All About Quartz Countertops
- July 23, 2019
- Posted by: Ginger Perales
- Category: History, Home, Project
Beautiful, durable, and easy to maintain, quartz has become one of the most popular countertop materials on the market. This article seeks to answer the questions you didn’t know to ask about quartz, enabling consumers to make educated and smart decisions about their own countertops.
For those considering a kitchen remodel or just updating countertops, quartz has become a viable option, especially given its availability in a wide array of designs and patterns that mimic authentic marble and other natural stones.
Quartz first appeared in the 1960s in Italy. The countertops were created to resist cracking and breaking by mixing ground quartz with resins. Although the resins added flexibility, these early quartz countertops were very dull-looking shades of tan and cream. Today, innovations in solid-surface technology have elevated quartz countertops from merely functional to fabulous with an abundance of finish options and color combinations. Additionally, quartz countertops are surprisingly easy to maintain, requiring no sealant, unlike granite and marble countertops. They also resist cracking and scratching much more effectively than many other natural stone countertops, scoring a 7 out of 10 for hardness on the Moh’s scale, as opposed to marble which scores just 3.
How it’s made: Quartz countertops are a man-made engineered stone countertop product, formed by combining 90 to 94 percent ground quartz (a naturally occurring hard mineral) with 6 to 10 percent polymers, resins, and pigments to form a very hard granite-like slab. The appearance of the slab depends on how finely the quartz is ground; coarser ground quartz will produce a flecked appearance, while finer ground quartz produces a smoother look.
In terms of appearance, quartz countertops can mimic the look of natural stone or have a unique look of their own. Due to the innovations in technology mentioned above, quartz countertops are easily customizable, ensuring that you can get the look you desire.
The technology used to produce solid surfaces from resin and quartz was patented by the Italian company Breton more than 50 years ago (it’s still in business today). Since then, 52 companies around the world have been licensed to use it. Breton was founded in Italy by Marcello Toncelli, who sought to create an innovative stone-like product. The result became one of the most popular countertop options on the market today.
Durability: Quartz countertops are as close to indestructible as a countertop can be, so much so that many manufacturers offer warranties, unlike granite manufacturers. This extreme durability allows them to resist staining and corrosion without the need for sealing. Also, unlike other stone surfaces, quartz counters aren’t porous, making them much more hygienic. The durability of quartz countertops makes the material a good choice to use in the home, especially in a high traffic area such as kitchens.
Con: Quartz’s weak spot is its heat resistance. It can be damaged by exposure to excessive heat. If you choose quartz countertops for your kitchen, make sure to avoid placing hot pots or pans on the surface of the countertop. This will damage the countertop by melting the resin. You should always use trivets or hot pads in the kitchen if you install quartz countertops.
Good news: Quartz countertops are suitable for a variety of edging profile options, much like natural stone. However, because it’s more flexible, engineered quartz is also suitable for other design possibilities. For example, quartz can be used for large vertical surfaces such as backsplashes and shower enclosures, without the seams typically visible with natural stone materials. This is seen as one of the major advantages of having quartz.
Installation: Even with its many advantages, installation of engineered quartz countertops isn’t one of them. Typically, the companies that produce and sell engineered quartz have their own certified installation experts, and professional installation is highly recommended, especially when considering the extreme weight of quartz. Even if you are strong or are a Do-It-Yourself master, you will need a professional to install your quartz countertops.
Environmental impact: Compared to natural stone countertop options like granite, quartz is seen as the more environmentally friendly option. Because the countertops are created in factories by using materials that would typically be wasted, this gives quartz an advantage in the eco-friendly category. In addition, while most granite and other natural stone is quarried in various places worldwide, quartz can be engineered in factories in the United States, which cuts down on the pollution produced by transportation.
Price: Quartz countertops are typically in the same price range as granite, depending on the exact material.
To summarize: Man-made, engineered quartz countertops are extremely durable, non-porous, and stain-resistant with no sealing required. They’re available in a wide array of colors and easy to clean. All of these factors make quartz countertops a great choice for your home remodeling project.
Postscript: When considering countertop options, do not to confuse quartzite with quartz. Quartz is engineered with resins and pigments, while quartzite is a type of sandstone that was naturally exposed at some point to intense heat, causing it to solidify. Quartzite is mined from stone quarries and then cut into solid slabs, and while it’s also used for countertops, quartzite must be sealed before use and resealed periodically.