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What Is Quartz?

21 May

Quartz tiles, also known as agglomerate or engineered tiles, are a composite material made from a combination of resin, quartz, sand, colour pigment and more often than not crushed mirror pieces. The term “starlight” quartz has been adopted by many retailers selling quartz to describe the sparkling star-like appearance you get from quartz tiles with mirror particles.

Quartz tile quality

There are a lot of myths surrounding quartz tiles in the UK and most of them revolve around quality. As a general rule, the composition of the raw materials and the percentage of resin used is what determines the overall quality of quartz tiles.  A ratio of 93% quartz and 7% resin is considered to be the optimum ratio. Higher resin content than this can make the tiles less scratch resistant and more porous, which can cause problems in installation - the wetness in adhesive has been known to twist tiles as the water can be absorbed into the back of the tile causing differential expansion.

At StoneSuperStore all our quartz tiles are manufactured to the optimum 93/7 ratio. There are other retailers advertising higher quartz content and promoting that as better, but it's simply not the case - the raw materials need a certain level of resin binder to provide the strength in the tiles and at lower ratios, say 95% quartz and 5% resin, the tiles are more brittle. So, too much resin means softer and less durable, too little resin means more brittle and less stable. This is why the 93/7 ratio is the optimum ratio for stability and durability.

Where Quartz originates

Quartz, in many different forms including tiles and worktops, is manufactured in numerous different countries, but the majority available in the market today is from China. If you wander in to any of the tile multiples on the high street the quartz in the majority of these is from China. There are a few of the well known larger tile retailers that sell quartz made in Oman, which is widely acknowledged to be high quality but in reality it's practically the same as the Chinese material when you put them side by side. Quartz tiles are also manufactured in Italy, and even the UK - but as usual, manufacturing methods and costs in the EU make it significantly more expensive than the imported quartz from China.

Black sparkly tiles

Most people who come to StoneSuperStore looking for quartz tiles don't know exactly what they are looking for. We see many people searching forblack sparkly tiles, black sparkle tiles, black glitter tiles and so on because they've seen them on the floor at the Disney store etc, and don't know exactly what they are. Our sales team has to be careful when determining which black sparkly tiles the customer is referring to as this can often mean the black star galaxy granite tiles we sell, which are black with a bronze sparkle instead of black with a silver sparkle.

Quartz Colours

Quartz is available in a wonderful array of colours from shocking pink, to electric blue, green, purple and black. Some tiles are plain in colour and others have the crushed mirror effect known as starlight. While there are numerous colours available, black quartz tiles and white quartz tiles are the most popular.

Quartz surface finishes and size availability

Quartz tiles are available in standard metric sizes that are:

  • 300x300mm
  • 400x400mm
  • 600x300mm
  • 600x600mm

All quartz tiles have a shiny (polished) surface. However, it's not as shiny as say polished marble tiles that often have a glass-like shine.

Unlike natural stone tiles, quartz tiles are available in two different thicknesses in all sizes, 10mm thick and 12mm thick. Overall, it's cheaper to import 10mm tiles, as you can get more in one container and the cost of the raw materials is less, but 10mm quartz is less stable and more susceptible to warp and twist from heat exposure or water absorption from the adhesive during installation. At StoneSuperStore, we only import high quality 12mm tiles and sell them at the same price as the cheaper 10mm ones!

Quartz Tiles usage

Quartz is a versatile material and can be used in kitchens, bathrooms and high traffic living areas. It's really durable and, unlike natural stone tiles, doesn't need treating with any products to seal it, as it's practically stain proof. Mainly we sell black quartz tiles for kitchen floors but many of our customers use it in bathrooms and shower areas as well. The only precautionary note is to not install the tiles where there will be constant direct sunlight (difficult in this country anyway!). The direct light can fade the colour in the tiles, and due to their resin content, the tiles can expand and contract at greater rates than say porcelain or natural stone; it's this expansion that has been known to cause some problems, especially if the tiles are installed with a very narrow grout joint.

Quartz with underfloor heating

As quartz is a resin-based product, the general industry wide advice is thatit is not suitable for use with underfloor heating. As mentioned above, the resin part of the quartz is susceptible to expansion and contraction when subjected to heat, and underfloor heating will do just that. Even if it's low level heat from a water based system in a screed, instead of the higher levels of heat generated from an electric heating mat, we don't recommend the use of underfloor heating. We do know of a number of customers who have chosen not to take this advice and they haven't been back to us to discuss any issues, but that doesn't mean they haven't had any. A bit of general digging round on the Internet will give you conflicting information on this issue but we feel it's better to be safe than sorry, so we just don't recommend quartz tiles with underfloor heating.

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