Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Made from engineered stone, quartz combines natural quartz crystals with resins and pigments to create a durable, stylish, and low-maintenance surface. Here is an in-depth look at what quartz countertops are, their benefits and drawbacks, price considerations, and how they compare to other countertop materials.
What is Quartz Made Of?
Quartz countertops, often referred to as engineered stone, are made from approximately 90% ground natural quartz crystals combined with polymers and pigments. The exact combination can vary by brand and product line.
The quartz provides strength, hardness, and sparkle, while the polymers act as binders. Pigments are added to achieve different colors and patterns. Unlike solid surface materials such as Corian, the quartz crystals make up the majority of the material, not just an additive.
Benefits of Quartz Countertops
Quartz offers several advantages over natural stone and other countertop options:
With a Mohs hardness rating of 7 out of 10, quartz is harder than granite (6) and darker marbles (3-4). This makes it very scratch resistant and able to withstand heavy daily use. Quartz is not prone to chipping or cracking like natural stone.
Quartz requires very little maintenance compared to other materials. It does not need regular sealing or polishing. Simple cleaning with mild soap and water is all that is required to keep quartz counters looking like new.
Quartz resists staining much better than marble and granite. Spills are not absorbed into the material, making quartz very stain resistant in kitchen environments. However, prolonged exposure can result in some staining.
The color and pattern of quartz slabs is uniform. Natural stone can have variations that result in an uneven look. The consistent appearance of quartz makes decorating around it simple.
With very low porosity, quartz does not require sealing. Liquids and spills stay on the surface rather than soak in. This helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold.
Variety of Colors/Patterns
From solid white to bold colors, plus an array of patterns mimicking granite and marble, quartz offers extensive design versatility. The range of options allows quartz to work in almost any style kitchen or bath.
Drawbacks of Quartz Countertops
There are a few potential downsides to quartz:
- Heat Sensitive – Quartz can be damaged by extreme heat. Trivets and hot pads should be used when placing hot pots and pans on the surface.
- Seams Visible – Seams between quartz slabs are often more apparent than with granite and marble. Careful installation is required.
- Repairs Difficult – Since quartz is engineered and not natural, spot repairs tend to be obvious.
- Requires Professional Installation – Special tools and adhesives are needed to properly install quartz. DIY installation is not recommended.
Quartz Countertop Prices
Quartz is priced in between natural stone and materials like solid surface, laminate, and tile. Here are some average installed costs per square foot:
- Quartz: $60-$100
- Granite: $50-$100
- Marble: $40-$100
- Laminate: $10-$35
- Ceramic/Porcelain Tile: $10-$50
The total cost of a quartz countertop install depends on the size and layout of the counters needed, edge profile options, and the specific brand and color chosen. Expect to pay $2,500 to $5,000 to have quartz countertops installed in a small to mid-sized kitchen.
Pros and Cons Compared to Other Countertops
How does quartz stack up against popular countertop contenders like granite, marble, and Corian? Here is a brief comparison of the pros and cons:
Quartz vs. Granite
Granite is a natural stone prized for its beauty and durability. Compared to granite, quartz offers more consistent patterning plus stain, scratch, and heat resistance. However, granite offers a unique look that engineered quartz cannot quite duplicate.
Quartz vs. Marble
Marble is stunning but high maintenance. It stains and etches easily and needs frequent sealing. Quartz provides the look of marble without the hassle of care and maintenance. It also costs a bit less on average.
Quartz vs. Solid Surfaces (Corian)
Solid surfaces like Corian are made entirely of synthetic materials. Quartz offers the advantage of containing a high percentage of natural stone. It is also harder than solid surface materials. Solid surfaces can often be DIY installed to save on labor costs.
Quartz Countertop Brand Comparison
Popular quartz brands include Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone, and Viatera. Here is a brief overview of each:
- Caesarstone – One of the first quartz manufacturers, known for quality and large variety of colors/finishes.
- Cambria – Made in the USA, known for elegant designs and matte finishes.
- Silestone – Owned by Cosentino, many bold color options ideal for contemporary designs.
- Viatera – Made by LG, minimal veining creates a uniform look, many larger slab sizes.
Regardless of brand, be sure to view quartz slabs in person before making a final selection. Samples do not always accurately reflect the true look. Carefully inspect slabs for any noticeable imperfections before purchasing.
FAQs about Quartz Countertops
Does quartz need to be sealed?
No, quartz does not require sealing like natural stone. The resins fill in the pores, making quartz non-porous.
Can you repair quartz?
Some chips and scratches can be sanded and polished on quartz. However, repairs are often visible. Seam repair is also challenging.
Is quartz healthier than granite?
Quartz has very low porosity so it does not harbor bacteria growth. However, granite is also safe if properly sealed. Neither material poses health hazards.
Does quartz stain?
Quartz is very stain resistant but not 100% stain proof. Prolonged exposure to spills, especially oils, can result in some staining. Wipe up spills promptly to prevent absorption.
Is quartz cheaper than granite?
On average, installed quartz costs about the same as granite – between $60-$100 per square foot. However, granite and quartz both have low-end and high-end options that can vary widely in price.
Can you cut on quartz countertops?
Quartz holds up well to regular kitchen knife use. However, excessive force with sharp knives can cut into the surface. Use cutting boards to protect your investment.
With its stylish appearance, durability, and low maintenance needs, it is easy to see why quartz has become a top choice for today’s kitchens and bathrooms. By understanding what quartz is, its pros and cons, and how it compares to other materials, you can decide if a quartz countertop is the right choice for your next remodeling project. Be sure to look at design options from multiple brands and inspect the slabs carefully before making a final decision. With proper care and maintenance, a quartz countertop will retain its good looks for many years to come.