Are Quartz Countertops Natural?

Quartz countertops have become an incredibly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Their sleek, modern aesthetic and reputation for being low-maintenance have made them a go-to choice for many homeowners. But despite their widespread use, there is still some debate around whether quartz countertops can be considered a natural stone product. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what quartz countertops are made of, how they are produced, and whether or not they should be classified as natural.

What is Quartz?

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 in a variety of different colors, including white, grey, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, brown, black, and blue. The most common variety is transparent and colorless.

In its raw mineral form, quartz is very hard, rating a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It is found in massive formations around the world, particularly in Brazil and Madagascar. Quartz has piezoelectric properties, meaning it can generate an electrical charge when pressure is applied. This makes it useful for quartz clocks and watches.

The Composition of Quartz Countertops

While natural quartz is found in nature, quartz countertops are an engineered stone product created in factories. They contain roughly 90% ground natural quartz combined with polyester resins and pigments. The resins act as a binding agent, while the pigments add color and create the various patterns and styles.

In addition to quartz particles, countertops may also contain other materials like recycled glass, mirrors, metallic flecks, and semi-precious stones. These additional ingredients make up the remaining 10% of the material. The exact formula can vary between quartz countertop brands and specific product lines.

The Manufacturing Process

Quartz slabs are made by blending quartz mineral powder with resins and other materials under intense vibration and pressure. This allows the various ingredients to fuse together into a solid slab. The process starts with inspecting and cleaning the quartz to remove impurities. The quartz, resins, and other additives are then combined and poured into a mold.

The mixture is compacted using a vacuum and vibration, forcing out any air pockets. It is then moved into a high-pressure press, going through intense heat and pressure to form a solid slab. The pressure applied is enormous, ranging from 100 tons up to 2000 tons.

Once cured and cooled, the slab is transported to a facility for final processing. Here it is polished to a smooth finish and inspected for any flaws. Most quartz countertop slabs are around 1.2-2 cm thick. They can then be cut to size for installation in homes. Advanced machines ensure precise cuts and minimal waste.

The Benefits of Engineered Quartz Countertops

The manufacturing process allows quartz countertops to take on characteristics that natural, raw quartz does not have on its own. Here are some of the touted benefits:

  • Durability: The resins make quartz countertops highly resistant to scratches, chips, cracks, and heat damage. They are more durable than granite or marble.
  • Low maintenance: Quartz resists stains, etching, and water marks. It doesn’t require regular sealing like natural stone.
  • Consistent patterning: The pigments added create consistent colours and patterns. Natural quartz varies more in colour.
  • Customization: Manufacturers can create unique colours and patterns that don’t appear in nature. The range of options is endless.
  • Heat and acid resistance: Quartz holds up well against incidental exposure to pots and spills. Granite and marble are more prone to acid etching.
  • Non-porous: With very low porosity, quartz does not harbour bacteria growth. It is an ideal choice for hygienic kitchen and bathroom spaces.
  • Versatility: Quartz can be used for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, backsplashes, flooring, walls, fireplace surrounds and more.

Is it Truly Natural?

Given that quartz countertops contain a high percentage of ground quartz stone (90%), many companies market them as a natural product. The quartz itself comes straight from the earth before being refined into a powder.

However, others argue that the resins and polymers make quartz countertops a human-made material. The slabs are engineered under factory conditions and contain man-made ingredients. They do not exist anywhere in nature.

Quartz also lacks the unique colours, markings, and variations found in a wholly natural product like granite or marble. The pigments and patterns are added artificially to achieve a uniform look. So in that sense, quartz is less “natural” than other stones.

How Quartz Compares to Other Countertops

To better understand where quartz falls on the natural to unnatural spectrum, it is helpful to compare it to other popular countertop materials:

Granite Countertops

Granite is a 100% natural stone that is mined from quarries. It comes directly from the earth in large slabs that are then cut into countertops. The mineral composition and colours occur completely naturally without human intervention. Each granite slab has a one-of-a-kind appearance.

Marble Countertops

Like granite, marble is a 100% natural quarried stone. Its intricate veins and colours occur organically through natural geologic processes. No pigments or resins are added. Marble countertops maintain unique one-of-a-kind qualities.

Quartzite Countertops

Quartzite forms when natural quartz sandstone is exposed to heat and pressure within the earth. This causes it to harden into quartzite, a metamorphic rock. Quartzite slabs come straight from the earth, making them a natural product.

Engineered Quartz Countertops

Engineered quartz contains natural stone (quartz), but it is heavily processed and contains man-made ingredients like resins. The patterns and colours are designed in factories. It straddles the line between natural and engineered.

Porcelain Countertops

Porcelain countertops are made from refined clay. The clay is shaped and completely engineered in a factory setting. Porcelain countertops have a uniform look and zero natural stone content.

Laminate Countertops

Laminates like Formica are a 100% engineered product made from plastic resins and paper fibre. They contain no natural stone or materials.

Based on this comparison, materials like granite, marble and quartzite would be considered the most natural. Porcelain and laminate are completely engineered. Quartz lies somewhere in the middle, straddling the natural and engineered categories. Many view it as more engineered than natural.

Is “Natural” Better?

There is often an assumption that “all natural” products are superior. However, both natural and engineered materials have their trade-offs.

Natural stone comes straight from the earth untouched. But it can also have minor flaws and weaknesses. Granite and marble are more prone to staining, etching, and variability. Totally natural stones may contain small cracks or fissures.

While engineered stones lack the earthy, organic qualities, they often surpass natural materials in durability and resilience. Quartz offers superior scratch, stain and heat resistance compared to granite. So engineered stones have advantages in performance.

Neither natural or engineered countertops are inherently superior across the board. It depends on your priorities and which qualities matter most. Natural stones offer an unparalleled visual appeal. But engineered stones excel in areas like easy maintenance and long-lasting durability.

Are Quartz Countertops the Best Choice?

With their stylish appearance and reputation for being low maintenance, quartz countertops are currently the fastest growing segment of the countertop market. Homeowners are increasingly choosing quartz over materials like granite and marble.

But opinions vary on whether quartz is the single best option. Here are some of the potential pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Quartz Countertops

  • Highly durable and scratch resistant
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Resists stains, etching and watermarks
  • Heat and acid resistant
  • Consistent patterns and colours
  • Non-porous – doesn’t harbour bacteria
  • Available in wide range of styles
  • Can mimic look of pricier natural stones

Potential Cons of Quartz

  • Not as “natural” as stones like granite
  • Made from industrial processes
  • Lacks uniqueness of natural stone
  • Requires periodic resealing
  • Can chip if subjected to heavy impact
  • Higher cost than laminate countertops
  • Limited high-end exotic “looks”

Quartz is among the best choices for busy kitchens prone to spills, stains and heavy usage. The durability and easy maintenance make quartz a practical option. But natural stone may be preferable for those desiring a one-of-a-kind look.

In terms of appearance, no other material can quite match the unique beauty inherent in natural granite, marble or soapstone. For some homeowners, visual appeal outweighs practical factors.

Quartz combines the best of both worlds to some extent. It offers more consistency and performance than natural stone, with more visual depth than porcelain or solid surface materials. It remains a winning combination for many. But personal style preferences and lifestyle needs should drive any countertop decision.

Finding the Right Quartz Countertop

If you opt for quartz, choosing the right style and colour to match your kitchen or bathroom design is key. Leading quartz brands include Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone and Hanstone. Each offers an immense range of options.

Patterns can mimic natural stone with realistic veining, flecks and movement. Or go for a uniform solid colour for a crisp, seamless look. Whites, beiges, grays and darker tones are perennial favorites. Bold dark greens and blues provide dramatic contrast. There are also quartz options with sparkling metallic or glitter finishes.

Be sure to inspect quartz slabs in person before finalizing your decision. The overall look can vary somewhat between brands. View colour samples at different times of day, as lighter quartzes can take on a different tone in natural sunlight versus indoor light.

Many distributors have sample kits that allow you to bring home small quartz pieces to envision how they fit. Quartz is a major investment, so take your time exploring the possibilities.

Caring for Quartz Countertops

To keep your quartz counters looking like new for decades to come, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s care guidelines. Here are some best practices:

  • Use a gentle cleaner designed for stone. Avoid harsh cleansers.
  • Blot spills quickly to prevent staining. Acidic substances like wine or citrus can etch if left.
  • Avoid abrasive pads or powders that could dull the finish.
  • Use a cutting board for food prep. Don’t cut directly on the counter.
  • Don’t place hot pots or pans directly on the surface. Use trivets.
  • Reseal quartz every 1-2 years with a stone sealer.
  • Avoid sitting or standing on your counters. The weight can crack quartz.

Quartz is very resilient, but it can be susceptible to damage if mistreated. With proper care and maintenance, your counters will stay looking like new for many years. Be gentle and take precautions to prevent chips, cracks or etch marks.

Quartz vs. Granite: Which is Better?

One of the most common dilemmas homeowners face when selecting countertops is whether to choose quartz or granite. Granite ruled as the top choice for many years, but has recently been rivaled by the rise of quartz. Here’s a brief comparison of some of the key differences:

Quartz pros:

  • More durable – resists scratches, stains, chips
  • Easier maintenance – doesn’t require regular sealing
  • Greater stain resistance
  • Consistent color and patterning
  • Available in wide range of colours/styles
  • Non-porous

Granite pros:

  • Completely natural stone
  • Unique one-of-a-kind look
  • Can be repaired/re-polished indefinitely
  • Cooler surface temperature
  • Often cheaper than quartz
  • Better high-end exotic options
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable

Both offer attractive options. Quartz is ideal for busy kitchens prone to damage. Granite may appeal more to those wanting a natural stone look. Consider your own priorities, from aesthetics, budget, ease of care and lifestyle. Consult an expert to view slab samples of both to decide which material best suits your home.

Are Quartz Countertops Sustainable?

As environmental awareness grows, sustainability is a consideration for any home building or renovation project. Are quartz countertops a “green” choice? While quartz contains abundant natural quartz stone, the resins and manufacturing process raise some ecological concerns.


  • Made mostly from natural quartz
  • Doesn’t require quarrying of new stone
  • Long lifespan minimizes replacement
  • Can use recycled materials like glass

Potential Cons

  • Resins derived from fossil fuels
  • Energy-intensive manufacturing
  • Not biodegradable or easily recycled
  • Limited recycled content used

Quartz is not as inherently eco-friendly as some natural stones, but manufacturers are exploring ways to improve the green credentials of engineered quartz:

  • Using recycled glass or mirrors – Some brands use up to 75% recycled content.
  • Plant-based resins – Bio-based resins reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Reducing carbon emissions – Manufacturers are streamlining processes to cut greenhouse gases.
  • Efficient transportation – Grouping facilities minimizes shipping distances.
  • Recycling waste material – Scraps and slurry can be recycled back into quartz production.

While quartz counters may not be the most sustainable option currently available, innovations continue to reduce their environmental impact over time.

Quartz Countertops: To Sum Up

  • Quartz countertops contain roughly 90% ground quartz stone, making them highly durable and resistant to damage.
  • Added resins and pigments give quartz the consistent patterning and colours not found in natural quartz formations.
  • Quartz straddles the line between natural stone and engineered products. It contains abundant natural quartz but also man-made ingredients.
  • Quartz offers benefits like stain resistance and durability exceeding natural stone. But natural stones offer unmatched visual appeal.
  • With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops can provide long-lasting beauty and performance for kitchens and bathrooms.

So in considering “are quartz countertops natural?”, there are good arguments on both sides. It depends on whether you classify naturalness based on mineral content or the man-made production processes. Regardless of the debate, quartz remains a leading choice for countertops due to its ideal blend of aesthetics and practical low-maintenance qualities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about the nature of quartz countertops:

Is Quartz Entirely Natural?

No, quartz countertops are not 100% natural stones. While they contain high amounts of natural quartz stone (around 90%), they also include resin binders and polymer fillers that are human-made. The mixing and fabrication in factories is an engineered process.

Is Quartz More Natural Than Granite?

No. Granite is quarried completely from natural bedrock and is unaltered by manufacturing. Quartz contains natural stone but also has man-made additives and pigments, so it is considered less natural than granite.

What Makes Quartz Countertops Unnatural?

The resins, polymers and pigments added to quartz slabs during fabrication are human-made ingredients that make them less than fully natural. Also, the consistent patterning and colours are designed in factories and don’t appear like that in nature.

Can Quartz Countertops Be Called Natural Stone?

This is debatable. Since quartz slabs do contain up to 90% crushed natural quartz, some argue this qualifies them as a stone product. But the resins and custom colors mean they do not meet the criteria to be considered a product of nature.

Is Quartz More Durable Because It’s Engineered?

Yes. The resins and manufacturing processes applied to quartz make the slabs harder, more impervious to scratching, and more resistant to cracks, chips and damages than wholly natural stones like granite. Engineering quartz improves durability.

Which is Better – Natural or Engineered Countertops?

There is no consensus on whether natural or engineered countertops are better overall. Natural stones like granite have unparalleled visual appeal. But engineered quartz offers superior durability and stain resistance. The right choice depends on your priorities and needs.

Is Quartz Eco-Friendly?

Quartz is not the most eco-friendly option, but manufacturers are working to enhance sustainability by incorporating recycled content and using greener manufacturing practices to lower emissions and energy use. While not yet highly sustainable, quartz is becoming more earth-friendly.


Quartz occupies an intriguing middle ground between natural stone and engineered surfaces. Its reputation for beauty and low maintenance make it a go-to choice for upscale kitchen and bathroom remodels. Discussions around whether quartz countertops qualify as a natural product seem unlikely to diminish their popularity anytime soon. By combining abundant natural quartz stone with polymers and resins, manufacturers have created a versatile material that offers the best of both worlds: the look of high-end stone with next-level durability. With proper maintenance, quartz countertops can retain their like-new appearance for decades, outperforming classic stones like granite and marble. For homeowners seeking fashionable, functional countertops with standout style, quartz ticks all the boxes.