If you’re considering quartz countertops, you’re probably curious about how quartz is made. While you may have heard of granite quarries and marble quarries up on the tops of mountains, you’ve never heard of quartz quarries. Perhaps you’ve even seen small rocks at rock and mineral shows or in shops that are labeled “Quartz”–but they aren’t like the quartz countertops you’ve seen. So how are quartz countertops made?
Let’s clear something up: there is a difference between the mineral quartz and quartz countertop material (which is made from quartz the mineral). Mineral quartz happens to be one of the most common minerals on the Earth’s surface; in fact, most of the white sand you see at the beach is quartz. It is a silicate, meaning that it is formed with silicon; the chemical formula is SiO2 (silicon + oxygen). While it can be found in igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock, the majority of quartz is formed by crystallizing from molten magma. Pure quartz is clear, but quartz can occur in a variety of soft colors, depending on the impurities found within, including amethyst/purple, white, black, yellow/citrine, and pink/rose. Mineral quartz is hard (7 on Moh’s scale of hardness) and extremely resistant to erosion (both chemical and physical), which, in addition to its abundance, makes it an excellent material for a variety of uses.
The appearance and performance characteristics of quartz the mineral are the reasons it is used to create quartz countertops, which are a man-made product. Quartz countertops are manufactured by grinding up natural, mineral quartz, then pressing it into slabs, which are adhered with resin. Quartz countertops are generally 90% ground quartz and 10% resin and other materials (like pigments to create certain colors). Because mineral quartz is very durable and chemical resistant, so are quartz countertops. The resin in the countertops means that the surface is not porous, unlike natural stones, which is a great plus when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. The use of resin does, however, make quartz counters less heat resistant than some natural stone slabs, like granite. The abundance of quartz also makes quartz countertops a product with a lower environmental impact than some natural stones, which require extensive mining and transportation.
Quartz is an extremely popular choice for kitchen countertops, and for good reason. It is a highly functional and durable material, created from one of the most prolific and attractive minerals on Earth. While quartz countertops are not natural stone in the way that granite, marble, slate, etc. are natural stone, it is created from a natural mineral, giving it the appearance that could work in any home’s kitchen or bath.
Thinking about quartz countertops? Come into our showroom to see our extensive selection of quartz.