Considering quartz as a surface material? Industry experts, Aurastone , Cosentino and Stone Amperor field your questions on this popular kitchen countertop material to help you make a better decision.
What is quartz made up of exactly, and how are they made?
Known also as an engineered stone, quartz is formed by combining varying amounts of grounded natural quartz (quartzite)—around 90per cent—with polymer resin and pigment. These are bounded together in vacuum using a large press and an intense vibration and pressure to compact the mixture, resulting in an isotropic slab with very low porosity. The slab will then be transferred over to a polishing machine to give it a nice and consistent finishing.
Where can we use quartz?
One of the most popular applications for quartz is as a kitchen countertop. Aurastone notes that this is because of the material’s resistant to heat, stain and scratches, crucial characteristics for a hardworking surface that is constantly exposed to high temperatures.
Some quartz, like Aurastone’s or Lian Hin’s, have also obtained an NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certification, a third-party accreditation that ensures products meet stringent standards for public health protection. This makes NSF-certified quartz surfaces unlikely to harbour bacteria, providing a more sanitised surface to work on.
While quartz is conventionally used on kitchen countertops, they are actually suited for use in numerous other applications. Highlighting quartz’s low porosity and minimal maintenance requirements, Ivan Capelo, the Asia Quality Manager at Cosentino, recommends having them in bathrooms as well, suggesting that they are suited as shower trays, basins, vanities, flooring or cladding.
Other applications our experts mentioned include kitchen backsplashes, drawer panels, TV walls, dining and coffee tables as well as door frames.
Is there any place we should not be using quartz?
Mr Capelo advises against using quartz on outdoor applications or areas that will be exposed to UV light, as this exposure will cause quartz to fade or discolour over time.
Do they come in standard sizes?
Most quartz slabs come in the following sizes:
Standard: 3000 (length) x 1400mm (width)
Jumbo: 3250 (length) x 1550mm (width)
They also have a variety of thickness. According to Stone Amperor’s founder, Jasmine Tan, the most commonly used ones in the market are 15 mm and 20 mm thick. However, there are also thinner ones at 10 mm/12 mm and thicker ones at 30 mm available.
How thick you go for depends on the look you are trying to achieve. Aurastone recommends getting a thinner slab if you are after a sleek and minimalist design. Mr Capelo says the thickness you choose should also be dependent on your application. “For instance, a thicker slab would be preferred for kitchen countertop applications, whereas a thinner slab would be more ideal for flooring or cladding applications.”
A thicker slab does not mean it has a better quality, asserts Aurastone. Conversely, thinner slabs are harder to manufacture. The expert recommends checking with your quartz supplier on the Mohs hardness of the quartz you intend to get—the higher it is on the Mohs scale, the harder and more compact your quartz is and therefore of better quality.
What do they cost? In terms of pricing, how do they compare against other surface materials?
The cost is dependent on size, colour, finish, design and the type of edging that you choose. Our experts estimate that prices for quartz in the Singapore market can range anywhere from $100 per foot run to $450 per foot run.
In comparison with other surface materials, quartz can be on the expensive side, costlier than materials like laminate or solid surface. They have a similar price range to granite, but are cheaper than natural marble.
Can quartz be moulded into different shapes?
Conventionally, quartz cannot be moulded due to its composition. However, with new techniques and technologies, there are ways to shape them into various forms. Do note that not every supplier or contractor has the means to do so yet, so best to enquire beforehand.
Fans of trending curvilinear counters rejoice, as quartz can now be moulded into curved shape using a thermoforming method, says Aurastone. “By reducing the quartz thickness to 2- to 5-mm thin and by employing a hot water treatment to break the resin bond, you can bend the quartz to form a curve.”
There are also various edging options available for quartz slab. Options include bullnose, chamfer, dove chest and sharknose. Our experts share that the most common ones are the square edge and the mitred edge.
What are some care and maintenance tips for quartz surfaces?
Because of its low porosity, quartz surfaces don’t require very much maintenance. They also do not require regular waxing or sealing to maintain its appearance. A simple wipe-down with a soft cloth and clean water will suffice for day-to-day cleaning.
If you are using cleaning agents, make sure it’s diluted and mild—that is, non-bleaching and non-abrasive. Aurastone cautions against using chemical-based or high alkaline cleansers on quartz surfaces.
While quartz is stain-resistant, it is not stain-proof. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately, particularly when exposed to certain staining foods and liquids such as wine, vinegar, soya sauce and lemon juice.
Likewise, avoid using sharp knives or scissors directly onto quartz surfaces, and always use a trivet or heat pad before placing hot pots and pans onto your quartz countertop.
Are there new or upcoming technologies for quartz we can look forward to seeing?
This article was first published in Renonation.