Finding the right professional to fabricate and install quartz countertops is crucial for achieving the perfect look in your kitchen or bathroom remodel. With the rising popularity of engineered stone countertops like quartz, more shops offer fabrication and installation services. But not all companies have the skills and experience required to properly cut, polish, and install quartz.
Choosing the wrong provider can lead to cracks, chips, seam gaps, discoloration, and other defects that ruin the aesthetic and durability of your investment. So who actually has the expertise to deliver top-notch quartz countertops you’ll love? This guide will explore the types of professionals qualified for the job.
What is Quartz?
Before deciding who should cut and install your quartz countertops, it helps to understand what quartz is. Quartz countertops are made from engineered stone – a mix of ground natural quartz mineral, polymer resins, and pigments that form a durable, non-porous slab.
While natural stone countertops like granite and marble require extensive sealing and maintenance, quartz resists stains, scratches, and heat much better. The resins allow quartz to be molded into consistent, vividly patterned slabs. When properly cut and polished, quartz achieves a gorgeous, high-end look.
Why Proper Fabrication Matters
Quartz countertops offer exceptional performance when fabricated correctly. But the rigid slabs don’t easily bend or mold like other materials. Cutting quartz requires diamond-bladed tools, water, and extreme precision. The slabs must be handled with care to prevent cracking or chipping.
The seams where two pieces meet also need expert attention. An uneven seam can trap moisture and breed bacteria. Poor fabrication practices can undermine the benefits of quartz, while improper installation may lead to damage. That’s why choosing qualified quartz professionals is so important.
Key Skills for Cutting Quartz
Cutting, shaping, and polishing quartz involves specialized tools and techniques. Here are some of the essential skills quartz fabricators need:
- Precision measurements – Accurately measuring and marking the slabs for a precise fit. Even small measurement mistakes can lead to major installation issues.
- Adequate cooling – Constant water cooling while cutting prevents overheating that can scorch or crack the slab.
- Controlled cuts – Making perfectly straight cuts at the right depth without chipping the edges.
- Seam placement – Strategically placing seams in the least visible areas.
- Seam treatment – Grinding and polishing seams completely smooth with no lip or height difference.
- Edge treatments – Shaping and finishing edges in diverse styles like beveled, ogee, or deco.
- Sink cutouts – Cutting precise openings for undermount sinks to perfectly align with the sink.
- Hole drilling – Drilling cleanly cut holes for plumbing and electrical fixtures.
- Polishing techniques – Buffing out any scratches or rough spots for a smooth, glossy finish.
Why DIY Quartz Fabrication is Risky
With the right tools, it may seem tempting for an ambitious DIYer to try fabricating their own quartz countertops. But handling the fragile slabs and making perfect cuts takes immense skill and experience. Even slight mistakes can lead to permanent damage.
The risks of DIY quartz fabrication include:
- Cracked or chipped countertops from mishandling or inaccurate cuts.
- Misaligned seams that allow leaks and bacteria growth.
- Dull spots and scratches from inadequate polishing.
- Improperly sealed edges that absorb stains and moisture.
- Damage to cabinets or walls from imprecise sink or fixture holes.
- Awkward seams or misfits that ruin the planned layout.
While DIY videos may make it look easy, quartz fabrication demands expertise most homeowners lack. The potential for expensive mistakes and safety hazards makes DIY fabrication inadvisable for quartz.
Professional Quartz Fabricators
To avoid the pitfalls of DIY work, hire a qualified professional quartz fabricator. But what specific companies offer the right skills and experience? Here are the top options:
Custom Countertop Shops
Local custom countertop providers specialize in fabricating and installing countertops. The best shops work extensively with quartz. They understand the technical nuances of cutting and installing engineered stone.
Custom shops own advanced tools like CNC machines to ensure precision quartz fabrication. They employ experienced countertop fabricators trained on quartz. And they know how to seamlessly integrate countertops into your cabinetry and layout.
For one-stop custom fabrication and installation of quartz countertops, local countertop specialists are the top choice. Make sure to verify they have expertise specifically with quartz rather than only natural stone or other materials.
Kitchen and Bath Remodelers
For a kitchen or bath remodel involving cabinetry, sinks, lighting, flooring, and other finishes, consider hiring a full-service residential remodeler. Choose an established company that regularly handles major remodels involving quartz countertops.
The benefit of remodelers is their ability to coordinate all elements of the project, including countertops. They can ensure the cabinets, sinks, and backsplashes perfectly integrate with the shape and configuration of the quartz countertop.
However, some remodelers subcontract countertop fabrication to outside shops. Be sure to ask if they fabricate in-house or use qualified partners. Get examples of past quartz jobs to confirm their expertise.
Major quartz brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone work with licensed fabricators across the country. However, some brands also provide direct regional fabrication through company-owned facilities.
For example, Cambria has a network of Design Centers that offer fabrication, installation, and design services using Waterjet and CNC technology. Working directly with manufacturers gives consumers more oversight and accountability.
Brand fabrication shops follow strict protocols to uphold quality standards. They exclusively handle that brand’s products. Their training and techniques are tailored for each manufacturer’s unique quartz materials and patterns.
Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell quartz slabs and provide installation. While convenient, quartz cutting and fabrication skills can vary greatly across retail locations. Poor practices are more likely with high turnover rates of installers.
Before committing, visit display kitchens to inspect seam quality first-hand. Ask detailed questions to gauge each store’s quartz expertise. Review online reviews at multiple locations. While some retailers do excellent quartz work, quality is less consistent than with top custom shops.
What to Look for in a Quartz Professional
To select the best company for your quartz countertops, look for these key qualifications:
- Specialized training and several years’ experience in quartz fabrication.
- A longstanding business and reputation for high-quality quartz work.
- A large portfolio of quartz installations showcasing excellent cuts, seams, and polish.
- Knowledge of the latest quartz trends, patterns, and edge profiles.
- Digital templating and precision cutting tools like CNC saws and waterjets.
- Positive online reviews praising their quartz fabrication and service.
- Strong attention to detail at every phase from measurement to installation.
- Quick repair or replacement of any installation defects or fabricator errors.
- Nearby in-house fabrication facility for greater quality control.
- Personnel who provide education on quartz care and maintenance.
By selecting a firm with specialized quartz expertise versus general countertop or construction experience, you can feel confident in a smooth fabrication and installation process. Taking time to verify their qualifications will pay off in gorgeous, durable quartz countertops.
Key Steps in Quartz Fabrication and Installation
Understanding the full quartz fabrication and installation process provides helpful insight into the skills needed to properly handle engineered stone. Here is an overview of the crucial steps:
Experienced quartz professionals start by meeting with clients about their kitchen or bath layout, style preferences, and desired functionality. They provide expert guidance on selecting quartz materials, colors, patterns, and edge profiles that will achieve the intended aesthetic and performance.
The installer next performs digital templating using advanced 3D scanning technology to obtain precise measurements of the existing counter space. This technology eliminates human measurement errors for a perfect template to cut the slabs.
At the fabrication facility, the selected quartz slabs are thoroughly inspected for any defects in the materials. The fabricator plans out where seams will be placed and how cuts will maximize use of the slab.
Cutting and Shaping
The fabricator utilizes diamond-tipped saws and CNC machines to make extremely accurate cuts, holes, and sink openings per the digital template. Quartz edges are shaped and finished as specified.
Two pieces are fit together and the seams carefully ground and polished to form an imperceptible, smooth joint. Proper seam placement and treatment prevents moisture intrusion.
Final Polish and Inspection
Every square inch of the quartz surface is buffed out to a brilliant luster. The fabricated pieces are checked to verify flawless cuts, seams, and alignment with the measurements.
The countertop pieces are transported to the client’s home and securely installed on top of the cabinetry using adhesives and fasteners. The installer ensures a perfectly level surface and clean integration.
After installation, the fabricator follows up to address any client concerns and make sure they are fully satisfied with the new quartz countertop. The client receives care and maintenance instructions.
When done right, this process results in stunning quartz countertops seamlessly tailored to your space. Paying for professional skills, tools, and experience is well worth it.
FAQs About Cutting and Installing Quartz
Many homeowners have questions surrounding the quartz fabrication and installation process. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Is it better to fabricate quartz countertops onsite or offsite?
Most reputable quartz professionals today fabricate offsite in their own fabrication facility. This allows for greater quality control, efficiency, and precision using specialized cutting equipment. They then bring the finished countertops to your home for installation.
Does quartz need to be sealed like natural stone?
No, quartz does not require regular sealing. The polymer resins make quartz non-porous so it resists stains without a sealant coating. However, it is important to properly seal the seams during fabrication to prevent moisture intrusion that can damage seams.
What thickness is best for a quartz kitchen countertop?
While quartz comes in 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1 1/4-inch thicknesses, 3/4-inch is ideal for kitchen counters. It provides durability and support while keeping countertops at a standard height.
Can you cut quartz countertops yourself?
It is strongly advised to have quartz countertops cut by professionals. The difficult fabrication process and fragile slabs make DIY cutting extremely challenging and likely to damage the countertops and cabinets. Leave it to the experts.
How long does it take to fabricate and install quartz countertops?
From start to finish, expect the whole process to take around 2-3 weeks. Fabrication may take 5-7 business days, plus another 1-2 days for installation. Timelines can vary based on shop workload. Confirm expected duration when getting project estimates.
What edge profiles can be done with quartz?
Quartz can be fabricated into almost any edge style, including popular options like square, beveled, eased, ogee, and bullnose. More intricate edges may increase the fabrication cost and time.
Can you cut quartz countertops with a circular saw?
Cutting quartz requires diamond-edged tools. A standard circular saw cannot cleanly cut through quartz. Using improper tools risks cracked, chipped edges. You need professional diamond blades and water cooling.
How do you cut holes in quartz?
The fabricator will use diamond hole saws and drill bits to cut openings for sinks, faucets, and other fixtures. Holes require precision location, angling, and cuts to properly align fixtures. Attempting this yourself has high risk of error.
With quartz countertops representing a major investment in your home, choosing the right professional quartz fabricator is well worth the time and care. Seeking an experienced custom countertop shop, kitchen/bath remodeler, or a manufacturer’s licensed fabricator can give you confidence in a smooth installation.
Rather than attempting risky DIY work, have your quartz countertops handled by trained experts with specialized diamond-edged tools. Their precision cutting, seaming, and polishing techniques will help your quartz countertops achieve their full beauty and performance for years to come. Investing in professional skills ensures you’ll love your quartz countertops.