SYNTHETIC SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOPS PART 1

Speaking of kitchen countertops, let's talk about synthetic or manufactured solid surface countertops, these countertops are made from man-made materials, usually acrylics, but also polyester resins, marble dust, and other pigments.

If you are looking for granite kitchen countertops, you may have seen ads for cheap granite countertops. Don't be fooled: If you see phrases like "liquid granite" or "synthetic granite," you're not getting a natural stone slab and you may be sorely disappointed.

Differences between artificial granite and natural granite.

There are multiple products on the market that use various terms, including "artificial granite", "synthetic granite", "liquid granite" and "epoxy granite". All of these terms indicate that you are not getting a genuine natural granite slab; in fact, you may not get any granite at all!

Manufacturing techniques and materials used vary from product to product. The two most common options are 'liquid granite' and 'epoxy granite'.

What is liquid granite made of?

Liquid granite, which can also be known as synthetic granite, isn’t stone at all. The term is used for a particular type of extra-strong concrete developed by Sheffield Hallam University, and also for a technique for pouring and decorating concrete to make it look like granite. The exact composition of concrete varies, but it will include sand or stone dust, cement (a binding agent), and water. It may also contain larger pieces of stone or other materials.

What is epoxy granite?

Epoxy granite is made of granite particles bonded together by epoxy. This will typically be around 95% real, natural granite but it won’t have the patterns and textures that characterize natural granite. It may be dyed to create a wider range of colors than are available in nature.

What are the advantages of synthetic granites?

Synthetic granites are often used in public buildings and outdoor spaces where an ornamental effect is required on a tight budget. Generally, in these cases, the intention is not to create a perfect imitation of granite but to create an overall pleasing effect. Concrete can easily be poured over large areas so it’s a quick and easy way to create a plaza or lay a floor in a municipal building.

The importance of having adequate equipment to cut dekton and porcelain

Dekton, among other alternative stone materials, continues to grow in popularity for applications such as countertops, flooring, and both interior and exterior wall cladding. Being a hard dense product, it is crucial to use appropriate tooling during the fabrication process. Carlos Sustaita, production director for STA Granite, provides several important tips of advice for those working with compact sintered stone.

Why do products such as Dekton need special/different tools than those that are used for cutting granite and marble?

Material hardness is the key to understanding why you need different tools to fabricate Dekton. The material has a
very high density (ultra-compact), which means that if you don’t use proper tools, you can either break the tool or the material or even worse, damage the machinery.

The cutting process requires trimming the edges to release tensions. Then you have to follow cutting recommendations, which include using plenty of water, the proper speed, feed rate, etc. Once you follow the rules, it’s a piece of cake.
When doing edging on Dekton, What is the difference in the process compared to a natural stone?

In this sense, Dekton’s edge is very easy to work with since the material is very homogeneous, and it is easy to get very good results. Any fabricator can do it well on the first attempt.

What are some common mistakes that fabricators are making when it comes to cutting this material? And, what are some common mistakes with doing edging or doing sinkholes or something?

The main mistake is trying to fabricate Dekton as if it was a granite or quartz composite. You will fail if you use the same tools, speed rates, and so on. Another common mistake is trying to cut Dekton in uneven support. It is a common source of problems too.

Sometimes people ask about what machine is best to cut Dekton. I believe the key is not the machine but the tools and proper maintenance. I have seen people with very modest equipment doing amazing things and the other way around.

7 Keys for Cutting Ultra-Compact and Sintered Dekton and Porcelain Materials

1. Water

It may seem too simple or too intuitive to matter, but less than adequate water AND hoses positioned incorrectly is the most common error causing headaches among cutting these materials.
2. Check your table level

One of the more overlooked aspects of successful cutting is, to the degree that your table is not level in the horizontal plane, vibrations will occur. This unevenness can result in chipping and likely breaking the edge of your slab.
3. Buy the right blade

As cliche, as it may sound, choosing the right blade for the material you are processing, is critical.
4. Removing tensioning strips

While each manufacturer of ultra-compact and sintered porcelain materials may, or may not have tensioning strips built into the perimeters of each slab, if they are not removed before cutting, the slab is at higher risk of cracking or breaking.
5. Feed rate and RPMs

Using the same feed rate and RPMs you may be accustomed to when cutting other materials can be a recipe for trouble. Unlike fabricating more common materials such as marble and granite, we’ve seen the most success cutting ultra-compact and sintered porcelain materials when following a systemized approach is used.
6. Avoiding Plunging

While plunge cutting tends to be of little concern for most sawyers when cutting ultra-compact and sintered porcelain materials it can pose big problems resulting in cracking or breaking your slab.
7. Cutting Sinks

Projects requiring a sink cut-out can be an obstacle many fabricators dread. Since we already know plunging is not the ideal way to go about this, what are your options? When preparing a sink cut-out, it is advised to drill each of the four corners with a 1/2” core bit before to start initiating cutting.
TIPS FOR WHEN REMODELING YOUR KITCHEN PART 1

TIPS FOR WHEN REMODELING YOUR KITCHEN PART 1

With your remodeling goal in mind, take some time to identify what’s important to you. Read More
SYNTHETIC SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOPS PART 2

SYNTHETIC SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOPS PART 2

When considering materials for your kitchen countertop, Read More
SYNTHETIC SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOPS PART 1

SYNTHETIC SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOPS PART 1

Speaking of kitchen countertops, let's talk about synthetic Read More
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