw Materials Determine the Result

Unlike porcelain, which is the sintering of clays and other materials, Sintered Stone begins with different raw materials - although it may have some of the same materials as well. Sintered Stone brands each have a proprietary process that consists of unique temperatures, ingredients, and results. The ingredients used to produce sintered stone include materials that form different results from that of porcelain. Thus, new categories of material and lines of products continue to be introduced in the industry. Some of these newer terms include:

  • Large Panels
  • Compact Surfaces
  • Ultracompact-Surfaces
  • Big Panels

So, although the process of sintering is used to manufacture both porcelain and sintered stone, they have differing characteristics. However, due to the fact that they are produced using the sintering process, and that they may have some common ingredients, they also share some traits as well. Simply put, both are sintered materials So, how does sintered stone compare with porcelain?

Sintered Stone Compared to Porcelain

So, now that we have talked a bit about the manufacturing process used and which materials each is composed of, let's take a look at the characteristics of both of these materials. First we will compare the similarities, and then the differences between the two.

Similarities Between Sintered Stone and Porcelain

Both porcelain and sintered stone can be used for multiple surfaces. Some of the use cases for these materials include:

  • Building Architecture
  • Commercial Design Projects
  • Home Interior Floors
  • Work Surfaces
  • Wall Cladding
  • Building Facades

In addition to the similarities between the ways in which these materials are used, they can also be placed in similar environments. Both sintered surfaces and porcelain surfaces are found compatible with indoor applications as well as outdoor applications. There are a number of brands available in each group, providing a range of colors and visual textures.

The fabrication process is similar too. Each brand will need to make use of adhesives designed for that brand of material. A color matched adhesive is usually available for a specific color of material. Glue cartridges for sintered materials and porcelain adhesive cartridges are both available. For cutting sintered materials, you will want to select the proper kind of diamond blade for cutting sintered materials.

Porcelain and Sintered Stone Differences

Just porcelain is not glass even though it shares some characteristics with glass, so it is with sintered stone and porcelain. Sintered Stone shares characteristics with porcelain but they are different materials. Let'a take a look at some differences that you will find when you begin delving into each type of surface.

As a general rule porcelain cladding is thinner than sintered stone. The sintered slabs are designed to resemble the dimensions of traditional natural and engineered stone slabs used for countertops and other work surfaces. And although sintered stone panels can be thin panels like porcelain, the countertop surfaces are thicker than porcelain surfaces.

Obviously the color selection won't be identical. Each brand will have its own color palette and pattern choices that can be selected and used in your architecture and design projects.

Finally, porcelain and sintered stone panels will vary in the dimensions that are available for use. Depending on what your desired specifications are, you will want to choose the panel that fills your needs. If you are looking for a slab to use as a work surface, this will influence your decision as well.

As we have seen, sintered stone materials and porcelain have a number of similarities that make each kind of material desirable for use in design projects. But the similarities do not mean that these materials are identical. The differences are significant enough that they live in different categories within the industry.

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