Quartz countertops have become increasingly popular in kitchens and bathrooms due to their durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance. But not all quartz is created equal. When shopping for a new quartz countertop, it’s important to understand what makes a quality quartz so you get the best value for your money. Here’s a guide to what to look for in a good quartz countertop.
Quartz Countertop Basics
Quartz countertops, sometimes called 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. The resins bind the quartz particles together, while the pigments add color and pattern.
Compared to natural stone countertops like granite and marble, quartz offers some advantages:
- More consistent color and pattern since it’s engineered
- Non-porous so it resists stains
- Doesn’t need regular sealing
- Heat and scratch resistant
- Easier maintenance
- Mold and bacteria resistant
But not all quartz is the same quality. Here’s how to identify a good quartz countertop:
The brand of quartz makes a big difference in the overall quality and performance of the material. Some of the top quartz brands include:
- Caesarstone – One of the original engineered quartz brands, known for quality and style.
- Cambria – Made in the USA, with a large variety of designs.
- Silestone – Known for durability and stain resistance.
- LG Viatera – High-end brand with unique marble-look designs.
- Hanstone – Offers premium quality at a lower cost.
Stick with these and other top brands, as cheaper, generic quartz often uses lower standards that compromise durability.
Higher thickness quartz countertops are more durable and resistant to cracks or damage. Look for slabs that are at least 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) thick quartz is ideal for heavy usage areas like kitchens.
Percent of Quartz Content
As mentioned above, quartz countertops contain 90-94% ground quartz particles mixed with resins and pigments. Aim for quartz content on the higher end of this range – 93% or 94% – for maximum durability. Lower quartz content compromises hardness and scratch resistance.
Quartz comes in different surface finishes, which affects the look and feel:
- Polished – Glossy glass-like finish
- Honed – Matte, soft finish
- Concrete – Rougher, textured finish
Polished and honed finishes are most popular for quartz. Polished has a shiny, reflective surface that highlights the colors and patterns. Honed has a velvety smooth, non-reflective finish. Both are good options. Concrete finishes can show wear over time.
Since quartz slabs are engineered from many small quartz particles, check that the color and pattern look consistent across the entire slab. Some lower quality quartz has noticeable color variations or blotchiness. Consistent coloring ensures your countertop will have an even, uniform appearance once installed.
Top quartz brands offer 10 or 15 year warranties against defects in materials and workmanship. This gives you peace of mind that your quartz investment is protected. Make sure to register your warranty after installation.
In addition to the quartz itself, it’s important to choose a highly skilled fabricator to cut and install your countertop. Look for an experienced fabricator that specializes in quartz. They have the expertise to handle the material properly.
Questions to Ask Before Buying Quartz
When shopping for a quartz countertop, ask the supplier these questions:
- What brand of quartz is it? Stick with top brands.
- What is the thickness? Aim for at least 2 cm thick.
- What is the exact quartz content percentage? Look for 93% or higher.
- What type of finish does it have? Polished and honed are good options.
- Does the color/pattern look consistent across the slab?
- What warranty is included? 10-15 years is ideal.
With this guide to identifying quality quartz, you can feel confident selecting a countertop that will stay beautiful for years to come. Choosing the right thickness, finish, brand, and quartz content percentage ensures optimal durability and performance. Do your homework to find a top fabricator as well. Investing in a high quality quartz countertop from a reputable brand is well worth it when you consider how long it will beautifully withstand heavy usage.