As many of you will already know, the Australian Government has unanimously agreed to prohibit the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone as of 1 July this year. While installed engineered stone is a completely safe material (there’s no need to remove it from your home!), the health risks associated with exposure to silica dust during fabrication have resulted in this decision. But in good news for consumers, both Smartstone and Caesarstone have pivoted with the release of engineered stone alternatives including sintered stone and new porcelain collections.
What is sintered stone?
Sintered stone is a surface material that differs from engineered stone in both its manufacture and composition – it is created using a ‘sintering’ process that comprises all natural materials and uses no resins, adhesive, quartz or metal compounds.
Sintering replicates millions of years of the earth’s metamorphic processes by combining advanced stone manufacturing technology with natural fusion techniques. Intense heat and immense pressure bind raw materials to create an ultra-compact, non-porous stone surface that is highly durable. It’s so hardwearing that it can be across a variety of applications including benchtops, bathroom vanities, fireplaces and furniture. UV stable, fire-proof and weather-proof, sintered stone is also ideal for outdoor kitchen and BBQ areas.
Smartstone’s Sintered Collection is a range of 24 stone-inspired surfaces that will available from March 2024 at three price points, with a matte or suede finish and a choice of edge profiles. Veined surfaces offer through-body veining and bookmatching is available for selected surfaces too.
What is porcelain?
Available as a stone alternative for a while now, porcelain is an exceptionally durable, natural, low silica surface with the ability to replicate anything from marble and granite to sandstone and slate. It’s impervious to stains, UV rays, knocks, scrapes, household chemicals and extreme heat which makes it a great choice for outdoor kitchens. Porcelain has long been favoured as an alternative to natural stone and it’s becoming even more popular in the wake of the ban on high silica engineered stone.
Arguably the most well-known engineered stone company, Caesarstone launched its first collection of porcelain in 2022 and is releasing a further eight designs this year including the warm white, striated surface of Libretta and the bold, midnight-black of Smokestone.
Each slab of Caesarstone porcelain is ethically produced from natural raw ingredients, including clay, feldspar and oxides. With a 12mm profile and surface dimensions of 1600 x 3200mm, these larger slabs make the achievement of sweeping expanses of joint-free surfaces achievable and the product is also suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations.
Both the above options comply with the Government’s new requirements.