Sintered Stone vs. Quartz - A Comparison
If you are looking for information about the similarities and differences between sintered stone and engineered quartz, you have found one of the many resources for comparing materials. In this article we will look at quartz and sintered stone side-by-side and discuss how these materials are similar and how they are different. So let's get to comparing these materials.
Why Compare Quartz With Sintered Stone?
If you are familiar with hard surfaces such as flooring, wall panels, tiles, facades, countertops, etc, then you may know that there are different kinds of materials. Two of the main categories of material for hard surfaces are (1) natural stone, and (2) man made materials. Both engineered quartz and sintered stone fall into the second of those categories. So, why compare them? Because they are very different materials even though they are both man made materials.
Just like two kinds of natural stone can have similar features as well as differences, so too man made materials can have common properties while at the same time be very different in composition and even be made from very different materials. Let' first look at the characterisitcs of each material and then we will compare them.
Characteristics of Engineered Quartz
Quartz has a number of appealing characteristics that people desire in a material for hard surfaces in the home. Engineered quartz is very compatible with many of the most current design trends. It can last for many years and it is somewhat easy to care for and maintain.
Engineered quartz is seen in a number of design styles. Virtually any of the following designs incorporate one of the many quartz styles.
- Mid-century Modern
- Art Deco
- Shabby Chic
- Hollywood Regency
- Modern Farmhouse
So no matter what deign you choose, there will be a quartz surface that goes with it.
Hardness and Durability
Engineered quartz is a pretty hard material. It registers at 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The Mohs scale is system for measuring the hardness of a material. The scale is graduated from 1 to 10. Each position on the scale corresponding to a specific mineral or gemstone. We won't cover the entire scale here but just to give you an idea of how hard quartz is, diamond is the Mohs 10 material.
Why is the hardness of engineered quartz a good characteristic to consider? Because it plays a role in the durability of the material. We will get into that more later. But for now, just know that quartz resides on the high end of the hardness range for surfaces.
Ease of Care and Maintenance
Natural stone surfaces have one common feature that they share between them. They all, to one degree or another, need to be sealed periodically. Engineered quartz does not require this part of the care program. Why not? Unlike natural stone, it is non-porous and doesn't need sealer to keep substances out of the pores. This along with the fact that quartz is tolerant regarding acidic cleaners means that the care and maintenance is relatively easy.
Sintered Stone Characteristics
Like its counterpart that we are considering in this article, sintered stone also has a number of desirable qualities that make it attractive for those shopping for surface materials. It too is design compatible, durable, and easy to care for and maintain.
Compatible With Design Styles
One of the benefits of choosing a man made material for surfaces in an interior design project is that they can be produced in virtually any color. Since sintered stone is man made, it is made in many colors, patterns, and even textures. This diversity means it is able to be incorporated with virtually any design style that comes along.
Sintered stone surfaces are being produced to mimic the appearance of natural stone surfaces such as marble and other stone materials. Some of the sintered stone manufacturers have collections that are named in such a way that they can be found when searching for natural stone materials. In short, any design that could use natural stone, could also use a sintered stone look-alike in its place. And even though one can tell the difference between sintered stone and natural stone, some feel it is close enough for them.
Sintered Means Hard
As we mentioned earlier when we discussed the features of quartz, a stone's hardness has some benefits. But how hard is sintered stone? The short answer is: it is very hard. In fact, the process of sintering creates hard materials. What is sintering?
Sintering is the process of subjecting raw materials of various kinds to extreme temperatures and heat in very specific ways so that those materials are transformed into a solid, hardened, non-porous mass of material. The materials that come out of processes known as sintering are generally very hard. As a result, sintered stone is a very hard and durable material.
Sintered stone is virtually impervious to chemical cleaners and surface treatments that are used to remove stains and other blemishes that could occur. Being non-porous, it needs no sealing. So there is no need to worry about stripping away sealers that may have been used on a sintered stone surface. That being said, different kinds of cleaning products are recommended depending on the type of stain or discoloration your surface gets. Acidic, alkaline, and even solvent cleaners can be found in care and maintenance guides for sintered stone materials.
Comparing Quartz & Sinters Stone
So, how do these materials compare to one another? Let's take a look. First we will devle into the things that make these materials similar to one another. Then, we will see how they are different.
Both engineered quartz and sintered stone materials are man made materials. Each has a variety of manufacturers that product the materials. There are currently more producers of quartz than there are sintered stone. However, many of the companies making sintered stone are brands that have been in the quartz industry for years. Many of these companies have played a role in the development of the sintered stone industry. So don't be surprised if other manufacturers introduce more sintered stone products in the future.
Another area in which these materials are similar is the area of scratch resistance. Since both quartz and sintered stone are very hard, they both resist scratching that could occur as a result of normal household utensils. And while sintered stone is more resistant, either is acceptable as far as normal wear and tear is concerned.
The fact that neither sintered stone or quartz need to be sealed periodically, eliminates an entire aspect of maintenance that exists for natural stone surfaces. Because of this, both of these materials are considered easy to care for and maintain.
Although quartz and sintered stone are similar in several respects, that does not mena that they are the same material. In fact, they differ in a number of ways. Let's consider some now.
The first difference we will look at is the composition. As mentioned earlier, sintered stone is made from a process that begins with raw materials that are combined. Each of the various manufacturers has its own recipe for its particular material, but they all begin with raw materials. Those materials are then transformed into a solid mass. The materials and the transformation process are the same as those that produce natural stone. Hence, the term "sintered stone".
Quartz though is different. Although the raw material quartz is used in the production of quartz. There are are also synthetic materials used to manufacture it. The quartz particles are combined with a binder (usually a polyester resin) and colroing pigment is added to create the specific colors. So, while both sintered stone and engineered quartz are both engineered and they both contain minerals that are found in natural stone, they do not have the same composition.
Another area in which these materials differ is in their ability to resist heat. Quartz tolerates heat well enough for it to be used as a kitchen coutnertop material. However, sintered stone is even more heat resistant. In fact, there are videos online showing cooks moving a pan of boiling water directly from the stovetop to the surface of a sintered stone countertop and setting down directly on the counter. This drives the point home. Sintered stone is born out of a process that consists of intense heat and it can withstand virtually all normal household temperatures.
Even though quartz is heat resistant, there are still some temperatures that are too high for the resins of which it is composed. For example, during the fabrication process, fabricators have actually burned the resins in the quartz material by using improper polishing pads. The pads got so hot that they scorched the resin in the quartz and discolored it. So, even though sintered stone and quartz both resist heat well enough to be used as a kitchen countertop, sintered stone can withstand hotter temperatures.
Hard Materials Require Careful Handling
Just because one material is harder than another one does not mean that it is stronger in every respect. This is what highlights another difference between sintered stone and engineered quartz. Sintered stone requires specific protocols for handling, fabricating and installing it. These procedures are required because the material is more brittle than engineered quartz. Cutting it improperly, picking it up in a twisting fashion, or jarring itin just the right way can smap or crack the sheet.
Make no mistake, all hard surface materials require skill and care when they are being handled and quartz is no different. And some parts of the process for fabricating these amterials are the same. Yet, each one will have its own guidlines for how to handle, move, cut, and shape the material. So, be sure you follwo the guide for the material and the brand of surface you are working with if you are a fabricator.
In summary, there are benefits and drawbacks to every material that is used for a hard surface. Knowing something about what makes a material a good choice will allow you select the best choices no matter what your project entails. In the end, the particular design you choose and which material offers a slab or sheet that you prefer may be the feature that solidifies your decision in the end.