01 of 08
Quartz Counters Aren't Really Quartz
Sure, some quartz is in there, but there is a distinction and it's not a fine one, either. Saying that quartz counters are all quartz is like saying that all of the cars in an average parking lot are Chevrolets.
Ten percent of a quartz counter is a binder, whether polymeric or cement-based. That leaves the other 90% materials that give quartz counters their stone-like look and feel: crushed or waste granite, marble, and natural stone or recycled industrial wastes like ceramic, silica, glass, mirrors, etc.
Bottom line: to call the material "quartz" is technically correct, but it's more accurate to say that it's a hot marketing term. Compound stone or engineered stone would be more accurate terms since ingredient proportions change. In fact, some engineered stone has no quartz.
02 of 08
All Quartz Counters Basically Come From One Source
In 1963, Bretonstone was developed by the Italian company Breton (more on that below). Over 50 years later, Breton is still alive and kicking.
Bretonstone technology has been licensed to 52 companies around the world, including such famous names as Silestone, Cambria, and Caesarstone. While these manufacturers absolutely do add their own flair and nuances, they are still working off of that original brevetto, or patent, from Breton.
03 of 08
Counters and Cheese: the Connection Is Real!
Cambria quartz counters--perhaps you've heard of them? Cambria represents a huge chunk of the U.S. market for quartz. Yet there is one strange and interesting bit of trivia about this American-owned company: Cambria counters are made by a company that also makes cheese. The Davis family, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, supplies about a third of a billion pounds of cheese each year to Kraft Foods.
04 of 08
Bretonstone Is Not French
Bretonstone is not related to the word "Breton," as in the people of the Brittany region of France. Bretonstone was developed over 900 miles away from Brittany, in Castello di Godego, itself located about 20 miles from Venice.
The Breton of Bretonstone is a portmanteau of Bre (for brevetti, roughly meaning "patents") and Ton (for the surname of founder Marcello Toncelli).Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
It Was Green Before There Was Green
Fiberboard is much maligned, but you can say this about it: No tree was ever cut down for the express purpose of making fiberboard.
You can say the same about engineered stone counters. Remember, they use waste products from the production of other materials for that 90% stone-like base mentioned earlier.
Even those 10% resins have become less plastic-y. Breton's trademarked word for this is Biolenic Resins, referring to a combination of artificial and organic resins, the latter derived from non-food vegetable oils.
06 of 08
You Walk on It and Don't Know It
Homeowners think of quartz in terms of kitchen or bathroom counters. But the majority of quartz is slabbed out in massive sizes for things like shopping malls, airports, and Prada floors. No doubt you have walked on quartz counter material and not known it.
Quartz has come full circle because the very first material that inventor Marcello Toncelli developed were hand-poured mini slabs of about 12" x 20" to be cut down and used for floor tiles. Countertop applications did not come until years later. Indeed, even in the mid-1970s, slabs only measured 50" x 50" - hardly a size one could call countertop-worthy.
07 of 08
It's Not Trying to Compete With Granite Anymore
For years, quartz tried to play the natural stone game. It sought to develop a reputation as a more durable, less porous, and more easily fabricated version of slab granite.
While granite-look quartz materials still ply the market in huge numbers, quartz that looks like nothing else is a popular segment. Example: Caesarstone. As if "Modern" wasn't a modern enough style category for consumers, Caesarstone now has an "Ultra-Modern" category with offerings such as Apple Martini, Blizzard, and Crocodile.
08 of 08
Quartz May Mean Lower Natural Granite Prices
According to a report from the Freedonia Group, quartz countertops are continuing to take over granite's market share. Homeowners who, in years past, might have chosen slab granite are increasingly choosing quartz.
But this has one fortunate byproduct for anyone who wants to install granite: lower prices. Freedonia notes that "granite prices declined over the last decade, making the material more widely available. As such, it's been the material of choice for consumers in recent years, but has consequently become more of a commodity."