Quartz countertops have become incredibly popular in kitchens and bathrooms thanks to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and easy maintenance. But what exactly is quartz made of? Here is a deep dive into the composition and manufacturing of quartz countertops.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is a mineral that is found naturally in the earth’s crust. It is made up of silicon and oxygen atoms bonded together in a crystalline structure. Quartz is found in many different varieties, but for countertops, manufacturers use specific types:
Raw Quartz Crystals
- Quartz crystals are mined from the earth and then crushed into a fine powder. This provides the basis for the countertop material.
- Epoxy or polyester resins are added to the quartz powder to act as a binding agent. The resins give the countertop its shape and structure.
- Pigments are added to the quartz powder to achieve the desired color and pattern. Pigments can create anything from solid colors to make quartz look like granite or marble.
How is Quartz Made into Countertops?
The manufacturing process for quartz countertops involves several steps:
1. Mixing the Ingredients
The quartz powder, binding resins, and pigments are combined and thoroughly mixed. The exact ratios can vary between manufacturers.
2. Molding & Vibrating
The mixture is poured into a mold and vibrated to remove air bubbles and allow proper shaping. The vibrations compact and densify the material.
3. Curing & Polishing
After molding, the quartz slab is cured at high temperatures. This hardens the resins to bind the quartz particles together firmly. The surface is then polished to create a smooth, shiny finish.
4. Fabricating & Installing
The quartz slabs are cut to size, edges finished, holes cut for sinks, and then installed in homes and businesses as countertops. Professional fabricators handle this process.
Key Benefits of Quartz Countertops
Understanding what quartz countertops are made of explains many of their advantages over natural stone or other materials:
- Extremely durable – The resins bind the quartz particles into a damage-resistant material. Quartz stands up well to scratches, stains, heat, and impact.
- Low maintenance – Quartz resists staining and etching better than granite or marble. Simple cleaning is required.
- Color consistency – The pigments mixed in create uniform coloring throughout the slabs. No random veining like with natural stone.
- Customizable aesthetics – Manufacturers can create slabs that mimic granite, marble, and other patterns. The options are nearly endless.
- No sealing required – Natural stone countertops must be regularly sealed, but quartz does not absorb liquids so sealing is unnecessary.
Understanding the makeup of quartz gives homeowners confidence that quartz countertops will perform well for years in kitchens. Consult with a countertop fabricator to choose the right style and color of quartz for your needs!
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Countertops
What are the main ingredients in a quartz countertop?
The main ingredients are crushed quartz crystals (90-95%), binding resins like polyester and epoxy (5-10%), and pigments for coloring (<5%). The exact ratios vary between manufacturers.
Is quartz natural stone?
No, quartz is an engineered stone made from crushed quartz bound together by resins. It does not form naturally like granite. The manufacturing process allows customization.
Is quartz porous?
No, quartz is non-porous since the quartz particles are tightly bound by the resin. This prevents staining and eliminates the need for sealing.
Does quartz stain easily?
Quartz is extremely resistant to stains. However, prolonged exposure to certain chemicals or dyes can cause some slight staining. Overall, it stands up very well.
Is quartz heat resistant?
Quartz is more heat resistant than natural stone. However, prolonged direct heat exposure from pots and pans can potentially damage the surface over time. Using trivets is recommended.
Is quartz stronger than granite?
Quartz is harder and more flexible than natural granite. The resins make quartz more resistant to chips, cracks, and scratches from everyday use.
How long do quartz countertops last?
With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops can easily last 15-25 years in the home. Many manufacturers offer 15-year warranties on their quartz products.
Quartz makes an excellent countertop material thanks to its composition of crushed quartz crystals held together by polymer resins. Understanding the manufacturing process explains the advantages of quartz over natural stone options. With routine care, quartz countertops are built to last for many years of beauty and performance in kitchens and baths.