Engineered stone is a composite of resin and stone that is used in kitchen and bathroom interior design. This manmade material was developed as an alternative to granite. It is more durable than natural materials and requires less upkeep because it is not porous. Engineered stone is made using a process known as vibrocompression vacuuming.
Creating engineered stone requires the use of specialized equipment. Pieces of natural stone, usually quartz, are crushed or ground into small pieces and powder with a stone-breaking machine. Once the stone is reduced to small pieces, it is placed in a mixer, where additives and coloring agents are mixed in until the dry components are thoroughly homogenized.
Once the components are mixed in the desired ratio, the mixture is compacted in a special machine that uses vibration and physical pressure to press the particles of material closely together. This process is conducted in a vacuum chamber. The components are then combined with resin, which binds the stone fragments into a solid, stone-like structure.
When the blocks of engineered stone have dried, they can be cut and shaped in the same manner as natural stone. The final product is more uniform than natural stone, which makes matching colors and textures easier than with natural stone. The stone is also uniform around the edges, which makes it easier to seal the gaps between pieces when installing them.
The most common use for engineered stone is as a replacement for granite or quartz on countertops and floors. The material looks very much like natural stone but offers a number of benefits over natural materials. Unlike natural stone, engineered stone is not porous, does not need to be sealed, and is less likely to harbor bacteria. It is easier to keep clean and disinfected, making engineered stone a popular choice in kitchens. It is also stronger than natural stone and does not break as easily when it is cut and installed.
A number of different types of engineered stone are available to consumers. Some are particularly tough and wear-resistant and are used when durability is a prime consideration. Other composites are made to look like other natural stones, such as limestone or granite.