An introduction

Porcelain, compact quartz, agglomerates… these new hard surfaces appeared in the building market just three decades ago and their extraordinary evolution, both technological as well as in marketing has meant they have succeeded in establishing in all the world markets and in applications that, till recently, were almost exclusive to natural stone.

These new materials tend to be manufactured imitating the veins and colours of natural stone, though in the case of big format porcelain, they also imitate wood, metal, etc. not only in colours but also in textures. The advances in digital printing technology allow for a reproduction of colours, grains and veins, almost exact, and even though these new materials cannot be treated for finishes in stone such as honed, bush hammered, etc. the new technologies allow the creation of these textures. Till recently, one of the limitations of these materials, if compared to natural stone, was that it was impossible to produce slabs of natural stone, something that is now possible. The technological advances in the world of artificial stone now make improvements every few months.

Increasingly there are more distribution companies of natural stone that now include these alternative materials in the range they offer, before the paths were parallel but now they are converging. The distribution channel and the applications of both products in many cases are now coinciding.

In many countries of the world factories of porcelain and quartz are now being installed. Its production is increasing at great speed and is far greater than that of natural stone, that, being a natural product, has finite production.

Since it seems that industrial stone is here to stay, we have considered it convenient to start a new section in to inform our readers about these new hard surfaces.