Quartz countertops are man-made engineered stone countertops formed by combining 90% ground quartz (a natural hard mineral) with 8-10% resins, polymers, and pigments. This forms a very hard granite-like surface. The appearance depends on how the quartz is ground: coarsely ground quartz produces a flecked appearance, while finely ground quartz produces a smooth look.
Italian company Breton owns the patent to manufacture solid surfaces from quartz and resins. All other companies use that patent for their own brand of quartz countertops, including Cosentino (Silestone), DuPont (Zodiaq), Cambria, CaesarStone, Avanza, Diresco and Technistone.
The environmental impact is light-moderate. Quartz is the second most abundant material in the earth's crust (which is good), but the acrylic resins used in quartz countertops are petroleum by-products.
Pros: Extremely hard and durable; glossy sheen; non-porous and stain-and-crack resistant; does not require sealing or resealing; wide range of colours; easy to clean with mild soap, water, and a soft cloth.
Cons: Expensive; not heat tolerant; seams are inevitable for large countertop designs.