In most cases, quartz is not considered a true natural stone countertop material as it is not 100% natural stone. Materials such as marble, granite, limestone, soapstone or quartzite are all popular options in natural stone.
Quartz, unlike these naturally occurring stone options, is made from the mineral quartz, which is ground, pressed and formed. To keep the material together, 7% resin is mixed in with 93% ground quartz. This resin, a composite polymer, can also contain coolants which provide the rich, bright and vibrant colors that would not be possible through naturally occurring stone.
This mixture of the liquid resin and the ground quartz is then compressed and allowed to cool into 2cm or 3cm slabs. From this point, it is fabricated the same way as marble, granite or other natural stone to create amazing custom countertops.
One of the significant issues with natural stone is that it is naturally porous. Small surface pores allow liquids into the surface of the stone, which causes staining and etching. To counter this issue, natural stone countertops are sealed to stop liquids from staining and etching. This needs to be repeated every few years to keep the countertops sealed.
The resin in quartz countertops acts like a permanent seal. This creates a completely non-porous surface that prevents staining and etching in the same way as other natural stone counters. At the same time, this perfectly smooth surface also eliminates the risk of bacteria growth in the pores, which is important in food prep areas.
Scratch and Heat Resistant
Natural stone is not naturally tough, particularly the softer stones such as marble, soapstone, and limestone. However, the use of quartz countertops adds a level of scratch resistance that will be truly appreciated by the home chef.
This is also a countertop that can tolerate exposure to heat. Marble and granite should not be exposed to direct heat as it can lead to cracks and other problems. Even though quartz can tolerate heat, it is still a good habit to use a trivet and to also use a cutting board when prepping food on the surface.
While sealants make any natural stone an easy to maintain option, quartz countertops are still the ideal option for low-maintenance kitchens. They can be simply wiped down with a damp cloth and soapy water, then wiped again to remove any soap residue. Milder cleaners can be used to remove any type of dried on material, which can be more challenging with other types of natural stone.
Quartz is also resistant to the common etching and staining items that are problems for natural stone. They can resist staining from wine, vinegar, coffee, tomato products and juices, even if they are not immediately cleaned from the surface.