Composites are about more than kitchen worktops. You can use them for walls and floors too or how about a piece of composite furniture?
Composite is a manmade building material made from quartz or minerals and resin. It is truly versatile and can be poured, shaped and joined in different ways. Our beginner’s guide tells you all you need to know about composite materials
Image: UV Architects
Concrete is probably the most familiar composite building material. Used for downstairs floors it can create a streamlined transition from inside to out.
It is durable, easy to clean and maintain (though you will need to reseal it) and thankfully now available in more colours and finishes than the ubiquitous grey. Add underfloor heating to give it warmth.
Other concrete options
Image: Mortise concrete
As well as floors and walls, it’s worth considering concrete for furnishings. Polished concrete can be used to cast furniture, sinks and basins.
Add sparkle with a mineral finish
Quartz and engineered stone are popular composite choices for kitchen and bathrooms worktops, but they can also be used for flooring and walls.
Engineered stone is less expensive than its natural counterpart and comes in lots of colours and designs. It is easy to look after because, unlike some natural stone, is non porous. It is also heat, stain and scratch resistant, but cannot be moulded or have seamless joints.
Terrazzo is a composite material that can be resin or cement based. You can buy it in sheets, as tiles or as a liquid for pouring.
Terrazzo can be dyed with coloured glass or other materials and chips of semi-precious stones can be added. Resin-based terrazzo is less likely to crack than the cement-based version.
Terrazzo can be expensive at around £440 per sqm for the resin version and £280 per sqm for the concrete. It is heavy and can also be slippery underfoot so ask your contractor about applying non-slip additives.
Look for seamless composites
Composites with a high resin content are malleable and can be shaped into a variety of products. They can produce seamless surfaces ideal for integrated sinks and basins. Choose from a huge range of colours.
Where can I find seamless composites?
Image: LG Hausys
The solid surface material Corian is an example of a composite with a high resin content.
Hi-Macs is as hardwearing as stone, but can be sawn, drilled and sanded. It can be used to make almost anything.
Composites include recycled materials. Terrazzo is made with stone chips and aggregates contain waste marble and granite.
Other eco-friendly composite products include Newspaper Wood that has the look of real wood, composite decking that is 96% recycled timber from Trex, and resin-infused recycled paper surfaces by Richlite.
Can I fit composite materials myself?
No. Composite products are made and need to be installed by specialists through approved dealers.
Discover more about the range of manmade building materials at Grand Designs Live
Words: Jo Messenger, from original article on Grand Designs Magazine.