Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. With their stylish appearance, durability, and easy maintenance, quartz delivers desirable traits for busy households. But like any home improvement project, cost is often a leading factor in making design decisions. So an essential question for homeowners to ask is – are quartz countertops a wise investment? Below, we’ll explore the pros and cons of quartz countertops to help you decide if they are worth the initial expense.
What Is Quartz?
Before evaluating the investment potential of quartz counters, it’s helpful to understand what quartz is. Quartz is an engineered stone made from crushed quartz particles combined with polymer resins and pigments. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%. Some brands also incorporate recycled materials like glass, stone, and mirrors into their engineered quartz products.
The resins bind the quartz particles into a durable, non-porous slab. So unlike natural stone, quartz does not require routine sealing to prevent staining. The pigments added during manufacturing provide the vibrant colors and patterns that quartz is known for. This mix of ground quartz and polymers forms a material that is hard, strong, and resilient.
Quartz Countertop Pros
Below are some of the most notable advantages of quartz countertops that contribute to their value as an investment:
With a limitless array of colors, patterns, and textures, quartz allows homeowners to achieve nearly any style they desire. Options include realistic marble and granite looks or creative patterns not found in natural stone. The consistency of color and veining from slab to slab is an advantage over natural materials as well. Neutral palettes give quartz an elegant, timeless look or bold tones make it a dramatic focal point. Either way, quartz introduces unique visual appeal into the kitchen or bath.
As an engineered composite material, quartz is extraordinarily tough and durable. The polymers make quartz resistant to cracks, chips, and scratches that can easily mar natural stone. Quartz rates just below diamonds on the Mohs Mineral Hardness Scale, rating a 7 compared to marble’s 3 – 4 rating. This extreme durability allows quartz to stand up beautifully to years of use and traffic. Home chefs can work comfortably without worrying about damaging their counters.
The non-porous nature of quartz means it won’t absorb stains from spills like wine, coffee, and juice. Simple wiping with a damp cloth cleans most messes. Quartz resists heat damage better than many materials too, so you don’t have to fret over singe marks from hot pans. Since quartz is non-porous, it never needs sealing either. This ease of care keeps quartz looking like new for decades with minimal maintenance.
The superior durability and stain resistance give quartz an exceptionally long lifespan. The average quartz countertop will last 25 – 30 years with proper care. Some quartz companies back their products with warranties up to 15 years, which further demonstrates their longevity. By choosing a classic color and style, your quartz counters should still look modern 10 or 20 years down the road. The long functional lifespan means quartz offers lasting value compared to materials requiring more frequent replacement.
Being non-porous means quartz counters are highly resistant to harboring bacteria, mold, and mildew. For kitchens and baths, this means quartz offers excellent sanitary qualities that support healthy spaces. The non-porous nature also means quartz won’t impact indoor air quality by off-gassing VOCs like some materials. Keeping family members healthy is a worthwhile investment that quartz delivers.
An advantage quartz has over natural stone is the ability to be fabricated into tailored sizes and shapes. Quartz can accommodate curved edges, cut-outs for sinks, thin counters, and other specialized projects. If hiring a fabricator to template and install, you can create a one-of-a-kind design to suit your functional and style needs. This customizability allows you to maximize quartz in your specific remodel.
Improved Radon Resistance
Radon gas infiltration into homes is an invisible threat in certain regions. When inhaled, radon can increase your risk of lung cancer. Research shows that quartz counters provide more resistance to radon penetration than many natural stone options. So for homes with radon concerns, quartz is a wise investment to limit exposure. Consult local regulations and have your home tested during remodeling to understand your risks.
Increased Home Value
Well-chosen upgrades like quartz countertops allow homeowners to recoup a portion of their investment when selling the home. According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, minor kitchen remodels recoup about 70% of their cost at resale. Whole kitchen remodels yield around 60%. Since quartz costs fall mid-range, expect to recoup 50 – 70% of your investment if choosing popular styles that appeal to buyers. Boosting resale value makes quartz a worthwhile investment.
Quartz Countertop Cons
While the pros are significant, quartz does come with some limitations to consider:
Higher Upfront Cost
The main drawback of quartz is its higher initial cost compared to options like laminate. Budget ranges usually start around $80 – $100 per square foot installed. Higher-end designer brands can reach $150 per square foot. So for a medium-sized kitchen, expect to invest $3,000 – $6,000 in materials. But keep in mind, lower lifetime maintenance costs help offset the initial expense. Weighing total 10- 30 year ownership costs makes quartz a more attractive investment.
Limited Heat Tolerance
Although quartz handles heat better than many materials, extreme or prolonged direct heat can cause damage over time. Using trivets and removing very hot pans quickly preserves your counters. Newer quartz products are engineered to withstand more heat exposure. But to be safe, treat quartz with some care around high temperatures. Avoiding damage means you’ll get better value for your investment.
Requires Professional Installation
Laminate or tile countertops offer DIY-friendly installation options, but that is not the case with quartz. Fabricating and installing quartz counters requires specialized tools, adhesives, techniques and experience. Hiring professional fabricators and installers is advised to avoid problems that could shorten its lifespan or require early repairs. The installation cost is an extra investment to factor in.
Can Chip If Mistreated
While quartz is remarkably resilient compared to other materials, it’s not completely bulletproof. Subjecting quartz to abuse like sitting or standing on it or excessive impact can result in chips or cracks. But when treated normally, quartz won’t easily damage from accidental bumps and drops. Just avoid using quartz as a step stool or hammering directly on it. With reasonable care, quartz withstands normal wear exceptionally well.
Sustainability is increasingly important to consumers, so the limited recyclability of quartz is worth noting. If eventually replaced or during demolition, quartz waste will likely end up in landfills. However, some brands incorporate recycled content into their products to reduce environmental impact. Also consider that quartz’s long lifespan minimizes waste versus materials replaced more often. Discuss options for donated reuse of old counters with your installer.
Can Stain From Certain Materials
While quartz resists most household stains remarkably well, prolonged exposure to strong chemicals and solvents can cause discoloration not removable with cleaning. This includes materials like paint removers, furniture strippers, and products with high alkaline/acid content. Simple awareness and quick cleanup of spills avoids potential issues. Check manufacturer guidelines for stain prevention tips to protect your investment.
Requires More Frequent Polishing
The polished finish of quartz will gradually dull over many years of use. To restore its glossy appearance, quartz needs occasional re-polishing every 7 – 15 years depending on wear. This process is relatively quick and affordable. But it’s a maintenance requirement not necessary with some materials. Factor periodic polishing needs into long-term care. Keeping quartz polished preserves its beauty and investment value.
Limitations for Kitchen Workspaces
For avid home cooks, quartz lacks the heat resistance required for direct food contact. You cannot safely slice foods or knead dough directly on quartz. The surface can also dull knives slightly faster than wood or bamboo. Consider adding a movable cutting board, butcher block, or dedicated prep space to supplement quartz. With smart kitchen workspace design, quartz can beautifully fill its role as an easy-clean kitchen surface.
Is the Investment in Quartz Countertops Worthwhile?
Analyzing the pros and cons shows quartz countertops offer significant advantages that support their value as a worthwhile investment:
- Beautiful aesthetics – Stylish options to fit any taste and decor
- Superb durability – Withstands heavy use for decades
- Low maintenance – Easy routine care for busy households
- Long lifespan – A generation-long useful life
- Non-porous – Exceptional stain, bacteria, and mold resistance
- Highly customizable – Tailor sizing and design as needed
- Enhanced home value – Positive ROI at resale
The upfront cost is reasonable considering the decades of daily use quartz delivers while still looking great. When the long lifespan is factored in, quartz becomes a very smart upgrade that pays dividends over time.
Quartz does require some care around heat exposure, impact, and chemicals. But overall, quartz offers unmatched performance, beauty, and value. For most homeowners, investing in quartz is a decision they will appreciate for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Quartz Countertops
Still evaluating if quartz is the right choice for your next countertop project? Below we answer some common questions to help clarify the key qualities and performance of quartz in real home environments.
Is Quartz Heat Resistant?
Quartz has very good heat tolerance, especially compared to many other countertop materials. But prolonged direct high heat exposure can eventually cause damage. Using trivets and removing extremely hot pots/pans quickly is advised. New quartz composites engineered to allow short direct contact up to 574°F help accommodate busy cooks. With reasonable care around heat sources, quartz maintains its beauty through years of meal prep.
How Durable Is Quartz?
Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale, just below diamond at 10. This extreme hardness provides remarkable scratch, chip, and crack resistance. The polymers bind quartz particles into a tough, resilient material able to withstand heavy day-to-day use. Avoid excessive forceful impacts and quartz will maintain its durability for decades. It offers superior longevity compared to laminate, tile, and natural stone.
Is Quartz Stain Proof?
While not completely stain proof, quartz is highly stain resistant. The non-porous surface prevents absorption of common household spills. Simple wiping with soap and water removes most messes before staining occurs. Prolonged exposure to strong chemicals/solvents can potentially discolor quartz. But quartz’s stain resistance is far superior to materials like granite, marble, wood, and laminate. With reasonable care, quartz beauty endures.
Is Quartz a Good Choice for Kitchens?
With its style, durability, longevity, and low maintenance, quartz is an excellent choice for kitchen countertops. The smooth non-porous surface limits bacteria growth and simplifies cleanup after meal prep. Just avoid direct slicing or excessive heat/impact. Use trivets and cutting boards to supplement quartz workspaces. Overall, quartz delivers the ideal mix of easy care, beauty, and utility busy kitchens demand.
How Often Do You Need to Seal Quartz?
Unlike porous natural stone, quartz never requires sealing. The resins fill the microscopic pores between quartz particles, creating a dense, non-porous material. Liquids and stains cannot penetrate this surface, so sealing is unnecessary. One of the major low maintenance advantages of quartz is eliminating the annual sealing required for materials like granite and marble.
Is Quartz More Expensive Than Granite?
In general, quartz runs $80 – $120 per square foot installed compared to granite at $60 – $100 per square foot. However, dramatic high-end granite can reach over $200 per square foot. There is overlap in the mid-range prices with higher granite and lower quartz. But overall, quartz runs slightly higher than an average granite quote. The enhanced stain protection and low maintenance help offset the quartz premium.
Is Quartz Countertop Resale Value Strong?
According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, minor kitchen remodels recoup about 70% at resale and major remodels 60%. With quartz costing mid-range compared to materials, expect to recoup 50 – 70% of your investment if you choose popular, neutral styles. Quartz’s durability, longevity, and visual appeal make it a smart upgrade that boosts a home’s value for potential buyers.
How Thick Should Quartz Countertops Be?
Standard quartz thickness is 3 cm, which provides durability for most applications. If installing a kitchen island or other high use/stress area, consider 3.5 cm. Thinner 2 cm slabs save costs but are prone to cracks from excessive force. For most homes, 3 cm delivers the ideal structural strength and value. Discuss your use needs with quartz fabricators to determine the appropriate thickness.
Do You Need Special Cleaners for Quartz?
The simple maintenance of quartz is one of its best features. Ordinary gentle cleaners like dish soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia work extremely well. Abundant water dilution is important. Avoid abrasive pads/cleansers that could dull the polish. Special stone cleaners are unnecessary unless addressing difficult dried spills damaging most materials. Daily wiping keeps quartz counters spotless.
Can You Cut on Quartz Countertops?
Direct cutting is not recommended on quartz since it will gradually dull knives and damage the surface over time. Using a movable cutting board for food preparation prevents scratching or chipping the countertop. You can safely place hot items from the oven or stove on quartz temporarily. But prolonged direct high heat exposure will eventually damage any material.
Is 3cm or 2cm Better for Quartz?
Three centimeters (1.25 inches) is the industry standard thickness for nearly all quartz installations. It provides structural durability for heavy residential use. Two cm slimmer profiles save costs but are prone to cracking if excessive force is applied. For most homes, 3 cm quartz offers the ideal balance of strength, value, and maintenance-free longevity. Discuss needs with your fabricator, but 3 cm is recommended.
Evaluating the pros and cons shows quartz combines superior durability, longevity, style, and easy maintenance. These performance benefits make it a home upgrade that adds value for years to come. While the upfront cost exceeds options like laminate, quartz pays dividends over decades of use with minimal upkeep required. For most homeowners, investing in the beauty, utility, and lasting quality of quartz results in enduring satisfaction.