How is Quartz Made into Countertops?

Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects over the past couple of decades. But what exactly is quartz, and how is this natural stone transformed into the beautiful, practical countertops many homeowners love? Let’s take a closer look at the quartz manufacturing process.

An Introduction to 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 in the Earth’s continental crust, after feldspar.

Quartz is valued for its hardness and durability. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which runs from 1 (talc) to 10 (diamond), quartz rates a 7. This hardness makes it very resistant to scratches and impacts. Quartz is also resistant to most chemicals and stains.

While quartz can be found in crystal form, it more commonly occurs as compact, granular masses. For countertop manufacturing, quartz crystals are mined and then processed into a engineered stone.

How Natural Stone is Made into Countertops

The process of transforming raw quarried quartz into countertops involves several steps:

1. Sourcing the Quartz

Quartz is mined from quarries across the world. Major sources include Brazil, Madagascar, India, Norway, and the United States. The quartz is extracted from open pit mines using explosives, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery. This produces large chunks of quartz that are sorted by color and clarity.

2. Crushing the Quartz

The sorted quartz then goes through a crushing process to break it down into smaller fragments. This crushed quartz has a sand-like consistency. Advanced roller crushers and vibratory feeders are typically used in this stage.

3. Adding Color and Binding Agents

Next, small amounts of coloring agents and polymers are added to the crushed quartz to achieve the desired shades and patterns. Pigments are used for coloring, while polyester resins act as binding agents. This helps create a material that is over 90% crushed quartz aggregate, held together by the resin.

4. Compressing into Slabs

The quartz mixture is then compressed into molds under intense vibration and pressure of up to 100 tons. This compacts the quartz and resins into a solid slab form. The slabs are further compacted and hardened through a process called vibrocompression.

5. Polishing and Finishing

Once the slabs are cured and stabilized, they go through multiple stages of polishing. This is done with fine-grit diamond pads that hone the surface to a gleaming finish. An impregnating sealant is also applied to enhance stain resistance. Any flaws or cracks are repaired at this stage.

6. Fabricating and Installation

The polished slabs are shipped to fabricators, who cut and shape them into custom countertops using advanced cutting tools. The countertops are sculpted to the exact specifications required. After additional finishing work, the quartz countertops are ready for transportation to the job site and installation. Professional installers adhere the countertops to the cabinetry using specialized tools.

And voila, that natural quartz mined from the earth has now been transformed into beautiful, durable kitchen or bathroom countertops! The entire process utilizes state-of-the-art machinery and techniques to convert raw quartz into a prized engineered stone.

Unique Properties of Quartz Countertops

So what makes quartz such a great choice for countertops? Here are some of its standout qualities:

  • Extremely durable – Quartz rates 7 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it highly scratch and chip resistant. It holds up beautifully to heavy daily use.
  • Low maintenance – Requiring no sealing, quartz countertops are easy to care for. Simple cleaning with soap and water keeps them looking like new.
  • Resistant to staining – The non-porous surface makes quartz highly resistant to stains from spills, oils, and common kitchen acids.
  • Heat tolerance – Quartz can withstand brief exposure to moderately hot pots and pans without damage. However, prolonged direct heat should be avoided.
  • Flexible aesthetic – Available in a wide array of colors, patterns, and realistic stone textures. The look can be tailored for any design style.
  • Non-toxic – Contains no VOCs and creates no harmful fumes. This makes it safe for homes with children.
  • Hygienic – The nonporous surface inhibits bacterial growth and makes quartz very hygienic for food prep areas.

With this winning combination of good looks, durability, and practicality, it’s easy to see why quartz has surged in popularity as a countertop choice.

How Quartz Countertops Compare to Other Materials

Quartz certainly has its selling points, but how does it stack up against other common countertop materials like granite, marble, and solid surface? Here is a brief comparison:

  • Granite – Also a natural stone, granite is slightly more prone to staining and etching than quartz. Granite requires annual sealing. Quartz offers more consistent colors and patterns.
  • Marble – Marble is softer and more porous than quartz. It stains easily and requires frequent sealing. Marble can have veining that some homeowners find attractive.
  • Solid surface – Manmade solid surface materials like Corian lack the natural beauty of quartz. While also non-porous, solid surface can suffer scratching with heavy daily use.
  • Laminate – Laminate countertops with plastic surfaces are an inexpensive option, but they are vulnerable to chipping, scratches, heat damage, and moisture. Quartz offers much more durability.

For most homeowners, quartz represents the ideal balance of aesthetic appeal, durability, and easy maintenance. But personal style preferences should also be considered when selecting among countertop materials.

The Cost of Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are priced in the mid-to-upper tier of options for stone countertops. Here are some typical price ranges:

  • Quartz slabs – $50-100 per square foot of material
  • Fabrication – $50-150 per linear foot of fabrication
  • Installation – $5-15 per square foot for installation

In total, expect to pay $75-250 per square foot for a fully installed quartz countertop. The exact cost can vary based on the quartz variety chosen, edge profiles, and the complexity of the installation. More intricate jobs with greater cutting requirements have higher labor costs.

While not cheap, quartz offers good value, given its durability and longevity. With proper care, quartz countertops can last for decades before needing replacement. And they enhance the value of a home for resale.

FAQ About Quartz Countertops

Many homeowners have questions about the specifics of quartz countertops. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is heat an issue with quartz countertops?

While quartz is resistant to brief exposure from hot pots and pans, direct high heat should be avoided. Using trivets and hot pads is recommended to prevent potential stress cracks from prolonged exposure.

How durable and stain-resistant is quartz?

Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs scale, making it very hard and scratch resistant. It stands up well to knives, impact, and scratches. And its non-porous surface makes it highly resistant to stains. But any stone can be damaged by excessive force.

Does quartz need to be sealed?

No, quartz countertops are non-porous so sealing is not required. This makes maintenance easy.

Can quartz counters be repaired if damaged?

Minor damage like light scratches can often be buffed out through re-polishing. But excessive chipping or cracking requires replacement of the damaged section. Self-repair is not recommended.

How should quartz counters be cleaned?

For regular cleaning, simply use a soft cloth or sponge with warm water and mild soap. Avoid abrasive cleaners. A squeegee can be used to remove excess water. deep cleaning with a stone-safe cleaner is occasionally needed.

Are there health/safety concerns with quartz?

No, quartz is non-toxic and does not emit gases or radiation. This makes it very safe for homes. Being non-porous, it also resists microbial growth. Proper ventilation is needed during installation to avoid dust inhalation.

Does quartz have special installation needs?

Quartz is heavy, so cabinets must be sturdy enough to support it. Professional installation is highly recommended. For seamless visuals, joints should be properly supported and panels aligned precisely during installation.

What thickness is best for a quartz countertop?

The standard thickness is 3/4″ to 1 1/4″. Thicker quartz provides greater strength for heavily used surfaces. Thicker edges also allow more intricate profiles.

Who makes the best quartz countertops?

Top manufacturers include Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, MSI, and Cosentino. Choosing among the many brand options comes down to preferred colors, patterns, and prices.

Enhancing Your Kitchen or Bathroom with Quartz Countertops

Upgrading to quartz can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen or bathroom aesthetic. Here are some tips for selecting quartz and integrating it into your space:

  • Choose a quartz variety and color that complements your cabinetry, flooring, and other finishes. Coordinate with your interior designer.
  • Mix up your surfaces – use quartz for the kitchen island but granite on the perimeter, for example.
  • Consider a textured quartz finish to add visual interest.
  • Allow natural light to shine on your quartz counters to highlight the colors and patterns.
  • For a cohesive look, have quartz countertops fabricated to neatly integrate the sink and cooktop.
  • Extend the countertop material up the backsplash and pair with glass tile accents.
  • Use quartz shards and loose crystals as backsplash accents.
  • Add ambiance with pendant lights and under-cabinet lighting on your quartz countertops.
  • Make a statement by having your quartz counters fabricated with ornate edges.

With proper design and fabrication, quartz countertops can become a stunning focal point of your kitchen or bath. Take your time selecting the perfect quartz variety and style for your needs. Soon you’ll be enjoying the beauty, durability and easy care that quartz offers.


From mountainside quartz deposits to high-tech factories, quartz undergoes an extensive transformation on its journey to becoming the ideal countertop material. The manufacturing process combines the strong, attractive qualities of natural quartz with polymer resins to create an engineered stone that is hard, stain-resistant, non-porous, and low maintenance. With flexibility in colors, patterns, and textures, quartz offers homeowners great options for enhancing kitchens and bathrooms. While higher priced than alternatives like laminate, quartz provides unparalleled durability and longevity for decades of daily use. Your new quartz countertops are sure to become a highlight of your home for years to come.