Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. With a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns available, it can be challenging to determine which quartz countertop is truly the best choice for your needs. This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of various quartz countertop brands, prices, styles, and other factors to consider when selecting the ideal quartz countertop.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone countertops, are made from ground quartz crystals combined with resin and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while the resin binds it together and allows for coloring.
Compared to natural stone countertops like granite and marble, quartz offers increased durability and flexibility in colors and patterns. The resins allow quartz to be non-porous, stain-resistant, and hard, while still offering an attractive stone-like look.
Benefits of Choosing Quartz Countertops
There are many reasons why quartz has surpassed granite as the most popular countertop material in recent years. Benefits of quartz include:
- Durability – Quartz is very hard and scratch-resistant. It can withstand heavy usage in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Low Maintenance – Requiring little more than soap and water for cleaning, quartz does not need to be regularly sealed like natural stone.
- Stain Resistance – With very low porosity, quartz resists stains from spills and liquids.
- Heat Tolerance – Quartz can withstand heat better than other solid surfaces, but prolonged direct heat exposure should still be avoided.
- Non-Toxic – Contains no VOCs and very little radon gas emission. Safe for food prep areas.
- Color Consistency – The color and pattern run throughout the slab. Chips and cracks are less noticeable.
- Design Flexibility – Available in a vast array of colors and patterns to suit any style. Customization options available.
- Longevity – With proper care, quartz countertops can last for many decades in the home.
For those seeking an extremely durable, low-maintenance, and stylish countertop, quartz provides an excellent option that outperforms laminate, tile, and other materials.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Quartz Countertop
With the benefits of quartz countertops clear, several factors should still be taken into account when selecting the best quartz countertop for your space. Consider the following:
Color and Pattern
Quartz allows for immense flexibility here, with options ranging from solid colors to dramatic patterns. Choices include mimicking natural stone as well as bold, modern designs. Neutral colors make decorating easy, but go bold if you want the countertop itself to be a statement.
Finish and Texture
Matte finishes minimize visible scratches, while polished finishes give a glossy, elegant look. A variety of textures are available too, from smooth to gently rippled. This gives great flexibility in the overall aesthetic and feel you want to achieve.
Standard quartz thickness is 3/4″, but 1 1/4″ or 1 1/2″ thicker slabs provide a more substantial feel. Thicker quartz is ideal for kitchen islands and bars that will not have an overhang.
Edges and Backsplashes
Edges can be square, rounded, or beveled. Backsplashes can match the countertop or provide contrast. This allows customization to your kitchen or bath design.
Higher-end quartz tends to cost $80-100 per square foot installed. Value brands provide similar durability for $50-75 per square foot installed. Measure your space carefully to get an accurate estimate.
Radon Gas Release
Some quartz contains trace amounts of naturally occurring radon gas. This is usually only a concern in homes already prone to high radon levels. Most brands meet EPA safety standards.
Viewing a small sample can be helpful but see a full slab if possible. Variations and patterns are hard to judge on a sample. Most vendors have slab displays.
Once you determine the style, color, and budget you want, carefully comparing different quartz brand offerings is key to finding the perfect countertop.
Best Quartz Countertop Brands
Many reputable quartz countertop brands exist in today’s market. The top manufacturers include:
As one of the early pioneers of quartz countertops, Cambria remains a top contending brand. They offer a wide variety of stylish designs from neutral solids to bold patterns. Durability and scratch resistance are excellent, enhanced through their proprietary manufacturing process. Cambria pros:
- Large color selection, including designs that mimic natural stone
- Matte and glossy finishes available
- Viewable in slab form at many home improvement stores
- Limited lifetime warranty
Potential downsides of Cambria quartz include a higher price point, smaller sample sizes, and some limitations with edgework compared to other brands. Their variety of colors and quality remain hard to beat.
Another early leader in quartz manufacturing, the Israeli-based Caesarstone brand is known for technological innovation and unique designs. Their Metropolitan collection offers concrete-style patterns and textures in neutral grays, while other collections mimic natural stone. Caesarstone pros include:
- Highly scratch resistant surface
- Unique modern patterns available
- Pre-fabricated sinks and backsplashes
- Can view slabs at fabricators
- Good price point for quality
Some limitations exist in edging options and more traditional patterns with Caesarstone. Overall, they remain a sound choice that combines durability, value, and aesthetically striking options.
Part of the global Cosentino group based in Spain, Silestone offers quartz Countertops known for offering one of the widest selections of colors and designs on the market today. From rich neutrals to bright pops of color, they accommodate both traditional and contemporary aesthetics. Pros of Silestone:
- Over 90 color and texture options
- Extensive pattern variety, including on-trend designs
- Proprietary antibacterial protection
- Stain protection warranty
- Worldwide brand with excellent reputation
Downsides can include higher cost and limitation on some thicker edging options compared to other brands. Their immense variety of stylish patterns and focus on technology makes Silestone an intriguing quartz choice.
Based in the US, MSI offers an attractive combination of competitive pricing and variety of colors and styles. Their Q Premium Natural Quartz collection mimics marble and natural stone, while the Starlight Quartz has more uniform patterns. MSI quartz pros:
- Budget-friendly pricing
- More basic color and pattern options
- 15-year limited warranty
- Minimal radon gas emissions
While the style selection is not as robust as premium brands, the lower price point and warrantied durability provide excellent value. MSI is a great choice for achieving an attractive quartz countertop on a tighter budget.
This fast-growing brand originated in Vietnam and specializes in lower cost quartz. Offering a nice selection of neutral and natural stone-inspired designs, Vicostone competes well on affordability. Some benefits include:
- Costs up to 50% less than major brands
- Solid warranty and durability
- Nice variety of colors and patterns for budget quartz
- Some recycled glass and mirror integrated for sparkle
Vicostone lacks the high-end styling of pricier quartz but gives homeowners beautiful, durable countertops at value pricing. Those seeking maximum savings won’t sacrifice much opting for this brand.
Other Major Brands
Additional reputable quartz countertop brands to consider include Dupont/Corian, LG Viatera, Wilsonart, Hanstone, Sage Surfaces, and Avanza. All offer quality warranted products, stylish designs, and competitive pricing. Choosing among the top quartz manufacturers comes down to the specific colors, patterns, and costs that appeal most to your project. Carefully viewing all options in person allows making the optimal choice.
Price Range for Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops range in price from value or budget options starting around $50 per square foot installed, up to premium designer brands costing $100-150 per square foot installed. What impacts quartz pricing?
- Brand – Major influences on price. Premium brands cost more than value-oriented.
- Color/Pattern – Neutrals tend to cost less than dramatic designs with more color variations.
- Thickness – Thicker slabs (2 cm+) cost more due to more materials used.
- Edge Profiles – Unique edge shapes and built-up edges increase costs.
- Backsplashes – Adding backsplashes or running stone up the wall raises overall price.
- Fabrication & Installation – Approximately 50% of total cost is fabrication and installation.
- Market Demand – Popular colors and brands allowing for high volume sales may be cheaper.
With so many variables, it’s essential to get an itemized estimate for your exact project specifications. Assume you’ll spend $80-120 per square foot for quality quartz installed.
Pros and Cons of Quartz vs. Granite
Granite ruled as king of high-end countertops for years but has seen reduced popularity with the rise of quartz. How do these two materials compare?
Quartz Pros vs. Granite:
- More durable and scratch-resistant
- Easier maintenance without regular sealing
- Resists stains and burns better
- More options for radical colors and patterns
- Less variation slab-to-slab
Granite Pros vs. Quartz:
- Can be cheaper for more basic granite options
- Natural material with more variations in veining
- Can view more slabs at stone yards
- Easy to make repairs and enhance shine
Quartz has surged in popularity for its durability, stain protection, and design flexibility. But granite remains ideal for those wanting a traditional, timeless look at a value price point. Weigh priorities carefully when choosing between them.
How to Clean and Care for a Quartz Countertop
Caring for quartz countertops is simple and involves little regular maintenance:
- For day-to-day cleaning, wipe down with a soft cloth and warm soapy water, mild dish soap, or stone-safe cleaners.
- Thoroughly rinse off any cleaning products. Acids like those in coffee, juice and wine can etch the surface.
- Disinfect occasionally with hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar.
- Avoid exposing the countertop to strong chemicals like paint removers, oven cleaners, etc.
- Blot spills immediately before stains have a chance to set.
- Annual resealing is not necessary but can help enhance stain protection. Use a stone sealant made for quartz.
- Avoid direct high heat. Always use a trivet for hot pots and pans. Heat can damage solid surfaces.
With basic care, quartz countertops will maintain their beauty and durability for decades before needing replacement.Their low maintenance requirements make them an ideal choice for busy kitchens.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about quartz countertops:
Is quartz healthier than other countertop materials?
Yes, quartz is considered one of the healthiest and safest countertop materials, given its non-porous surface that resists bacteria growth and lacks chemical emissions. It meets health standards for direct food contact.
How durable is quartz?
Properly cared for, quartz can last 50 years or more without damage or significant appearance changes. It resists scratches, stains, and burns better than almost any other surface. The resin binders make it flexible and chip-resistant as well.
Can you set hot pans on quartz?
It’s best to avoid direct high heat exposure. Using hot pads or trivets is recommended to prevent the possibility of surface damage from extremely hot pans and bakeware fresh out of the oven.
Does quartz need to be sealed?
Sealing is not required, but annual or bi-annual resealing will boost stain protection. Use a sealant formulated for quartz rather than natural stone sealers.
Does quartz have resale value?
Yes, quartz countertops can help boost resale value for homes. Their stylish appeal and reputation for durability make them attractive to buyers. Neutral colors provide the widest appeal.
Is quartz prone to staining?
Quartz is highly stain-resistant, but not stain-proof. Spills, especially oils and pigments, should be wiped up immediately before they have a chance to set and absorb. With prompt care, staining is very rare.
Can you cut directly on quartz countertops?
It’s best to use a cutting board to protect the surface. Quartz is scratch-resistant, but direct cutting can damage over time, especially less expensive brands. The surface can dull from excessive sharp edge contact.
With the right selection, care, and maintenance, quartz countertops offer one of the best options available for incredible durability paired with standout visual appeal. Taking the time to carefully weigh the options allows homeowners to end up with the ideal quartz countertop to enhance their space within their budget. Consider key factors like color, pattern, warranty, fabrication, installation, and maintenance requirements when making this significant investment. Quartz delivers an unmatched combination of beauty, longevity, and low maintenance that makes it a top choice when creating your dream kitchen or bath.