Fabrication & Working With Neolith Surfaces
When it comes to fabricating and installing sintered stone surfaces there is a lot in common with regular natural stone and engineered stone materials. For example, the slabs must be cut to fit a particular space and holes for fixtures must be drilled. However, there are particular features of sintered stone like Neolith that make it necessary to employ some additional techniques. In this article we are going to take a look at some general installation practices that make installing sintered stone smooth with fewer errors and issues.
Why Sintered Stone is Unique
Before we delve into the actual installation practices of Neolith sintered stone, let's first consider why the material deviates from standard fabrication practices. Generally speaking, sintered stone such as Neolith, in a word, is unforgiving. The material is such that it will chip or crack if the handling, cutting, and other practices are not performed exactly right. Perfect cuts, error free handling , carrying, and placement are all necessary to achieve a clean install. So let's look at practices that contribute to an install of sintered stone such as Neolith that comes out just right.
One of the sure ways to have an install go a wry is to begin with less than pristine materials. So before you begin doing anything with a sintered stone slab, be sure to check it for the following irregularities:
- Pigment Contamination - a pigment blemish in the slab at the beginning only sets the job up for sub-pa results.
- Blisters, Fissures, and/or Cracks - this kind of marring on the initial slab leads to other, perhaps more serious problems.
- Warping - sintered stone slabs should be warp-free so that the installation process will not result in fractures or cracks due to stress placed on the slab.
Starting with a blemish-free slab is important to the final result so be sure to perform a thorough inspection prior to beginning your project.
Handling the Sheet or Slab
When handling sintered stone slabs, take particular care to not allow the sheet to flex or bend as you lift and/or carry it. When lifting slabs pick them up with their edges aimed at the ceiling and floor. This orients the surface so it is parallel with walls. Additionally, carry slabs in this position as well so that the weight of the sheet is not acting on a large surface area. In other words, the edge of the slab should run from your waster to your shoulder and not line up with your belt.
When standing a slab of sintered stone up from the flat position or lifting one into position for installation, always support the entire surface area at all times so that the weight of the slab does not put pressure on the center of the sheet.
Corner Drilling the Cut-outs
To cut out openings for sinks, the corners should first be drilled out so that there is a minimum radius of 6 mm on each corner. Additionally, cut-outs should be at least 8 cm away from any edge of the slab in the case of Neolith. And the distance between the cut-out a hole for a tap should be 5 cm at a minimum. However, other manufacturers may have varying specs regarding this requirement and the documentation for installation should be checked for the specific brand of sintered stone you are working with.
Supporting cut-outs is important when it comes to sintered stone. Therefore, one of the following methods for providing support should be put in place to achieve the best results:
- A Solid Sub-surface
- Granite Strip Reinforcement
- Aluminum Bars
- High Density Polyurethane Foam Strips
Supporting the cut-out helps prevent cracking and breaking by giving the surface a solid backing.
Blades for Cutting Neolith
As with other sintered stone surfaces, it is good to cut Neolith slabs using a blade designed for cutting sintered materials that are extremely hard. This continuous rim blade cuts sintered stone and features a copper core that is reinforced. Or you can use one of these segmented blades for sintered stone. Having the proper tooling to work sintered stone like Neolith is a must so you don't create the potential for an error during the job.
CNC Core Bits for Neolith
In addition to cutting the slabs, tools for coring are also required. As mentioned above, drilling the corners of the cut-outs and taps are tasks that need to be performed and using the right coring bits for sintered stone like Neolith ensures you get a clean cut.
As with any material you are fabricating, having the proper tools for the task and being able to use those tools correctly and efficiently is a key to a clean and effective installation. Sintered stone surfaces require specific additional techniques and tooling to ensure the best results. We have covered a few of them in this article. However, we recommend that you follow the installation guide for fabricators provided by the manufacturer of the sintered stone surface. Rest assured though, that we have tools designed for virtually every type of stone surface, including sintered stone.