The Lowdown on Quartz Countertops
Purists hold hard to granite and marble for their countertops. Because they believe that natural is the only way to go. While natural stones do have the edge in unique beauty and overall durability, engineered quartz stones are not far behind in those departments. As a surface material, it has slowly been gaining traction in the public eye over the last five decades, ever since it was first introduced in the market. For homeowners torn between natural and engineered quartz stone, here is the lowdown on quartz countertops.
In a nutshell
• Main use of this durable, engineered surface material is in bathrooms and kitchens
• It is a mix of quartz minerals, resins, and pigments bonded under high pressure
• Distinct from solid surface materials, which are also manmade
• Top brands include Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria
• Non-porous; Does not require sealing
• Scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, very durable
Some nitpickers argue that the correct term for quartz stone is “engineered stone” counters, citing some brands that use recycled materials in lieu of quartz, including other types of stone and even seashells. However, true quartz countertops are primarily made of quartz minerals.
Top quartz stone brands such as Silestone and Zodiaq carried by KNC use a patented technology to manufacture their countertop products called Bretonstone. While that technology does not require the use of quartz in its composition, top brands use at least 90% quartz for a very good reason. Quartz is an extremely hard mineral, rating a 7 in the Mohs hardness scale. To put that in perspective, diamonds rate a 10 on that scale. Granite, which has anywhere between 20% and 60% quartz, typically rates a 6 in the Mohs scale.
Therefore, any manmade stone material that has less than 90% quartz been not a quartz stone. It may use the Bretonstone system to compress the materials into a cohesive, durable solid slab, but it would not be the same as quartz counters. One may argue that this makes no difference, but that is not true. An engineered stone with 90% or more quartz, i.e. quartz stone, is much more durable than engineered stone made of less durable materials.
In addition, these top brands provide a wide range of colors and designs resulting from a specific combination of other stones, resins and pigments unique to each brand. Some also include antibacterial material in the mix to make their quartz counters even safer for use in the kitchen and bathroom.
As earlier mentioned, the manufacture of quartz countertops involves the use of a patented process by Breton, an Italian company founded by Marcello Toncelli. The company, Brevetti Toncelli, translates roughly to Toncelli Patents. The name was eventually shortened to Breton. In the 1970s, Toncelli invented a system for producing solid surface materials from an aggregate of small stones, stone-like objects, polyester resins, and pigments. He used heat and vacuum technology to compress and mold these materials into stable and non-porous slabs.
Many of the top quartz stone brands today have licenses to use the Bretonstone system to make their products. Each brand introduced unique versions of quartz stone, but they are basically the same product with the same features and benefits.
The best thing about quartz stone brands like Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, and Zodiaq is that they look great. They may not be exactly like natural stones, but they look great. Because they are engineered, they can mimic the look of natural stones quite closely, including the depth and richness of natural stones. The fact that they are more consistent in design than natural stones is a benefit for many designers and homeowners not willing to work with the unpredictability of granite or marble stones. It is much easier to match quartz stone to any design, and since each slab of a model is identical, you can achieve a seamless look if you must join two slabs for a long counter more easily as well.
The next best thing about quartz countertops is its durability. As mentioned before, the high quartz content of these stone surfaces makes it more durable than granite. In addition, it requires much less maintenance than natural stones because it is non-porous. You will not need to, and should not, seal quartz countertops at all. It does not stain or etch, and you can use regular cleaning products to keep it clean.
Finally, quartz counters are readily available in any quantity you need at any time. That is, unless the manufacturer discontinues a model or line. Even then, you are likely to find a similar style that will do just as well at a pinch.
In terms of investment, quartz counters are comparable in cost to natural granite. You can expect to pay upwards of $60 per square foot for the top quartz stone brands, installed.
If you are in the market for a stone countertop, but do not particularly want a natural stone, you should consider quartz countertops. They look and work like natural stone, but without their imperfections. A professional should carry out fabrication and installation, though, as quartz counters are heavier than granite. It is less likely to break during transport or installation, but it is still hard for an amateur to handle. For professional help in this matter, particularly in the cities of Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesta, Rockville, Washington DC, Alexandria VA, and Arlington VA, KNC Granite is the service provider you want.
KNC Granite has a large collection of quartz countertops from the top brands in the business, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and DuPont Zodiaq, all of which come with manufacturer warranties. If you are still undecided, we also have a wide selection of granite slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland.
We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. We also specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.