Concrete and quartz countertops are two of the most popular countertop materials on the market today. Both offer durable, stylish options for kitchens and bathrooms, but they differ in price points. Here is an in-depth comparison of concrete vs quartz countertops pricing.
When selecting countertops, two key considerations are aesthetics and affordability. Homeowners want an attractive, stylish look that fits their home’s design. But they also want a reasonably priced option that delivers value and stays within their project budget.
Concrete and quartz each provide unique visual styles. Concrete countertops give a smooth, contemporary vibe. Quartz offers an elegant, high-end look resembling natural stone. However, concrete and quartz prices can vary quite a bit. Understanding what impacts costs is essential for finding the best balance between appearance and price.
Concrete Countertop Pricing
Concrete countertops are custom-made in a workshop using concrete mix that typically contains a stone aggregate like quartz or granite. The mixture is poured into molds and cured to create one-of-a-kind slabs.
Here are key factors affecting concrete countertop costs:
- Custom fabrication – As concrete counters are handmade, prices are driven higher than manufactured materials like quartz. Labor, shop overhead, and transportation fees all add to costs.
- Concrete mix additives – Special aggregates like glass or seashell chips, integral coloring, and reinforcements like rebar or fiber mesh can increase material expenses.
- Special treatments – Options like etching, staining, polishing, and sealing done after pouring add steps and cost. More intricate edge or surface designs also elevate pricing.
- Installation – Most concrete counters need professional installation. Complex cutting, seam placement, and specialty fasteners can hike labor fees.
On average, expect to pay $100-$250 per square foot for concrete countertops installed. Highly customized designs can reach upward of $300/square foot.
Quartz Countertop Pricing
Quartz counters are engineered from roughly 90% ground quartz crystals combined with polyresin binders and pigments. They are mass-produced for consistent quality.
Factors impacting installed quartz countertop costs include:
- Brand – Higher-end designers like Caesarstone and Cambria run $70-100/square foot just for materials. Discount brands can be as low as $40/square foot.
- Color and pattern – More complex veining and patterns cost more than solid colors. Some premium colors like blues and blacks carry a slight upcharge.
- Edge profiles – Simple eased or pencil-round edges are standard. Decorative ogee, chamfered, or beveled edges add $10-$15/linear foot.
- Thickness – Standard 1 1/4” thickness works for most applications. Going thicker to 1 1/2” or 2” ups material price 15-20%.
- Fabrication – Computer-guided cuts at local shops typically add $40-$60/square foot for labor and machinery.
- Installation – Hiring an experienced pro ensures proper seam placement and support. This averages $45/hour.
Expect to invest $80-$150 per square foot for installed quartz countertops with simple edges and standard thickness. More elaborate designs can approach $250/square foot.
Price Comparison: Concrete vs Quartz Countertops
In general, quartz proves more budget-friendly for most kitchens. The gap in pricing depends largely on the level of customization for the concrete counters.
For a basic single-color concrete with minimal surface treatment, expect to pay $125-$175 per square foot. This aligns fairly closely with mid-range quartz at $100-$130 per square foot.
However, once intricate coloring, aggregate mixes, and finishing comes into play, concrete can exceed $200 per square foot or more. That places it at a 50-100% premium over most quartz.
There are always exceptions. Select exotic quartzes with intricate patterns can reach upwards of $150/square foot. And plain gray concrete with basic installation may sneak slightly under some generic quartz products priced at $80-$100 per square foot.
But in most cases, quartz delivers better value for money. Homeowners get an attractive, low-maintenance countertop material that is comparably priced to solid surface options like Corian® or Avonite®. With concrete, the beauty comes at a cost.
Factors to Consider Beyond Initial Price
While upfront costs heavily influence countertop buying decisions, there are other factors that contribute to long-term value:
- Maintenance – Concrete needs regular sealing to prevent stains. Quartz is nearly maintenance-free aside from cleaning.
- Durability – Quartz holds up better over years of use. Concrete can chip or crack more easily without proper care.
- Resale value – Quartz is preferred by most buyers. Dated or damaged concrete has less demand at resale.
Weighing total lifecycle costs and home appeal for future owners, quartz tends to come out ahead as the smarter investment for most kitchen upgrades. Only homes with a strong contemporary design scheme tend to favor concrete despite the higher initial price.
The Bottom Line
There is no definitive answer to whether concrete or quartz countertops carry a higher price tag. Much depends on the specific materials and designs selected. In general, though, quartz delivers attractive, durable countertops at a more affordable cost for most homeowners.
Concrete costs significantly more upfront, frequently 50-100% higher for installation. Yet the hefty price tag does buy a one-of-a-kind look unmatched by manufactured quartz counters. Ultimately, balancing budget, visual appeal, and long-term use and value determines which material makes the better choice. Carefully comparing quotes and options helps ensure you invest wisely in new countertops that enhance your home for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much more expensive is concrete than quartz?
On average, concrete countertops installed run 50-100% higher than mid-range to high-end quartz. Basic concrete starts at $125/square foot versus $80-$100 for quartz. Highly customized concrete can exceed $200-$250/square foot compared to $120-$150 for premium quartz.
What makes concrete counters more expensive?
The custom fabrication required for concrete drives up costs significantly. Handcrafting the slabs rather than mass manufacturing adds labor expenses. Integral coloring, decorative aggregates, and specialty treatments also increase pricing over basic quartz.
Are there affordable concrete countertop options?
Opting for a single color or minimal surface treatments can make concrete somewhat more affordable. Skipping decorative edges and opting for simple installation techniques also helps lower costs slightly. But even basic concrete with few adornments normally runs $125/square foot or higher once installed.
How much over budget should I prepare for with concrete?
A good rule of thumb is to budget at least 50% over the cost of mid-range quartz for a simple concrete design. Plan for a 100% overage if more intricate concrete elements like coloring, stamping, or polishing are planned. Leaving this cushion allows flexibility if quotes come in high.
Should I expect higher or lower maintenance fees with concrete?
Concrete demands much more regular maintenance than quartz. Resealing every 1-2 years is vital to prevent staining and deterioration. Minor chips and cracks also need repair attention over time. Quartz requires little more than cleaning with soap and water.
Comparing concrete and quartz countertop prices reveals quartz as the more budget-friendly option in most cases. However, for homeowners wanting a custom look and contemporary vibe, paying a premium for concrete can be justified. Being informed on what impacts pricing for each material assists with making smart, cost-effective choices to outfit your dream kitchen or bath within budget constraints. With some careful planning and quote comparisons, you can gain the look you love at a fair price in either quartz or concrete.