Quartz: The Granite killer?
Quartz is rapidly becoming one of the most popular materials used in counter tops, and it’s applications don’t stop there. You’ve probably heard of Quartz, but may have some questions, such as:
- What is quartz?
- Are quartz counters natural stone or completely man made?
- Is it as hard as Granite?
- Is it safe for food prep?
- Do I need to seal it or do any regular maintenance?
- How does the price compare to other solid surfaces?
Those are all really good questions with some interesting – and perhaps surprising – answers.
What is Quartz?
Quartz itself is a naturally occurring stone, similar to Granite and Marble, and is the most common mineral found on the surface of the earth. At a molecular level, it is Silicon Dioxide (SiO2).
It rates a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale for hardness, with the highest ranking material on the Mohs Scale being Diamond.
Are quartz counters natural stone or completely man made?
When you are talking about Quartz as a counter top material, it is often described as a “man made” counter top alternative, but it is actually a natural stone that is mined out of the ground in a similar way that Diamonds are for jewelry.
Once the stone is removed from the earth, it is then ground down to different sizes and shapes to achieve the desired pattern and look. From there it is mixed with a resin.
For example, Cambria® Quartz is 93% Pure Quartz and 7% resin. Alternatively, granite is naturally 40-60% quartz with other various, more porous materials included from nature .
It is technically a “man-made” product in the sense that it is manufactured from multiple ingredients, but the overwhelming majority of material used is found in nature.
Is it as hard as Granite?
Because Quartz counters contains up to 93% real quartz, and granite is only approximately 40-60% Quartz, its overall level of hardness is two times that of Granite.
This makes it much less susceptible to scratching, denting, marking, or staining.
Is it safe to use for food prep?
From a functionality standpoint, Quartz offers some of the best usability and sanitary options on the market.
When talking about how safe a solid surface is in relation to health, Quartz is non-porous, which means it won’t hold on to anything – even at a bacterial level.
“Because it’s nonporous and non-absorbent, Quartz won’t draw in moisture from raw or leftover food, which can harbor harmful bacteria. It gives off zero emissions, and no radon. There is no safer stone surface for food preparation, period.” – Cambria
Do I need to seal it or do any regular maintenance?
Quartz requires zero after-installation maintenance. Other solid surfaces, such as Granite & Marble, require regular sealing as well as thorough cleaning after use with raw meats and contaminants. Quartz cleans up easily and requires no harsh chemicals. And because its non-absorbant, it won’t stain. So when you accidently knock over a glass of wine, you don’t have to worry about it leaving any sign behind.
How does the price compare to other solid surfaces?
Quartz and Granite have some overlap, depending on the grade of Granite you pick and the brand of Quartz. If you want a natural stone surface, Granite is your best budget friendly option. Most granite surface manufacturers use a grading system for their slabs, for example 1-8 or A-H. The higher the level, the better looking, rarer, and more expensive the slab.
Quartz companies are much more narrow in their price variance. Cambria, for example, only has 1 price bracket that all their colour options fall into. The only variable in price is your edge selection. They offer a wide variety of standard edges, but they also have some premium edges that can increase the price slightly. Other Quartz companies have different levels that they group their colours into, but there are only 4 or 5 levels to choose from.
If you want to generalize, Quartz would be considered a more premium product than Granite. But that is subjective to both which granite and which quartz you are comparing. It’s important to make sure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison!
All solid surfaces add a whole new level of aesthetic beauty to your space, regardless of size or scope. And they all offer beautiful choices in colour and design. Granite and Marble have been known as solid surface options for decades – even centuries – with Quartz being the newest player in the game only rising to prominence within the last 10-15 years. But Quartz has grown from is small place to become one of the most popular options in the modern home for any application. Granite and Marble have always been known to give a natural beauty that couldn’t be found anywhere but in nature, but even that stronghold is starting to crumble. As more and more Quartz manufacturers are creating designs that mirror nature, being able to tell the difference between completely natural and fabricated materials is getting more and more difficult.
As you consider which material to use for your counters, there are many good options. If you want one that offers incredible durability, ease of use, and a beautiful look, Quartz is the top choice.