Quartz vs Sandstone
Among the many materials used for kitchen countertops you will find both of the materials after which this article is named. Knowing which material is the right one for the project will depend on a number of things. Not the least of which is the consumer's preference. However, preferences are based on factors that the end user of the surface may or may not know. In this article, we will take a look at quartz vs sandstone and see how the features of each play a role in the choices consumers make.
A Little Bit About Quartz
Though it is often compared to various natural stone materials, quartz is not a material fashioned from a slice of rock taken out of a mountain. Rather it is made from three primary ingredients. First, is the substance after which the material is named, quartz. Second, a
binder of some sort to hold the quartz particles together. And third, coloring pigment to affect the appearance. These three ingredients are combined and together they make up the material known as quartz; also called engineered stone or engineered quartz. The composition of quartz has an impact on the topic we are discussing and we will come back to this point in a bit.
In contrast with quartz, sandstone is a natural rock that forms through the natural process without any help from man. Sandstone is a
sedimentary rock made up of... that's right, sand. And what do you suppose sand is made up of? Much of it is actually quartz. That's right, natural sandstone contains the mineral after which the other material we are currently discussing is named. But don't let that fact influence you into thinking that these materials are the same. True, they share some qualities. But as we will see a little later, they also have differences that show when they are compared.
How Sandstone and Quartz Compare
We have already mentioned that these two materials are different in one significant way. Namely, that sandstone is a natural stone and that quartz is a man made material. Beyond that comparison, the details reveal that these materials share some similarities and some differences as well. Let's look at some of these now as we compare sandstone with quartz.
Comparing Hardness & Porosity
When you compare the hardness & porosity of quartz vs sandstone, you find that they can be similar or different depending on the particular sandstone slab used for the comparison. Why is that the case? Because sandstone moves through a range of hardness and porosity depending on the pressure and heat to which it is exposed. That means there are sandstone slabs that are more porous than others. And there are sandstone slabs that are harder than others.
On the other hand, that hardness of engineered quartz is more consistent. Since it is a man-made material, the formula is controllable and can be adjusted to the wishes of the manufacturer. And the resin binder that holds the quartz particles together is nonporous. This has an impact on other aspects of the material's performance.
Why Hardness Matters
The hardness of a surface matters because it contributes to the scratch resistance of the material. Depending on the use, scratch resistance might be an important factor. Work surfaces and kitchen countertops for example, benefit from being resistant to scratches.
The Role of Porosity
Like hardness, the porosity of the material affects the performance. The more porous a material is the easier it stains. This does not mean that non-porous surfaces are stain-proof. It simply means that there are more ways for porous materials to stain. Furthermore, there ways of making a porous material resistant to oil and water-based staining.
Is Quartz Better Than Sandstone?
From what we have discussed thus far, it might be tempting to conclude that quartz is the inherently better option. Yet, that is not necessarily the case. There are pros and cons to both. Determining which material is right for a given project will depend on more than just a couple of measurable factors.
Care and Maintenance of Sandstone Surfaces
Caring for sandstone surfaces (particularly countertops and worktops) involves sealing and cleaning the surface. Using an
impregnating sealer for natural stone on the surface periodically allows the material to avoid absorbing water-based and oil-based liquids. Keeping these liquids on the surface of the stone means they can be easily cleaned up before they make their way into the pores. If you want to darken a natural stone you could use a stone enhancing sealer that not only seals but also gives the surface a "wet look" that many find appealing.
The cleaning of sandstone is an everyday task just as it is with any other surface. The difference in cleaning natural stone is that using a specific cleaner is recommended. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, keeping natural stone sealed is helpful. Using the wrong kind of cleaner can actually cancel out the benefits of the sealer by breaking it down. Therefore, be sure to use a cleaner designed for natural sandstone. Otherwise you might end up having to use a stain remover.
Maintaining Engineered Quartz
Quartz surfaces too require a degree of maintenance and care. Even though these surfaces are non-porous, they must be cleaned like any other surface. And even though they don't need to be sealed like natural stone does, there are
cleaners designed for quartz surfaces. In addition to needing cleaned, engineered quartz surfaces also accumulate mineral deposits that become visible on the surface. Using a cleaner for removing quartz limescale makes for quick work of taking those kind of stains off the surface of the quartz.
As we have seen in this discussion, two materials made in two different ways can be comparable to one another. Each material will require specific care and maintenance and the choice of which one to use for a given project will depend on several factors. But as we also seen, the comparison really needs to be between two specific stones rather than a blanket statement since not all sandstone is the same and each engineered quartz is made using its own ingredients. The best way is to work with your slab suppliers to become familiar with the grade and quality of the given surfaces with which you will be working. And be sure to have the proper care and maintenance product available for the types of stone you deal with.