One of the latest developments in hard surfaces is ultra-compact surfaces or UCSs as they are commonly known. They are also sometimes called sintered products because they are made by sintering a mixture of natural ingredients (that is, squashing them together in a press) and then firing them in a kiln at high temperatures of up to 1200ºCelsius. The most familiar brands in the marketplace are Dekton®, Lapitec® and Neolith, but the sector is evolving rapidly with new manufacturers launching ranges at Hard Surfaces 2019.
Like porcelain, UCSs are tough and resilient. They are made in large sheet sizes so that horizontal or vertical surfaces made from them will have a minimum number of joints – or none at all in some cases, allowing designers to continue solid surfaces and straight lines.
UCSs can be made in sheets of 20mm and 30mm thick, which is a popular worktop thickness when using granite. But they can also be thinner for lighter weight materials to adhere to walls as splashbacks and shower linings.
Because natural stone is often formed by the heat and pressure of the planet, the makers of UCSs liken their materials to the naturally occurring product, saying it has been formed by the same processes, but accelerated.
UCSs can be made to look like many other materials, such as stone or wood, either by the choice of materials to form them or, like porcelain, by printing on the surface after the sheets have been manufactured. Add to this the vast selection of textures and colours available and it easy to understand why UCSs offer such an attractive solution for contemporary designers.
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.