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February 18, 2018

Countertop Discussions, Part III, Quartz Countertops

While quartz countertops (or sometimes called engineered quartz countertops) seem to be gaining in popularity, and these quartz companies are really saturating the marketplace, however I find there are still a lot of homeowners and consumers, who still don’t really know what quartz is, and why they should even want the stuff in their homes. […]

Close up of Silestone's charcoal soapstone quartz

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While quartz countertops (or sometimes called engineered quartz countertops) seem to be gaining in popularity, and these quartz companies are really saturating the marketplace, however I find there are still a lot of homeowners and consumers, who still don’t really know what quartz is, and why they should even want the stuff in their homes. So I have taken the liberty of sharing with you, all I know about this very interesting surface material. I have met with various reps from various quartz companies, as well as spoken with a few fabricators, and even did some of my own research just for fun. I should mention, personally, I am extremely excited with this stuff, so bare with me. 🙂

Corian Quartz's Calacatta Natura in the granite yard

Corian Quartz’s Calacatta Natura in the granite yard

What are quartz countertops?

First I would like to explain to you exactly what quartz the mineral is. If you remember from my post on granite here quartz is a mineral, found everywhere, even in granite. This mineral is the most abundant mineral on earth and one of the hardest. Pure Quartz is the clear sparkly crystal that you can find in ordinary rocks. You can find this mineral all over the world, however it is commonly found and extracted in the United States (particularly in Arkansas) and in Brazil. Because quartz does not emerge from the earths crust as a block or slab, like granite, it needs to be bonded with something to make it a usable structure, like a countertop.

Enter the resign or binder or polymer solid part of your engineered quartz countertop.  A polymer solid is like plastic, or actually plastic is a form of a polymer solid. I don’t want to “geek out” to much here, so I try to shorten this. All we need to know for this post is the polymer solid or the resign, holds the bits of quartz together.To sum up “In layman’s terms”  when they make engineered quartz countertops, they are taking the real mineral quartz pieces and holding them together with a form of “goo” that gets hard when exposed to air. Of course its way more complicated and complex than that 🙂 They feed these ingredients and color or pigments and maybe bits of glass or stone depending on what color of countertop they are making, into mixers, sometimes even multiple mixers. Then the everything is poured into a mold where they will be pressed to form the 2cm, 3cm (and even other thicknesses) with the help of a vacuum and vibration process. This step presses air pockets out. Finally the quartz countertops are baked in the oven at very hight temperatures. And we have engineered quartz countertops, a very strong, durable, hard material, part natural quartz, part manmade.

Close up of Corian Quartz's Calacatta Natura

Close up of Corian Quartz’s Calacatta Natura

When were quartz countertops invented?

Quartz seems new, but it was invented in 1963 by an Italian company Breton. Breton was founded by Marcello Toncelli. This product quickly became popular in Italy, and has been in European kitchens for decades. As usual though, it took a lot longer for the trend to catch on here in the United States. It seems that it was not until the 90s when American consumers started to realize the greatness of quartz countertops and the popularity of this material started to grow. By 2004, HGTV was reporting U.S. sales had increased by 60 percent over the previous year. This marks the beginning of the “quartz boom” which is ever increasing still today.

Silestone samples

Silestone samples

What’s so great about quartz countertops?

So I hinted at this in my description of how quartz countertops are made, quartz in its natural form, the mineral quartz, is extremely durable and hard. Keep in mind, we are mixing this quartz with a resign and pigments, and the resigns are not as hard as the quartz, however your really good companies will have a very low resign to very high amounts of quartz ratio in their mix.I’ll make this short and sweet, I’ll put this in list form again. I don’t know about you, but I love a good list. 🙂

      What’s to love about quartz countertops?

  • They are stain resistant (again, not proof, just resistant)
  • Very low porosity (limiting bacterial growth)
  • No need for re-sealing
  • Low maintenance
  • resistant to chips and dents
  • so many quartz companies offer colors that look like marble and soapstone, both very porous and high maintenance materials, quartz is the alternative that looks extremely similar but offers the low maintenance of quartz (win win!)
  • because its man made there is a lot more flexibility in design and selections
  • Cambria offers a lifetime warranty
  • Relatively low environmental impact – in-fact, most popular brands are Greengaurd certified

Now to elaborate just a little bit more before going on to the cons. Flexibility in design and selections can vary by both fabricators and companies. For example one thing I love about the company Silestone (owned by Cosentino) is that they actually offer integrated sinks. Eliminating the seem from your countertop to your sink. But you need a fabricator willing to put this together. Look at this picture below, we work with an awesome fabricator and although he had never done this integrated sink before, he was willing to try it, and he did an amazing job! The sink bowl is a bar sink in the color Lyra, and the countertop is in Silestone’s Charcoal Soapstone color, which looks like real soapstone (but less maintenance).

Charcoal Soapstone Quartz with Lyra Quartz sink

Charcoal Soapstone Quartz with Lyra Quartz sink

On another note, quartz can also be used in showers, in place of tile, or as solid backsplashes also eliminating the need for tile, maybe giving you a very clean modern look, or just eliminating the need to clean grout. Another nice thing about quartz is that you can select quartz from the combination of a picture of a whole slab  a smaller sample of the slab in person taking the need away from driving around to see various granite yards looking for that perfect piece. There are so many quartz colors and variations, Cambria alone offers 140 different designs to choose from. I could go on and on, but I know you can also look at various quartz companies websites for even more inspiration.

        Whats not to love?

  • still not heat proof. Always use a hot bad!
  • Can get pricey especially depending on what selections you go with.
  • If you like the random veins of granite, the non predictability of granite, then the con for quartz would be that you don’t get random, although they got really really good a making marble veins look really real.

honestly I can’t say a whole lot about the cons of quartz. It’s a pretty nice material.


Who makes quartz countertops?

More and more companies are selling quartz, some come and go, other have been in business for decades. Some of the most popular brands would be Cambria, Silestone, Ceasarstone, Corian Quartz (formally known as Zodiaq), and Icestone, Pental Quartz just to name a few. There are lots of great things about all these companies, some are pricer than others, some are better quality than others, some are 100 percent American made, some are more environmentally friendly than others, the list goes on and on. I can share some fun facts with you, but I’m not going to pick a “best” quartz company, the ones I listed are all great, and there could even be more out there that are great.

Some things that I like about various companies. Silestone has the integrated sink capabilities, and they are the only company I have seen to offer this. They also offer their slabs in a large variety of thicknesses for showers or backsplashes. They also offer suede and volcano textures on their countertops along with the traditional polished texture.Cambria is a family owned company and their quartz is American made. Cambria also states that 100 percent of the water they use to polish their quartz is recycled, and they have a small carbon footprint. Ceasarstone also seems pretty impressive in the environmentally friend aspect. They have been around since 1987, claiming to be a pioneer of the natural quartz surface market.

  1. Kate says:

    I love quartz! One of the best countertop to use.

  2. Kate says:

    So which one is your favorite?

  3. Sarah Smith says:

    I really love your information about quartz countertops. It’s made me want to look more into getting one made for my home. I think a custom countertop would be the perfect finishing touch to my renovated kitchen.

  4. Son Sankoff says:

    awesome work, your post are always helping the world. Keep up the good job. I will be coming back more ofter

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