UCS is a generic name given to a new breed of manufactured slabs that are akin to porcelain or ceramic tiles. They have recently been developed into very large formats (2.4 – 3.2m long) making them suitable for kitchen and vanity surfaces, vanity and kitchen splashbacks and wall claddings.
The brands of UCS include iStone, ECxtra, Dekton, Neolith, Ascale and Laminam.
The slabs are made from compression and kiln baking of natural materials. Slabs with patterns have a design printed on them before being kiln baked. The technology of the printers achieves the photographic reality of any product desired. The most popular patterns are the exotic and high-end marbles and granites which produce an expensive look for a fraction of the price and with optimum durability.
What are the benefits of Porcelain Slabs?
The principal attraction is the impact of the fantastic unique designs. On inspection, they appear to be what they attempt to represent, be that marble, granite, corten steel, cement, timber etc. The patterned surfaces are incredibly lifelike. That is unlike glass which tends to look like wallpaper behind a glossy sheet of glass!
All well and good but the price must be affordable, and it is. The starting costs average at around the same expense as glass.
The slabs are also very thin at 6mm thickness which means they use the same bench space as glass and around half that of traditional tiles.
Lead time couldn’t be faster. The added attraction of splashbacks and benchtops installed by Linea Stone is that they can be delivered at the same time – that’s around five working days if the benchtops are 20mm or 30mm thick. Any other form of splashback needs to wait for the benches to be installed before being templated or started. It is a saving of up to 4 weeks on glass installation.
The slabs come up to 3.2m long which means joins can usually be avoided. No joins means no silicon and certainly no grout, which becomes dirty after years exposed to cooking. As with the other options, adding powerpoint cutouts etc. is no problem provided they are identified at the time of templating.
The UCS slabs are extremely heat resistant. For benchtops this is a critical advantage in that hot pots can be placed directly onto the surface. The porosity level is as low as you will find meaning stains won’t exist and bacteria has nowhere to hide and breed. The toughness is such that, while not recommended, cutting can and is regularly done directly on the surface – the one exception being ceramic knives which have the same toughness! The product is remarkably resilient, but as always care does need to be taken on benchtops particularly around edges and in particular in high traffic areas such as above dishwashers and on sink edges.