We are seeing a pattern in the natural stone business in recent years. If the early 2000s are dominated by granite, these days the trend is more toward quartz seen in modern homes.
This material, which has the looks of natural stone, without the maintenance, is giving granite a run for its money. Many cannot help but compare the properties of quartz to granite and other stones (see this comparison by Caesarstone between quartz and other stones in a related article).
What makes quartz the most coveted countertop nowadays is because it is made from the hardest minerals on earth—it is without a doubt the most durable option for your kitchen. On the aesthetic side, it is eye-catching and comes in a wide range of colors with all the sparkles and veining found in natural stones like granite and marble.
And the kicker is, unlike other natural stones, quartz is not mined, it is engineered in a factory. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about quartz and why it should be your kitchen or bathroom countertop.
Quartz is Not Solid Quartz
No, it is not fake news. In most quartz countertops, there is real quartz present in them but not 100%. Around 10% of the quartz countertop is not made of natural stone but a polymer or cement binder. The rest of the 90% is composed of crushed marble, granite, and other natural stone or industrial wastes including silica, glass, ceramic, mirror, etc.
There is some real quartz in it – in varying quantities per batch. All these materials are mixed and held by the binders, giving the quartz countertop the look and feel of a natural stone.
Quartz is also called compound stone or engineered stone owing to the process in which it is made. The industry is frequently referring to this type of countertop as engineered stone in much literature.
To make it clear, quartz countertops may have varying quantities of quartz and none of this solid quartz is mined from quarries. It may contain a lot of other materials as well.
A Little Background
Engineered stone was developed in 1963 by a company called Breton, based in northeast Italy. It was licensed under the trademark Bretonstone. Up until this day, Breton is still manufacturing quartz countertops using the same process of blending natural stone aggregates with polymers in a strenuous manufacturing process.
Today, the Bretonstone technology has been licensed to more than 50 companies all over the world. These companies have made quartz their own, adding their special touches and nuances.
How to Know If Quartz Countertops are Right For You
To know whether quartz countertops are right for you, you have to know the pros and cons.
Quartz is low maintenance
Compared to natural stone or wood, quartz no longer needs sealing, it is easy to clean too, just wipe the surface with soapy water and you are all done. Any stain can be removed with gentle scrubbing.
You should avoid using scouring pads though as they can dull the surface. Harsh chemicals have a more drastic effect as they can break down the resins and the quartz.
It is non-porous and impenetrable
Thanks to the resin binders, quartz countertops are non-porous. That means it does not harbor any stain and odor-causing mold, bacteria, or mildew that could penetrate the surface.
Easy to install
Quartz can come in different sizes and is highly customizable. There are standard slabs that measure 60 by 120 inches or jumbo slabs for uninterrupted runs on the countertop.
The added resins in Quartz brought about several benefits including the tightly sealed edges. It can also make the material more flexible than natural stone. That means it can easily be manipulated into the desired shape.
Consistently durable from slab to slab and piece by piece.
A quartz countertop is engineered and hence more consistent in design. It saves time in the design process, allowing the fabricators to cut the slab in a specific measurement without the need for a predetermined layout. You can also match the tile, paint color, or style for your countertop design.
It is expensive
With many distinct properties in one material, you know why quartz is expensive. Compared to other materials that could cost less than $10 per square foot, quartz has a higher price point at $60 to $90 per square foot.
It cannot withstand extreme heat
Although quartz countertops are heat-resistant there is a threshold of 400F and a sudden temperature change could mean cracking on the countertop. You can prevent this by using a hot pad.
It is not good for outdoor use
Quartz is not recommended for outdoor use or it will void the warranty Direct sunlight can do great damage to quartz countertops causing fading and warping.
Go Green with Quartz Countertops
Made in the same fashion as fiberboard, engineered countertops are man-made. It is 90 percent made from aggregates from waste products of other manufacturing processes. Even the resins used in making quartz countertops are becoming more natural and less synthetic compounds.
Quartz and Granite
For years, there have been a lot of comparisons between quartz and granite, a natural stone that it closely resembles in terms of properties. Granite is a reigning king of natural stone countertops but it needs a protective coat at least once a year.
For some time, granite has had an advantage over quartz for its patterns and color variations that goes with natural stone. However, quartz has leveled up its appearance since then. It now comes in multihued versions complete with swirls and flecks.
It also comes in different finishes now and is no longer confined to polishes. One can get a version with sandblasted, honed, or embossed. Quartz can also have the look of other natural stones like limestone or slate.
There is no doubt that quartz has gained its place right on the top amongst other countertop materials. Its durability and resistance to etching, fading, or staining are some of its finest qualities. The beauty of quartz countertops is you have plenty of designs and colors to choose from.