Quartz countertops have become immensely popular in recent years due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. But is quartz really the best material for your new kitchen or bathroom countertop? Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of quartz countertops to help you decide if they are the right choice for your home.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while the rest consists of binding agents.
The resins allow the material to be molded into countertops, while the quartz provides strength, hardness, and a natural stone-like appearance. The pigments introduce color and pattern variations. Compared to natural stone like granite and marble, quartz offers more consistent coloring and patterning since it is engineered.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
Extremely Durable and Low Maintenance
One of the biggest advantages of quartz countertops is their incredible durability. Quartz rates 7-8 on the Mohs hardness scale, slightly below diamonds. This hardness makes quartz highly resistant to scratches, chips, cracks, and heat damage. Acidic foods like lemon juice or tomato sauce will not etch or stain quartz either.
Quartz repels water and resists moisture absorption, minimizing the need for sealing. Simple cleaning with soap and water keeps quartz looking like new for years. The low maintenance requirements are a major perk for busy homeowners.
Appealing, Consistent Appearance
With patterns and colors engineered during production, quartz offers more reliable, uniform patterning compared to natural stone. While granite and marble have innate variations and inconsistencies in their visual appeal, quartz delivers predictable, attractive looks slab after slab.
Quartz comes in every color imaginable – solids, patterns that mimic natural stone, concrete, wood, and more. There are endless options to suit any design aesthetic. Many quartz patterns closely resemble high-end marble and granite at a fraction of the cost.
Heat and Scratch Resistant
Quartz stands up remarkably well to scratches, minimizing the need for cutting boards. Only diamond or objects harder than quartz can scratch the surface. Quartz also handles heat well. While you should avoid direct high heat exposure, it is more heat tolerant than many other countertop materials.
With zero porosity, quartz does not have to be sealed or conditioned like natural stone. Liquids and stains have difficulty penetrating the material. Bacteria and mold cannot seep into the pores either. The non-porous nature contributes to the low maintenance requirements of quartz.
Affordable Luxury Material
While not cheap, quartz costs 25-50% less than natural stone, including granite and marble. Compared to solid surface materials like Corian, quartz performs better and costs about the same. This makes quartz an affordable luxury material for the average homeowner.
Quartz slabs are typically fabricated and installed by professionals. But the installation process is fairly straightforward compared to natural stone, which requires more precise cutting and fitting. The consistency of quartz makes installation quicker and simpler in most cases.
Cons of Quartz Countertops
Lacks Natural Stone Look
For homeowners who prefer the unique veining and mottling inherent to natural granite and marble, an engineered material like quartz will not deliver the same appearance. The patterns in quartz aim to imitate stone but still have a more uniform look.
Quartz slabs intended for countertops are only available in thicknesses of 2 and 3 centimeters. While these standard thicknesses work fine for most applications, some luxury designs call for thicker countertops that quartz cannot accommodate.
Can Chip on Edges
While resistant to surface damage, quartz can chip along the edges if subjected to a heavy impact. Care must be taken to avoid hitting corners and edges. Any chips that do occur can usually be smoothed out by a pro.
Quartz countertops must be cut and installed by a professional fabricator, unlike DIY-friendly materials like wood or tile. Installation does add cost to the overall project budget.
Seams More Noticeable
The uniformity of quartz can cause seams between slabs to be more visible after installation compared to natural stone. Careful placement and color matching by the installer are required to minimize the seam appearance.
Avoid Direct Heat Exposure
While quartz is heat resistant, direct prolonged exposure can cause damage over time. Trivets and hot pads should be used for hot pots and pans to avoid cracking, discoloration or yellowing.
Is Quartz Worth the Investment?
For most homeowners, the pros of quartz’s durability, low maintenance, and resistance to damage outweigh the few drawbacks. The high performance and longevity mean quartz often costs less than other materials over the lifetime of ownership.
The stylish appearance and wide range of customization options make quartz an ideal choice for virtually any kitchen or bath design aesthetic. With quality fabrication and installation, a quartz countertop will provide decades of trouble-free use and beauty in the home. The resale value is also higher for quartz compared to more dated materials.
While quartz does carry a higher initial price tag than options like laminate, its durability and longevity make it worth the investment for most buyers. Given its advantages, quartz is one of the best all-around options for countertops in kitchens and baths.
FAQ About Quartz Countertops
Is quartz porous?
No, quartz has a non-porous surface that resists moisture absorption and staining. This makes maintenance easy.
Does quartz need to be sealed?
No, quartz never requires sealing or reapplication of sealant.
Can you cut on quartz?
Yes, quartz is incredibly durable against cuts and scratches. But using a cutting board is still recommended to be safe.
Is quartz scratch resistant?
Quartz is very scratch resistant, but not fully scratch proof. Use care with sharp objects and don’t slide abrasive items across the surface.
Does quartz stain easily?
No, quartz resists stains remarkably well. But spills should still be cleaned promptly.
Is quartz heat resistant?
Quartz has good heat tolerance, but direct high heat exposure can damage the material over time. Use trivets and hot pads.
Does quartz need to be professionally installed?
Yes, quartz fabrication and installation is best left to the pros to get a quality result. DIY installation is not recommended.
With its attractive appearance, extreme durability, low maintenance needs, and heat/scratch resistance, quartz ranks among the best materials for kitchen and bathroom countertops. While higher cost than cheaper options like laminate, quartz provides unparalleled performance, longevity, and luxury. For homeowners that want a quality countertop material that can last decades with minimal upkeep, quartz is an excellent investment.