Ceramic and porcelain slabs are produced in a similar way, but the raw materials used differ. Porcelain is made from a special clay of one type of very fine grain, whereas ceramics are made from other clays and may contain more constituent rocks. The differences are also influenced by the compression of the mixture in the press. Porcelain is more densely compressed than ceramics, which makes the porcelain slab even harder and stronger. Porcelain sheets are slightly flexible, UV-resistant, resistant to chemicals, wear, fire and cold, they are environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. Porcelain can also be called ceramic, but ceramic cannot be called porcelain.
Although traditional ceramics may share some similar properties with sintered stone, it does not possess the performance qualities of sintered surface. Sintered stone combines stain, scratch, chemical and heat resistance in one single material.
Sintered stone is manufactured from similar raw materials as ceramics and porcelain. However, there are a few key differences regarding manufacturing process: the additional components, the pressure applied, the time of manufacturing.
The conditions in which sintered stone is manufactured resembles those deep inside the earth needed for rocks to be formed naturally. Today's high technologies simulate these processes and speed up the process. While it takes millions of years for the rock to form in the ground, modern technology reduces the time to one or two days.
Engineered quartz and sintered stone are very hard surfaces that are non porous, scratch resistant, and do not stain easily. The main difference between them lies is in their composition. Engineered quartz is a combination of natural mineral quartz particles (around 95-97%) and special resin binders with added pigments (3-5%). Sintered stone is composed entirely of natural minerals that are transformed into a new material through the process of sintering. This process uses intense heat, intense pressure and electricity to transform the minerals into a solid hard mass of a new material. Because of their different composition, sintered stone and engineered quartz have different care requirements. Quartz surfaces can be susceptible to burning from very high temperatures. If engineered quartz is exposed to extreme heat, it can discolor because of resins in the material. Sintered stone is formed in the presence of extremely high temperatures, and is therefore resistant to temperatures found in normal everyday household environments.
Acrylic stone, also known as acrylic solid surface, is a mixture of natural stone powder (usually marble) and acrylic resin. Acrylic surface is softer and more flexible than other types of artificial stone surfaces. This homogeneous and non-porous material is composed of about 2/3 of stone dust and bauxite and 1/3 of acrylic resin (PMMA). Such composition allows the worktop fabricators to bend and shape the slab when heated. The heated slab becomes flexible like a piece of plastic. Thus sinks of sleek shapes can be formed. Later they can be seamlessly integrated into worktops, as the glues have the same composition and colours as the material itself. Whatever the size of the final item, all its parts can be assembled and glued together without visible seams or gaps. The seams are then accurately polished together with the whole surface. Damaged or broken acrylic countertops can be repaired leaving no trace of former damage. If the surface of an acrylic worktop does not shine after some time, the professionals can repolish it as many times as needed. The repolished worktop will look like new.