It is the name of a material that continues to confuse people. The term quartz can mean different things to various people. Knowing a bit about quartz helps us to understand some key differences in the way the term is used. In this article we will take a look at various kinds of "quartz". As we do, we will make an effort to illuminate some of the differences between the materials the term represents.
What Is Quartz?
The answer to the question, "What is quartz?" yields different answers depending on the context in which it is being asked. Rather than presupposing a context, we will simply explain two of the main ways this term is used. Then, we can isolate one usage and explain it better.
The term quartz is the name of a mineral that is found naturally in the earth. This definition of the term quartz is as follows on
Quartz is a hard, crystalline mineral composed of silica (silicon dioxide). The atoms are linked in a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon-oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO2. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in Earth's continental crust, behind feldspar.
In addition to being the name of a material known for its hardness, the term quartz is also used to describe a man made surface material. This is explained on the
Engineered stone is a composite material made of crushed stone bound together by an adhesive, (most commonly polymer resin, with some newer versions using cement mix). This category includes engineered quartz, polymer concrete and engineered marble stone. The application of these products depends on the original stone used. For engineered marbles the most common application is indoor flooring and walls, while the quartz based product is used primarily for kitchen countertops as an alternative to laminate or granite. Related materials include geopolymers and cast stone. Unlike terrazzo, the material is factory made in either blocks or slabs, cut and polished by fabricators, and assembled at the worksite.
As you can see from the statement above, engineered quartz is man made material used for making kitchen countertops. This material is sometimes just abbreviated as "quartz". When this happens, it can make it a challenge discovering which substance is being referenced. So, for the remainer of this article, we will
differentiate between the materials to avoid confusion.
Properties of Quartz
The mineral quartz is a very hard material that measures a 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. For this reason it is very durable. And, because engineered quartz contains a significant amount of the mineral quartz, it is referred to simply as a "quartz" countertop. So what are the properties of engineered quartz countertops?
One of the properties of engineered quartz surfaces is that they are hard like the mineral of which they are composed. And even though engineered quartz countertops contain other materials, those materials are also hard. So overall, engineered quartz is scratch resistant because of its hardness.
Another property of engineered quartz surfaces is that they are non-porous. This property helps them resist staining. How so? Well, a non-porous surface does not allow liquids to penetrate the stone. As a result, any stain causing liquids remain on the stone's surface and do not get into the pores. Therefore, these liquids can be wiped up and removed easily.
Fabricating Engineered Quartz Countertops
Engineered quartz fabrication involves a number of specific techniques and tools designed for working with the material. Let's look at a few of them now.
Whether you classify it as a technique or use of a tool, the first that we will consider is using
diamond polishing pads designed for engineered quartz surfaces. When engineered quartz is being polished, the bond in the polishing pad can heat up and discolor the surface of the engineered quartz surfaces. Using polishing pads that are made for engineered quartz according to the instructions from the manufacturer will give you a stain free polish.
Cutting engineered quartz is also a facet of fabrication that takes some specific tool usage. There are
diamond blades designed for cutting engineered quartz surfaces. Using these blades provides clean cuts on hard materials. These will also last longer than blades not made for cutting engineered quartz surfaces.
And those are not the only tools designed specifically for use on material hard like engineered quartz.
- Turbo Blades
- Core Bits
- Side Cut Blades
- Quad Turbo Blades
Many of the tools used for working with engineered quartz are available through distributors you can find on this website. You can also learn about the tools here.
Engineered Quartz Countertop Durability
Engineered quartz surfaces are considered to be a durable material and are often used for countertops. But why is that the case? To answer that question, we need to revisit the properties we mentioned earlier.
Hardness and scratch resistance go hand in hand. And these are the properties that contribute to the durbility of engineered quartz. Scratch resistant countertops are an advantage in the kitchen because sharp utensils are so frequently used on them. That is not to say that engineered quartz surfaces should be used to cut up vegetables or other foods. Most engineered quartz manufacturers include instructions to use cutting boards when preparing foods. Yet, scratch resistance does help.
Another part of the durability of engineered quartz is its stain resistance. This too is tied to a property of the material. The non-porous nature of engineered stone allows countertops made from this material to be easily cleaned. Additionally, engineered quartz does not require sealers to protect it from absorbing liquids. So does that mean that engineered quartz is indestructible? No, it does require care and maintenance. Let's see how to care for these materials.
Care & Maintenance of Quartz Counters
Even though engineered quartz surfaces are very durable, they can still require some specific care. For example, manufacturers of engineered quartz often include in the instructions the need for wiping up water and not allowing liquids to dry on the surface. One of the stains that occurs on engineered quartz is limescale. Limescale is made up of mineral deposits that can be very difficult to remove with just soap and water. Acidic limescale remover is an effective way to remove this kind of stain.
Daily cleaning is best done using a cleanser specifically formulated to be used on engineered quartz surfaces. Why? because there are cleaners with pH levels that will react with the material and damage it. So, use cleaners designed for use on engineered quartz and follow the instructions on the cleaner's container.
Are Quartz Counters Right for You?
Whether to choose engineered quartz for a kitchen countertop is a personal decision. However, if it is chosen, the owner will get the best performance by caring for it appropriately.
As we have seen, there are a few things to know about "quartz". We looked at how it can be used in a couple of different contexts. We also got a look at properties that make engineered quartz desirable for kitchen countertop use. Finally, we have taken a look at what to keep in mind when caring for and maintaining countertops of engineered quartz. Keeping these important facts in mind will afford owners of engineered quartz the best results.