Quartz countertops have become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades, but some wonder if they are just a passing fad. There are good reasons why quartz has become a go-to material for kitchen and bathroom countertops, but also some factors to consider when deciding if quartz is the right choice for your home. Looking at the pros, cons, costs, and care of quartz countertops can help determine if they are a smart long-term investment or a trendy novelty.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from crushed quartz blended with color pigments and a resin binder. It is one of the hardest and most durable countertop materials available. The resin binds the crushed quartz into a solid slab and makes the material non-porous so it resists staining.
Here are some key facts about quartz:
- Made from around 90% ground natural quartz and 10% polymer resins and pigments.
- Harder than granite – nearly indestructible. Resists scratches, heat, and stains.
- Non-porous so liquids don’t penetrate the surface.
- Available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Mimics looks of natural stone and other materials.
- Doesn’t need regular sealing like natural stone.
- Resists bacteria growth.
- Can be customized to fit any space.
- Typically has 10-15 year warranties from manufacturers.
The versatility of quartz is one reason it has surged in popularity. With different colors and patterns, quartz can achieve looks ranging from natural stone to concrete, marble, and more. With proper care, quartz countertops can potentially last for many years, making them a possibly long-term investment.
The Rise of Quartz Countertops
In the early 2000s, quartz was just starting to gain traction as a countertop material. But over the past 15 years it has rocketed to popularity. By 2021, quartz made up over 40% of the engineered countertop market, surpassing laminate, solid surfaces, and even natural stone.
Several factors have fueled quartz’s rise:
Durability – Quartz’s hardness and scratch resistance made it stand out compared to other engineered options like solid surface and laminate countertops. It better withstands heavy usage in kitchens.
Low Maintenance – Unlike natural stone, quartz doesn’t require regular sealing. Its non-porous nature also resists staining. This makes it very low maintenance.
Consistency – The manufacturing process of quartz creates consistent slabs without natural stone’s variations. The uniformity and reliability appealed to buyers.
Styles and colors – Manufacturers created more styles and colors of quartz to align with design trends. Warm whites, greys, and even bold colors gave buyers more options.
Affordability – Prices of basic quartz came down and made it competitive with higher-end laminates and affordable natural stone options. It became an attractive option for budget-conscious renovators.
With this perfect storm of factors, it’s no surprise quartz surged past competing materials to become the leader in engineered countertops.
Is the Quartz Countertop Trend Over?
Now that quartz has become so dominant in the last 10-15 years, some wonder if its popularity has peaked. Decorating trends come and go quite quickly these days. A material can take over but fade just as fast.
There are some signs quartz may have passed its peak buzz:
- Market saturation – Because it is now so widely available, the novelty has worn off. Homeowners may be moving onto the “next new thing.”
- Rise of other materials – Alternatives like Dekton and sintered compact surfaces have gained traction and offer new options.
- Natural stone revival – After a dip in popularity, some natural stones like marble have regained favor for their veining and patinas.
- Concrete and terrazzo – On trend looks like concrete, terrazzo, and resin give other industrial options besides quartz.
However, while the explosive growth of quartz may have slowed, there are still strong signs it is no passing trend:
- Quartz still dominates engineered countertop sales with over 40% market share.
- The number of quartz manufacturers and styles continues to expand giving more choices.
- It maintains cost competitiveness with limited natural stone options in the same price range.
- Positive reputation and reviews from renovators continue to drive word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Proven durability and minimal maintenance requirements make quartz a practical choice.
The popularity of quartz in interior design and HGTV shows also gives it continued prominence. Though growth may have slowed, quartz remains firmly positioned as a leading countertop contender rather than a fading novelty.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
To better evaluate if quartz countertops are a long-term fixture or a fleeting fad, it helps to examine the key benefits that fuel its popularity:
Quartz’s durability is a major driver of its success. Its hardness and scratch resistance exceed most other countertop materials. In side-by-side tests, quartz stands up to heavy use and abuse better than laminate, solid surface, tile, and even natural stone. It better resists impact damage from dropped pots, pans, and other kitchen items. This durability makes quartz an ideal choice for busy kitchens.
A big appeal of quartz is its minimal maintenance needs. Unlike natural stone, quartz does not need periodic sealing to prevent staining. It resists most stains due to its non-porous surface. While sealing and periodic polishing are needed for materials like marble and granite, quartz requires little aftercare once installed. For busy homeowners, low maintenance is a practical advantage.
With advanced manufacturing techniques, quartz slabs are made with striking colors, patterns, and textures ranging from natural stone looks to concrete, metals, and more. Consistent quality and custom fabrication allow for seamless installation of quartz on kitchen islands, bathroom vanities, backsplashes, walls, floors, and other surfaces. The cosmetic versatility of quartz gives it widespread design appeal.
While not the cheapest countertop option, quartz provides a lot of durability and low maintenance for the investment. More affordable than natural stone, quartz competes with prices of higher-end laminates and solid surfaces. The combination of looks, performance, and cost makes quartz a valuable investment compared to other materials.
With these core advantages, quartz brings many practical benefits that explain its popularity rise and longevity.
Cons of Quartz Countertops
Despite the many positives, quartz does come with some downsides to weigh:
Lacks Natural Variation
A downside for some is that quartz lacks the unique variations of natural stone. While it mimics natural patterns, the consistency of each slab can look more uniform and artificial. Those desiring the unique veins, whorls, and color variations of granite and marble may view quartz as less appealing.
Limited Heat Resistance
While durable overall, quartz can be prone to damage from excessive heat exposure. Prolonged direct heat from hot pans and appliances can potentially damage quartz surfaces. Trivets and hot pads are advised to prevent localized burning. Those doing a lot of cooking may prefer more heat-resistant natural stones.
Needs Replacement Eventually
While quartz can potentially last decades with proper care, it will likely need replacement someday. Natural stone offers more permanence, as marble and granite may last “forever” when properly maintained. Those viewing countertops as a “forever” investment could see quartz as not having the same enduring legacy.
Requires Professional Installation
Quartz countertops are not a do-it-yourself project like some countertop materials. They require custom measurement, professional fabrication, and expert installation. This makes quartz a bigger investment than DIY-friendly options like wood, tile, or laminate countertops. The installation costs are part of the investment.
Lacks Authenticity for Some
Since quartz is engineered in factories, some may consider it less appealing than natural stones carved from the earth. The manmade origins and uniformity lend an industrial and inauthentic perception for those favoring organic materials. However, this comes down to personal preference.
While these factors may dissuade some buyers, quartz still offers practical benefits that support its ongoing popularity for most homeowners. But assessing your needs and priorities is important in choosing the right countertop.
Cost Comparison With Other Countertop Materials
To determine if quartz offers good value, it helps to compare its cost to other leading countertop options:
- Laminate countertops – At $20-50 per square foot installed, laminate is the cheapest option. The trade-off is lower durability.
- Engineered wood/butcher block – $40-100 per square foot installed. Offers toughness but needs heavy oiling/sealing.
- Ceramic/porcelain tile – $40-100 per square foot. Tough and stain-resistant but grout needs sealing. DIY-friendly.
- Natural stone (granite, marble) – $60-150 per square foot. Needs periodic sealing but timeless natural allure.
- Stainless steel – $70-150 per square foot. Heat and stain resistant. Industrial aesthetic.
- Quartz – $70-150 per square foot. Combines durability, low maintenance, and custom aesthetics.
- Solid surface (Corian) – $70-120 per square foot. Seamless installation but lower durability. DIY-friendly.
The average cost of quartz countertops installed is $80-100 per square foot, on par with midrange granite. While more than laminate and tile, quartz competes well on cost for its combination of durability and appearance. The investment may pay off long-term compared to lower-cost options with shorter lifespans.
Quartz Countertop Cost Breakdown
The total price of quartz has three main components:
- Materials – $50-75 per square foot for quartz slabs and adhesives/sealants. Higher-end designer brands run $75-125+ per square foot.
- Fabrication – $20-30 per square foot for custom cutting and shaping. Complex edge profiles increase cost.
- Installation – $10-20 per square foot for labor and tools.
In addition to the countertop itself, related costs like plumbing adjustments, backsplash installation, disposal, etc. may add $5-15 per square foot. Most quartz installers can provide an all-inclusive quote.
Ongoing maintenance costs are low, limited to occasional cleaning products and resealing of seams every few years. With proper care, quartz should last years before needing replacement.
How Long Do Quartz Countertops Last?
With quartz countertops only becoming popular in the last 10-15 years, real-world data on longevity is still limited. However, lab testing and industry projections give a good sense of how many years quartz countertops can be expected to last:
- Manufacturers’ warranties – Major brands offer 10-15 year warranties against defects. Indicates estimated minimum lifespan.
- Performance testing – Lab tests simulate decades of heavy usage with minimal signs of wear on quartz.
- Builders’ projections – Most sources estimate quartz countertops will last 15-25 years or more with proper care and maintenance.
- Quartz hardness – At 7 on the Mohs scale, only diamonds are harder. Helps quartz resist scratches and damage.
- Anecdotal evidence – Many quartz owners report no discernible wear after 5-10 years of heavy kitchen use.
While all projections, the consensus is that quartz countertops should last 15-25 years at a minimum, making them a long-term investment. Key advantages like non-porousness and scratch resistance boost quartz’s longevity. With careful use and maintenance, quartz likely lasts as long as materials like natural stone.
Maintenance Tips for Quartz Countertops
While quartz resists most damage without added care, following some best practices can help your countertops look pristine for years:
- Use cutting boards, trivets, and hot pads to prevent direct knife and heat damage.
- Immediately wipe up food, grease, and liquid spills with a damp cloth. Don’t let stains set.
- For stubborn dried spills, use a non-abrasive cleaner and soft sponge or rag. Avoid abrasive pads.
- Clean with a stone/quartz cleaner or mild soap and water. Disinfect occasionally with diluted bleach.
- Avoid exposing to strong chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners, etc.
- Have countertops resealed every 3-5 years by a pro to prevent moisture intrusion.
- Inspect countertops periodically for any cracks or damage and have repaired ASAP.
- Polish minor scuffs and etch marks using a quartz polish cream and buffing pad.
With this simple care regimen, quartz countertops will maintain their durability and beauty for many years of use.
Are Quartz Countertops Right for You?
When deciding between countertop materials, weigh the following factors:
- Budget – Quartz costs more upfront than laminate or tile but less than premium natural stone.
- Kitchen use – Quartz’s durability suits busy kitchens but avoid if you do heavy hot cooking.
- Design priorities – If you want natural patinas and veining, quartz lacks the uniqueness of stone.
- Maintenance expectations – Quartz needs very little maintenance compared to natural stone.
- DIY skills – Quartz requires pro installation so factor in those added costs.
While no material is perfect, quartz is an ideal blend of form and function for most kitchens. Its popularity shows no signs of slowing even if growth has stabilized from its rapid rise. With proper selection and care, quartz countertops should maintain their beauty for many years before needing replacement. For homeowners wanting durable low-maintenance counters that withstand busy households, quartz remains a leading contender among countertop options. All signs point to quartz countertops being far more than a passing trend in kitchen and bath design.
FAQ About Quartz Countertops
Still have some questions about whether quartz countertops are the right choice? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Does quartz need to be sealed?
Unlike natural stone, quartz does not require regular sealing. It resists staining and damage without a protective sealant thanks to its non-porous composition. However, it is still a good idea to have quartz countertops resealed every 3-5 years to prevent moisture intrusion around sink and cooktop cutouts.
Can you cut on quartz countertops?
It’s best to avoid directly cutting on quartz. While quartz stands up to cutting and impact better than other engineered counters, direct slicing can still gradually dull the surface over time. Using a cutting board will maintain the finish.
Can quartz counters get wet?
Yes, quartz surfaces resist water damage and won’t easily stain or harbor bacteria. However, you still should wipe up spills promptly and avoid prolonged exposure to moisture around sink areas. Occasional resealing will add extra protection.
Do quartz countertops scratch easily?
Quartz resists scratches better than most materials. Only gems like diamonds and sapphires are harder. However, quartz can still get minor scuffs over time from abrasive use or objects. Using cutting boards and avoiding harsh scrubbing prevents most scratches.
Is quartz healthier than granite?
Quartz resists bacteria growth better than natural stone. Granite can allow some bacteria to enter porous areas, especially when sealing wears off over time. Quartz’s non-porousness makes it inhospitable to microbes. Both materials are safe when kept clean.
How thick should quartz countertops be?
A thickness of 2 cm (3/4″) is the minimum recommended, while 3 cm (1 1/4″) offers the best durability and support. Thinner slabs under 1 cm are prone to cracking over time. Edges should have added thickness for stability.
After considering the pros, cons, costs, and maintenance needs, quartz remains one of the best all-around options for kitchen and bath countertops. While the explosive growth of quartz may have leveled off, its popularity endures thanks to proven performance, competitive pricing, and style versatility. For homeowners wanting beautiful, durable, low-maintenance counters, quartz is no passing trend. With proper selection, care, and maintenance, quartz countertops should serve as a long-lasting, functional centerpiece in kitchens and bathrooms for decades rather than a superficial trend. Their successful marriage of aesthetics, practicality, and affordability shows quartz is here to stay.