Choosing new countertops for your kitchen or bathroom remodel? Quartz countertops are a popular option for many homeowners. Made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments, quartz delivers the beauty of natural stone with excellent durability. With proper selection and care, quartz countertops can last for many years in your home. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when picking quartz countertops.
Determine Your Budget
Quartz countertops are available at varying price points. On average, expect to pay $50-100 per square foot installed. Factors like brand, thickness, edge profiles and more will impact the final cost. Determine your budget upfront so you can narrow your options to quartz countertops in your affordable range. Getting quotes from 2-3 fabricators is advisable to compare pricing.
When budgeting, be sure to account for the full scope of your project. In addition to the countertop slabs, fabrication and installation, you may need new cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, flooring and backsplashes. Consulting with a kitchen designer can help you develop an accurate budget.
Select the Thickness
Quartz slabs come in standard thicknesses of 3/4 inch (2cm) up to 1 1/2 inches (4cm). Like natural stone, thicker quartz materials are more resilient, but also cost more.
3/4 inch (2cm) countertops are best for low-traffic areas like bathrooms. This more economical thickness works well when the existing cabinetry cannot accommodate thicker material.
1 1/4 inch (3cm) provides a good balance of durability and affordability for most kitchens. It can overhang slightly without reinforced support.
1 1/2 inch (4cm) is the thickest and most durable option. Great for kitchen islands and high-traffic areas. The added thickness allows for greater overhangs.
Work with your installer to determine the best thickness for your intended use and cabinetry. Thicker quartz is harder for do-it-yourself cutting and installation.
Choose the Right Finish
Quartz comes in a variety of surface finishes that affect the overall look and feel:
- Polished – Glossy glass-like finish that highlights the vibrant colors and patterns. More reflective.
- Honed – Has a matte, soft, stone-like finish. Less shine for a more natural appearance.
- Concrete – Replicates the look of weathered concrete with subtle irregularities. Has a textured feel.
- Leather – Soft matte finish with visible pores to mimic leather or linen. More grippy texture.
- Riverwashed – Smoothed rippled finish that feels like river rocks. Natural stone appearance.
The finish significantly impacts the maintenance and durability. Polished quartz often keeps its shine longer with routine cleaning. Honed and textured finishes require more frequent sealing to prevent staining. Consider the amount of use, your style preference and maintenance habits when selecting the surface finish.
Choose a Color
One of the best features of quartz is the wide variety of colors and patterns available. Options include:
- Solid colors – Single tone colors in light, medium or dark hues. Classic and versatile.
- Faux marbles – Replicates the veining and swirls of natural marble. Elegant and stylish.
- Granites – Mimics the speckled look of natural granite stone. Organic visual.
- Concretes – Grey tones with mottled variations. Industrial modern vibe.
- Exotics – Multi-colored blends or recycled glass chips. Unique artistic accents.
There are hundreds of color options across leading quartz brands. Visit showrooms to view slabs in person. Bring paint chips or samples to visualize how the colors will coordinate. Neutral quartz colors mix well with many styles, while bolder colors make a statement.
Review the Warranty
Reputable quartz brands offer warranties on their products. Review what is covered, including:
- Duration – Typical warranties run 10-15 years. Longer is generally better.
- Coverage – Defects, workmanship, staining, and wear. More coverage is ideal.
- ** Crack repair** – Seamless repair of cracks from thermal shock. Very important.
- Manufacturer vs. supplier – Supplier warranties can be more convenient.
Understand the warranty fully before purchasing quartz. Knowing you have long-term peace of mind can make the investment more worthwhile. Be sure to keep your paperwork and receipts.
Choose Quartz Brands Wisely
Quality can vary greatly among quartz brands. Stick with reputable high-end brands like:
- Caesarstone – One of the original quartz makers. Huge variety and quality.
- Cambria – Natural stone-like appearance. Stylish designs made in the USA.
- Silestone – Bold colors and distinct patterns. Great warranties.
- LG Viatera – High-end quartz with premium aesthetics.
- Hanstone – Offers unique designs like metallic and recycled glass accents.
- Quartz Master – Budget-friendly option with wide selection. Lower pricing.
Research the major brands’ products and warranties. Then review the available colors/patterns with each to find your perfect match. Lesser known or generic quartz often lacks quality controls and after-purchase support. Steer clear of “knock off” quartz to avoid issues down the road.
Consider Radiant Heat Compatibility
If your home has radiant heating under the floors, not all quartz can withstand the additional heat. Intense heat cycles can damage quartz and void warranties. Be sure to choose a brand rated for radiant heat tolerance like Silestone, Cambria, LG Viatera or Caesarstone.
Have your installer run tests first on a small section. Keep the floor heating gradual, below 85°F (30°C) and avoid excessive fluctuations. This prevents thermal shock cracking. Be extra diligent with sealing and cleaning to keep quartz looking beautiful.
Assess Maintenance Requirements
While quartz resists stains and etching better than marble and granite, it still requires routine care and maintenance.
Cleaning – Quartz needs regular cleaning using a mild non-abrasive stone soap and water. For matte finishes, avoid buildup of grime in textured areas.
Sealing – Annual sealing is recommended, especially for honed and leather finishes. This prevents staining.
Heat – Use trivets and hot pads to prevent burns which can damage the surface.
With proper cleaning habits, your quartz countertops can stay looking like new for many years. Neglecting care and maintenance leads to accelerated wear and discoloration.
Check Samples Before Buying
Don’t purchase quartz slabs sight unseen. Every brand and color looks a bit different in person. Request free samples from manufacturers or visit local stone yards to see slabs firsthand.
Pay attention to the veining patterns and overall color consistency. Look at samples in different lighting. Bring your cabinet and flooring swatches to test pairings. Seeing full-size quartz pieces gives the best impression before finalizing your selection.
Hire an Experienced Installer
Quartz installation is not a DIY-friendly project. Hire skilled professionals for a seamless result. Read reviews and evaluate examples of their past quartz jobs. Ensure they have specialized experience with:
- Seam placement – Positioned correctly to minimize appearance.
- Edge details – Bullnose, ogee, laminated built-up edges.
- Sink cutouts – Precise cuts for undermount or drop-in sinks.
- Backsplashes – Cut and installed for tight fit against walls.
- Surface finishing – Finished and polished edges without chips or gaps.
Avoid cheaper handymen or inexperienced installers without quartz-specific expertise. The install make or breaks the final look and performance. Invest in a quality installer for problem-free countertops.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about choosing quartz countertops:
What thickness of quartz countertop is best?
For residential kitchens, 1 1/4 inches (3cm) is recommended for the best durability and cost value. Go thinner for bathrooms or areas without much use. Use thicker 1 1/2 inch (4cm) quartz for heavy-duty kitchen islands or workstations.
What edge profiles work best for quartz?
Waterfall, bevel, eased, and pencil round edges are modern options that complement quartz’s clean lines. Bullnose edges provide a classic finished look. Choose edges that match your style.
Can you cut on quartz countertops?
It’s not recommended. Quartz is very hard, causing knives to dull quickly. Use a cutting board to protect your investment. The surface can chip if cut directly on.
How often do you need to seal quartz?
Annual sealing is ideal, especially for matte finishes. Reseal any areas that get excessive water exposure near sinks. Sealing prevents stains and damage.
Can you etch quartz countertops?
Quartz resists etching and is less prone to acid damage than marble. However, prolonged exposure to acidic substances can damage the surface. Wipe up spills quickly and use trivets for hot pans to prevent etching.
With proper selection, installation, care and maintenance, quartz countertops can be a beautiful and functional addition to any kitchen or bath for years to come. Spending time to research your options, visit showrooms and evaluate samples will ensure you pick the perfect quartz countertop to match your home and lifestyle. Invest in quality professional installation to get your new quartz counters fitted seamlessly. Be diligent with regular cleaning and sealing to keep your quartz surfaces looking like new. With a timeless look and excellent durability, quartz offers homeowners a stylish and low-maintenance countertop option.