What is Quartz?
Quartz is a naturally occurring mineral found abundantly in the earth’s crust. It is highly durable and heat resistant. Natural quartz contains bands and flakes of various colors and sizes. While beautiful, natural quartz is too soft in its pure form for use as countertops.
How Quartz Countertops Are Manufactured
Quartz countertops are made by combining approximately 90% ground natural quartz with about 10% polyresin binders and pigments. The quartz is first mined, then cleaned, ground, and blended with the resins and pigments under intense vibration and pressure. This forms a durable, non-porous slab.
The slabs are further hardened and polished into the finished countertops. So while not fully natural stone, quartz countertops contain a high percentage of real quartz particles. The resins bind it all together into an extremely hard, resilient surface.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
There are many advantages to choosing quartz for your home:
- Extremely durable – Quartz rates 7-8 on the Mohs hardness scale, harder than granite. It resist scratches, stains, chips, cracks and heat.
- Low maintenance – Requiring no sealing, quartz is easy to clean and keep looking like new.
- Resistant to bacteria – The nonporous surface limits bacterial growth.
- Wide range of colors and patterns – Manufacturing allows mimicking looks of natural stone as well as bold, uniform colors.
- No sealing required – Unlike granite, quartz never needs resealing.
Cons of Quartz Countertops
The main drawbacks of quartz countertops include:
- Higher price – Quartz is more expensive than laminate or ceramic tile, though lower cost than natural stone.
- Manmade material – As an engineered product, quartz lacks the prestige and uniqueness of natural stone.
- Limited repairability – Seam repair is difficult compared to materials like granite.
- Few recycled options – Most quartz contains little recycled material.
While not a 100% natural stone, quartz countertops offer unparalleled durability, low maintenance, and resistance to scratching, staining and heat damage. The high quartz content provides beauty, while polymer resins allow flexibility in colors and patterns. With proper installation, quartz countertops can last for many years of high performance and great appearance. For many homeowners, the superior benefits of quartz make it worth the investment over natural stone or other countertop materials.
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Countertops
Is Quartz Natural or Manmade?
Quartz countertops are engineered composites made from approximately 90% ground natural quartz particles combined with polyresin binders and pigments, then formed into slabs under heat and pressure. So while not fully natural, they derive their strength and appearance largely from natural quartz.
How Durable is Quartz?
Quartz is extremely durable and resistant to scratches, stains, chips and high temperatures up to 500°F. It ranks 7-8 on the Mohs hardness scale, harder than granite. The resin binders make quartz more flexible than natural quartz alone, preventing cracking or chipping from impact.
Does Quartz Need to be Sealed?
No, quartz does not require any sealing, polishing or reconditioning to maintain its appearance. The nonporous surface prevents staining and bacterial growth.
Can you Repair Chips or Cracks in Quartz?
It’s difficult to repair damaged areas of a quartz countertop. The integrated nature of the material makes it hard to patch or replace sections. Avoid abrasive cleaners and standing on the countertops to prevent cracking and chipping.
Is Quartz Safe for Food Prep?
Yes, quartz is naturally nonporous and resistant to bacteria growth, making it very safe for food preparation. It does not require sealing to prevent contamination or staining. Always follow proper hygiene practices.
How Does the Cost of Quartz Compare to Other Countertop Materials?
Quartz counters fall in the middle price range. They cost significantly more than plastic laminate or ceramic tile but are more affordable than natural stone. Exact quartz prices vary by brand and color. Overall, quartz delivers outstanding durability and performance per dollar.
While engineered and manmade, quartz countertops contain a high percentage of natural stone while avoiding some downsides of solid natural quartz. The presence of natural quartz particles provides an attractive, stone-like look. Polymer resins make quartz practical, durable, low-maintenance, and customizable. For homeowners seeking the best blend of aesthetics, convenience and value, quartz has become a go-to choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects.