Quartz countertops are an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodels due to their durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance. Installing quartz countertops requires careful planning and execution to ensure a seamless look and long-lasting performance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the key steps for how quartz countertops are installed.
Selecting the Quartz Slab
The first step is selecting the right quartz slab for your space. There are many aesthetics and color options to choose from. When selecting the slab:
- Look at quartz samples and color options from fabricators. Many have sample kits.
- Consider the style of your kitchen or bath. Match colors and patterns.
- Think about the look you want – uniform or varied veins/patterns.
- Look for quartz graded “commercial” or “heavy commercial”. It’s more durable.
- Choose a matte or polished finish based on your preferences.
- Select a thickness (usually 2 or 3 cm). 3 cm is better for heavily used surfaces.
- Measure your space carefully to determine slab dimensions needed.
- Order an extra 10-15% over the measurements, so cuts can be made from a single slab.
- Quartz costs $40-100 per square foot installed.
Once you’ve selected the perfect quartz slabs for your counters, it’s time to focus on preparation.
Preparing for Installation
Proper preparation is crucial for a smooth quartz installation. Here are key steps:
- Demolish existing countertops – Safely remove old countertops. Also take out sink/faucet.
- Inspect the cabinets – Ensure cabinets are level, plumb, and stable with no leaks/damage. Repair any issues.
- Set height and make cabinet modifications – Quartz thickness may require adjusting cabinet height before securing the slab. Make any cutouts for sinks.
- Organize installation space – Clear the area of appliances, tools, debris. Allow enough workspace.
- Check the walls – Ensure walls meet the counter area properly. Fill any gaps with caulk for clean lines.
- Prepare electrical and plumbing – Set up electric/water supply according to code for new sink/cooktop layout if needed.
Advance planning allows for a smooth install process from start to finish.
How the Countertops Are Cut and Fabricated
Precision cutting and fabrication are vital skills for quartz installation. Here is the typical fabrication process:
- Inspect the slab – Verify quartz piece is the correct size, pattern, and undamaged.
- Make a template – Craft a detailed paper template of the countertop shapes and dimensions.
- Transfer measurements – Use the template to mark cut lines to follow on the slab.
- Cut the quartz – Cut the quartz using specialized saws and cutters. Water cools and lubricates the blades.
- Finish cut edges – Edges are ground down and polished for smooth, even finish.
- Add sink/cooktop cutouts – Cut precise openings for sinks, stovetops using the template.
- Apply adhesive – Adhesive is spread on the back of the quartz piece if needed.
- Inspect and clean – Verify the final fabricated piece has been properly cut and cleaned.
Fabrication transforms the raw quartz into a custom-fit countertop ready for installation in the home.
Installation Day Process
The installation process requires care and precision. Here’s how quartz countertop installation day typically goes:
Stage the countertop pieces
- Have all fabricated quartz pieces staged in order of install.
- Ensure sufficient space to move and install the countertop sections.
Thoroughly clean the cabinets
- Use denatured alcohol to remove dirt, grease, and residue.
- Check for level and plumb. Make any final adjustments.
- Run a bead of adhesive along the top edges of the cabinet.
- Use 100% silicone adhesive for best bond.
Carefully set the quartz pieces
- Position each section perfectly. Have helpers to lift the heavy pieces.
- Press down firmly to adhere to the cabinet while adjusting placement.
- Use shims between the slab and wall for support as needed.
Clean away adhesive squeeze-out
- Remove any excess adhesive along the seams or edges immediately.
- Denatured alcohol on a rag works well. Be meticulous.
Seal the seams
- Once aligned, fill the seams between sections with silicone caulk.
- Smooth the caulk with a putty knife for clean finish. Allow to dry.
- The less visible the seams, the better the final look.
Install the sink and faucet
- Place the sink in the cutout and attach below using clips or adhesive.
- Connect the plumbing securely with no leaks.
- Install the faucet according to manufacturer instructions.
- Test for leaks and proper water flow.
Make final connections
- Complete all electrical and plumbing hookups for appliances like dishwashers.
- Verify proper function and code compliance.
- Touch up caulk or adhesive as needed.
With attention to detail, the countertop installation should result in a flawless finish.
How Quartz Differs from Other Countertop Materials
Quartz has unique properties compared to other popular countertop materials:
- Quartz is engineered, granite is natural stone.
- Quartz offers more color/pattern options than natural granite slabs.
- Quartz is non-porous. Granite can absorb stains without sealing.
- Quartz is less prone to cracking or chipping than natural granite.
- Quartz is less porous than marble and better resists stains.
- Quartz stands up to scratches, heat, and acids better than marble.
- Quartz lacks the veining patterns found in natural marble.
- Quartz is much more durable, scratch-resistant, and heat-tolerant than laminate.
- Quartz offers a seamless appearance, compared to visible laminate seams.
- Quartz provides a richer, more consistent pattern than laminate.
- Quartz is engineered to be less porous than concrete.
- Quartz offers more variety in colors and patterns versus concrete.
- Concrete can develop cracks over time unlike quartz.
Understanding the distinctions allows for selecting the best material for your needs.
The Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops
Quartz has many advantages along with a few drawbacks to consider:
- Extremely durable and scratch resistant surface
- Stain, heat, and scorch resistant
- Easy to keep clean
- Little maintenance required
- Seamless appearance
- Diverse options for colors and patterns
- Non-porous so doesn’t require sealing
- Higher cost than laminate countertops
- Limited high-contrast veining compared to natural stone
- Can be damaged by very hard impacts
- Some colors fade slightly over time when exposed to UV
Quartz’s durability and aesthetics make it a popular choice despite the higher price tag.
Caring for and Cleaning Quartz Countertops
Simple care and cleaning keeps quartz counters looking like new:
- For daily cleaning, use mild soap and water or a gentle quartz cleaner.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads that may dull the surface.
- Blot up spills immediately to prevent staining, especially oils, wine, and acidic foods.
- For dried on messes, use a non-abrasive cleaning pad with a cleaner made for quartz.
- Avoid using very hot pans directly on the surface. Use trivets.
- Reseal seams and edges once a year using clear silicone caulk.
- Avoid exposing the counters to harsh chemicals like paint removers or oven cleaners.
With proper care, quartz countertops will stay beautiful for a lifetime.
How Much Do Quartz Countertops Cost Installed?
Quartz countertop cost depends on several factors:
- Quartz type – Prices range from $40-100 per square foot. Premium brands cost more.
- Quartz thickness – 2 cm slabs run $40-60 per square foot. 3 cm is $60-100 per square foot.
- Edge treatments – Basic edges are cheapest. Unique finishes add cost.
- Fabrication – Simple rectangular layouts are most affordable. Complex shapes add cost.
- Installation – DIY saves on labor. Professional install averages $40/hour.
- Sink/faucet – Adding new fixtures adds to the total project budget.
- Market factors – Pricing also varies by geographic area and demand.
Expect to invest $2,500 to $10,000 for a full quartz countertop installation.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about quartz countertop installation:
How long does it take to install quartz countertops?
The installation process takes an average of 3 to 5 days:
Day 1: Demolition of old counters, cabinet preparation
Day 2: Template creation, dry fitting
Day 3: Permanent installation of countertops
Day 4: Connect sink/faucet, make final adjustments
Day 5: Install accessories like soap dispensers, finalize details
Can quartz counters be installed over existing countertops?
It is not recommended to install quartz over old countertops. The new slabs work best with the support of the cabinet underneath. Covering old counters makes proper adhesion difficult.
Is professional installation required?
While DIY installation is possible, it’s best left to experienced professionals. The quartz slabs are very heavy, hard to cut, and require seamless precision. Hiring a fabricator and installer is recommended.
How are joints between quartz countertops sealed?
The seams between adjacent quartz slabs are held together by silicone adhesive. The joints are also filled with a clear caulk to create an invisible seal. Good sealing prevents moisture ingress.
What thickness should I choose for quartz counters?
A 2 cm thickness is sufficient for most purposes. 3 cm thick quartz provides extra durability and support for high traffic kitchens. Go with 3 cm for floors or commercial use.
Can you cut directly on quartz countertops?
It’s best to avoid cutting foods directly on quartz. Use a cutting board to protect the surface. Quartz is stain resistant, but sharp knife edges can scratch the material.
Installing quartz countertops requires careful planning, precision cutting, expert installation, quality materials, and seamless finishing. When done properly, quartz counter installation results in a magnificent transformation in kitchens and bathrooms, providing natural stone beauty with added practicality. With routine care, quartz countertops will retain their radiant appearance for decades, making them a worthwhile investment for homeowners.