How Quartz Countertops Are Made- Yes, They Are Not Natural

Quartz countertops have come a long way from where they started. Enhancements in technology have brought immense changes, making them more durable & beautiful.

You might be wondering what quartz is. It’s the second most abundant mineral found in the earth’s crust. Engineered kitchen countertops use quartz as their primary material.

Quartz countertops differ from other stones like marble or granite in the way that it’s man-made. Or, you may say, an engineered stone.

You need to mine & extract other stones like marbles or granites. They are then cut into pieces to produce the desired shapes and then polished. Whereas quartz uses a completely different manufacturing technique.

Quartz is a popular mineral having many uses. Primary usage includes countertops & floorings in houses or commercial buildings. They are also used in watches and electronic items.

The reason is its versatility. Quartz slabs are available in many colors, beautiful textures and sizes. Being an engineered stone, you can mold into any shape, color or texture.

Have you ever seen shiny, colorful stones with aesthetic textures on a kitchen top or in the bathrooms of a beautiful house?

Yes, those are quartz countertops.

Although they are quite popular, many people still don’t know it’s an artificial stone. Many wonder what they are and from where they come.

In this post, we’ll explore how quartz countertops are made in detail.

But first, let’s look at some of the advantages & qualities of quartz countertops and why they are so popular.

Pros & Cons Of A Quartz Countertop

Pros

Quartz countertops are a trendy material nowadays. The look & feel it provides to homeowners has made it a demanding choice among many.

But this is not it. There are several other enticing qualities that make it so demanding. We’ll look at them one by one.

Durability

Quartz countertops are durable. They last for years with minimal care.

And this is no fluff. Some reputed companies provide a lifetime warranty on their quartz slabs.

When buying a quartz countertop, you can consider it a one-time investment for your home. It will last for several years, and if you take proper care, it will always look as new as it was on the first day.

Appearance & Design

Different quartz countertop designs

You’ll get overwhelmed with the available design options for this countertop material.

Since quartz slabs are man-made, they can be customized to any color or texture that you can think of. Manufacturers produce numerous options that can go with your kitchen color.

There are almost infinite options of color and designs. You can choose as you desire when buying a quartz slab for your countertops. Some quartz slabs are made specifically to copy the look of stone slabs, like marble or granite.

Furthermore, these slabs can are cut and designed according to the shape and requirements of your kitchen’s top .

Non-Porous Material

Quartz slabs are unlike stone ones, where you can find tiny microscopic pores. Dirt, liquids, bacteria and other microbes can seep into these pores.

This can cause permanent stains, degradation, or irreversible damage to the stones. Due to these issues, other stone slabs need sealing to avoid such problems.

Whereas, quartz slabs are engineered stones. There are special procedures to make them almost non-porous. It requires no sealing.

Being non-porous also adds to its durability.

Stain-Resistant & Low Maintenance

As I told you, quartz slabs are non-porous. So there’s no question of easy seepage of any dirt, liquids or microbes.

Due to this, quartz slabs are stain-resistant. You won’t need to worry if you ever spill your coffee or some gravy while cooking.

Take a soft wet cloth, wipe it over the spill, and you have a perfectly clean surface, just as it was before.

Remember that certain chemicals can react to the polyester resins in the slab. So, clean any spills as soon as possible.

It’s also easy to maintain a quartz countertop. The best way to keep it shining is to clean it daily with a little soap & water after you are done with the cooking.

Avoid things like harsh cleaning chemicals, bleaches or abrasive scrubbers. These things can damage or scratch the surface. Use a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth to clean it.

To deep clean a quartz surface, lukewarm water mixed with dishwashing liquid or a mild detergent will be more than enough. But if you want a stronger solution, you can use a glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol.

Cons

It’s not that every aspect of quartz countertops is a plus point. There are some downsides too. But you will be happy to know that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

In spite of that, it’s my duty to inform you about each & every related aspect. And so, here I am listing out some of the things considered as a disadvantage of quartz countertops.

Heat Resistance

Quartz can handle heat very well, no doubt. The problem lies with the binders & resins that are mixed with it while manufacturing. They can’t resist too much heat.

High heat can cause these binders to lose their color and get damaged. It results in discoloration of that area.

There are also chances of thermal shock, which can crack your countertop.

The observation of experts varies a lot on this topic. Some believe that quartz surfaces can handle heat up to 300oF, while others believe it to be 150oF.

There is no clear data about this topic. It depends on the quality of the quartz and other elements mixed with it.

As I always say, prevention is better than cure. If you know that heat can damage your quartz surface, it is best to avoid it.

So, always use a trivet, a thick cloth mat or a pad to store heated pots, pans and other dishes.

Costing

Quartz countertops are a luxury item. Hence, they are a bit on the pricey side. Its qualities like high-end custom designs, durability, and appearance come at a high cost.

The price mainly depends on the quality of the quartz, its design, and manufacturing process. A square foot of quartz slab can cost anywhere between $60-$250, including installation.

It’s not that other alternatives like marble or granite are very cheap as compared to quartz. But these stones have a wide quality range. You can get many affordable options for less than what it costs for quartz.

Installation

Quartz countertops installation is not something where you can go in DIY mode. You’ll need skilled experts who can install this in your kitchen or bathroom.

This is due to the fact that quartz slabs are very heavy. A square foot of quartz slab can weigh between 20-25 pounds.

The installation team needs to ensure you have a solid & strong foundation which can bear its weight.

But this aspect holds true even in the case of any stone alternatives as they are also not so light.

Indoor Use Only

Many quartz companies clearly state that if you use their countertop outdoors, its warranty will be void.

The reason is sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause discoloration on the quartz surface. UV rays in the sunlight react with the resins & binders, causing them to lose colors in the long run.

Even if your countertop receives a lot of sunlight indoors through a window, it can cause problems. Quartz countertops are not made to work in direct sunlight.

So, before installing a new quartz countertop, make sure that it stays away from direct sunlight. If that’s not possible, it’s better to go for a stone countertop.

Understanding How Quartz Countertops Are Made

Quartz mineral is available in nature in abundance in the form of crystals. It is the second most abundant mineral present on earth.

It comprises silicon and oxygen, locked together as tetrahedrons. This gives it the shape of hexagonal crystals. You can find quartz in all kinds of rocks.

Making them into full-sized slabs involves a lot of work and specialized processes.

A quartz slab comprises almost 92% ground quartz mineral. The remaining part has different resins, polymers and colored pigments.

Here we will go through each & every process step by step. We’ll see how a mineral gets converted into beautiful countertops.

1. Getting The Raw Materials

Quartz mineral crystals

Raw material here refers to the quartz mineral. It’s the main constituent of quartz countertops.

As I mentioned, quartz occurs naturally on this planet in different forms. Its size can range from big stones to tiny sand-like granules.

Quartz is resistant to mechanical erosion. So. it can survive for many years in its original shape & size.

Since quartz is abundant in nature, it’s easy to mine & extract. It is mined primarily from open pit mines. Arkansas, in the USA, is famous for its huge quartz reserves.

After extraction, crushers help reduce its crystal’s size. Then they get transported to a manufacturing unit for further processing.

Countertop manufacturing requires clear white crystals of quartz. Extraction companies sort the quartz according to its type & color for easy handling.

Other raw materials like polymers, pigments, and raisins are also imported.

2. Processing Quartz Further

Once all the raw materials are available, manufacturers start their work.

  1. First, the quartz crystals are sorted according to their quality and size. The finest quality crystals make into the most expensive slabs.
  2. Quartz crystals are then crushed down into different sizes to create different patterns. It can be anywhere from pebble-sized large ones to salt-like tiny granules. You can’t expect different patterns on the finished product with the same type & size of the quartz crystals.
  3. To create colored countertop slabs, different types of pigments are also added. Some manufacturers use rocks, glass or other minerals to create unique and stylish designs.
  4. At last, polyester resins or binders are added and processed thoroughly to mix all the ingredients. The raw ingredients are finally homogenized together in large machines or bowls.

Eventually, the mix forms a paste-like consistency comparable to wet sand.

3. Creating The Slabs

Now that the mixture is ready, it’s time for the most important step: creating the slabs.

A great deal of countertop manufacturing companies use a patented technology. It’s known as the Bretonstone Technology.

It’s also known as Vibro-compression vacuum technology. Invented in the early1970s by an Italian company , it helps manufacture engineered stones.

The complete process of creating quartz countertops uses this method. From mixing raw materials in correct proportions to building the slabs.

A manufacturer can control the thickness of the slab by pouring different quantities of the homogenized mixture into various molds. The thickness can range from 0.4 to 1.2 inches thick.

The process goes like this:

  1. Mixed raw materials are poured between two sheets of paper and then transferred to molds via a conveyor belt.
  2. They are then pressed inside the individual molds.
  3. A vacuum is used to suck out all the air from the mixture. High pressure and vibrations follow along, sucking out the remaining air.
  4. Due to this, all the ingredients of the mixture bind together strongly to create a solid, non-porous structure. It’s an important process as this is what gives the resulting slab strength.
  5. Following the vacuum treatment, the slabs are heated to around 210o F (90o-100o C) to bake them. What this does is solidify the slabs completely and make them into one complete solid engineered stone.

4. The Finishing Touch

This is the last but essential part of the manufacturing process. Because if anything goes wrong here, the whole slab can become a piece of waste. And no one wishes for this to happen.

A professional checks the surface calibration. This ensures the flatness of the slabs. Everybody wants a perfectly flat slab. So, this step is necessary.

After the calibration check, it’s time to make the slabs more beautiful. Polishing machines polish the quartz slabs, making them ultra-smooth and glossy. As much light it reflects, as beautiful it looks.

The slab’s texture and color also emerge brightly in this process.

A stone fabricator will then check for any minor/major damage, flaws, or scratches. They then polish it further by hand for more perfection.

The slabs are then transported to the storage units of the factory, where they get stored.

5. From Simple Slabs To Your Kitchen Countertop

The quartz slabs are now ready and stored in their respective storage units. What happens from here is really simple.

Whoever needs a new kitchen countertop for their kitchen will contact their local provider. They visit the customer’s house with brochures displaying all the available options.

Once the homeowner selects their favorite choice, a fabricator will take the measurement. Considering the space for sinks and other things that occupy your kitchen is also necessary. They will then prepare a template for your kitchen countertop.

After this, the quartz slab will are cut & designed according to the dimensions of the kitchen top. Once ready, the company professionals will deliver and install the countertop. You won’t even have to lift a finger.

If you are going for a new kitchen countertop, please ensure you provide all the details to the installation professionals about your kitchen top.

If you have any special requirements, mention them straightaway. You can customize anything you want in your new countertop, even the edge profile.

I say this because the slabs will be cut according to the measurements you provide, and you will be helpless if there’s any issue afterwards.

So, this is how a raw earth mineral is converted into a beautiful kitchen countertop. I hope you now have the answer to your question about how quartz countertops are made.

Let’s now move on to understand how you can maintain and care for your quartz countertop once you have them installed.

Maintaining & Taking Care Of Your Quartz Countertop

Maintaining quartz countertops

So, you have got your new countertop installed and ready to go. Everything looks shiny and bright on your kitchen countertop, and you’re in love with your new kitchen top.

However, this happiness can be short-lived if you don’t take proper care of your new quartz countertop.

Quartz countertops don’t need heavy maintenance and too much care. But being careful will ensure a long life for your countertops. It won’t get damaged for years to come.

Here are some tiny little tips you can use to make your quartz countertops live a long life.

1. Clean Your Countertop Daily

A kitchen is a busy place all around the year. You cook almost daily (except for days when you eat out!).

There are several instances while cooking where your countertop can get stained, or dirt, oil, spices, and other food materials can get stuck on it.

To prevent the build-up of stains caused by any of these, clean your countertop daily after you finish cooking.

But what’s the best way to clean it daily?

It’s simple. Use lukewarm water and a microfiber cloth. Soak the fabric in water and wipe down the whole countertop. After that, use a dry cloth to wipe the water stains that remain afterwards.

If there’s a tough stain not coming off easily, mix some dishwashing detergent or soap in the water. Use this mixture to clean the stain.

Not cleaning your countertop frequently can result in huge dirt & oil build-up on it. This can further damage the stone.

Even if there’s a spill, try cleaning it immediately, or it will harden over time and prove tough to clean.

Coffee, tea or gravy spills can leave a lifetime of stains on the surface. So, it’s better to clean them as soon as possible. You can use a wet soft cloth or sponge combined with soapy water to clean it.

Whichever way you use to clean, always remember to wipe the top with a dry cloth at last.

2. Keep Your Countertop Away From High Temperatures

I have seen several homeowners putting hot pots & pans directly on their countertops. This isn’t a good practice and can cause severe damage.

Quartz countertops can resist heat to a certain degree. But high temperatures can cause damage to the color or even cracks in the countertop.

Quartz countertops are usually at cool temperatures. Putting extremely hot pans on the surface directly causes a thermal shock to the countertop material, resulting in a crack.

The best thing to do here is to use a trivet, a mat or a towel to settle the dishes after removing them from the burner. This will prevent a thermal shock or discoloration on the countertop.

3. Use A Cutting Board

You may feel great about chopping vegetables on your quartz surface, but it’s not true the other way round. Quartz is scratch-resistant, it’s true, but not scratch-proof.

Sharp knives can cause scratches on your countertop if you’re constantly chopping on it. And believe me, it won’t either go away or look good after some time.

Moreover, if you have a white countertop, the scratches will make it look really ugly.

Therefore, be a sensible homemaker and get a good-quality cutting board which you can use for cutting anything.

Chopping & cutting boards are not much expensive and the best option to protect your quartz surface.

What’s more disappointing is that using your countertop as a cutting board will soon make your knives dull. So, it’ll be a loss for you from both sides.

4. Careful Cleaning Of Your Countertop

Quartz countertops are unlike other stones or materials. They don’t require too much cleaning & maintenance.

Treating your quartz countertop with care is enough to make its beauty last longer. However, you should deep clean the countertop once a month to avoid any dust, oil or food particles build-up.

Be careful while cleaning a quartz surface, as some things can damage it permanently. Here are some points you need to keep in mind while cleaning your countertop:

  • Don’t use hard & harsh cleaners that contain acids or alkaline. It will react with the binders in the quartz, weakening them over time.
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbers to clean a countertop, as they can leave scratches. The quartz surface is very sensitive, and you don’t want it full of tiny scratches. It will also lose its luster & shine with time.
  • Use mild detergents or dishwashing liquid mixed with lukewarm water. Soak a microfiber cloth in this mixture and use it for cleaning.
  • Avoid bleach. It will severely damage the quartz colors. If a hardened or strong stain is not coming off easily, use either rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner with a soft sponge to clean it.
  • Never use a metal knife to scrap any stains. If it’s really necessary, use a plastic putty knife. You can find them in any nearby hardware or gardening store.
  • Protect your quartz countertop from citric acid. Never put any citric drink on your countertop. Before using any cleaner, check its ingredients for the presence of citric acids.

So, these are some things you should keep in mind while maintaining & cleaning your quartz surface. If there’s any issue or you get confused, call a local cleaning professional, and they will help you solve any problems.

Final Words

Quartz countertops are one of the most appealing & attractive options for your kitchen. It will surely make your neighbors & friends jealous.

The best thing about quartz countertops is that they are artificially engineered. Manufacturers use a lot of different processes to build a slab. It doesn’t seem to be the case, but a lot goes into creating a single quartz slab, as we have already seen.

This is why they are infinitely customizable in terms of color, texture and design.

Quartz countertops increase the attraction of your kitchen. In spite of having a few disadvantages, they are one of the best things to happen to your kitchens or bathrooms.

Maintaining & caring for a quartz countertop is also really simple. It won’t ask a lot of care & attention from you. However, it provides much more in return.

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