These days, granite countertops are touted as being THE choice for kitchens. There’s no denying that granite is beautiful, but it’s not the only option for a top-notch, quality kitchen. Another remarkably beautiful but more versatile option is quartz.
Quartz is a very hard mineral and is one of the most common minerals on earth, but it is not found in large slabs like granite. Quartz countertops are actually made up of small quartz crystals that are formed into slabs.
Quartz is often mined by hand – heavy equipment or explosives are used to remove the surrounding layer of rock and dirt, and then the quartz is carefully mined by hand to keep it from being damaged. If being used for countertops, the quartz in then ground down into uniformly sized pieces. At this point, the future slab can be greatly customized.
Most quartz used for countertops is “pure quartz,” which is colorless and transparent. However, quartz naturally occurs in many colors, so colored quartz can be mixed in to provide variety. The manufacturer can also use a variety of crystal sizes to add more sparkle and depth to the finished product.
Though similar in price to granite, one advantage of quartz countertops is that the color options are endless. The finished product will be 93% quartz, but that 7% of non-quartz material allows for a lot of personal taste. Since quartz doesn’t come in slabs, that 7% of non-quartz material is a resin that holds it all together. This resin can be colored to specification, and can even incorporate multiple colors by using a more complex process.
Once a countertop has been chosen and installed, quartz virtually maintenance free. Regular household cleaners can be used to keep it sparkling. A simple solution of diluted vinegar works great too, but owners should avoid using bleach. Though very durable (even more so than granite), quartz is not impervious to damage, so coasters are recommended to avoid scratches, and sitting or standing on the surface is not advised. Unlike granite and other natural stones, however, quartz does not need to be sealed. It is naturally stain- and bacteria- resistant because of the additives mixed in with the resin.
Though granite seems to be the most popular choice for kitchens right now, if you’re planning a custom home build or a kitchen remodel, it may be worth considering quartz as an option. It’s beautiful and natural, but it allows for more customization than granite without adding to the price.