Are Quartz Countertops Natural Stone?

Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. With their attractive appearance and renowned durability, it’s easy to see why many homeowners are drawn to quartz. But an important question arises – are quartz countertops actually natural stone?

What is Quartz?

To understand if quartz countertops can be considered natural stone, it’s helpful to first examine what quartz is. Quartz is a mineral that is found abundantly in nature. It is composed of silicon and oxygen atoms and is the second most common mineral found in the Earth’s continental crust, behind feldspar.

Quartz can be found around the world in many different types of rock formations and geographical locations. It is an exceptionally hard and durable mineral, rating 7 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Quartz is also chemically stable, meaning it resists weathering and corrosion. These properties make natural quartz an ideal material for countertops and other surfaces.

So in its pure mineral form, quartz is entirely natural. But quartz countertops are more than just slices of the natural mineral quartz – they are an engineered composite material.

Engineered Quartz Countertops

While natural quartz is used in the production of quartz countertops, the final product combines quartz mineral particles with resins, pigments, and other compounds. The typical composition is:

  • 90-94% ground natural quartz
  • 6-10% polyester or epoxy resins
  • Pigments added for color

The quartz mineral particles provide strength, hardness, and durability, while the resins bind the material together into a solid, non-porous slab. Additional compounds like polymers and recycled glass or stone may also be added during manufacturing.

The quartz slabs are made by combining the various ingredients, molding them under intense vibration and pressure, and then hardening them into a durable surface. So while the main component is a natural material, the end product is an engineered, man-made composite.

Properties of Engineered Quartz

The engineering process allows manufacturers to take advantage of quartz’s positive attributes while minimizing its drawbacks. The result is a material with outstanding properties well-suited for countertops:

  • Extremely hard and durable – Quartz rates around 7-8 on the Mohs scale, harder than granite or marble. It resists scratches, heat, stains, impact, and more.
  • Low maintenance – Non-porous so it does not require sealing. Easy to clean. Resists most stains.
  • Resilient – Tolerates humidity, heat, and cold. Stays in place and resists cracking.
  • Attractive – Available in a wide array of colors and patterns. Maintains appearance well over time.
  • Customizable – Can be fabricated into any shape or size. Edges and thickness can be customized.
  • Hygienic – Does not harbor bacteria growth. Approved for food contact.

So while not 100% natural stone, engineered quartz offers the look, feel, and performance of natural stone alongside the consistent quality and customization of man-made materials. This powerful combination helps explain its popularity.

Is Engineered Quartz Considered Natural Stone?

Given its composite nature and manufacturing process, engineered quartz is not considered a true natural stone by geological definitions. It lacks the completely natural origins and organic irregularities of materials like granite, marble, and soapstone.

However, engineered quartz arguably blurs the line between natural and man-made stone based on the following factors:

  • Main ingredient is a natural material – Quartz mineral makes up over 90% of the material, higher than many other engineered stones.
  • Appearance mimics natural stone – Many quartz patterns are designed to simulate marble, granite, and other natural materials. Difficult to distinguish visually.
  • Performance equals or excels natural stone – Meets or exceeds durability, hardness, maintenance needs of granite and other natural stones.
  • Marketed as a natural product – Many brands market quartz as a high-end natural stone alternative. Perception by consumers is often that it is a natural material.

So while not quite a true natural stone, engineered quartz is arguably the closest man-made material to natural stone available on the market today. The performance and perception allow it to transcend the man-made label in the minds of many consumers.

Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops

Understanding the upsides and downsides of quartz can further help clarify its similarities and differences from true natural stone:


  • Extreme durability and stain/scratch resistance
  • Easy maintenance – no sealing needed
  • Resilient to heat, moisture, impact
  • Available in wide range of colors and patterns
  • Lacks imperfections and variations of natural stone
  • Non-porous – inhibits bacteria growth
  • Highly consistent between slabs


  • Not 100% natural – man-made composite
  • Limited heat resistance (not ideal for direct hot pots)
  • Can be damaged by strong chemicals/solvents
  • Lacks uniqueness of natural stone
  • Higher cost than laminate; edges can chip if impacted
  • No ability to be restored/polished like natural stone
  • Slightly less environmentally friendly than natural stone

This breakdown shows that quartz succeeds in matching or exceeding natural stone in many performance categories. But its man-made origins and composition remain clear differentiators from true natural stones.

Are Quartz Manufacturers Misleading Consumers?

The debate about whether it qualifies as natural stone has led some to accuse quartz manufacturers of misleading marketing and branding. Critics argue that branding quartz as “natural”, “stone”, or with natural stone names misrepresents the product’s largely engineered origins.

However, most major quartz suppliers dispute these allegations. They contend that the prominent presence of natural quartz mineral in the material warrants the use of terms like “stone” or “natural quartz surfaces”. The unique high-grade composition allows quartz to mirror the performance and aesthetic of natural materials better than any alternative on the market.

Nonetheless, many brands have moved towards using language like “engineered stone” or “quartz surfaces” in marketing to sidestep this debate. They focus on emphasizing the positive qualities of quartz rather than debating definitions. This shift shows how the meaning of “natural stone” is evolving with innovations in engineered stone manufacturing.

How is Quartz Stone Different than Granite or Marble?

Since quartz straddles the line between natural and engineered stone, comparing it directly to familiar natural stones like granite and marble can further clarify the distinctions:


  • 100% natural – formed by volcanic activity
  • Available in wide range of natural colors/patterns
  • More prone to staining, etching, and damage
  • Needs periodic sealing to resist stains
  • Each slab has unique variations
  • Can be restored via polishing/honing


  • 100% natural – formed from limestone
  • Classic veining patterns with elegance
  • More delicate, prone to scratching/etching
  • Needs frequent sealing as very porous
  • Each piece unique with natural beauty
  • Can be restored via polishing/honing


  • Mainly natural quartz mineral combined with resins (~90% natural)
  • Colors and patterns emulating granite/marble/other natural stones
  • Extremely durable, scratch and stain resistant
  • Needs no sealing – non-porous
  • Consistent appearance between slabs
  • No ability to restore via polishing/honing

This comparison highlights why quartz offers superior durability and maintenance compared to softer natural stones. But it also shows why granite and marble carry a higher perceived value for their beauty, uniqueness, and authentic natural origins. This dichotomy explains why the debate over quartz’s status as natural or engineered stone remains unresolved.

Is the Natural vs. Engineered Debate Important for Consumers?

With quartz representing such a gray area between natural and engineered stone, does it really matter to consumers whether it fits in one category or the other? Should this debate impact your choice for a new countertop?

In essence, the labels “natural” and “engineered” are less important than evaluating quartz’s actual merits related to aesthetics, durability, maintenance, cost, and other factors on an individual basis. The bottom line is that quartz provides an excellent combination of appearance and performance regardless of definitions.

However, the natural vs. engineered question may matter depending on your perspective:

  • If a 100% natural material is paramount – quartz will fall short of stones like granite and marble that are wholly products of nature.
  • If uniqueness, variations, and restoration ability are priorities – the consistency of quartz lacks the natural stone characteristics that make each slab one-of-a-kind.
  • If sustainability and environment friendliness are concerns – quartz is less eco-friendly than natural stone since it contains resins.
  • If perfection, minimal maintenance, and durability are attractive – quartz’s engineering offers advantages over natural deficiencies.

Overall, quartz provides consumers an enticing balance of aesthetics, quality, and convenience that should be weighed based on your individual project’s needs – not on rigid definitions. Its growing popularity indicates that any questions over its natural stone status are secondary for most homeowners compared to its positive attributes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is quartz 100% natural stone?

No. While the main component of quartz surfaces is the natural quartz mineral, the final product combines quartz particles with resins, polymers, and other compounds under intense pressure and vibration. This engineered process results in a man-made composite material that is not completely natural.

What percentage of quartz countertops is actually natural?

Most quartz consists of approximately 90-95% ground quartz mineral mixed with about 5-10% polymer resins that bind the material together. This high percentage of natural material differentiates quartz from solid surface materials like Corian that are 100% engineered compounds.

Why is quartz harder and less porous than natural stone?

The resins used in quartz fabrication fill the small natural pores found in stone like marble or granite. This results in a non-porous material resistant to scratches, stains, and etching. The engineering process also allows quartz slabs to be fabricated in thicker, stronger formats than more delicate natural stones.

Can quartz be restored like granite or marble?

No. As an engineered material, quartz cannot be restored via polishing or honing like true natural stones. Any damages that occur are permanent. However, quartz is less prone to damage in the first place due to its extreme durability.

Is quartz healthier or more hygienic than natural stone?

Yes. Because quartz is non-porous, it does not allow bacterial growth like the microscopic pores in natural stones can. This makes quartz a highly hygienic option. Quartz also does not require chemical sealants needed for natural stone maintenance.

Does quartz need to be sealed?

No. Because it is non-porous, quartz does not require sealing. This provides major maintenance advantages over granite, marble, and other natural stones that need periodic sealing. One of quartz’s selling points is that it is nearly maintenance-free.

Can extreme heat damage quartz?

While quartz is resilient to typical kitchen heat exposure, extreme direct high heat can potentially compromise quartz surfaces. Quartz manufacturers generally advise against exposing surfaces to temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods of time.

Is quartz eco-friendly?

Compared to natural stone, quartz is slightly less environmentally friendly since its production involves mining quartz crystals and the use of resin adhesives. However, leading quartz brands have invested heavily in recent years to improve manufacturing sustainability through recycled content and more eco-conscious processes.


In the end, the decision of whether to consider quartz a natural stone comes down to your perspective and priorities. By geological standards, its engineered origins disqualify it from being classified as a true natural stone. However, with over 90% natural quartz mineral content and performance that rivals or exceeds natural stone, quartz represents arguably the closest thing to natural available in engineered surfaces.

This nuanced position explains the ongoing debate over quartz’s status. But getting caught up in definitions misses the more pertinent qualities that make quartz an exceptional and popular choice for countertops of all kinds. Its optimal combination of beauty, durability, consistency, and low maintenance make quartz a top material option whether you consider it man-made or Mother Nature-made. Let your individual design needs and goals determine if quartz is the right surface for your space, regardless of how it is categorized. With its attractive merits compared to both natural stone and other engineered surfaces, quartz is sure to maintain its prominence in countertop designs for years to come.