How to Cut Quartz Surfaces & Polish Them
That question comes up occasionally when do-it-yourselfers or those new to the fabrication industry begin looking at what the material is and how working with it is different from other materials. Working with wood material is something that many DIYers are familiar with. But working with stone is different from working with wood. True, many of the machines are similar in nature. However, cutting natural or engineered stone takes some specific machinery, tooling, and know how. In this article, we will consider the topic of how to cut quartz. If you are interested in other aspects of working with quartz, you can read
Quartz Surface Treatments for information about treating quartz. After we discuss cutting quartz, we will briefly consider polishing them as well.
Do I Have to Cut Quartz?
This may seem a bit obvious but let's talk about the reasons that fabricators cut quartz in the first place. You may be asking yourself, "Don't all countertop surfaces need to be cut?" The answer is no. There are certain projects that will lend themselves to having a surface with no seems. However, the vast majority of kitchens will need to have the material for the countertop cut. That means the person cutting the material needs to know a bit about the material and the tooling needed to work with it.
What is Quartz Made Of?
Many People wonder about the answer to that question because they hear what appear to be conflicting answers. In two sentences we will sum up the answer in a way that will hopefully clarify it in your mind. Quartz is a natural mineral largely found in granite rock. Quartz is also the name of an engineered material that consists of resins and the mineral quartz.
The Properties of Quartz
The engineered material that is called quartz has some distinct features that affect the way it gets fabricated. When we say 'the way it gets fabricated' we don't mean that it is a totally different fabrication method, we merely mean that there are some nuances to working with quartz that are not necessary when fabricating other materials.
For starters, quartz is very hard. This is because quartz (the mineral) is a large portion of a quartz (the material) surface and that mineral is very hard; although
sintered stone and ultracompact surfaces are harder. As a result, the surface that results is very hard too. The other feature that we will point out here is that quartz surfaces contain polymer resins. These resins are used to bind the quartz so that it forms a slab. These two features (hardness and resin content) are what we will look at in relation to cutting and polishing quartz.
What it Means to Cut Quartz
There are a number of definitions that people use to describe "cutting quartz". For the purpose of our discussion, we will define it as:
the removing of material from a quartz slab in order to shape, bisect, or puncture the quartz material in an effort to mold it to a specific form.
This is key to our topic because it includes a number of tools and techniques that some might not readily think of to mean 'cutting'. Let's look at some of these now.
Cutting Quartz With A Bridge Saw Blade
This is perhaps the way most people think of when they hear something or read something about 'cutting quartz'. We have all seen the video of the saw blade passing through the stone as it removes a very thin strip of material. The large single slab thus becomes two, smaller pieces. Often times, this type of quartz cutting is done using a bridge saw equipped with a diamond blade designed for cutting quartz surfaces. Selecting the proper
bridge saw blade for cutting quartz is a large part of successfully cutting quartz cleanly and quickly. And as you know, time is money.
Other Types of Cuts
In addition to the straight cut that we just mentioned, There are other ways that fabricators cut quartz surfaces. We will briefly consider them here before we get into polishing quartz surfaces. As we said earlier, any time you remove material from the slab, you are in effect, cutting away material. So what are some other ways that quartz gets cut by stone professionals?
One way is by using a tool to grind away parts of the surface. This might be a finger bit used to cut out a sink hole. Or, it could be a smaller blade on a hand grinder used to shape or trim some of the material away to get a better finished look. Finally, core bits are also used to remove circular shaped holes for the faucets and the handles or soap dispensers in the surface. All of these other methods of material removal we will include in the concept of 'how to cut quartz'.
Polishing Off the Pitfalls
Another challenge that some inexperienced fabricators come up against is that quartz contains polymer resins. These resins are hard, but they sometimes can burn if the tooling gets too hot during the cutting or polishing of the slab. To avoid burning the quartz you are cutting or polishing be sure to keep the blades cool and use only the proper polishing pads designed for working with quartz.
What Kinds of Quartz Needs Cut & Polished?
Like about everything else there are a slew of channels available for quartz. All you have to do is browse around the Internet and you will see a number of brands of quartz materials for purchase. Here is a list of the most popular brands of quartz:
While the list above is not exhaustive, it does give you an idea of how easy it is to find quartz material to use for your kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity surfaces. Even showers are made from this material.
If you are a fabrication professional looking to begin adding quartz surfaces to your list of materials to fabricate, be sure to find out which products are the best for cutting and polishing this unique material that needs special tooling to cut it since it is hard and keep it from burning during the polishing phase of fabrication. If you take the time to get familiar with the temperament of cutting quartz, you will have greater success.