Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, have become an extremely popular option for kitchen and bathroom countertops in recent years. But what exactly are quartz countertops made of, and are they really solid quartz? Here is a detailed look at the composition of quartz countertops and whether they can be considered “solid.”
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 abundant mineral in the Earth’s continental crust, after feldspar. Natural quartz is very hard and scratch-resistant. It is often used in jewelry making and for manufacturing glass and ceramics.
Composition of Quartz Countertops
While quartz countertops take their name from the mineral, they are not completely made up of natural quartz. Here is the basic composition:
- 90-94% crushed quartz – This is ground quartz rocks mixed with resin. The crushed rocks provide hardness and strength.
- 6-10% polymers and resins – Polymers like polyester provide binding, while resins give flexibility and act as glue.
- Pigments – Added for color. Titanium oxide is commonly used.
So in reality, quartz countertops are around 90% crushed quartz particles held together by resins and polymers. The quartz content provides the signature look and durability. Resins bind the material and allow custom colors and patterns.
Why Quartz Countertops Are Considered “Solid”
While not completely 100% solid quartz, quartz countertops are referred to as “solid surfaces” for a few reasons:
- They are non-porous – Unlike natural stone, they do not require sealing to prevent stains.
- They are highly durable – The high quartz content makes them very hardy. They resist scratches, heat, and cracks.
- The material is consistent – Since it is engineered and not natural stone, the composition and color is uniform throughout.
- Thickness – Quartz slabs are usually 1.2 cm or thicker, giving them a solid feel.
So in summary, even though quartz countertops are not pure solid quartz, they provide the look, feel, and durability of a solid surface. The high percentage of quartz aggregates give them the properties of a solid material versus a veneer or laminate. This qualifies them to be called “solid surfaces” in the countertop industry.
Quartz vs. Other Popular Countertop Materials
It is helpful to understand how quartz stacks up against other common countertop materials in terms of composition:
- Granite – A natural stone that is completely solid and needs to be sealed. Prone to stains and cracks.
- Marble – Like granite, it is 100% natural stone. Softer and requires frequent sealing.
- Laminate – Made from plastic resins on particle board or plastic. Not truly a “solid surface.”
- Solid Surface – Acrylic-based resins. Softer than quartz but solid.
- Stainless Steel – Completely solid metal. Prone to scratches and fingerprints.
So while not the only solid surface material, quartz stands out due to its high solid quartz content, resulting in an extremely durable and low-maintenance countertop.
Are Quartz Countertops Solid Quartz? – The Bottom Line
- Quartz countertops are made of 90-94% crushed quartz bound together by resins and polymers.
- The high quartz content provides hardness, scratch resistance, and a uniform appearance.
- Quartz countertops are considered “solid surfaces” due to their non-porous nature, durability, thickness, and consistent composition.
So while not 100% pure solid quartz, quartz countertops offer the properties, aesthetics, and feel of a solid surface, making them an excellent choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Their composition allows them to stand up to heavy usage while retaining their beauty over time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some common questions about quartz countertops:
Are quartz countertops completely natural?
No, quartz countertops are engineered using crushed quartz, polymers, resins, and pigments. They are not completely natural like granite or marble.
Can quartz countertops get scratched?
While resistant, quartz can get scratched by extreme heat or sharp objects. But due to its nonporous surface, scratches are less noticeable than on granite or marble.
Do you need to seal quartz countertops?
No. Quartz does not require sealing like natural stone. The resins make quartz non-porous and prevent stains from penetrating the surface.
Can you repair chips or cracks in quartz?
Minor chips can be sanded down and resurfaced. Large cracks may require replacing the damaged section. Avoid excessive impact and heat to prevent damage.
Are quartz countertops heat resistant?
Quartz is more heat resistant than other surfaces but prolonged direct high heat can damage the resin binding. Using trivets for hot pans is recommended.
How thick are quartz slabs?
Most quartz countertop slabs range from 1.2 cm to 2 cm thick. Thicker slabs provide more durability and a solid feel.
While not 100% natural stone, quartz countertops provide a durable, low-maintenance “solid surface” feel. Their composition of 90%+ quartz aggregates bound by resins gives them unparalleled hardness and consistency compared to other countertop materials. This explains why quartz has become a go-to choice for today’s kitchens and bathrooms. With proper care, quartz countertops can last for many years, outperforming natural stone in terms of longevity. So if you desire the look of stone with increased toughness, quartz certainly delivers on the promise of a solid surface.