Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz, several of which are semi-precious gemstones. Especially in Europe and the Middle East, varieties of quartz have been since antiquity the most commonly used minerals in the making of jewelry and hardstone carvings
Major varieties of quartz
- Chalcedony Cryptocrystalline: quartz and moganite mixture. The term is generally only used for white or lightly colored material. Otherwise more specific names are used.
- Agate: Multi-colored, banded chalcedony, semi-translucent to translucent
- Onyx: Agate where the bands are straight, parallel and consistent in size.
- Jasper: Opaque cryptocrystalline quartz, typically red to brown
- Aventurine: Translucent chalcedony with small inclusions (usually mica) that shimmer.
- Tiger's Eye: Fibrous gold to red-brown colored quartz, exhibiting chatoyancy.
- Rock crystal: Clear, colorless
- Amethyst: Purple, transparent
- Citrine: Yellow to reddish orange to brown, greenish yellow
- Prasiolite: Mint green, transparent
- Rose quartz: Pink, translucent, may display diasterism
- Rutilated quartz: Contains acicular (needles) inclusions of rutile
- Milk quartz: White, translucent to opaque, may display diasterism
- Smoky quartz: Brown to gray, opaque
- Carnelian: Reddish orange chalcedony, translucent
- Dumortierite quartz: Contains large amounts of dumortierite crystals
Natural quartz surfacing is made from 100% natural quartz cut from blocks into slabs. The slabs are custom cut to create countertops. Quartz is naturally non-porous and scratch resistant. As with solid surface countertopping, the materials are prefabricated and installed by professionals. Thicknesses may be 1.2 cm (1/2 inch), 2 cm (3/4 inch), 3 cm (1¼ inch) or 4 cm (1½ inch).
Engineered quartz surfacing
Engineered stone quartz surfacing is made from approximately 95% natural quartz and 5% polymer resins. Testing has shown that they retain much of the toughness of quartz but display increased ductility due to the resin, improving impact resistance. Countertops are custom made and are more scratch resistant as well as less porous than natural quartz surfaces. Thicknesses may be 6mm, 1.2 cm (1/2 inch), 2 cm (3/4 inch), 3 cm (1¼ inch) or 4 cm (1½ inch).
Facts About Quartz Countertops
Engineered quartz is an increasingly popular choice for kitchen countertops. Quartz combines the look and feel of granite with the unmatched strength and durability of one of the world's hardest materials. While it lacks some of the aesthetic appeal of granite and is significantly pricier than laminate, engineered quartz is a smart choice for homeowners looking for a material that is beautiful and practical.
Quartz is the second-most abundant material on Earth and the third-hardest material. Engineered quartz is manufactured by blending natural quartz with 5 to 7 percent polymer resins. Pigments are added to the mix to achieve the myriad hues in which engineered quartz is available. Its texture can be fine or coarse, depending on how it is processed, and can be combined with glass and other reflective materials for a sparkling finish.
The process used by most companies to create engineered quartz was developed by Breton, an Italian company, in the 1960s. While quartz countertops have been appearing in European kitchens for well over a decade, the use of engineered quartz in kitchen design in the United States is a relatively recent phenomenon, but its popularity has grown significantly. According to HGTV's website, U.S. sales of quartz countertops rose by 60 percent in 2004.
Most engineered quartz is fabricated to look like granite, though it can be made to resemble other natural stones such as marble and limestone. It is heavier than granite and has a uniform appearance free of imperfections. This consistency makes it a good choice for large surfaces like kitchen countertops, since it is manufactured in long, thick slabs that can be installed as a single, unbroken piece.
Engineered quartz is exceptionally hard, very durable, and, unlike granite, non-porous. It is heat- and stain-resistant, and since it doesn't require the frequent resealing of granite, it's also easy to maintain. The natural density and hardness of quartz is highly resistant to the chips and dents that often occur in granite and laminate countertops. The same qualities that keep it stain-free also prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating kitchen surfaces. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns to match almost any kitchen, from icy white to mottled pink and deepest black.
While the selection of colors is large, engineered quartz lacks the subtle variations in color, texture and grain that give granite its characteristic appeal. It is similar to granite, however, in that the seams between individual slabs are often visible, particularly in lighter shades. Quartz is also no less expensive a material than granite and much more costly than laminate. Finally, the weight and structural considerations involved in the installation of quartz kitchen countertops make it a job