Quartz countertops are man-made countertops that are more closely related to solid surface (Corian, Silestone, etc.) and engineered granite, than they are related to natural stone such as slab granite countertops.
How are Quartz Countertops Made?Quartz is a naturally occurring substance, and in ground-up form it is combined with resins to form a hard surface much like engineered granite. Most quartz countertops are well over 90% quartz, which gives it the hardness and lack of porosity needed for the heavy demands of cooking. Some manufacturers also combine antibacterial substances.
Breton, an Italian company, patented the process of forming solid surfaces from quartz and resins. Numerous companies such as Cosentino (Silestone), DuPont, Cambria and others used Breton’s patent for their own type of quartz countertops. For example, DuPont's version of the quartz countertop is called Zodiaq. Silestone's quartz is simply Silestone (since this is their flagship product).
Benefits and Features of Quartz CountertopsThe chief benefit of the quartz countertop is its natural luster. Quartz is extremely hard and makes for a good work surface. It is largely composed of minerals (contrasted with solid surface counters which are about 33% inorganic binding resins and 66% organic minerals).
When dealing with natural slab granite you're going to have a lot more problems with potential cracks and staining than you will with quartz. Also, the installers have a bit easier time dealing with quartz than they do with granite because it is a more forgiving material for fabrication.
Cost of Quartz CountertopsQuartz counters are not a real bargain, compared to slab or engineered granite. Expect to pay between $60 and $100 per square foot for good quality quartz countertops.
Quartz Counter Colors and AppearanceBecause quartz countertops are engineered, almost any type of color can be brought out in the surface by means of pigmentation. Not only that, but other types of organic materials such as stone and glass can be incorporated into the quartz-resin mixture.
For anyone who wants a granite countertop, it is worth investigating quartz counters as a viable alternative. See our Corian-Quartz-Granite Comparison Chart to help you decide.