What are Engineered Quartz Countertops?

Engineered quartz countertops are man-made slabs designed to have the look and feel of natural stone while providing consistent coloring and patterning. Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments under high heat and pressure. This process creates a non-porous, durable, and low-maintenance surface ideal for kitchen counters and other applications.

What is Quartz Material?

Quartz is one of the hardest minerals found in nature, and the second most abundant after feldspar. Pure quartz consists of silicon and oxygen and has a Mohs hardness of 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. In its raw form, quartz has a glassy appearance and can be found in sand deposits, granite, and other natural stone.

When used in countertops, quartz crystals are ground down to a fine powder and combined with resins, polymers, and pigments. Common resins used include polyester, epoxy, and acrylic. Polymers act as a binding agent, while pigments add color and pattern. Additional compounds like mirrors or glass can be added for sparkle effects.

This mixture is then molded into slabs using a vibrational process that removes air pockets. The material is cured at high temperatures to create an interlocking matrix that is about 90% ground quartz and 10% resins and binders. This ratio results in the ideal balance of hardness, durability, and flexibility for countertop use.

Benefits of Engineered Quartz

There are many advantages to choosing engineered quartz over other countertop materials:

Consistent Appearance

While natural stone has distinct veining and coloring based on each unique slab, quartz offers consistent patterning and coloration. This allows for a seamless look when installing countertops. Engineered quartz does not have large variations or irregular patterns.


With a Mohs hardness of 7, quartz is more scratch and chip-resistant than granite (Mohs 6), marble (Mohs 3-4), and other natural stone. Quartz stands up well to heavy use in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. It does not need sealing and is highly resistant to stains.

Heat and Water Resistance

Quartz countertops are non-porous, so they won’t harbor bacteria or need periodic sealing like natural stone. They are unaffected by exposure to water, food preparation, and common household cleaners and chemicals. Quartz also holds up well to heat, withstanding temperatures up to 300°F.

Easy Maintenance

Routine cleaning of quartz requires just mild soap and water. The non-porous surface resists staining, fingerprints, and spills while staying glossy and like-new. More stubborn messes can be handled with a gentle cleaner made specifically for engineered stone.

Rich, Consistent Colors

While natural stone is limited to the color palette of each unique slab, engineered quartz offers a rainbow of consistent colors and patterns. Popular options include realistic marble and granite looks, as well as bold solid colors like ruby red or midnight black. Custom patterns and designs are also possible.

Fewer Seams

Larger slabs mean fewer seams on countertops and backsplashes. Seams disrupt the look of natural stone, but engineered quartz slabs can be made in sizes up to 120 inches, resulting in smoother installations.

How is Quartz Made?

Quartz manufacturing uses advanced technology to create uniform slabs designed for beauty and everyday use. Here is an overview of the quartz fabrication process:

1. Raw Material Preparation

Pure quartz is extracted and refined into a fine powder. Pigments and resins are carefully measured out according to proprietary recipes that determine the final color and pattern. Mirror, glass, or other compounds can be added as accents.

2. Mixing

The quartz powder and additives are combined using mixing equipment to achieve thorough blending of ingredients. Consistent mixture is crucial for uniformity and an attractive finished product.

3. Molding

The mixture is fed into a vacuum press where vibration and pressure remove air pockets and compress the material into a solid slab. Quartz slabs are molded to specific dimensions, typically 115 to 125 inches long by 55 to 65 inches wide. Thicknesses range from 0.8 inches for flooring up to 2 centimeters for countertops.

4. Curing

The pressed slabs move through a curing oven that applies high heat up to 2,500°F to cure the resins and achieve permanent hardness and stability. The curing process results in an interlocking matrix that accounts for quartz’s strength and durability.

5. Finishing

Once cured, the slabs are sanded, polished, and inspected to achieve a smooth, glossy finish. Precise cutting and drilling create finished countertops, panels, tiles, and vanity tops. Each slab of quartz is unique due to naturally occurring variation in quartz crystals.

Quartz vs. Natural Stone Countertops

For many homeowners, the choice comes down to engineered quartz versus natural stone like granite or marble for their kitchen or bath. Here is how quartz compares:


  • Made from ground quartz and resins
  • Consistent color and pattern
  • Resists scratches, stains, heat, and bacteria
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable
  • Seamless look
  • Manmade


  • Natural rock formation
  • Unique veining and speckles
  • Porous surface needs periodic sealing
  • Withstands heat and scratching
  • Can chip or stain if not sealed
  • Natural material
  • Seams more noticeable


  • Metamorphic limestone
  • Elegant veining patterns
  • Softer and prone to etching, scratching
  • Can stain easily
  • Heat and water sensitive
  • Needs frequent sealing
  • Natural material

Quartz offers manmade consistency, while natural stone provides unique beauty. The choice comes down to personal preference and lifestyle needs. With proper sealing, natural stone can achieve the same durability and stain resistance as quartz. However, quartz requires far less maintenance over time.

Popular Quartz Brands

Many companies manufacture engineered quartz slabs. Some of the major brands to consider include:

  • Caesarstone – One of the first quartz manufacturers, known for natural stone looks.
  • Cambria – Features striking designs and variety of colors.
  • Silestone – Offers Integrity Sinks molded from quartz.
  • Vicostone – Specializes in bold colors and patterns.
  • HanStone – Focused on realistic natural stone aesthetics.
  • LG Viatera – Known for high-end, stylish designs.
  • QuartzMaster – Budget-friendly brand sold through Home Depot.
  • MSI Q Premium – Affordable quartz with unique patterns.

Always buy quartz slabs from a reputable brand. Carefully inspect samples to ensure uniform patterning and color consistency. Ask about warranties, as higher quality quartz offers 10 or 15 year guarantees against defects.

Cost of Quartz Countertops

Quartz pricing depends on the brand, pattern, and slab sizes needed. On average, expect to pay $50 to $120 per square foot installed. Here are some examples:

  • For a 30 square foot small kitchen, quartz countertops cost $1,500 to $3,600
  • A 50 square foot medium-sized kitchen runs $2,500 to $6,000 for quartz
  • Large 70 square foot kitchen is $3,500 to $8,400 installed

Quartz is generally more expensive than laminate but competitively priced with many granite and natural stone options. The resin content gives quartz much lower porosity than granite, meaning less chance for staining and no need for periodic sealing. This can make quartz more appealing than marble or limestone that require higher maintenance.

Many colors and patterns are available within each brand’s product line, so there is plenty of room for customization and meeting budget needs. Carefully measure your space and speak with distributors to get accurate installed pricing.

Should I Choose Quartz or Granite?

Deciding between natural granite versus engineered quartz largely comes down to personal preference on aesthetics, budget, and maintenance expectations. Here are some key points to consider:

Consider Quartz For:

  • Uniform look and minimal seams
  • Low maintenance needs
  • Superior stain and scratch resistance
  • Allergy sufferers due to non-porous surface
  • Consistent color throughout the slab

Consider Granite For:

  • Natural beauty of unique patterns
  • Prestige of real stone
  • Ability to complement other finishes
  • Heat resistance for avid cooks
  • Matching to existing granite counters

Both offer stylish options. Quartz excels on the practical side with easy care and durability. For a soft, natural look, the variation of granite can create a one-of-a-kind kitchen. Consult with an experienced countertop provider to pick the best fit for your home, lifestyle and budget.

Caring for Quartz Countertops

  • Use coasters under glasses and wipe up spills promptly to prevent etching
  • For everyday cleaning, use a mild soap and water
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrub pads that can dull the surface
  • Use a granite & stone cleaner for tough stains
  • Reseal granite yearly, but quartz does not require sealing
  • Avoid exposing to strong chemicals like paint removers
  • Repair chips and seams to prevent moisture damage
  • Use trivets or hot pads under hot pans to prevent burns

With routine care, quartz countertops will stay looking like new for a decade or more.

Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops

| Pros | Cons |
| Consistent color and patterning | No natural variations like granite |
| Excellent durability and stain resistance | More expensive than laminate |
| Lower maintenance needs than natural stone | Can be prone to damage from impact |
| Heat and scratch resistant | Fewer distinct patterns than granite |
| Non-porous and won’t harbor bacteria | Seams more visible than granite |
| Wide range of colors and patterns | Not as heat resistant as granite |

Is Quartz Healthy?

Engineered quartz itself is considered very safe, as it is mainly mined quartz and subject to strict regulations. However, some have raised concerns over trace levels of chemicals like:

  • Formaldehyde used in adhesives
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from resin curing
  • Acrylic and styrene from polymers

The amounts are nominal and testing has found emissions are far below unsafe limits after the slabs are fully cured. Quartz emits less VOCs than many wood products. Still, those with chemical sensitivities may wish to take precautions and ensure proper ventilation during and after installation.

How to Clean Quartz Countertops

  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains.
  • For everyday cleaning, use a mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Disinfect surfaces with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol.
  • Use a granite cleaner for tough stains. Spot test first on an inconspicuous area.
  • Avoid exposing the surface to strong chemicals like paint removers or oven cleaners.
  • Reseal natural stone countertops yearly. Quartz does not require sealing.
  • Repair any chips, cracks or seams that could allow moisture underneath.

What Finish Options are Available with Quartz?

Quartz allows for several finish options to change the look and feel:

  • Polished – Glossy, shiny finish that enhances colors and patterns. Most popular kitchen counter finish.
  • Honed – Matte, soft, muted finish. Easy to maintain while hiding fingerprints and scratches.
  • Concrete – Unique mottled texture that mimics a weathered industrial look.
  • Leathered – Looks like natural stone with a textured touch. More stain and scratch resistant.
  • Sandblasted – A matte look with lightly etched irregularities for visual depth.

Consult with your countertop provider on available finishes for the brand and color you select.

How Thick Should Quartz Countertops Be?

The standard thickness for quartz countertops is 3/4 inch to 2 centimeters. However, thicker slabs offer benefits:

  • 1 1/4 inch provides enhanced sturdiness for heavily used counters
  • 2 cm thickness resists bending and cracking over time
  • Allows for a smoother profile edge
  • Matches thickness of natural stone for a seamless look
  • Ideal for kitchen islands and commercial projects

Thicker quartz does cost 20% to 30% more but adds gravitas and longevity. Most manufacturers recommend a thickness of 2 centimeters for horizontal surfaces. Go as thick as your budget allows.

Are Quartz Countertops Seamless?

While engineers strive to keep seams in quartz counters to a minimum, some seams are usually necessary during installation. The good news is quartz offers several advantages:

  • Ability to manufacture in larger slab sizes up to 125 inches long to minimize seams
  • Consistent patterning between slabs for a near seamless aesthetic
  • Seams are tightly bonded using coloring cementing for an invisible look
  • Quartz has minimal veining compared to stones, resulting in fewer abrupt changes at seams

With care taken during templating and installation, quartz seams can be discreet and nearly disappear from sight. Homeowners report you have to run your hand across them to find seams. Choosing an experienced fabricator is key.

Can You Cut on Quartz Countertops?

Quartz holds up exceptionally well to normal wear and tear. However, cutting directly on the surface can gradually dull knives and damage quartz:

  • Use a cutting board to protect from dulling of knives
  • Avoid abrasive cookware that could scratch
  • Hot pans, especially cast iron, can scorch if placed directly on quartz

Quartz won’t damage from minor cutting or placing hot items. But using cutting boards and trivets helps maintain the pristine aesthetic for years to come.

Are There Quartz Countertops Without Seams?

Seamless, continuous surfaces are possible with quartz using special installation techniques:

Integrated Sinks – Sinks and counters are cut from one giant slab for truly seamless look. Adds cost.

Weld Seaming – Counters are fused together using special adhesives and bonding methods. Takes skill to perfect.

Edge Seaming – Seams are carefully positioned on bottom edges rather than highly visible horizontal surfaces.

Custom Fabrication – Computer-aided fabrication minimizes seams by optimizing cuts and joins.

Avoiding seams takes advanced planning, custom fabrication, and additional cost. For most homes, smart seaming with tight joints achieves excellent results with quartz countertops.

Quartz Countertop FAQs

Does Quartz Stain Easily?

Quartz has excellent stain resistance due to its non-porous nature. Spills and stains that sit on the surface are easily wiped away. However, some chemicals and dyes can cause discoloration if not cleaned quickly. Avoid exposing quartz counters to inks, paints, bleach or richly colored liquids like beet or berry juices.

Can You etch Quartz?

While resistant, quartz can become etched over time from exposure to acidic liquids like juices, vinegars, cleaners, and wines. Avoid leaving these on the surface. Spills should be immediately wiped dry. For dulled, etched areas, use an alkaline granite cleaner and buff in circles.

Is Quartz toxic?

Engineered quartz made by reputable brands meets health and safety standards. Trace amounts of chemicals used in fabrication fall within safe limits. Quartz itself is non-toxic. Those with chemical sensitivities should ensure proper ventilation during and after installation.

Does Quartz stain from oil?

Quartz resists oil, grease, and food stains thanks to its non-porous composition and dense surface. However, oils can leave behind a residue or film over time. Clean surfaces frequently with mild soap and water to prevent buildup. Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasives.

Can you cut on engineered quartz?

It’s best to use a cutting board to protect quartz surfaces. Cutting directly on the countertop can slowly dull knives over time. Hot pans, especially cast iron, can potentially scorch or discolor the surface. Use trivets when setting hot cookware on quartz.

Can quartz crack or chip?

Quartz is highly durable but not completely immune to damage. Excessive force or impact, such as a heavy pan dropping, could potentially chip quartz. Cracks are rare but can occur if the countertop becomes improperly supported underneath and unequal pressure is placed on the slab.

Does quartz need sealing?

Unlike granite and marble, quartz does not require sealing. Its non-porous surface resists liquids and stains. However, sealing the grout lines is still recommended to prevent moisture from reaching underneath the slabs.

Is quartz expensive to install?

Quartz costs $50 to $120 per square foot installed. More affordable than marble or granite. Total costs for a kitchen range from $2,500 to $6,000 depending on the size. High-end designer brands can be over $100 per square foot.

What are quartz countertops made of?

Quartz countertops are engineered from about 90% ground quartz crystals combined with about 10% polyresins, polymers, and pigments that are molded into slabs under heat and pressure. The result is a durable, attractive, and low-maintenance surface.


With the look of natural stone coupled with extreme durability, it is easy to see why engineered quartz has surged in popularity. Consistent patterning, minimal maintenance needs, and resistance to scratches, stains, and heat make quartz an ideal choice for busy kitchens and baths.