Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone countertops, have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects over the past couple of decades. But when exactly did quartz first emerge as a countertop material? Here is a brief history of the origins and rise of quartz countertops.
The Development of Engineered Stone
While natural quarried quartz has been used as a building material for thousands of years, engineered quartz was first developed in the 1960s. Manufacturers learned how to mix together crushed quartz with resins and other materials to create a highly durable, non-porous surface.
Two Italian companies, Breton and Dupont, patented processes in the late 1960s to create engineered stone slabs using quartz aggregates. These early quartz surfaces were primarily used for things like floor tiles rather than countertops.
The Introduction of Quartz Countertops
It wasn’t until the late 1980s and into the 1990s that engineered quartz slabs started being widely manufactured and marketed specifically for countertop use. Two key brands emerged as pioneers:
- Caesarstone – Founded in 1987, Caesarstone was one of the first companies to make quartz countertops. Based in Israel, it focused initially on the European and Australian markets before entering the US in the late 1990s.
- Cambria – Founded in Minnesota in 1996, Cambria was one of the early US-based manufacturers of quartz surfaces. It helped introduce engineered quartz as an upscale alternative to natural stone and laminate countertops in the American market.
Growth in Popularity in the 2000s
In the early to mid-2000s, quartz surfaces exploded in popularity for residential and commercial countertop installations. Some key factors driving this growth included:
- Improved manufacturing processes that lowered costs, making quartz more affordable.
- Expanded color palettes and pattern options created more consumer appeal.
- Increased marketing emphasized the advantages of quartz over natural stone and laminate.
- Growth of HGTV and DIY home remodeling shows highlighted quartz countertops as a hot trend.
Several other major brands entered the market during this time such as Silestone, Hanstone, Viatera, and LG Hausys (Hi-Macs). Home renovation shows often touted the durability, elegance, and modern look of quartz countertops.
Quartz Countertops Today
From the 2000s onward, quartz has steadily gained market share, becoming one of the most popular higher-end countertop materials. By 2021, quartz represented over 14% of countertop sales in the United States and Canada.
While still more expensive than options like granite, laminate, or tile, advancements in manufacturing and competition between brands have made quartz increasingly affordable for most homeowners. Quartz is now widely available at home improvement stores and countertop fabricators.
Thanks to its superior resiliency, stylish appearance, and lower maintenance needs compared to natural stone, quartz has secured its place as a go-to choice for modern kitchen and bath design. Its popularity continues to grow as technology enables even more realistic stone patterns and detailing. Thirty years after its debut, quartz remains a top countertop recommendation from designers, builders, and kitchen and bath remodelers.
FAQ About Quartz Countertops History
When did quartz countertops first become popular in homes?
Quartz countertops started gaining widespread popularity in American homes in the early 2000s after brands like Caesarstone and Cambria made them more affordable and appealing to homeowners and designers.
Were quartz countertops used before the 1990s?
While engineered quartz surfaces were invented in the 1960s, they were not commonly used for countertops specifically until the late 1980s and 1990s with the launch of Caesarstone and Cambria.
What were the most common countertop materials before quartz?
Laminate and natural stone like granite were the most popular countertop options before the rise of quartz in the 1990s and 2000s. Tile and concrete were also used.
How did quartz become an affordable option?
Manufacturing innovations and increased competition between brands brought down the costs of quartz fabrication in the early 2000s, making it budget-friendly for more homeowners.
What made quartz appealing to consumers?
Homeowners liked quartz for its durability, resistance to stains and scratches, minimal maintenance needs, and growing variety of colors and patterns that mimicked natural stone.
Is quartz still gaining popularity for countertops today?
Yes, quartz remains on an upward trend and continues to gain market share against materials like granite and laminate as prices come down and manufacturing improves.
While engineered quartz surfaces have been around since the 1960s, quartz did not emerge as a leading countertop choice until the 1990s with brands like Caesarstone and Cambria. Its popularity soared in the 2000s as costs dropped and colors and patterns improved. Thanks to its many advantages over natural stone and other materials, quartz has secured its status as one of today’s most popular higher-end countertops after being readily adopted in homes across North America in the last 20-25 years.