Quartz is one of the most popular materials used for countertops today. Here is a detailed look at quartz countertops – what they are, their benefits, costs, and more.
What is Quartz?
Quartz is an engineered stone made from natural quartz crystals blended with polymer resins and pigments. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%. Ground quartz is combined with 7-10% polymer resins like polyester, epoxy, or acrylic which acts as a binding agent. Pigments are then added to achieve the desired colors and patterns.
The resulting material is non-porous, stain resistant, durable, and low maintenance – making it an ideal choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Quartz possesses the beauty of natural stone without some of its drawbacks like high maintenance and susceptibility to stains.
Benefits of Quartz Countertops
Here are some of the top advantages of choosing quartz for countertops:
- Durable and Strong – Quartz has high flexural strength making it very durable and able to withstand heavy use in kitchens. It is unaffected by most abrasives or kitchen knives.
- Low Maintenance – Being non-porous, quartz does not require any sealing or polishing. Simple cleaning with soap and water is enough to keep it clean.
- Stain Resistant – The material does not absorb liquids easily and resists stains from wine, coffee, and other substances.
- Heat and Scratch Resistant – Quartz can withstand temperatures up to 212°F making it heat resistant. It is also scratch resistant in everyday use.
- Non-Porous – The resin binds the quartz particles to create a surface that water cannot penetrate providing stain and microbial resistance.
- Variety of Colors and Patterns – Quartz comes in a wide range of colors, patterns, and realistic looking stone and marble textures giving homeowners abundant design options.
- Low VOC Emissions – Quartz has negligible VOC emissions making it safe for indoor use.
How is Quartz Used to Make Countertops?
Quartz slabs are made in factories under precise conditions. Here is a simplified version of the manufacturing process:
- Selected quartz crystals are ground into a fine powder. This provides the color consistency.
- The quartz powder is blended with pigments and polymeric resins.
- The mixture is compacted under vacuum conditions and vibration which removes air pockets.
- The slabs are molded into shape and cured in ovens. Higher heat speeds up the chemical bonding of the resin.
- After cooling, the slabs are polished into smooth glossy surfaces. Most manufacturers offer different surface finishes.
- The slabs are cut into countertop sizes, finished edges are created, holes for sinks etc. are cut out and the installations are done.
Quartz fabrication technology has improved drastically over the past decade allowing very precise cutting, shaping and polishing. Skilled fabricators are now able to achieve almost any design with quartz.
Cost of Quartz Countertops
The price of quartz countertops ranges between $80 – $140 per square foot installed. Here are some of the factors affecting overall costs:
- Brand – Premium designer brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone are more expensive than basic quartz. Prices vary from $100 to $300 per square foot.
- Color and Pattern – Some colors and stone-like patterns are priced higher due to raw material costs. Whites and grays are the most affordable.
- Thickness – Standard thickness is 3/4″ but 1 1/2″ or 2″ thick slabs used for heavier usage also cost more.
- Edge Profiles – Decorative edge profiles like ogee, bullnose, or dupont add labor and material costs. Standard eased or straight edges are the lowest cost.
- Installation – Complex installations with tile backsplashes, special cutouts, etc. can increase the installation time and price.
Pros & Cons of Quartz Countertops
| Pros | Cons |
|Durable and strong |More expensive than laminate|
|Low maintenance|Can chip if subjected to impact|
|Stain, scratch and heat resistant|Limited number of colors and patterns compared to natural stone|
|Variety of styles and colors|Can be prone to damage if not installed properly|
|Neutral tones fit most decors||
Is quartz better than granite?
Quartz is lower maintenance than natural granite since it does not need periodic sealing. It is less prone to stains and etching from acidic foods. Granite has more color and pattern variation but can be susceptible to damage.
Is quartz better than marble?
Quartz is much more durable than natural marble which is prone to scratches, stains and acidic etching. Quartz offers marble-like patterns without the high maintenance.
Does quartz need to be sealed?
No, quartz does not require any sealing, unlike granite and marble. The polymer resin creates a non-porous surface that keeps liquids from penetrating the material.
Can you cut on quartz countertops?
Quartz is very durable but cutting directly on the surface should still be avoided to prevent dulling of knives. Always use a cutting board to protect your investment.
How long do quartz countertops last?
With proper care and maintenance, quartz countertops can easily last 25 years or longer. The material is engineered to be very durable and withstand daily use.
Quartz offers the best qualities of natural stone along with optimal performance. When choosing quartz countertops, select an established brand, research the color/pattern options, and hire experienced fabricators. With a wide range of styles quartz can beautifully transform your space into a modern dream kitchen or bathroom. Investing in high-quality quartz counters can increase the value and elegance of your home for years to come.