Quartz is one of the finest materials available for the construction of kitchen worktops. It beats many other materials hands down for durability and ease of maintenance. In terms of hardness, on the Mohs scale, only diamond, sapphire, and topaz are harder than quartz.
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An Introduction To Quartz Worktops
Despite the name, quartz worktops are not made solely of quartz. They are a blend of quartz, mirror chips, resins, and granites, which together form a surface which is beautiful to look at and will last virtually forever. Unlike other kitchen worktops made of granite or marble – which are regarded as “soft” stones – quartz worktops are virtually indestructible. For example, quartz is over 100 times harder than marble.
Quartz worktops come in a wide range of colours and styles to match any kitchen décor. In the 21st century, it is now common for the kitchen to be not only a place where cooking takes place, but a room where the family may spend more time than they do in the lounge/living room, and also a place for entertaining guests. As such, having a beautiful kitchen is more important than it has ever been.
However, even if the kitchen is only used for cooking, a quartz worktop will give it that touch of elegance that will enhance the ambience of the room, and inspire the cook of the household – usually the wife and mother.
Quartz Worktops Are Versatile
Although quartz worktops look beautiful – dare one say stunning – they have many practical advantages. To begin with, they are totally non-porous. This means that they do not need regular sealing, as do the softer stones such as marble and granite. In addition, it also means that they are completely stain proof. Nothing is going to penetrate into the material.
It goes without saying that spills should be wiped up as soon as they are seen, but if they are not spotted, they will not stain the surface in the way that granite or marble can be stained. Some manufacturers, such as Caesarstone and Silestone, actually guarantee that their quartz worktops will not stain.
Of course, from the point of view of hygiene, the fact that quartz worktops are non-porous means that they are one of the finest work surfaces available. Bacteria and germs simply cannot penetrate into the material, as is possible with other work surfaces.
Quartz worktops are also heat resistant. This doesn’t mean that you can arbitrarily place hot saucepans and casseroles directly off the cooker or out of the oven on the surface. Common sense should prevail here: you should always use a trivet or a heat pad, as you would with any other kitchen surface. However, it does mean that quartz can be placed right up against the hob without any problem. It can withstand heat to over 250°C. The reason that you should not place a hot pan directly on to the surface is because sudden temperature changes can cause thermal shock, resulting in a fracture.
Quartz worktops are also highly shock resistant in the sense that knocks and blows will not normally cause any sort of problem. However, if you have heavy cast iron cooking utensils, it is best to store them in a cupboard underneath the worktop, rather than one overhead. That way, if you should happen to drop one, it will only finish up on the floor. Dropping a heavy pan on the surface could cause damage.
Similarly, you should not cut or chop foods or vegetables directly on the quartz worktop. While quartz worktops are scratch resistant, cutting or chopping directly on the surface can cause scratches. Always use a chopping board, preferably made of wood. Certainly, you can buy chopping boards made of other materials, but you are far less likely to damage your knife blade on a wooden chopping board.
If you should accidentally cause a scratch to a quartz worktop, the good news is that it can be sanded out, and the worktop will look like new again.
From the point of view of maintenance, the short answer is that there isn’t any required. Quartz worktops do not need sealing or polishing. The nearest thing to maintenance is simply giving them a wipe over with warm soapy water in order to keep them clean. Do not use strong alkaline or acid based cleaners to clean the worktop. Equally, do not use things such as bleach, dish washer rinse aid, or drain cleaners, as all of these can cause damage. It may not be very likely, but there is no point in taking unnecessary risks.
Quartz Manufacturer Brands
The major manufacturers of Quartz worktops worldwide are Silestone, Caesarstone, Cimstone, Samsung, and Compac. Each has their own range of quartz worktop products and offer certain benefits and guarantees. Silestone, for example, describes itself as the world leader in quartz worktops and countertops for kitchens and bathrooms, both for residential and commercial use. It offers a certified 25 year warranty in writing.
Silestone also offers bacteriostatic protection which is built into the worktop itself. This ensures that bacteria cannot possibly reside on the surface.
The Samsung Radianz quartz countertop range is made from 93% quartz, with resins and other material comprising the other 7%. Samsung also point out, quite rightly, that quartz is a plentiful material in the earth’s surface, and therefore the environmental impact of quartz worktops is very small.
Compac provide what they refer to as a lifetime warranty, which is actually valid for 33 years, regarding any manufacturing defects.
Caesarstone have over 80 colours and patterns in their range, and emphasise the muted tones and colours in their Classico Collection and the veined patterns of the Supernatural Collection. There is bound to be something to suit you here, from the point of view of aesthetics.
Cimstone make a point of saying that their quartz worktops will not be scratched by knives or sharp objects, and that, despite the recommendation above, it is therefore perfectly all right to chop foods directly on the worktop itself, without the need for a chopping board.
Certainly, another benefit of all quartz worktops, regardless of manufacturer, is that it is a cold material, and therefore ideal for rolling out pastry, as any top chef will tell you.
Other materials used for kitchen worktops all have some benefits, but engineered quartz has everything that you need. Durability, no maintenance required, stain resistance, impact resistance, no possibility of germs and bacteria breeding, and above all a wide choice of colours and patterns make quartz worktops the obvious choice for the 21st century.
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