When it comes to choosing countertops for your kitchen or bathroom, two popular options are quartz and wood. Many homeowners wonder – are quartz countertops less expensive than wood? The answer depends on a variety of factors. In this article, we’ll compare quartz and wood countertops on cost, durability, maintenance, appearance, and environmental impact to help you decide which material is right for your home and budget.
Cost Comparison Between Quartz and Wood Countertops
The cost of countertops depends on the material, thickness, edge treatments, complexity of the project, and more. Here is a general overview of quartz and wood countertop pricing:
- Cost range: $80 – $140 per square foot installed
- Thickness: Usually 1.25″ – 2″
- Factors impacting cost: Brand, pattern, edge treatment
Quartz is an engineered stone made from crushed quartz blended with polymer resins and pigments. It’s one of the more affordable countertop materials, priced similarly to solid surface materials like Corian. The exact cost depends on the quartz brand, pattern, edge treatments, and more. Simple edge profiles like eased or straight edges are the most affordable, while decorative treatments like ogee, bevel, or laminated edges add cost. Thicker quartz costs more due to increased materials.
Higher-end quartz brands like Caesarstone and Silestone range from $100 – $140 per square foot installed. Lower-priced brands like Cambria and Viatera are $80 – $120 per square foot installed.
- Cost range: $80 – $260 per square foot installed
- Thickness: 1.25″ – 2″
- Factors impacting cost: Wood species, edge treatment, layout
Natural wood countertops offer a wide range of pricing options. Less expensive softwoods like pine or fir cost around $80 – $100 per square foot. Mid-range woods like walnut, cherry, and maple are $100 – $175 per square foot. And exotic hardwoods like mahogany can cost $200 – $260 per square foot.
The cut of the wood also impacts cost. Countertops made from end-grain butcher block are 20-30% more expensive than edge-grain construction. Fancy edge treatments like hand-carved edges can add $20+ per linear foot. The complexity of the woodworking and installation also impacts the final price.
In general, quartz countertops tend to cost less than exotic woods like mahogany or walnut, but are similar in price to domestic hardwoods like oak or maple. Affordable quartz options start around $80 per square foot installed, while exotic woods can cost over $200 per square foot.
However, quartz prices have risen sharply in recent years due to high demand and global shortages of quartz. Wood tends to have more stable pricing over time. So the cost difference between quartz and wood has narrowed in the past few years.
Ultimately, quarts and wood can both offer affordable options under $100 per square foot and high-end options over $150 per square foot. The specific material cost depends on your desired look, brand, complexity, and current market conditions. Get 3-5 estimates to compare exact costs for your project.
Durability is a key factor when choosing countertops. You want a surface that can withstand years of daily use. Here’s how quartz and wood compare:
- Extremely hard and scratch resistant surface
- Resists heat, stains, and damage from most household cleaners
- Seamless appearance hides wear and tear
- Warranties of 15 years (Cambria) to lifetime (Caesarstone)
Quartz is composed of over 90% ground quartz crystals, one of nature’s hardest minerals. Quartz rates 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, compared to a steel knife blade at 5.5. This makes quartz highly resistant to scratches, chips, and dents with proper care.
Quartz’s non-porous surface also resists stains, burns, and damage from accidental spills of wine, coffee, juice, etc. Bacteria and mold have difficulty growing on quartz. Most quartz brands offer 15-year or lifetime limited warranties against defects.
- Prone to dents, scratches, burns without protective finish
- Can stain, mold, and bacteria can grow in pores
- Needs periodic resealing to maintain water resistance
- Lower durability than quartz but can be refinished
Natural wood is softer than quartz. Most woods rate 2-4 on the hardness scale, making them vulnerable to dents, cuts, and scratches. Fully finishing the wood with multiple layers of sealant is crucial to protect it. The finish needs reapplication every few years to maintain water resistance.
Wood is also naturally porous, which allows stains, mold, and bacteria to penetrate if not properly sealed. Burns or cuts in wood can be sanded out, but the finish may need complete refinishing. Most wood warranties only cover manufacturing defects, not normal wear and tear.
Quartz is significantly more durable than natural wood. The extreme hardness and non-porous nature of quartz make it very resilient for busy kitchens. Wood requires careful maintenance and periodic refinishing to achieve similar longevity. But for some homeowners, the ability to sand out damage and refinish wood is part of its appeal.
Along with durability, proper maintenance is required to keep any countertop looking its best over years of use. Here is how quartz and wood countertops compare in terms of maintenance:
Maintaining Quartz Countertops
- Simple routine cleaning with soap and water
- Avoid abrasive cleaners that may dull the surface
- Resealing not required
- Heat protection recommended for hot pots/pans
Quartz requires very little maintenance besides basic cleaning. Warm water and mild soap easily remove most spills and messes from quartz’s nonporous surface. It does not require polishing or resealing to retain its finish.
To keep quartz looking like new, avoid using abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or applying excessive force when cleaning. These can slowly erode the surface. Blot spills quickly before they have a chance to stain. Use trivets or hot pads under hot cookware to prevent thermal shock.
Maintaining Wood Countertops
- Frequent sealing required (every 3-6 months)
- Avoid excessive water exposure
- Periodic reapplication of protective finishes
- Sanding and refinishing to repair significant damage
Wood countertops need much more frequent maintenance than quartz. To retain moisture resistance, wood needs reapplication of sealant every 3-6 months using a food-safe finish. Allowing wood to dry out can lead to cracking or warping. Prevent prolonged exposure to standing water or liquids.
The finish will also gradually erode with regular use. Every few years, sanding and refinishing may be needed to maintain the wood’s appearance. Scratches or cuts in the wood may require more extensive repairs.
Quartz requires almost no routine maintenance besides basic cleaning. In contrast, wood needs frequent sealing, careful water precautions, and periodic refinishing. For homeowners who want a low-maintenance countertop, quartz is generally the better choice. Wood countertops require some extra work to keep them looking pristine over the long run.
The look and feel of your countertops also matter when deciding between materials. Here is how the visual appeal of quartz and wood compares:
- Wide variety of colors and patterns
- Consistent look since quartz is engineered
- Subtle patterned appearance without excess busyness
- More modern, sleek aesthetic
One of the appeals of quartz is the diversity of colors, textures, and patterns available. Quartz can realistically mimic natural stone as well as vibrant solid colors. The patterns are uniformly distributed without natural variation for a clean, consistent look.
The overall aesthetic of quartz is contemporary, crisp, and understated. Quartz has less pronounced veining and patterns than natural stone. The minimalist appearance suits modern kitchens and baths with sleek, simple designs.
- Visually warm, organic, and natural looking
- Each piece has unique natural variations in grain
- Traditional, rustic aesthetic
- Can develop a patina over time
Wood’s naturally variable grain produces one-of-a-kind visuals full of character. The complex grain patterns and color variations avoid an artificial or homogeneous look. Wood countertops can align with more traditional, rustic, or craftsman style kitchens.
Over years of use, wood develops a rich patina and deeper coloration, enhancing its timeless beauty. The appearance of wood can’t be fully replicated by engineered materials like quartz. Many homeowners are attracted to wood’s authenticity.
Quartz offers consistent, subtle patterns while wood provides more pronounced, organic visuals. Which aesthetic you prefer comes down to personal taste. For a low-maintenance surface that seamlessly blends with contemporary cabinets, quartz is a great choice. If you want a unique focal point with artisanal appeal, wood is ideal.
You can also achieve a blend of modernity and warmth by pairing wood base cabinets with quartz countertops. This allows you to highlight wood’s beauty while still benefiting from quartz’s durability where it’s most needed.
Environmental Impact Comparison
Eco-friendliness is another consideration when choosing countertops. Here is a look at how green quartz and wood options are:
Quartz Environmental Impact
- Made from abundant natural quartz
- Recyclable but limited recycled content
- Lower carbon footprint than natural stone
- Requires some energy to manufacture
Quartz has a lower carbon footprint compared to quarried natural stone since it doesn’t need to be mined and transported. Most quartz contains about 20-30% recycled content from mineral waste streams. And quartz can be crushed and recycled into aggregates at the end of its useful life.
However, quartz does require energy for the heating, vibration, and pressurization needed to produce slabs. And some adhesives and polymers are used in quartz’s manufacture. Overall, quartz is comparable to other engineered surfaces in its eco-friendliness.
Wood Environmental Impact
- Renewable and naturally biodegradable
- Responsible forestry needed for sustainability
- Can use reclaimed wood from other sources
- Needs protective finishes
Wood is inherently renewable since new trees can be continuously grown to replace harvested trees. And wood decomposes naturally at the end of its life. Using wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council ensures responsible harvesting practices.
Reclaimed wood from old barns, factory floors, wine barrels, etc gives new life to materials that would otherwise be discarded. However, wood sealants contain VOCs and eventual sanding creates dust waste. Responsible sourcing and maintenance help enhance the green benefits of wood.
Environmental Impact Comparison
Both quartz and wood can be eco-friendly options with responsible sourcing and manufacturing. Wood’s renewability makes it inherently greener if harvested sustainably. But quartz’s abundance and lower carbon footprint give it sustainability advantages over natural stone. Ultimately, both materials must be managed responsibly to minimize environmental impacts.
Pros and Cons Comparison
To summarize the key differences, here is an overview of the main pros and cons of quartz versus wood countertops:
Quartz Pros and Cons
- Extremely durable and scratch resistant
- Easy maintenance without regular sealing
- Resists stains, heat, and bacteria growth
- Wide variety of colors and patterns
- Modern, sleek aesthetic
- Higher price tag than some materials
- Can chip if subjected to heavy impact
- Less natural look than real stone or wood
- Limited customization options
Wood Pros and Cons
- Warm, organic appearance
- Unique natural variations in each piece
- Can be refinished to repair damage
- Eco-friendly and renewable resource
- Traditional, timeless aesthetic
- Vulnerable to scratches, stains, and water damage
- Frequent sealing and refinishing required
- Not as durable as quartz or natural stone
- Needs extra care to prevent mold or bacteria growth
Cost Comparison Chart
Here is a quick cost comparison chart between quartz and wood countertops:
| Countertop Material | Cost Per Square Foot Installed |
| Quartz | $80 – $140 |
| Economy Brand | $80 – $100 |
| Standard Brand | $100 – $120 |
| Premium Brand | $120 – $140|
| Wood | $80 – $260 |
| Pine | $80 – $100 |
| Maple | $100 – $150 |
| Cherry | $135 – $175 |
| Walnut | $150 – $200 |
| Mahogany | $200 – $260 |
Which is Better – Quartz or Wood?
So are quartz countertops less expensive than wood? Generally, quartz provides a more affordable option compared to premium exotic woods. But quartz costs about the same as mid-range domestic hardwoods.
Ultimately, the right choice comes down to your style, budget, and priorities:
- For a contemporary, low-maintenance countertop, quartz is hard to beat.
- For a traditional, focal point look with artisanal appeal, wood is excellent.
- On durability and stain resistance, quartz outperforms wood.
- Wood offers more pronounced visual character from its unique natural grain.
- Both options come in affordable budget varieties and higher-end premium versions.
If you can’t decide between the sleekness of quartz and warmth of wood, you may want to combine them in your kitchen or bath design. Using wood on the base cabinets and island base provides natural beauty you can see and touch. Then quartz on the countertops gives you durable, carefree surfaces for cooking and cleaning.
Whichever material you choose, make sure to research brands, inspect slabs/samples, and get professional installation quotes. For countertops that will look beautiful for years to come, proper selection, care, and maintenance are key. Discuss your vision with a kitchen designer to see if quartz or wood is the right fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is quartz cheaper than wood?
It depends on the type of wood. Basic quartz is generally cheaper than exotic woods like mahogany or walnut. But quartz costs about the same as mid-range domestic woods like oak, maple, or cherry. Affordable varieties of both quartz and wood are available for under $100 per square foot.
Is quartz a good choice for kitchen countertops?
Yes, quartz is one of the most popular options for kitchen countertops. The extreme durability and low maintenance of quartz make it ideal for high-traffic kitchen spaces. Quartz resists scratches, stains, heat damage, and bacteria growth. And it stays looking new for years with simple cleaning.
Can you repair damages to quartz countertops?
Minor damage like superficial scratches can be buffed out of quartz countertops by a professional. But deep scratches, chips, or cracks cannot be repaired and may require replacement of the damaged section. Quartz is not able to be refinished like natural stone or wood.
Does wood need to be sealed?
Yes, wood countertops require sealing to prevent water, stains, bacteria, and mold from penetrating the porous surface. They need reapplication of sealant every 3-6 months. The finish also gradually wears down and needs periodic sanding/refinishing to maintain optimal protection.
Is wood easier to damage than quartz?
Wood is significantly easier to damage than quartz. Quartz rates 7 on the hardness scale while wood is 2-4, making wood prone to dents, scratches, and cuts without a resilient finish. Wood also absorbs stains readily without a protective seal. Overall, wood requires more careful handling and maintenance than quartz.
Quartz and wood both have their own sets of pros and cons when used as kitchen or bathroom countertops. Quartz performs better in terms of durability and maintenance. But wood provides a warmer, more natural aesthetic. There are affordable and high-end options available in both materials.
Consider how heavily your space will be used, your preferred color/style, and your budget. For contemporary spaces wanting an impervious surface, quartz is hard to match. For traditional spaces that will gently age and patina, wood is a winner. Combining the two on different surfaces gives you the best of both worlds.
Whichever material you select, a professional installation is key to getting the most beauty and longevity out of your investment. With proper care over time, you’ll enjoy gorgeous, functional countertops that stand the test of everyday life.