Renovating your kitchen is a stressful undertaking but when it’s all done, is worth the sacrifice.
One element that contributes to the appearance and functionality of the kitchen is the countertops.
You may have heard or been a part of the granite craze in the early 2000’s. Granite became a great alternative to tile and laminate counters because it was durable and beautiful.
However, while granite required consistence maintenance and caring that most homeowners did not desire to do so.
This is when quartz started to shine. Quartz manufacturers became more efficient and started lowering prices which made it affordable for most homeowners.
The quartz boom started in the early 2000’s and started picking up steam in 2010. It continues to this day with the 2019 Houzz report indicating that nationwide, 48% of homeowners are choosing quartz verses 43% of homeowners choosing natural stone for their countertops.
Based on our company sales, we would say that 80% of homeowners in Washington are choosing quartz over natural stone countertops.
With that said, where does quartz come from? And how are quartz countertops made to be so hard and durable, chip-resistant, and non-porous?
History and Origin
Quartz is the second most available mineral on earth and found on every continent.
Semi-precious stones such as jasper, onyx, amethyst, and agate are members of the quartz family.
Its molecular structure is responsible for its durability. It is found deep in the earth and retrieved in all shapes and sizes via a complicated mining process. There are quartz mines from Brazil to India and even the United States which is known as the “Quartz Belt”.
The Process of Creating a Quartz Slab
Simply put, quartz is an engineered stone, which combines roughly 93 to 97% of ground natural quartz aggregates with polymer resin and pigments.
Quartz is made by undergoing 5 steps:
|Step 1||Natural quartz is extracted from quarries worldwide|
|Step 2||The natural quartz is carefully weighed to get about 93-97% quartz content|
|Step 3||The quartz is combined with polyester resins, pigments, and more|
|Step 4||The mixture is compacted to create slabs|
|Step 5||The slabs are cured and finished|
After mining, the pieces are sorted into sizes and potential applications.
To make creative patterns and designs, the quartz is ground into small pieces, some as fine as sand. After that, quartz is combined with other materials such as resins, polymers, and pigments.
The appearance of the quartz depends on how much it is ground – the more its ground, the smoother the appearance and vice versa. It’s combined with the other waste elements and poured out into a slab.
It is at this point that the manufacturer determines the color they require for a specific tabletop. They will add more pigments and other elements to adjust the color.
Any mineral or hard surface is thrown into the mix, even objects such as old mirrors or other stone objects. It’s crucial to note that the surface is still 90% quartz.
After the materials are mixed together, the slab is compacted by a significant amount of pressure. The vacuum and vibration process usually applies 100 tons of pressure for 100 seconds. This pressure bonds the material together to a point where it becomes non-porous so no liquids can pass through.
Next, the slabs are poured into their required shape and cured in an oven. It’s cured in kilns for 30 minutes at a temperature of 85 degrees to heighten its sealing capacity.
The final steps include finishing the product by applying a finish to the slab, whether it has a polished finish or alternative option.
Advantages of Quartz
The great advantage of quartz is the consistent color and pattern which you can’t get from a piece of granite.
If taken care of, a quartz countertop can last you a lifetime without ever breaking.
Stay away from harsh chemicals as they may cause the color to fade and reduce the bond between the resins and quartz.
When you think of sourcing materials such as quartz from the earth, you’ll immediately think of the environmental impact.
Thankfully, quartz is in ample supply all across the world, and it’s blended with waste by-products of other manufacturing processes to form the end product.
There is no natural stone explicitly quarried for the manufacturing of quartz kitchen countertops.
You can rest assured in the fact that selecting quartz for your countertops and surfaces for your home has a lesser impact on the environment impact that choosing natural stone, a limited and non-renewable resource.
Although it’s not entirely stone, quartz a great substitute and can be used in various places around the home apart from the kitchen.
It is an affordable method of experiencing the aesthetics of natural stone.
And is a wise investment in your home and kitchen as the material is designed to last a long time.