Quartz countertops have become incredibly popular in recent years due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and ease of maintenance. One of the most common questions homeowners have when considering quartz is exactly how much natural quartz stone is present in quartz countertops. The answer largely depends on the specific brand and product line. Here is a comprehensive overview of how quartz countertops are made and how much natural quartz they contain.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a naturally occurring mineral found abundantly in the earth’s crust. In its raw form, quartz crystals have a glossy, glass-like appearance. These crystals are extremely hard and resistant to both acids and scratches. Quartz is also very heat tolerant. These characteristics make natural quartz an ideal material for countertops and other surfaces.
The most common color of natural quartz is white or clear, but traces of other minerals can lend quartz a grey, yellow, pink, or purple hue. Natural quartz slabs are extracted from quarries and mines, then polished down to make beautiful countertops, tiles, and other decorative objects.
How Quartz Countertops Are Made
While natural quartz makes an excellent countertop surface, pure polished slabs are prone to small fractures and pits that can compromise the integrity and appearance. That’s why today’s quartz countertops are made from engineered stone. Engineered quartz blends natural quartz aggregates with polymer resins and pigments.
The manufacturing process starts with inspecting and cleaning the quartz crystals. They are then combined with the resins, pigments, and other compounds in precise ratios and mixed thoroughly. The mixture is compacted into slabs using vibration and pressure. The slabs are further hardened, polished, and finished to make the final countertop product.
Quartz Content Percentages
The exact amount of natural quartz used in the engineered stone varies quite a bit depending on the brand:
- Caesarstone – Up to 90% crushed quartz aggregate
- Silestone – Usually around 90% quartz but can range from 88-94%
- Cambria – About 93% quartz
- LG Viatera – 92% quartz
- Quartz Master – Crushed quartz makes up 90% of the stone
- Hanstone Quartz – 90% quartz content
- Vicostone – Composed of about 90% quartz
- Quartzforms – Contains over 90% natural quartz
- Santa Margherita – 90% quartz crystals
As you can see, the majority of leading quartz countertop manufacturers use around 90% – 94% natural quartz in their engineered stone. The remaining percentage consists of tinting agents, resins, polymers, and other compounds that bind the material together.
Why Natural Quartz Alone Doesn’t Work
Even though quartz countertops contain upwards of 90% finely crushed natural stone, quartz alone does not make a practical countertop material. The resins and polymers serve critical roles:
- Provide Color and Pattern – The polymers allow pigments to be added to the quartz to achieve different colors and patterns. Natural quartz alone is limited to white/clear or only slight color variations. The polymers allow for unlimited colors and unique designs.
- Fill Cracks – Natural quartz has micro-fissures and pits that could allow bacteria to harbor and liquids to seep through. Polymeric resins fill in these holes to make the material non-porous.
- Increase Flexibility – Natural quartz is extremely hard but prone to cracks and chips if the stone slab flexes or experiences impacts. Polymers make the engineered quartz more flexible and resistant to cracks from dropped objects.
- Improve Bonding – Natural quartz particles do not bind together well. Polymer resins fuse the crushed quartz into a seamless material that appears and functions as one solid piece.
Durability Comes from Quartz Itself
Although polymers and resins are crucial for practical engineered quartz slabs, the durability and performance of quartz countertops comes from the natural quartz itself. The quartz provides:
- Extreme hardness and scratch resistance
- Resistance to acids, stains, burns, and etching
- Heat tolerance up to several hundred degrees Fahrenheit
- Non-porosity and resistance to water absorption
- Strength to support heavy objects and withstand impacts
These characteristics are what makes quartz such a coveted material. A small percentage of resins and polymers enhance the natural properties of quartz to create an ideal countertop product.
How Much Quartz is Ideal?
Given the performance benefits of natural quartz, many homeowners reasonably assume that more quartz content is better. However, the ideal percentage seems to be right around 90%. Higher quartz content makes the slabs more prone to small fractures and pits. Additionally, less resin means the material is more brittle and will chip or crack more easily when cut or drilled during installation.
Around 90% quartz offers the best balance between maximizing the natural stone’s benefits while including enough polymers to make the engineered slab functional and flawless. Be wary of manufacturers claiming quartz content over 95%, as it likely indicates a compromise on durability and integrity. For most homeowners, 88-94% quartz content provides an optimal combination.
Authentic Engineered Stone
While quartz countertops are engineered composites, the key ingredient remains natural quartz crystals straight from the earth. Leading brands use upwards of 90% real stone while carefully blending minimal polymers and resin to enhance quartz’s natural abilities. This sets quartz apart from solid-surface acrylic, limestone, laminates, and other man-made countertop materials. For homeowners who want genuine stone with enhanced durability, quartz delivers the real deal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is more quartz in countertops better?
Not necessarily. While the quartz provides the durability, around 90% quartz is ideal. Higher percentages tend to increase the risk of pits and cracks that require more resin filler. 90% strikes the best balance.
What’s better – quartz or granite countertops?
Quartz is better for most homes since it is harder, more scratch and stain resistant, requires no sealing, and comes in more color options. Granite is limited to natural stone patterns.
Can you get 100% natural quartz countertops?
No, pure natural quartz countertops are not practical. The stone would be prone to flaws and cracks. The polymeric resins are required to provide color options and improve durability.
Is engineered quartz fake stone?
It’s not fake, it just combines real crushed quartz with a small amount of bonding agents. The polymers enhance the natural quartz – without them the countertops would not have the same performance.
What makes quartz countertops so strong?
It’s the natural hardness, density, and heat resistance of the quartz itself that gives quartz countertops their strength. Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it one of the most durable natural minerals.
The Bottom Line
Quartz manufacturers aim for a careful balance – using over 90% real quartz to harness its innate performance while adding just enough resins and polymers to maximize durability and aesthetics in practical engineered slabs. For most homeowners, the ideal amount of quartz content is around 90% to 94%, allowing quartz countertops to truly deliver as an exceptional surface.