While quartz countertops are seemingly everywhere these days, they have only been around for about 20 years. The fact that they are impossible to miss when countertop shopping is a testament to their beauty and fantastic durability.

If you’re considering a quartz countertop, but want to know more about their advantages versus other materials, here’s a rundown on the basics of quartz countertops and why they have become so popular.

Quartz countertops are not made from solid stone slabs, but rather from crushed stone, binders, and pigments, allowing for truly unique designs.

Traditionally, stone countertops are made by cutting down, milling and polishing a piece of granite or other stone. This isn’t the case with quartz countertops.

Instead, large quantities of quartz, as well as granite, marble, and other stones are ground into dust, then blended with other materials, such as glass, silica and even mirror fragments. Once a desired mix has been achieved, a binding material (usually a polymer- or cement-based resin) is added at a ratio of about 9 parts stone mix to 1 part binder.

The result is a beautiful, hard, non-porous engineered stone material that is perfect for kitchen countertops and other demanding applications.

Better yet, because the manufacturing process is completely controlled, extremely unique colors and textures—and even details associated with natural stone countertops, such as veining—can be produced. This allows homeowners and designers to achieve looks not possible with granite, marble, and other natural stone countertops.

You may also see “solid surface” countertops on the market, which are made through a similar process. However, the colors and details produced with solid surface countertops are more limited than what is possible with quartz.

Quartz countertops are extremely tough, and not as prone to chipping or breaking as natural stone countertops.

Because of how stone is created within the Earth, just about all forms of stone have veins and lines and other imperfections running through them. This means that while they are generally quite tough, a natural stone countertop will be tougher and more resilient in some areas versus others.

Quartz countertops do not have these flaws. They are a single, solid piece of engineered material lacking the imperfections intrinsic to naturally formed stone.

Due to being nonporous and durable, quartz countertops are easily cleaned and maintained, resistant to staining, and can be used as backsplashes.

While natural stone countertops are extremely tough, they are all somewhat porous and will absorb liquids. This can present a little bit of a problem in the kitchen. Wine, juices, oil, coffee, tomato sauces, and other liquids can cause mild staining of stone countertops if not promptly cleaned.

Quartz countertops don’t have this problem, as they are nonporous. This means that fluids will not absorb into the surface of the countertop, even if left standing for some time. The nonporous nature of quartz countertops means that can be readily cleaned off with old-fashioned soap and water, and are easily disinfected.

Because of its nonporous qualities, quartz countertop material is also perfect for use as backsplashes. We have installed many matching countertops and backsplashes, which look absolutely beautiful. While tile backsplashes are effective, cleaning the grout between tiles can be a hassle, versus the easier to clean solid quartz backsplashes.

It should be noted that quartz is not the only nonporous countertop material on the market. Both solid surface and laminate countertops resist moisture absorption. But solid surface countertops contain a lower ratio of stone to binding materials (about 2:1, versus 9:1 for quartz), so they can be a little softer and less natural looking.

Meanwhile, laminate is far less durable than either option, as laminate is made using a base layer of wood, which makes it feel hollow. Another weakness is fact that laminate is made using layers of material, and if the binding between layers fails, or the uppermost layer is damaged, moisture will become trapped and cause damage.

Quartz delivers a combination of beauty, toughness and nonporousness that can’t be beat. Contact us if you would like to learn more about how a quartz countertop can beautify your home or building project.