Quartz countertops are popular choices for kitchen and bathroom remodels due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, and low maintenance requirements. However, as an engineered stone, quartz countertops do require some structural support considerations during installation. Here is a detailed guide on how much support quartz countertops need.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered quartz or engineered stone, are made from crushed quartz combined with resins and pigments. The quartz makes up over 90% of the material, making it exceptionally hard and durable.
The resin binds the crushed quartz together into slabs which can be cut and fabricated into custom countertops. Pigments added during manufacturing provide the wide array of colors and patterns available.
Benefits of Quartz Countertops
There are several reasons quartz has become one of the most popular countertop materials:
- Durability – Quartz is highly scratch, chip, and heat resistant due to its hardness. It stands up well to heavy daily use.
- Low Maintenance – Unlike natural stone, quartz requires very little ongoing sealing or polishing. Simple cleaning with soap and water keeps it looking like new.
- Stain Resistance – The non-porous surface resists stains from spills and foods. Most stains can be removed with cleaning.
- Aesthetic Options – With a range of colors and patterns, quartz provides limitless design possibilities from elegant white marble looks to bold colors and patterns.
- Hygienic – The nonporous surface inhibits bacterial growth making it ideal for kitchen and bath.
Factors Affecting Quartz Support Needs
Quartz countertops are made into slabs ranging from 2 to 3 centimeters thick. This gives them exceptional strength and durability as a surface material. However, several factors impact how much support they require during installation:
Length of the Countertop
Longer span countertops need more support. Keep countertops under 8 feet long if possible, or plan for an additional support column along longer spans.
Standard overhangs of 6-8 inches are well supported by the cabinet base. Overhangs longer than 12 inches will require additional support with corbels or columns.
Thickness of the Slab
Most quartz slabs are 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) thick which provides good strength. Opt for 3 centimeter (1 1/4 inch) thick material if planning a very long span or overhang.
While strong, quartz is still heavy. Factor in adequate structural support in the base cabinets and reinforcement of upper cabinets during install.
Cutouts and Features
Quartz can be cut and fabricated into a wide range of shapes. However, features like very large cutouts for sinks will require additional brackets or supports.
Providing Adequate Support
Quartz requires a sturdy base that must be able to handle its weight without sagging or buckling. Here are some recommendations for support:
The cabinet boxes supporting the countertop must be level and structurally sound. Reinforce upper cabinets prior to install. For seamless look, ensure cabinet bases are perfectly aligned.
Strong Base Materials
Plywood and engineered wood materials like plywood and LDF provide excellent structural support. Particle board alone does not offer adequate strength.
Adding vertical support columns, horizontal braces, or an apron frame along the cabinet front and sides helps support long spans.
Supporting Long Overhangs
Overhangs beyond 8-10 inches will require additional support. This can be provided by corbels attached to the sides or base framework extensions.
Brackets for Cutouts
Any cutouts larger than 24-inches wide may require L-brackets secured underneath for support. This is especially important around sinks and cooktops.
Make sure necessary seams in the quartz fall over cabinet dividers or other vertical supports. This prevents stress across long spans.
Bolstering Upper Cabinets
For a seamless look, upper cabinetry carrying countertop weight should be reinforced with additional framing and secured tightly to studs.
Follow Manufacturer Guidance
Consult with your specific quartz manufacturer for any additional support requirements based on the thickness and particular material used.
Installation Methods to Ensure Proper Support
Quartz fabrication shops will handle precise measurements, custom cutting, and finishing of your slabs. However, proper installation is also key to providing adequate support:
Securely Fasten Countertops
After cutting, fasten slabs securely to the base cabinets. This provides stability and keeps the quartz material properly supported.
Use adhesives specially formulated for natural stone to achieve the strongest bond with the cabinet base. Follow all adhesive instructions carefully.
Minimize seams which can be prone to cracking and movement over time if not properly supported.
Seal seams meticulously between quartz slabs and around sinks/faucets to prevent moisture penetration and cracks.
Level Cabinets Properly
Any gaps under countertops from poorly leveled cabinets will prevent adequate support and stability.
Allow Materials to Acclimate
Let quartz slabs adjust to room temperature and humidity before fabrication and installation to prevent issues like curling or cracking.
Skilled Fabrication and Installation
Hire experienced quartz professionals to ensure proper cutting, fabrication, seaming, and installation with supports.
Ongoing Care and Maintenance
While durable, quartz still requires some periodic maintenance to keep it looking pristine and prevent any potential damage that could require repairs down the road:
- Use trivets and hot pads under hot pots and pans to prevent thermal shock.
- Clean up spills immediately to avoid staining, especially oils which can penetrate.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals which can damage the finish.
- Have sealers reapplied around sinks and joints every few years to prevent moisture penetration.
- Inspect countertops periodically to check for any cracks or gaps indicating loss of support.
- Address any swelling or warping issues right away before further damage occurs.
Signs Your Quartz May Lack Proper Support
It is important to be aware of any signs your quartz countertops may be sagging, cracking, or showing other indications of insufficient support:
- Visible gaps or raising up where countertops meet walls.
- Cracking, especially along seams or near cutouts.
- Countertops feeling less stable or solid under weight.
- Warping or curling at ends and overhangs.
- Cabinet doors or drawers not closing properly due to settling.
- Evidence of moisture damage around edges and seams.
If you notice any of these issues, have a professional inspect right away to determine if reinforcement or other corrections are needed. Addressing insufficient support quickly can prevent more significant long term damage.
Options to Add Support to Existing Installations
If your quartz countertops develop problems from inadequate support, there are some ways a professional can retroactively add reinforcement:
- Add support brackets or corbels to fortify long spans or overhangs.
- Apply epoxy resin to seal any minor cracks.
- Remove sections and reinstall using improved adhesives and sealers.
- Shave down high spots leveling uneven settling.
- Install vertical columns or horizontal aprons along cabinet bases for more support.
- Strengthen areas around sinks/faucets prone to cracking with brackets.
- Removal and replacement of sections may be necessary in extreme cases.
With careful inspection and the right approach, an experienced contractor can remedy most support-related issues that come up with existing quartz.
FAQs About Supporting Quartz Countertops
What is the maximum overhang for a quartz countertop?
For a 2 cm thick slab, 6-8 inches is safest. Overhangs greater than 12 inches will require additional support. Go with 3 cm thick quartz for longer overhangs.
Do I need to reinforce upper cabinets for quartz countertops?
Yes, securely fastening upper cabinets to studs and adding supports like wood strips can help prevent sagging under the weight.
What thickness of plywood is best under quartz?
Plywood should be at least 3/4” thick. 5/8” may be acceptable if combined with other framework supports. Avoid particle board alone.
Should I expect any maintenance for my quartz countertops?
While very low maintenance, sealing seams and sink areas every few years helps prevent moisture damage and cracking. Address any minor issues promptly.
How far should quartz slab seams be from edges and cutouts?
Manufacturer specifications vary but seams should be several inches away from edges and at least 5 inches from sink cutouts.
Can quartz crack from lack of support?
Yes, sagging and improper joins can definitely lead to stress cracks. Well supported installs should not develop cracks under normal use.
What is the best adhesive to use when installing quartz?
Specialized stone adhesives, like those from Akemi or Tenax, provide the strongest bonds. Consult your fabricator for their recommended adhesive products.
Is it okay to make an L-shaped quartz countertop in one piece?
For proper support, it is best to break up L-shaped spans into separate pieces joined at the corner. This prevents sagging or cracks.
Should I get a quartz countertop mounting kit?
For DIY installs, YES! Mounting kits include essentials like adhesive, sealant, sink support hardware, and instructions to ensure proper support.
How often should I check my quartz for maintenance issues?
Give your quartz counters a quick visual inspection every month or so. Then schedule a more thorough professional inspection annually to spot any support needs.
While an exceptionally strong and durable engineered stone, adequate structural support is still key to getting the best performance and longevity out of quartz countertops. Careful consideration should be given to factors like span lengths, overhangs, and cutouts when planning the install. For most homeowners, hiring experienced professionals to fabricate and install the quartz properly with adequate support is well worth the investment. With proper care and maintenance, your quartz countertops can provide many years of beauty and enjoyment.