What Are Quartz Countertops?

Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces made from quartz particles bound together with resin. They are an increasingly popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, low maintenance, and stylish appearance. This article provides a comprehensive overview of quartz countertops including their composition, benefits, cost, care & maintenance, and design options.

Introduction to Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, have quickly become a favorite among homeowners, builders, and designers. Quartz counters offer a unique combination of the beauty of natural stone with the consistency and durability of a manufactured product.

Unlike natural stone counters such as granite and marble which are mined from quarries in large slabs, quartz counters are made from quartz crystals blended with polyester resins and pigments. Quartz crystals make up over 90% of the material while resins act as a binding agent. The quartz slabs are created in a factory under precise conditions to create a product of uniform color and pattern.

The resins make the material non-porous, so it resists stains and etching from acidic substances like lemon juice or wine. The end result is an attractive, low maintenance surface perfect for busy kitchens. Quartz possesses a rich, stone-like appearance while avoiding some of natural stone’s drawbacks.

Composition of Quartz Counters

The key ingredients in any quartz countertop are quartz aggregates combined with polymer resins and pigments. Here is a breakdown of each component:

  • Quartz Aggregates – Quartz slabs contain between 90-95% ground quartz. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals occurring naturally in the earth’s crust. When quartz crystals are ground down into tiny granules and power, this provides the strength, shine, and durability of the material.
  • Polymer Resins – Approximately 7-15% of a quartz slab consists of polyester or epoxy resins. These act as a binding agent to hold the quartz particles together. The resin makes the material non-porous and resistant to damage.
  • Pigments – Pigments are added to the slabs during manufacturing. The pigments determine the final color and pattern of the quartz material. Pigments can create dramatic designs or mimic natural stone colors.

Many manufacturers use some recycled content in their slabs as well such as recycled glass, mirrors or stone scraps. Using recycled minerals reduces the environmental impact of quartz production.

Benefits of Quartz Countertops

Quartz offers many advantages that make it an excellent choice for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms:


Quartz surfaces are highly scratch, chip, and heat resistant. They are harder than granite and can withstand years of wear and tear. The durable resins bind the quartz particles into a damage-resistant material. Most quartz counters come with a 10 or 15 year warranty from the manufacturer.

Low Maintenance

One of the biggest perks of quartz counters is that they require very little maintenance. The non-porous resins prevent bacteria or stains from penetrating the surface. Simple wiping with a damp cloth easily removes most dirt and spills. Quartz does not require periodic sealing like natural stone.

Stylish Appearance

With a wide array of colors and patterns, quartz allows you to achieve virtually any aesthetic. Slabs are available in natural stone looks as well as bold, modern designs. The appearance remains consistent from slab to slab.


The resin makes quartz counters impervious to liquids. Spills and messes can be wiped away instead of seeping into the surface. Quartz resists staining, etching, and harboring bacteria.

Heat Resistance

Quartz holds up to heat better than many competing surfaces. While you should still use trivets for extremely hot pans, routine contact with hot pots or bakeware will not damage a quartz counter.


Durable enough for kitchen counters yet attractive enough for bathrooms, quartz works well in many spaces. Integrated sinks and creative cutting boards expand the design possibilities even further. Quartz can be cut into virtually any shape needed.


Many quartz companies use recycled glass, stone scrap, and industrial waste in their manufacturing process. specifier, look for products made sustainably.

Cost of Quartz Counters

In general, expect quartz countertops to cost $80-150 per square foot installed. Here are some of the cost factors:

  • Base Price – The base materials cost approximately $50-100 per square foot. More affordable options start around $50/sq. ft. while premium designer brands run up to $100/sq. ft.
  • Color and Finish – Unique colors and finishes increase the base price. A polished finish costs a bit more than a matte finish. Some quartz lines feature sparkling or metallic flecks that add cost.
  • Fabrication – The fabricator charges for cutting, edging, and installing your counters. Simple cutting and edging runs $15-25 per linear foot. Intricate stone cutting, building seams, and installation is also factored in.
  • Brand – Well-known brands like Caesarstone and Cambria come at a higher cost than lesser known quartz manufacturers.
  • Designer Collections – Many companies offer higher-end designer collaborations that command premium pricing. These offer unique aesthetics.

Overall quartz presents a great value given its durability and longevity. Though quartz costs more upfront than laminate, it typically saves money long-term by avoiding replacement and upgrades.

How to Care for Quartz Counters

Caring for quartz countertops is simple compared to many other surfaces. Here are some tips for keeping them looking like new:

  • Clean spills promptly with a damp cloth to prevent staining. For dried on messes, use a non-abrasive cleaning pad and mild soap and water.
  • Disinfect surfaces occasionally with a quartz-safe disinfectant to kill germs. Avoid bleach-based cleaners.
  • Use a gentle quartz cleaning product to safely deep clean and remove built up grime. Clean every few weeks.
  • Avoid abrasive pads or powders since they can dull the finish over time.
  • Cutting directly on the counter dulls knives and can scratch. Always use a cutting board.
  • Place hot pots, pans, and bakeware on trivets. While quartz resists heat, direct high heat could damage the surface.
  • Reseal seams and polish the counters annually as needed to maintain their beauty.

With simple care, quartz countertops will stay looking fresh and clean for over a decade before a refinish is needed. Their low maintenance makes them an ideal choice for busy kitchens.

Quartz Countertop Finishes

Quartz slabs come in polished and matte finishes which create very different aesthetic styles:

Polished Finish

A polished finish gives the quartz a smooth, shiny look. The high-gloss surface resembles polished natural stone like marble. The shine enhances the vibrant colors and veining in the patterns. A clear glossy coating is applied to create the polished effect.

Polished quartz works well in elegant spaces and provides plenty of light reflection. However, the glossy finish does show water marks, fingerprints, and smudges more easily. Daily wiping is needed to keep polished quartz looking flawless.

Matte Finish

For a less flashy look, many homeowners opt for quartz with a matte or honed finish. These matte counters have a flat, low-sheen surface. While not as shiny as polished quartz, matte finishes still show some light reflection.

Matte quartz hides fingerprints and water marks better than polished. The more textured matte finish can help disguise everyday mess and wear and tear. Many designers use matte quartz to achieve a modern, streamlined aesthetic.

Both finishes offer the same durability – the difference is purely visual. Matte finishes are also a bit less expensive than polished. Homeowners should consider the overall style they want to achieve.

Popular Quartz Countertop Brands

If you are researching quartz counters, you will encounter three major brands. Here’s an overview of each:


The leading manufacturer of quartz surfaces, Caesarstone was founded in Israel in 1987. They now have distribution worldwide. With over 50 color options from pale neutrals to bold colors, Caesarstone’s innovative designs have made them highly influential. Many competitors mimic their aesthetic. Overall excellent quality and performance.


Based in Minnesota, Cambria has refined the process of creating beautiful, natural-looking quartz with variations that mimic real stone. Cambria is known for artistic designs and collaborations with famous brands like Marimekko. High-quality material and many unique options.


A Spanish company dating back to 1990, Silestone offers a distinct set of quartz designs. Known for very fine speckles and an extensive range of colors and finishes. Great consistency and durability. Lower cost than most brands.

In addition, many smaller brands now offer high-quality quartz at competitive prices. When selecting a brand, balance factors like aesthetic options, warranties, and manufacturer reputation. Many fabricators work with multiple brands.

How is Quartz Countertop Fabricated and Installed?

Transforming a raw slab into a finished kitchen or bathroom countertop is a multi-step process:

Template and Measurements

The installer first takes exact measurements of your existing space and create a template. The template is used by the fabricator to cut the slabs. For seamless results, every measurement must be precise.

Cutting and Shaping

Using the template, the fabricator cuts the slabs to the specifications using advanced stone cutting equipment. Intricate cutouts for sinks and cooktops can be cut with computer-guided machines. The edges are shaped as needed.


For longer runs, multiple slabs will be integrated using seams. The fabricator carefully polishes and secures abutting edges to form a continuous counter. Seams are positioned strategically for the least visibility.

Finishing and Polishing

Finally, the appropriate finish is applied – either a smooth polished finish or a matte/honed texture. Glossy finishes require a clear epoxy top coating. Any flaws or cracks are filled in.


The countertop is transported to your home and professionally secured into place. Most installers complete the job in just a few hours with minimal demolition or mess. The new quartz counter should fit perfectly with tight seams.

FAQs about Quartz Countertops

Is quartz healthier than granite?

Quartz counters are considered very hygienic and safe. The non-porous material does not absorb bacteria or viruses. Quartz also lacks the trace amounts of natural radiation found in some types of granite. Both materials are healthy options.

Does quartz need to be sealed?

Unlike granite or marble that require periodic sealing, quartz does not need sealer applied. The polymer resins prevent moisture from penetrating the surface. You may consider sealing seams between slabs to prevent moisture intrusion.

Can you cut on quartz counters?

It’s best to avoid cutting directly on quartz. While minor cutting won’t immediately damage the surface, it will dull your knives. Routinely cutting will eventually leave knife marks on the counter over time. Always use a separate cutting board.

How thick should quartz counters be?

A thickness of 1.25 inches is best for residential kitchen quartz counters. Bathroom vanity tops can be 0.75 – 1 inch thick. Thicker quartz around 1.5 inches is often used for floors or commercial projects demanding extra durability.

How do you clean quartz countertops?

For routine cleaning, wipe down quartz with a soft sponge or cloth and warm soapy water. For stubborn messes, use a gentle non-abrasive cleaner made for quartz. Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach that can damage the finish or etch the surface.

Does quartz stain easily?

Due to its non-porous nature, quartz resists stains very well as long as spills are cleaned promptly. Prolonged exposure to strong pigments like red wine or tomato sauce can stain if not removed quickly. But in general, quartz counters do not stain easily.

Is quartz more expensive than granite?

Quartz is comparable in price to natural stone counters, with quartz counters costing $80-150 per square foot installed on average. More affordable granite options start around $50/sq. ft. High-end luxury quartz and granite can both run over $150/sq. ft.

Is quartz durable for busy kitchens?

With excellent resistance to chips, scratches, stains and heat, quartz stands up very well in busy family kitchens. The blended resins make quartz more damage-resistant than natural stone. Just avoid direct cuts on the surface. Overall quartz is an ideal option for kitchens.

Can you repair quartz countertops?

Minor damage like light scratches or small chips can often be buffed and polished out of quartz counters. Seam gaps or cracks need professional re-sealing. Extensive damage requires replacing sections of the countertop. Avoid heavy impacts that can crack the slabs.

Does quartz add value to a home?

Quartz and other engineered stone counters are considered upgrades that increase property value. Along with their beauty and functionality, quartz counters save homeowners maintenance time and costs compared to lower-end surfaces that require frequent sealing and replacing.


With the appearance of high-end stone coupled with extreme durability, it’s easy to see why quartz has become the fastest growing countertop material. When produced under controlled conditions, quartz offers consistent quality and aesthetic options simply not possible with natural stone counters. For homeowners seeking fashionable, fuss-free kitchen and bathroom surfaces, quartz delivers.

Quartz counters check all the boxes: low-maintenance, heat and scratch-resistant, non-porous, and able to take on even the busiest kitchens. With routine cleaning, quartz countertops will retain their beauty and performance for over a decade. If selecting new surfaces for your home, don’t overlook the power of quartz.