For over 20 years artificial quartz remains very popular in many European countries. It can have various textures and colors, which gives free scope to design ideas. But its most important advantage along with other agglomerates is the strength, or rather, as experts note – the unique strength: artificial quartz yields only to diamonds, rubies, sapphires in this criterion. And at the same time, artificial quartz in its composition is almost identical to natural. How come? Natural quartz is produced by unique technology including complex chemical, physical and other processes, of which the civilization could boast only in the late twentieth century. But in this case, all the simplicity of the technological process is based on the fact that artificial agglomerate still remains 95% natural stone, and all additions equal only 5-7%. How does this happen?
Artificial quartz and its production technology
The thing is that due to the technology for its manufacture, a structure, which is 91-93% (and even up to 95%) natural mineral, can be obtained; where polyester resin is used as a binder, and special pigments are used for coloring. That is, only about 5-7% of the agglomerate is a binder, color additives, and maybe also a special adhesive accelerator, which facilitates rapid adhesion of all the components. Technology «Bretonstone» was patented in 1983 by the Italian company «Breton» (1863, founder – Marcello Toncelli). In addition to selected components, the technology involves the processing method, which allows using minimum amount of binder. This method is known as pressing by vibro-compression under vacuum. Application of binder and pressing removes gaps between the particles of natural minerals, whereas a vacuum seal prevents them from macroporosity, and binder – from microporosity. And it all happens along with the pumping of air. Everything is simple: there is a natural mineral left, everything is pressed together with special non-toxic additives – and the most important thing is that there must not be even microscopic pores. That’s the whole secret of the unique strength. Despite the simplicity of the idea, today plants produce artificial quartz in more than 80 countries all over the world according to «Bretonstone», but the best artificial quartz in the world is produced in Italy.
Artificial quartz and its properties
In addition to unique strength, artificial quartz has a number of other characteristics that allow its use in lining and design. Note that the artificial quartz is a very plastic material, that’s why it is easy to obtain items even of the most complex shapes. Artificial quartz does not deform when exposed to low temperatures, and when it comes to high temperatures, this material refers to Class A by its fire resistance. Artificial quartz is also resistant to moisture. For example, as a comparison: the water absorption coefficient of granite is 0.33%, marble – 0.55%, and artificial quartz is only 0.02%. Compared with these types of stone, artificial quartz significantly surpasses them in terms of impact and bending strength. The material is resistant to scratches, does not absorb substances that can stain, and is also resistant to aggressive media (acids, alkalis). Note that despite its resistance to high temperatures, it is not recommended to put hot pots and other utensils right from fire on countertops of artificial quartz – any, even the most durable surfaces should be treated with care. Color and texture of artificial quartz can realize the wildest and the most unusual design ideas. Its texture can be glossy (polished), rough glossy (as a result of sandblasting using special brushes), or rough (sandblasting).
The use of artificial quartz
Artificial quartz is used for the interior finishing of both private property and public places (restaurants, swimming pools, offices, etc.). Also this material can be used for external cladding of buildings and houses. But experts recommend choosing slabs of beige or yellow colors. The reason is that being exposed to high humidity, the polyester resin can get a yellowish tint. Thus, a material of a different color can change dramatically in the rain or snow.
A lot of different products, including decorative ones are made of artificial quartz. For example, countertops for the kitchen or bathroom, bar counters, slabs for facing the walls, floor and facades, slabs for facing fireplaces and pools, columns and steps, desks and coffee tables. Often, the single elements of the furniture can be made of artificial quartz.
Artificial quartz is becoming increasingly popular. For example, it is used in Europe for over 25 years, and in Spain, even elite construction projects are realized with the use of this material. However, artificial quartz is the material that is unique in its strength and is as varied in its design as natural stone. But its artificiality is 5% of special substances and production technology, which grade its natural porosity and the probability of natural strains. That’s why many conservatives in the construction industry and in the field of design have positively assessed the advantages and perspective of artificial quartz.