Sintered Stone vs Travertine
Each time we do one of these material comparisons it is our goal to not portray one material as better than the other. This is because each material we put in these match ups has traits that make it a valuable surface material. Additionally, the performance depends on the use case. In this article we will look at sintered stone vs travertine. We will consider what pros and cons come with each material. We will also look at what applications allow for better performance from each of these. Before we get into those aspects though, let's consider each material and talk about their properties.
What is Sintered Stone?
Like every material that is used for kitchen surfaces, sintered stone has properties that are a result of its production process. But what is sintered stone? Understanding what sintered stone is really starts with grasping the concept of "sintering". Sintering is the label given to a process through which one material or materials is transformed into another material. Depending on where you look for a definition you will likely see various explanations. But here is how Wikipedia defines the process:
Sintering or frittage is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by pressure or heat without melting it to the point of liquefaction.
That definition is somewhat simplified because when it comes to sintered stone, there are a variety of manufacturers and each one has its own process, materials, and the forces used to cause the change might even vary to one degree or the other. The idea here is that sintered stone is a man-made material that involves a form of the sintering process.
Properties of Sintered Stone
Now that we have taken a brief, simplified look at what sintered stone is, we can now talk about its characteristics. The main properties of sintered stone that we will look at in this article include porosity, hardness, and color. These properties contribute to the desirability of materials being considered.
Sintered Stone is Non-porous
Sintered stone has the notable trait of being non-porous. This means that it is one solid mass of material and has no pores. The effect of this is that any liquids spilled on the surface stay on the surface. The material is non-absorbent so any stains it gets only are on the surface of the sheet or slab and therefore are easy to access when trying to remove them.
Hardness of Sintered Stone
Another trait of sintered stone is that it is very hard. Surface materials are often times rated regarding their hardness on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. We won't go into the details of this scale, but if you would like to see more information about it, you can see the page entitled: Surface Material Hardness. The short explanation is that sintered stone registers in the 7-8 range of this scale. That is, on the hard end of the scale.
The hardness of a surface material impacts the durability of that material. In what sense? Well, the harder a material is, the harder it is to scratch. In the case of sintered stone, it is very difficult to scratch. A material's hardness also plays a role in the type of tools needed to fabricate it. Because of this, there are diamond blades made specifically cutting sintered stone. DEKTON refers to its sintered material as ultra compact and there are blades designed for cutting it.
Sintered Stone Color Choices
One of the pros of a man made material is that its color is controllable. And that is true of sintered stone. Producers of this material offer a plethora of options regarding color. Furthermore, many of the manufacturers have specialized collections designed to mimic popular natural stone materials like marble, granite, and other well-known types of natural stone. Simply put, the color and pattern selection of sintered stone is broad and ranges widely.
Now let's take a look at the other material in our sintered stone vs travertine comparison and talk a bit about it.
What is Travertine?
Unlike its man made counterpart, travertine is a natural stone with a very unique appearance. Let's look at what travertine is. Travertine is a specific type of limestone. What makes it different? Without going into a long geological explanation, travertine is a "chemically precipitated" limestone. Therefore, it often forms in the presence of water; often at the mouths of caves and hot springs. Like its relatives, travertine is a calcareous stone since it is composed primarily of calcium carbonate, or calcite. As we'll see, this mineral affects the traits of travertine along with the process through which travertine forms.
Just like we took a stroll through the traits of sintered stone, we are now going to look briefly at the porosity, hardness, and color availability of travertine.
Porosity of Natural Travertine
As mentioned above, natural travertine is a precipitous limestone. The manner in which travertine forms results in a very particular look. Travertine is very porous. In fact, pores in unprocessed travertine are so big that they are visible to the naked eye. Also referred to as pits, voids, and holes, the large pores in natural travertine are often filled during the processing phase of producing the material. Durable travertine fillers or other adhesive products are used on the stone to fill the holes and strengthen the material.
Another trait of travertine that we want to make mention of is its hardness. Like we said earlier, the mineral content of a stone plays a role in its attributes. Thus, travertine's high calcium carbonate content means it is a relatively soft stone. Travertine resides at around 4 to 5 on the Mohs scale that we mentioned above, so it is not as difficult to cut as some materials.
Color Selection of Travertine
Travertine has been found in a wide variety of colors. However, the most common travertine forms in shades of brown, gray, and cream color. When the pores of this material are filled, complimentary colored filler or transparent filler is used. This method retains the beauty of the stone as the material is strengthened.
Comparing Sintered Stone and Travertine
Now for the main topic of conversation in this article; comparing the two materials we have been talking about. If you have read the information up to this point, you may have already inferred the comparisons we are going to cover here. Hopefully though, we will add a bit of practical information to the mix as well.
How Sintered Stone's Porosity Compares to Travertine's
We have already talked a bit about the porosity of these materials individually. Sintered stone is non-porous and travertine is very porous. At first glance, it could be easy to conclude that sintered stone has an advantage over travertine since stains stay on the surface and can be treated there. Yet, think about this; sometimes, absorbency is beneficial. For example, if you have an area that is often wet then the surface's ability to absorb moisture will contribute to it not becoming slick easily. On the other hand, a surface that is not porous will hold water and other liquids on the surface and this could become slippery if not treated to prevent it. The point here is this: each material has benefits when used in a specific application. Moreover, natural stone sealers are available for dramatically slowing non-acidic water based and oil based liquids from being absorbed so they can be easily cleaned up.
A Hardness Comparison
The second area we looked at for these materials is the hardness. With a hardness of 4-5 for travertine and 7-8 for sintered stone, these two materials are in fact, very different as far as hardness goes. Travertine being softer than sintered stone is less scratch-resistant, yet, this also means it is more easily sculpted or shaped. On the other hand, sintered stone is harder and more difficult to scratch. Yet, it is so hard, that it requires specific tools and skill to cut and shape because it can be somewhat brittle if the wrong techniques and/or tools are not used.
Comparing the color availability between these materials, one can't help but notice that these materials differ in this aspect too. On the one hand, travertine forms in a very limited range of colors compared to the extensive flexibility with which sintered stone can be produced. Inf act, sintered stone can even be produced to look just like travertine as far as surface appearance is concerned. Yet, the fact remains that travertine is a natural material. So, the natural beauty and one-of-a-kind appearance that comes with it cannot be mimicked completely.
So there you have it. Our match up and consideration of sintered stone vs travertine. Each of these materials is desirable in specific use cases. And each one has properties that play a role in how it performs in those applications. If you are a fabricator and are trying to decide which material to offer, you may want to think seriously about offering both, since the uses and the consumers will vary. But either way, both of these materials have a valuable place in the stone industry.