The popularity of quartz countertops has exploded over the past few years as an alternative to granite or marble. There are plenty of good reasons for this, too, as quartz offers quite a few advantages over some natural stone choices on the market. For one, quartz is available in a much wider array of colors, shades and patterns, allowing you to go craft a unique look to match your vision.
Quartz is also a seriously strong building material and requires less maintenance than a comparable slab of granite, marble or other natural stone. However, with the recent rise of quartz has come quite a bit of misinformation and misunderstanding, so we thought we would help prospective buyers by setting the record straight.
1) Quartz and Quartzite Are Not the Same
This is an understandable misconception given the similarity in the names. While both materials do in fact contain quartz crystals and silica, quartzite is a natural metamorphic rock that has been quarried and cut slabs. Quartzite stands out from marble or granite in its durability and unique appearance, featuring a wide range of colors and shades as well as interesting mineral streaking patterns.
Quartz, on the other hand, is an amalgam of roughly 90% quartz and other minerals, with the other 10% being resin and pigments to form a slab. This gives manufacturers the ability to create countertops that can resemble natural stone or go for totally unique colors, patterns and shades that aren’t found in nature. This includes deep blues, brilliant greens, lavender or deep reds.
2) Quartz Is Indestructible
Contrary to what some eager salesmen might want to tell you, quartz countertops are tough, but not exactly bulletproof. Quartz is more durable than marble or granite, but it can still crack or scratch, as most of it is still made up of natural stone.
Quartz is more susceptible to damage from heat than other natural stone as well. A hot pan right off the stove has the potential to partially melt or discolor. However, whether you have quartz or natural stone countertops, we recommend using a trivet or heat pad to place pots, pans, and hot serving dishes on just to be safe.
We also recommend always using a cutting board during your meal-prep, as sharp knives can scratch the surface (as well as dull the blade’s edge). It’s also a good idea to be careful in sliding objects across the surface, such as serving trays or stoneware. Be aware of jewelry as well, as precious stones can nick and scratch the surface when moving heavy objects across the counter.
3) Quartz Is Made of Completely Synthetic Materials
The standard blend of natural and synthetic materials is around 90:10 from most manufacturers, but you do see as high as 93%, with the rest consisting of the binding resins and pigmentation. Some lower quality slabs can contain as little as 88% natural materials, usually found in prefabricated kitchen and bathroom counters.
Anything lower than these amounts just wouldn’t provide the cohesive look to be able to resemble stone slabs. Any higher percentage would be compromising strength, as the resins and polymers holding the aggregate together wouldn’t be able to do their job properly.
4) Quartz and Corian Are Interchangeable Terms
Corian is a solid surface material manufactured by DuPont. Corian is typically made with a 2:1 mix of resin and alumina trihydrate and can be had in a wide range of colors and patterns. It became popular throughout the 1970s and 80s for use as countertops or workbenches.
DuPont also manufactures Corian Quartz (formally known as Zodiaq) which is its take on the quartz countertop material that we’re primarily discussing in this article. Whereas standard Corian does not contain natural stone, Corian Quartz does.
5) Quartz Needs to Be Sealed
One of the big advantages that quartz has over its natural-stone counterparts is that it is inherently a non-porous material, and therefore never needs to be sealed. With granite or marble, there is the potential for water or other substances to seep into the surface and leave a difficult to remove stain.
This also means that quartz is can be resistant to etching from acidic chemicals, which can damage the surface of stone that contains calcium carbonate. However, in recent years, we’ve been hearing from customers that they have experienced signs of etching on their quartz with prolonged exposure to acidic chemicals.
To help fight this, we recommend that you always wipe up spills as soon as they happen. This can help you to not only prevent surface stains or etching but also makes your job in cleaning up later that much easier. For daily cleaning, we recommend Granite Gold Quartz Brite® for effective cleaning while acting as a surface polish at the same time.
To read more on what not to do when caring for your quartz or other natural stone, check out our other guides here. If you have any more specific questions pertaining to caring for your stone and need some advice, you can give our Stone Care Experts a call at 1-800-475-STONE. Also, be sure to check out the full line of stone care and other related products from Granite Gold®.