The popularity of quartz is exploding as of late, and both designers and homeowners seeking to renovate their dream kitchens are taking note of the vast benefits of quartz countertops – thanks in part to its dynamic style, immense strength and durability, and its cost effectiveness.
But the benefits of quartz countertops also go beyond those key pillars. With advances in countertop production, quartz can now be custom tailored and used in innovative new ways.
What Is Quartz Anyway?
Quartz is a stunningly beautiful mineral comprised of silicon and oxygen atoms (SiO4), and is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s planetary crust. Derived from the German Quarz, corresponding to the Czech term tvrdy, Quartz literally translates as “hard.” The ancient Greeks called quartz krustallos, meaning icy cold because many philosophers believed the mineral was a form of supercooled ice.
The unique chemical composition of quartz allows it to exist in two separate forms thanks to its distinct chirality – in that its properties cannot be distinguished from their mirror image. A-quartz and high temperature B-quartz begin to transition at a precise 573°C – and thanks to an epic restructuring of form, undergoes a reduction of volume, giving quartz its fragmented and crystallized raw look.
The majority of quartz is formed through crystallization of molten magma, but can also exist through chemical precipitation from hot hydrothermal veins, where it can deposit alongside gold, silver, and copper. It’s typically found in sedimentary rock like shale and sandstone, and is a defining constituent of granite. It also boasts the lowest potential for breakdown or erosion in the geological world.
There are a large number of major varieties of quartz, some popular ones being amethyst, onyx, Tiger’s Eye, as well as Smoky and Milky Quartz.
In its countertop form, quartz countertops are man-made engineered stone products created from a combination of about 90% ground quartz with 8-10% hard resin, colours/pigments, and polymers to form a very hard surface with either a speckled or smooth surface look.
Strength & Durability
Many homeowners have a vision in their head that’s tough to counter – and it often features marble or stone countertops for their sleek and modern elegance – and we totally get that. Stone is beautiful and loaded with unique character, but natural stone materials also require ample maintenance, regular applications of stone sealant:
- 2X per year for granite
- 4X per year for marble
Natural stone is also prone to scratching and chipping over time, you begin to see the vast strength and durability advantages of quartz countertops. Unlike granite, for example, quartz is easy to care for and is similar in scope to the visual appeal of natural stone. It’s also non-porous, and resists bacteria and mold.
In terms of strength, quartz is by far the most durable surface available on the market today thanks to its high percentage of quartz mineral content in combination with hard resins. In fact, quartz is approximately twice as strong as granite, and retain an element of flexibility that allows them to slightly warp and adjust to their surroundings. Quartz is also heavier and more structurally sound than its granite cousin.
Popularity & Sustainability
Part of the reason quartz is so popular is its relative Eco-friendliness and reputation as a lifelong investment.
Since quartz is so abundant in the Earth’s makeup, it’s a sustainable material, although it’s certainly not a renewable resource. Environmentally, the acrylic resins and polymers used in the creation of quartz are a byproduct of the petroleum, but many mining companies are committed to refining and improving the conditions of their sites, meaning positive change is in the works.
Many companies, like Caesarstone for example, independently certify their engineered quartz products through the GREENGUARD Certification, ensuring low-emitting surfaces that have very little impact on indoor air quality. The company is also dedicated to sustainable leadership and is certified in accordance with ISO 9001, an international standard for establishing an environmental management system to guide working towards environmental goals and investing in tools that enhance a quality environment. Further, they were also the first to achieve an ISO 14001 certification for environmental protection.
The popularity of quartz in recent years is thanks to its extremely durable nature that makes it a perfectly suited countertop material for very high-traffic areas like the kitchen. Further, quartz is also stain resistant and heat resistant.
The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ never met a quartz countertop, we suppose. Quartz is a marvel of strength and durability, while fetching prices nearly half as much as marble, for example. Marble can sell for as much as $75-250 per square foot, and granite for as much as $45-200 per square foot – while the cost effective popularity of quartz can fetch as much as $55-155 per square foot, and as low as $40-90 per square foot installed – as noted by Houzz.
Quartz is also cost effective thanks to its life long legacy as a one-time investment. Quartz is ridiculously hard and durable, giving it a lifespan of many decades. Install once and never worry about damaging or replacing your countertops again – making it a worthwhile investment that retains its value and has a positive impact on the resale value of your home.
All engineered products will inevitably vary slightly less than their natural counterparts, and this can have an impact on the visual splendour of your countertops, but the advances to quartz colouring, patina, and manufacturing process are gaining massive ground on the visual allure of quartz.
Caesarstone’s 2018 Metropolitan Collection is nothing short of jaw-dropping, leading the industrial-inspired trend with 7 unique colours that are indecipherable from natural stone.
Quartz can be engineered to look exactly like calacatta marble, natural granite, shale, and even solid surfacing, giving homeowners complete control over the visual style of their dream kitchen while harnessing the power, strength, and cost effective prowess of quartz.
With undisputed strength, durability, style, a dedication to sustainability, and rampant popularity under its wings, quartz is poised to continue its ascent to the throne of coveted countertop materials in 2018 and beyond. Its adaptability and beauty make it one of the most sought after and savvy choices the discerning homeowner can make to elevate their dream kitchens to new heights.