Limestone vs Sintered Stone
In the natural stone industry there are several kinds of surfaces from which to choose. Some of those surfaces are natural stone. Others are man made materials that have stone properties or are made from stone material. In this article we are going to consider limestone vs sintered stone surfaces. First though, we will cover an overview of each material and its properties. Afterwards, we will get into comparing the two materials.
Overview of Limestone
Limestone is a rock that forms naturally and therefore it is a natural stone. It is a sedimentary rock that often is composed of sediment that collects at the bottom of bodies of water. We won't go into a complete explanation of this material here, but if you are interested you can read about it on our page entitled: Limestone Surfaces. This natural stone has some distinct traits that we will summarize next.
As far as materials go, limestone is hard; considering that it is rock. However, in the context of natural stone, limestone is somewhat soft. in fact, on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness limestone lies in the range of 3-4. The scale goes from 1-10 with 1 being the softest. So a hardness of 3-4 on this scale puts limestone at the soft end.
Limestone is soft due to the primary mineral of which it is composed. Limestone, like other calcareous natural stone is made up of mostly calcium carbonate (or calcite). Calcite is a soft mineral so it stands to reason that a stone composed of this mineral would be soft as well. The softness of limestone means it is relatively easy to cut and it is not generally necessary to use a dianond blade designed for cutting hard stone. In fact, you can simply use any of the diamond blades for cutting marble to cut limestone.
Porosity of Limestone
We say it time and a gain here on the website; all natural stone is porous to some extent. There are rare exceptions to this. For example, natural soapstone is non-porous, but virtually all natural stone has pores to some degree. Limestone is no different. The degree of porosity will vary depending on the particular stone. But limestone is porous to one degree or another.
The porosity of a stone contributes to its effectiveness in specific applications. Porous stone absorbs liquid. Absorbent surfaces tend to be less slippery when wet. Some environments have a lot of moisture. You get the idea, limestone's porosity can be a good trait in cases where absorption is desirable.
One might wonder if limestone comes in various colors. Natural stone's appearance is affected by the minerals it contains. There are minerals though that contribute to a range of limestone colors. Note what the website limestone.com said about this:
Part of this individuality can be seen in limestone’s rainbow of color selections, with each representing the different sediments that reflect light and color differently inside the limestone!
The article goes on to list several colors in which limestone forms. SOme of the colors include:
- Dark Gray
That's a pretty nice range of color choices.
Now that we have talked a little bit about limestone, let's give a little consideration to our other contender, sintered stone.
Sintered Stone Summary
The second material in our comparison is one that is man made. Even though it does not form naturally, it is still referred to as stone. One of the manufacturers of sintered stone made a statement highlighting the fact that the material of which sintered stone is made up, are the same materials natural stone contains. Additionally, the sintering process itself resembles the natural process known as the metamorphic process. This makes sense when you consider what sintering actually is.
Sintering is a process through which powdered material is transformed into a completely different material. The process uses pressure, heat, and sometimes other forces, to produce the resulting material. These forces are the ones that form metamorphic rock in the earth. Hence, the term sintered stone. Let's take a look at its characteristics.
How Hard is Sintered Stone?
As mentioned above, the Mohs scale has a maximum hardness value of 10. On that scale sintered stone consistently ranges in the 7 to 8 area. That is very hard indeed. In fact, that is even harder than some granite. So there is no doubt that sintered stone is a durable material when it comes to scratch resistance. If you are planning on fabricating sintered stone, you will want to be sure to choose a diamond blade designed for cutting extremely hard material like this 16" blade for sintered stone.
Sintered Stone's Porosity (Or Lack Thereof)
When the powdered minerals are sintered, the result is one solid mass of material. Additionally, this material has no pores; it is non-porous. This means that liquids stay on the surface of the material and do not travel into the surface. You can imagine the benefits of this trait. Any stain that occurs will happen on the surface of the material rather than inside it. Another trait of sintered stone is that it can be cleaned with a variety of cleaning products. Depending on what kind of stain you are removing, you can use a cleaner that is most effective for that type of discoloration.
Since sintered stone is man made, it can be produced in many colors. The array of product colors and even patterns is enormous when it comes to sintered stone. There are even collections of sintered stone that have been engineered to resemble natural stone. Furthermore, there are patterns that are not at all common in the realm of available natural stone materials.
Now that we have looked at each of the materials individually, let's see how they compare with one another.
Comparing Sintered Stone and Limestone
We'll begin our comparison by stating very plainly that each of these materials delivers benefits in specific applications. Therefore, we are not implying that either of these materials is superior to the other. However, you will see that in some use cases, each one may be an optimal choice, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
Comparing durability involves a variety of components. One of these that we have looked at in this article is the hardness. The harder the material, the more resistant it is to scratching. When it comes to this trait, sintered stone is harder than limestone. Remember though that limestone is rock. So, for many uses, it is plenty hard. And keep in mind that the harder a material is, the more potential it has to be brittle.
Pore, Pore Limestone Not So Bad
Absorbency is also an area that could contribute to a surface's durability. As mentioned earlier, keeping stain-causing liquids on the surface makes clean up easier. Since sintered stone is non-porous, this occurs automatically. However, limestone can be treated with products such as Proseal for natural stone surfaces to keep water and oil based liquids on the surface of the stone. Furthermore, there are times when absorbency is not a bad thing. For example, if the area has a lot of moisture and you need traction (think bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers) then you may not want water to stay on the surface since it could become a slip hazard.
There is no doubt that there is more of a color selection when it comes to sintered stone than there is for limestone. So, if you are looking strictly at the number of colors, then sintered stone is the winner here. Yet, there are many different approaches to design, especially when it comes to color. So, the color availability may not be as conclusive as it seems on the surface.
Well, we have done what we set out to do in this article. We looked at some of the basic properties of both sintered stone and limestone and we made a comparison of the two materials. Each has characteristics that make it a good choice of material in certain applications. Perhaps the best way to think about material choices is not sintered stone vs limestone. Rather, when to use sintered stone and when to choose limestone in a project. This type of approach allows for greater flexibility for your customer if you are a fabricator and for you yourself if you are a consumer.