Quartz countertops have become incredibly popular in recent years for use in kitchens and bathrooms. But what exactly are quartz countertops made of? Here’s a deep dive into the composition and manufacturing process of these beautiful and functional surfaces.
Quartz countertops are a form of engineered stone. Engineered stone is made from approximately 90% ground natural quartz crystals and 10% polymer resins and pigments.
The quartz crystals come from granite, sandstone, quartzite, and other stones. Quartz is an ideal material for countertops because it is extraordinarily hard and durable. The quartz provides strength, while the polymer resins bind the material together.
The manufacturing process of quartz countertops involves several steps:
1. Sourcing and Crushing Quartz
Pure quartz crystals are mined and then crushed into a fine gravel or powder. This provides the raw material that gives quartz countertops their hardness and durability.
2. Mixing with Resins and Pigments
The crushed quartz is then mixed with polyester or epoxy resins and pigments. The resins act as a binding agent while the pigments add color. Different pigments can create various color patterns and effects in the finished product.
3. Molding into Slabs
The mixture is then molded into thick slabs using vibro-compression under vacuum. This compacts the material under pressure to form an incredibly hard and dense slab.
4. Curing and Polishing
The slabs are then cured in a kiln or oven. This hardens the resins to permanently bind the material. Finally, the slabs are polished to a smooth, glossy finish. They can also be textured or etched to provide different aesthetic looks.
5. Fabricating and Installation
The slabs are cut, edged, and fabricated into custom countertops. They are then installed permanently in kitchens, baths, etc using adhesive and seam techniques.
Benefits of Quartz Countertops
The combination of crushed quartz and resins creates an engineered stone that is practical, durable, and beautiful for countertops. Benefits include:
- Extremely hard – quartz is one of the hardest minerals, making countertops scratch and stain resistant.
- Durable – quartz countertops can withstand years of daily use without showing significant wear.
- Heat and moisture resistant – Quartz countertops are not affected by moderate heat or moisture.
- Non-porous – Quartz repels water and resists bacterial growth.
- Easy maintenance – Quartz countertops are easy to clean and do not require sealing.
- Stylish – Quartz comes in a wide array of colors and patterns to match any style.
- Versatile – Quartz can be fabricated into any shape and size.
- Eco-friendly – Made from abundant natural materials like quartz and resins.
Quartz vs Natural Stone
Quartz countertops offer many advantages over natural stone surfaces like granite and marble:
- More durable and harder
- Requires less maintenance
- Resists stains, scratches, and heat better
- More consistent patterning and colors
- Does not require periodic sealing
However, natural stones offer a more unique look with natural variation. Ultimately, quartz is an ideal material for beautiful, yet practical and easy to maintain countertops.
FAQ About Quartz Countertops
What are the major brands of quartz countertops?
Some of the top brands include Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, LG Viatera, and DuPont Zodiaq.
How is quartz different than solid surface countertops?
Solid surfaces like Corian are made from acrylic resins and minerals. Quartz contains high percentages of ground quartz crystals, making it harder and more heat/scratch resistant.
Are quartz countertops completely maintenance free?
Quartz is very low maintenance, but not 100% maintenance free. Occasional cleaning with a non-abrasive surface cleaner is recommended.
Can you cut directly on a quartz countertop?
It’s best to use a cutting board instead of cutting directly on the surface to prevent dulling knives or scratching. Quartz is durable but not invincible.
Do quartz countertops stain easily?
Quartz resists stains very well. However, prolonged exposure to strong chemicals and dyes can potentially cause some staining. Quick cleanup of spills prevents most stains.
Quartz countertops provide the perfect combination of aesthetics, durability, and ease of maintenance. Made from crushed quartz and polymer resins, quartz stands up extremely well to heavy daily use in kitchens and other areas. With proper care, quartz countertops will retain their beauty and function for many years of dependable service.