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Engineered Quartz Counters

Engineered Quartz Counters
Easy maintenance and seamless design are advantages of engineere
The “quartz” category of counter materials makes an ideal material for kitchen or bathroom countertops. Quartz countertops are an engineered stone second only to diamond in hardness, consisting of roughly 93% quartz and 7% resin. Granite by contrast, is 40-60% quartz combined with weaker, more porous minerals. As a result, quartz stone counters are much stronger than granite counters and more resistant to scratches and chipping. The polyester resins in quartz stone countertops make the surface nonporous and thus resistant to stains, mildew and bacteria. This is an important advantage over natural stone products as liquids will sit on top of the surface instead of soaking in. Because of its nonporous surface, quartz stone doesn't need to be sealed or treated. Because of the presence of polymers in the make-up of quartz countertops, however, they are vulnerable to excess heat, so trivets should be used with pots and hot objects.

Maintenance, Colors, Cost
Soapy water is all that is needed to clean the surface. All countertop manufacturers offer a wide range of colors as well as slabs with swirls, flecks, and random patterns that make them look very much like real stone surfaces. Countertops are available with polished, honed or embossed finishes. The combination of colors and finishes results in a wide range of countertops. The cost of quartz countertops is comparable to granite, which starts at $60 per square foot installed, while quartz counter material ranges from $63 to $97 per square foot. The following widely available brand names of  quartz counter tops make up the majority of the market. All the manufacturers attempt to differentiate themselves from one another, but they all use the same manufacturing technology. All perform about the same. The real differences and the ones most important to the end buyer are aesthetic rather than functional. Find the pattern or color combination that best fits your design and go with that.

Silestone is made by the Spanish company, Consentino -- and Rafa Nadal is the new spokesman! The example at the top of this post is Kensho, Zen Series (courtesy Silestone). Silestone engineered quartz comes in 65 colors, such as Sierra Madre, Stellar Rose, Lyre, Mediterranean, and Eros Stellar. It is available in 

polished, suede, and volcano textures, as shown. Slabs are 120-by 55-inches. Jumbo sizes are 128- by 62.5-inches. 15 year transferable warranty. Silestone requires that a certified professional install the countertops, so pricing is all-inclusive. Cosentino also makes Eco, (shown below) which is made from up to 75% post-

consumer and post-industrial recycled raw materials, including: mirrors salvaged from houses, buildings, and factories; glass from windows and bottles; granulated glass from consumer recycling practices; porcelain from china, tiles, sinks, toilets and decorative elements; and industrial furnace residuals from factories in the form of crystallized ashes. The recycled content is then mixed with 25% natural stone including: scrap from mountains, quarries, manufacturing, and fabrication; and is bonded together with a proprietary, eco-friendly resin made in part by corn oil that also eliminates the need for sealants.

Caesarstone was one of the first companies to develop quartz stone countertops, and offers three collections: Classico: which is their basic color collection; Motivo: patterned colors, a good material for walls; and Concetto: a very fancy surface that looks like semi-precious stones. To get a better idea of their colors, download their brochures at: There is one brochure per collection. Slabs are 56.5- by 120-inches, and two thicknesses: 3/4 inch and 1¼ inch. Lifetime Residential Warranty. Caesarstone

recycles 97% of the water used in manufacturing and reuses dust from shipping, handling, production and processing. All Caesarstone surfaces comply with GREENGUARD Environmental Institute certification, which primarily verifies that Caesarstone’s products meet the most stringent indoor air emission standards (image courtesy Caesarstone).

Cambria quartz is primarily mined and manufactured in North America resulting in a lower carbon footprint than other quartz products. Cambria offers 120 colors and 19 edge profiles. Colors and patterns

vary widely but in the opinion of this author, Cambria has the most beautiful surfaces in the industry. Slabs are 55 1/2- by 122-inches and jumbo-size slabs are 65½- by 132-inches (image courtesy Cambria).

Dupont Zodiaq® quartz surfaces come in more than a hundred colors and patterns, from Indus Red to

Borealis Blue, from Warm Taupe to Snow White. Slab dimensions are 63- by 120-inches except Snow White and Snow Flurry, which are provided in 55- by 120-inch slabs. All colors are provided in both 3/4- and 1.2-ininch thicknesses. 10 year warranty. 

Recycled Glass 
These countertops can be very beautiful as well as very green in the sense that they are made largely from glass that would end up in the landfill otherwise.

Vetrazzo recycled glass countertops  are a good choice if you want an attractive, durable and environmentally sustainable option. Made in the USA from 85% recycled post-consumer glass and a non-resin binder of Portland cement, Vetrazzo's recycled glass comes from windows, dinnerware, stemware, windshields, stained glass, reclaimed glass from building demolitions. Vetrazzo is an extremely durable and easy-to-maintain surface. It’s comparable to granite in strength, scratch resistant and heat resistant to 600 degrees. It’s mostly glass, which won’t stain, but the Portland cement can easily etch if you spill such liquids as orange juice, vinegar or wine. Keep it clean with soap and water and reseal it once per year. You can put a

hot pot on it but prolonged excessive heat could compromise the sealant. It comes in the many colors of glass itself. Slabs are generally 1 1/4 inches thick by 30- to 60-inches deep by  54- to 108"-inches long. 10 year limited warranty (image courtesy Vetrazzo).
Terrazzo was originally glass suspended in concrete. Terrazzo was once used in Roman villas for flooring. Today, Terrazzo is available in either concrete or epoxy resin. It contains 75% glass that is recycled or sourced from post industrial waste. The resulting countertops are beautiful and colorful.

The concrete product is highly resistant to heat but sealing is required every six months to protect the concrete.  A second issue with Terrazzo countertops is etching by liquids such as orange juice, vinegar or wine. Limited 10 year warranty. Although expensive, at roughly $100 to $160 per square foot installed, this unique combination of glass and cement is a surefire way to add  color and character to your project (image courtesy Creative Industries Terrazzo). 

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