The difference between ceramic and porcelain essentially comes from the materials selected and the heat of firing. Porcelain would normally be made from finer materials that are fired at a higher temperature, which makes them stronger, denser and less porous. These are ideal properties for kitchen worktops, which is why they are becoming a popular choice in the KBB market.
However, the terms 'ceramic' and 'porcelain' are sometimes used as interchangeable, and the materials used for worktops are the result of the advanced development of such techniques, applying technology used in the tile industry to create products in large dimensions that can be used for custom-made worktops, floors and wall linings. They tend to be thinner (like ceramic and porcelain tiles) than stone, quartz or some UCS.
Jetstone is one company offering these worktops and it now has more than 20 colours available in its ceramic collection, including metallic, rust and concrete. Another version is the own-branded Ceralsio from CRL Stone, available in 27 colours and in three thicknesses – 12mm for a slim worktop, 10mm for floor tiling and 6mm for wall cladding.
Reflected at Hard Surfaces will be the rise of mass-produced large format, ultra-thin ceramic and porcelain tiles. Virtually unheard of 15 years ago, 2400x1200mm, 1800x900mm, 1200x600mm, 900x900mm and even 3000x1000mm formats are now widely available from thicknesses of just 3-5mm, which is less than half of a standard 11-13mm porcelain tile. Pressed at forces of up to 15,000 tons these tiles are extremely durable and perfectly flat, allow faster coverage and fewer grout lines. They are also light, easy to cut, install and maintain. This has all been made possible through highly advanced technology that provides the ultra-thin porcelain plate elasticity and strength. Major manufacturers in this market include Italian pioneer Cotto d’Este (now part of the Panariagroup) and other Europeans Ariostea, Laminam, Porcelanosa, Graniti Fiandre and Laminam.
And of course, the latest trends in the wider ceramic tile market will also be on display with metallic, retro and gritty chic inspired designs likely to feature.
Hard Surfaces will be complemented by the market leading Natural Stone Show, which offers an extraordinarily varied palette of stone surfaces from around the world, together with the latest ‘Fix, Seal & Maintenance’ solutions for the hard surfaces industry.
A packed education programme will also take place over the 3 days with 30 CPD-accredited seminars attracting over 5,000 building professionals. All visitors to Hard Surfaces will be able to cross over into the Natural Stone Show free of charge.