On May 5, 2016, I attended a CEU event by Cambria at Arhaus Furniture Store and gained a lot of new information about quartz and why this surfacing material is the best option for kitchen countertops, bathrooms, and more!
Quartz captures the true elegance of natural stone surfaces and is a good alternative to other surfacing options such as solid surface, granite, concrete and laminate. The primary raw materials in quartz surfacing are quartz, resin and pigments.
Quartz is one of the most common mineral on earth and is mined all over the world. It is one of the hardest minerals, other than diamond. Some of its unique benefits are:
- Scratch Resistant
Quartz Surfacing: From Route To Market
Quartz’s production process uses an abundant and readily available materials and produces 122″x 55.5″ & 5.5’x 11′ slabs with various thicknesses for different applications. The diagram below shows the production of quartz from its raw stage all the way to when it becomes usable by the public.
Quartz Production Process
Quartz Slab Processing
The slab press performs two key operations:
1. Vacuum removes air voids from the materials. 2. Vibration and compression create the super dense, non-porous quartz structure (slab)
Curing & Cooling
In this stage the quartz slab is baked (cured) and then sent to the cooling tunnel for its completion.
After the quartz has gone thru the cooling stage, there are diamond abrasives used to polish quartz surfacing. The resulting gloss is a physical property of the finished slab. No wax or polishing agent is used and the finished slabs never need polishing, sealing, or refinishing. This is one of the greatest advantages of using quartz versus other materials.
Testing happens at each step of the production process. There are multiple gloss meter readings at the end of polishing line to ensure that the finished product is suitable and ready for use.
Leading fabrication facilities use the latest technology and equipment including:
- Electronic templating
- Straight-line polishers
- CNC machines
Water-jet fabrication (cutting) enables precision and detail, increasing slab utilization. The CNC machine fabrication is much more efficient than traditional wet saw fabrication. It requires significantly less hands-on labor. It is extremely accurate method of fabrication derived from digitized measuring and templating and enables couples configurations and precise installation.
Quality installation requires skilled fabrication and skilled installers. “Drop-In” installation is possible when measured digitally and fabricated on CNC machines.
Modulus of Rupture Test, ASTM-C99, is the force necessary to break a sample of specific width and thickness. It is calculated using the load applied at the point of failure, distance between the sample supports and sample dimensions, and is expressed in pounds per square inch. Results, shown in the image below, indicate that quartz surfacing is twice as strong as granite. These results are based on an average of samples tested.
Moisture Absorption Test
The image below shows the moisture absorption test on several stone types and the results indicate that quartz surfacing have nearly no absorption. This means that if you see a spill on your counter after several hours or even a day of it happening, you can easily wipe it off without worrying about any stains.
Quartz surface product tests conform to ANSI Z124.6: Standard Test For Stain Resistance. Because it is non-porous, quartz surfacing is resistant to stains from foods and beverages such as:
- Acidic Juices
- Coca Cola
- Food coloring
- Shaving Cream
- Lemon Juice
- Motor Oil
Quartz vs. Granite
Granite is 40-60% quartz. Quartz surfacing is 93% quartz, which makes it stronger and more durable than granite. In addition, many quartz brands are certified NSF 51 for use in food preparation and splash zone areas. Non-porous surface is nonabsorbent, resists staining and reduces the potential of bacteria growth due to food and liquid absorbing into the surface.
Quartz Edge Profile
Variety of edges can be fabricated from quartz in different thicknesses (2-8 cm). Custom edges availability varies by market/fabricator.
Leading quartz surfacing producers are:
GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified and GREENGUARD Gold Certified by the GREENGUARD Environment Institute (GEI) under the GREENGUARD Standard for Low Emitting Products.
Leading quartz surfacing producers can contribute to projects achieving:
LEED Points in Indoor Air Quality and/or Materials & Resources category.