What’s the Deal With Quartz?

When it comes to the installation of stone in kitchens, bathrooms or other rooms in one’s house, many homeowners ponder the thought of which surface is superior to the rest.  For centuries, natural stones such as Granite and Marble have been the foundation of flooring, countertops or walls. With a large selection of varieties to choose from, enough to match any aesthetic or vision, it is no wonder that these natural stones are selected.  However, within the past three decades or so, a new product on the market has emerged with popularity… Quartz! 

Quartz, the second most abundant mineral found in the Earth’s crust, has found fame when it comes to the stone-installation market.  Seeing as quartz is much less porous than marble, it is more resistant to damage and has a longer life-span than those of other delicate stone types.  However, many quartz manufacturing companies blur the lines when it comes to the representation of what this stone truly is. Man-made quartz products are only about 70% to 80% pure mineral quartz, while the remainder is polyester resin, styrene and pigments, declaring the title of ‘pure, natural mineral’ to be fictitious.  While quartz does share similarities in appearance to granite and marble surfaces, it cannot accurately be categorized a natural stone like the rest. Only quartzite, not quartz, made of 100% pure mineral, can be declared an untouched, natural stone.

So, is quartz the superior choice over natural stones such as granite and marble?  That truly depends on what the buyer is looking for. The previous paragraph already covered the fact that quartz is man-made and not a pure, natural stone.  However, that does not discredit the fact that many variations still do look similar to granite and marble. A type called Montblanc, for example, is a dead-ringer for Carrara Marble and many cannot tell the difference between the two.  Are quartz surfaces more durable to their natural stone counterparts? That is again dependent on how much pure mineral the product is made up of and the type of damage it is exposed to. Pressure tests that aimed to scratch and scuff quartz showed that products with higher mineral percentages were more resistant than limestone marble.  Many companies have also claimed that quartz is better kitchen surface alternative when it comes to penetration from heat, which has been discredited by damage testing. As with other natural stone surfaces, quartz is not completely untouchable when it comes to high levels of heat. In conclusion, while quartz may not be a natural stone, it is still a good product choice for those looking for similarity in demeanor to that of granite and marble but with a longer life-duration.  

Caveat: It is unknown, long term, whether the unnatural chemical and resin additives in quartz will be harmful to human or animal touch, digestion and inhalation.  Will the FDA, or EPA eventually step in?