When future archaeologists describe the construction trends of 2018, they will likely note how quickly engineered stone emerged as a favorite material for floors and countertops. What is interesting about the ongoing rise in quartz installations across the United States is that quartz is not a new material. The history of quartz dates back to the late 1960s, when an Italian engineer sought to mimic the geologic process of stone formation by artificial means.
Quartz is being rediscovered thanks to advanced fabrication techniques. This material is mostly made of pulverized pieces of natural stone with a high content of silicon dioxide, the crystalline mineral known as quartz. The remaining 10 percent of quartz slabs and tiles consists of resins and pigments. To learn more about this material, it helps to understand its fabrication process.
Selection of Raw Materials
The natural properties of silicon dioxide do not allow its formation in blocks. If this was the case, it would not make sense to fabricate engineered stone since the idea is to achieve an unnatural concentration of the mineral. Quartz manufacturing begins with gathering quartz clusters from quarries or recycling natural stone such as marble and granite, which have a moderately high content of quartz. The solid raw material is weighed so a concentration of about 93 percent quartz is achieved.
Crushing and Blending
The quartz clusters and chunks of recycled stone are mixed with polyester resins, pigments, and other compounds. In the 1980s, Corian countertops were made with these resins, which resulted in solid surfaces that were virtually bulletproof but did not resemble natural stone. Since quartz is at least 90 percent natural, it can be made to look as if it was extracted from quarries in the Mediterranean.
Compacting and Curing
The process of turning the mixture into slabs, which can be further cut into tiles if desired, involves compacting in a vacuum space where more than 100 tons of pressure are applied. When the slabs are formed, quartz receives its water-resistant properties. Moreover, the compacting process eliminates the porosity found in natural stone. The solid, non-permeable surface of quartz is the reason homeowners don’t have to worry about resealing their floors or countertops.
Calibration and Finishing
After being cured in kilns at high temperatures, quartz slabs are ready for calibration and finishing. The final process before quality assurance creates a permanent seal that protects the surface for as long as it lasts, which could be hundreds of years. Although many homeowners favor a glossy and highly polished look, brushed finishing is also available to combine with rustic décor elements. Regardless of the quartz finish chosen, homeowners don’t have to worry about sealing their countertops. They only need to use a specially formulated quartz cleaner on their surfaces to keep them looking like new.
If you’d like to find out how to clean natural stone as well as engineered stone like quartz, get in touch with Granite Gold® today at 1-800-475-STONE (7866). We offer a wide array of products that are safe to use on quartz and natural-stone surfaces such as granite, marble, and slate. We hope to hear from you soon.