Quartz countertops have become an incredibly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels in recent years. But where exactly does this engineered stone come from? Here is a comprehensive overview of the quartz countertop manufacturing process.
How Quartz Countertops Are Made
Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The exact ratio can vary between manufacturers, but quartz crystals make up over 90% of the material.
The process starts by mining quartz crystals, which are composed of silicon dioxide. Pure quartz is extracted from quarries and then crushed into a fine powder. This powder is combined with polyester resins, pigments, and other materials to form an engineered slab.
Step 1: Sourcing the Quartz
Natural quartz is mined from quarries across the world. The largest deposits are found in Brazil, Madagascar, India, Turkey, and the United States. Quartz mines utilize bulldozers, excavators, and explosives to extract raw quartz from the earth.
The quartz crystals are then cleaned, crushed into smaller pieces, and finely ground into a powder. Most quartz used for countertops ranges from crushed crystals to a particle size of 1.5 mm. The ultra-fine powder provides strength and hardness to the material.
Step 2: Adding Resin Binders and Pigments
After the quartz powder is created, it gets combined with polyester or epoxy resins and pigments. The resin binds the quartz particles together, while the pigments add color. Various chemicals like polymers and curing agents are also added to help harden and strengthen the material.
This mixture of quartz powder, resins, and pigments forms a dough-like material called an engineered stone blend. The ratio of quartz powder to resins can range from 90/10 to 97/3. More resin makes the counters more flexible, while higher quartz content increases hardness.
Step 3: Molding the Slabs
The engineered stone blend gets molded into slabs using a vibrational vacuum process. The material is spread into a mold and vacuumed to remove air pockets. Vibrations compact and compress the particles together.
Intense pressure and vibration combine the materials into a solid, non-porous slab. The slabs are then cured in an oven or kiln to harden the resins. This creates a fully fused engineered quartz slab ready for cutting and polishing.
From Raw Quartz to Countertops
After the slabs are created, they move into manufacturing facilities to be cut to size, polished, and fabricated into countertops. Here is a summary of the full process:
- Quartz crystals are mined from quarries around the world
- Mined quartz gets crushed into particles and ground into a powder
- The quartz powder is blended with resins, pigments, and other compounds
- This blend gets compacted into slabs using vibration and vacuum compression
- Slabs are cured in an oven to harden the resins
- Cured slabs are cut to size, polished, and fabricated into countertops
So while raw quartz comes from quarries across the globe, the manufacturing and engineering process transforms it into a remarkably strong, beautiful, and practical material for kitchen and bath countertops. Continued innovations in quartz technology allow manufacturers to create slabs that perfectly mimic natural stone but with added resilience and durability.
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Countertops
Where does quartz come from originally?
Quartz is a naturally occurring mineral composed of silicon and oxygen. It is extracted from quarries and mines across the world. The largest deposits are found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Turkey, and the United States.
What is quartz made of?
Quartz slabs consist of approximately 90% ground quartz crystals combined with polyester resins as binding agents. Pigments are added for color. The slabs also contain small amounts of other polymers, curing agents, and chemicals.
Is quartz natural or man-made?
While the main component of quartz countertops is a natural material, the slabs themselves are engineered in a factory. The quartz powder is combined with resins in a manufacturing environment, making them a human-made engineered stone.
Where are quartz countertops manufactured?
Major quartz brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone have manufacturing facilities in various locations around the world. The raw quartz can be mined and processed in one country, then shipped to another facility for slab engineering and fabrication.
How sustainable is quartz?
Quartz contains high amounts of recycled content from pre-consumer and post-consumer sources. Leading brands also utilize reclaimed water and solar power in their factories. While not 100% natural, quartz offers good sustainability advantages over other counter options.
The Bottom Line
When you choose quartz counters for your home, you gain an extremely durable, low-maintenance, and stylish surface made mainly from one of nature’s hardest minerals. Thanks to innovative engineering and manufacturing processes, quartz offers unique advantages over both natural stone and other materials. While the components come from quarries worldwide, the finished slabs are meticulously crafted to suit all your design needs. With the right maintenance, quartz countertops will retain their beauty for many years to come.