How Is Quartz Made For Countertops?

Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs made from a mix of around 90% ground natural quartz and 10% polyresin and pigments. The manufacturing process transforms bits of quartz crystals into beautiful, durable, and practical countertops perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. Let’s explore exactly how quartz gets transformed into these amazing slabs.

Gathering The Raw Materials

The key ingredient, as the name suggests, is quartz. Quartz is an abundant naturally occurring mineral found around the world. Pure quartz is extracted from quarries and mines and transported to manufacturing facilities for further processing.

Some quartz is mined in places like Brazil and India. Other quartz may come from recycling granite, quartzite, and other stone scraps from construction sites and stone yards. This reclaimed material helps reduce waste.

In addition to quartz, polyresins and pigments are added to the mixture. Polyresins are a blend of polymers like epoxy or polyester resins. They act as a binder to hold the quartz together.

Pigments introduce color and patterns like grains, specks, and swirls. Common pigments used include iron oxide for red tones and carbon for dark hues.

Mixing The Ingredients

At the quartz manufacturing facility, the raw quartz material first goes through a crushing process. Large chunks of quartz are ground down into smaller bits between 3-10mm in size using heavy machinery.

The small quartz bits then get combined with polyresins and pigments according to a proprietary recipe unique to each brand. The ratio is around 90% ground quartz and 10% polymers and pigments.

The exact recipe, ratios, and mixing process varies between different quartz manufacturers and determines the final look and quality. Most leading brands use advanced mixing technology to uniformly blend the materials.

Molding And Compressing

The well-mixed quartz material gets molded into slabs using one of two methods:

Breton Process

The Breton process, patented by Breton S.p.A, is the most popular method for molding engineered stone. It uses a vacuum and vibration to remove air pockets and compact the mixture into slabs.

  • Quartz material is fed into a slab press machine containing a mold.
  • A vacuum removes air bubbles as vibration compacts the quartz.
  • Tremendous pressure gets applied to press the material into a slab.
  • The slab gets hardened by polymerization in a special oven.

Vibro Compaction

The vibro compaction method uses vibration rather than vacuum degassing.

  • Quartz mixture is poured into molds on trays.
  • Vibration shakes the trays, densifying the material.
  • Hydraulic pressure compacts the quartz into slabs.
  • The slabs are cured in an oven.

Both processes result in dense, non-porous slabs. The Breton process minimizes air pockets for greater consistency.

Curing And Finishing

Freshly molded quartz slabs then go through additional finishing and polishing steps:

  • Curing: The slabs cure in a special oven, which triggers polymerization of the resins to harden the quartz into a solid slab.
  • Cooling: Cured slabs are cooled down gradually to prevent cracks and fissures.
  • Calibrating: Slabs are precisely cut to standard sizes and calibrated to exact thicknesses. Common options are 3/4″ and 1-1/4″ thick.
  • Polishing: Multi-step polishing using diamond-tipped tools imparts a glossy sheen. The slabs are polished on both top and bottom surfaces.
  • Inspection: Throughout the process, slabs are inspected for any defects using automated systems. Defective slabs are removed.
  • Packaging: Finally, finished slabs are packaged in wooden crates for distribution and installation.

With that, the quartz countertop slabs are ready to be shipped out and installed in homes and businesses. The transformation from raw quartz to beautiful engineered stone is complete!

Pros Of Quartz Countertops

What makes quartz such a popular choice for countertops? Here are some of its winning qualities:

  • Durability: Quartz is harder than granite and almost indestructible under normal use.
  • Low Maintenance: Unlike natural stone, quartz does not need regular sealing. Simple wiping keeps it clean.
  • Stain Resistance: The non-porous surface resists stains, making it ideal for kitchens.
  • Consistency: The manufactured nature of quartz makes every slab uniform.
  • Appearance: Quartz can mimic granites and marbles but offers more consistent patterns and colors.
  • Versatility: Quartz comes in a wide array of styles, from glittery crushed glass looks to natural stone styles.

Cons Of Quartz Countertops

Despite the many advantages, quartz also comes with a few limitations:

  • Upfront Cost: Quartz countertops are more expensive than laminate options. Natural stone tends to be cheaper.
  • Limited Feel: The manufactured feel of quartz lacks the texture and veining of natural stone surfaces.
  • Prone to Chips: While durable, the crystalline structure of quartz makes the material prone to chipping at the edges if subjected to impact.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Prolonged direct heat exposure can damage quartz surfaces. Trivets and hot pads should be used.
  • Seams Visible: For larger counter areas, slab seams will be noticeable since quartz cannot be mined in bigger pieces.

Quartz Countertop FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about quartz countertops:

How durable is quartz?

With a Mohs hardness rating of 7-8, quartz is harder than granite (Mohs rating of 6-7). This makes it very resilient for daily kitchen use.

What are the benefits of quartz over granite?

Quartz requires less maintenance than natural granite. It does not need annual sealing and is less prone to staining or harboring bacteria. It offers more consistent patterns and colors versus the natural veining in granite.

Is quartz porous?

No, quartz is non-porous so spills and stains remain on the surface rather than absorbing into the material. This makes it ideal for kitchens.

Can you cut on quartz countertops?
Yes, quartz offers good knifing properties and stands up well to knives. Using a cutting board is still recommended to protect the surface.

How often should quartz countertops be sealed?

Quartz does not require sealing at all due to its non-porous nature. For kitchen use, simple cleaning with soap and water is enough to maintain its finish.

How do you clean quartz countertops?

For routine cleaning, wipe the quartz with a soft, damp cloth or sponge with warm soapy water. For dried spills, use a non-abrasive cleaner designed for stone surfaces. Avoid abrasive pads.

Can quartz countertops chip or crack?
Quartz is less prone to cracks and fissures versus natural stone. However, excessive impact force, mostly at the edges and seams, can cause chips due to the crystalline nature of quartz.


Quartz makes an exceptional material for both kitchen and bathroom countertops. It mixes ground quartz crystals and natural stone with resin binders to create an engineered stone that is highly durable, low maintenance, and available in varied attractive patterns and colors.

While not a natural stone, the manufacturing process allows quartz to overcome many of the limitations of granite or marble. This interesting mix of technology and nature is what produces the resilient yet beautiful slabs used to upgrade countertops across millions of homes.

So next time you find yourself admiring a quartz countertop, remember the fascinating process used to transform raw stone bits into stunning slabs!