Quartz is a popular countertop material because it provides a contemporary, luxurious look while requiring little maintenance.
But is a quartz backsplash a good idea? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
In this article, I break down the pros and cons of quartz backsplashes. You’ll learn about their durability, design, stain resistance, heat resistance, price, and more.
So keep reading if you’re considering a quartz backsplash but need help deciding if it’s right for you.
Use the links below to navigate the article:
- What Is Quartz?
- Pros of a Quartz Backsplash
- Cons of a Quartz Backsplash
- What Design Experts Say About Quartz Backsplashes
- Bottom Line: Is a Quartz Backsplash Worth It?
Before I get into the pros and cons of a quartz backsplash, it’s important to understand what the material is and how it’s made.
Quartz is the most abundant mineral on earth, according to Geology.com. It’s found in all three types of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary).
It’s highly resistant to weathering and durable, and you can find it in sand, mountains, and rivers.
One misconception about quartz is that it’s a synthetic material. Quartz is a natural mineral, but quartz slabs, used to make countertops and backsplashes, are engineered by humans.
Manufacturers make quartz backsplashes by grinding quartz into dust and combining it with resins and pigments. The resins bind the quartz dust together, making it non-porous and durable, while the pigments add color and veining.
Binders make up about 10% of the backsplash’s composition (though the exact amount depends on the manufacturer).
Quartz backsplashes are popular for many reasons. They’re durable, stain-resistant, and long-lasting. Let’s explore the benefits you can expect if you opt for quartz.
The durability of a material is measured using the Mohs Hardness Scale. This scale compares minerals based on how scratch-resistant they are.
For example, topaz is rated an 8 on the Mohs Scale, while fluorite is rated a 4. Because topaz has a higher score, it will scratch the fluorite when rubbed against each other.
The scale ranges from 1 (least hard) to 10 (most hard). The harder a mineral is, the more durable and scratch-resistant it is.
Quartz scores a 7 on the Mohs scale. While it’s relatively hard and can tolerate a few accidental bumps, it isn’t indestructible. Avoid slamming hard and heavy objects like a cast iron skillet against your quartz backsplash.
Here’s how the hardness of quartz compares to other common materials.
|Porcelain tile||6 – 8|
|Soapstone||1 – 4|
Since quartz backsplashes are engineered, they come in a much broader range of colors and patterns than natural stone backsplashes like marble and granite.
They’re usually designed to mimic natural stones, like marble, granite, and soapstone, and come in shades like black, gray, white, brown, and beige.
However, sometimes they can come in unusual solid colors such as pink or white. These colors usually require a custom order.
While some backsplashes like marble and soapstone require consistent oiling and sealant, quartz doesn’t need either of these treatments.
That is because quartz is a non-porous material, so liquids can’t seep through and damage it. I’ll go into more detail on this in a minute.
The only maintenance you’ll need to do is regular cleaning.
One of the most significant benefits of a quartz backsplash is that it’s easy to clean. Tile backsplashes have grout lines that are notoriously difficult to clean because it’s porous, and oils and dirt can stain them. But large quartz slabs provide a smooth grout-free surface that you can quickly wipe clean.
For most spills, use mild soap or detergent, water, and a soft cloth. Some stains, like grease, can build up over time, especially in the corners where the backsplash and countertop meet. The more a stain builds up, the more difficult it is to wipe off.
Hold a damp towel over stubborn stains to loosen up oils or food bits. If that doesn’t work, use a pH-neutral cleaner specifically designed for quartz (like this).
Never use rough sponges, steel wool, or other abrasive materials on your quartz backsplash. Also, don’t use oil-based soaps or harsh substances, like bleach and paint remover. While quartz is tough, harsh cleaners and rough scrubbers can cause irreparable damage.
With proper care, quartz backsplashes can last a lifetime. Manufacturers are so confident in its durability that backsplashes are often backed by a 10-year to lifetime guarantee, depending on where you purchase it.
Quartz is a non-porous material, meaning liquid and air cannot flow through it.
Porous materials such as granite and marble have tiny holes in them. While tiny holes aren’t visible to the naked eye, they still significantly impact backsplash longevity.
Liquids can seep into the material and damage it over time. Another effect of liquid leaking through porous materials is that mold, mildew, and bacteria can build up inside the pores.
Because of this, granite and marble need to be sealed regularly. With quartz, you never have to apply a sealer.
Since quartz is non-porous, it’s also stain-resistant. Anything you spill onto it will stay on the surface rather than seeping in. If you accidentally splash red wine or coffee on it, you can wipe it off without issue. And steam from boiling water won’t leave watermarks on quartz as it can with marble.
Although tiles are an option, most quartz backsplashes are designed as large slabs. Usually, they match or at least coordinate with the countertop.
Extending the counters into the backsplash provides a modern, clean, and luxurious look. Without grout lines, you have a seamless, highly moisture-resistant surface that you can easily wipe clean.
When investing in a permanent design element like a backsplash, you want to know your choice will be in style in the future.
Fortunately, the popularity of quartz backsplashes is trending up. According to Google Trends, searches for the term “quartz backsplash” have been steadily increasing since 2011.
Every backsplash material has its cons, and quartz is no exception. From installation difficulties to high prices, here are some of the reasons you may want to avoid a quartz backsplash:
Heat tolerance is more critical for countertops than backsplashes, but it’s still something to consider.
Quartz is not as heat resistant as natural materials such as granite and marble. Quartz can handle high heat, but the resins inside quartz backsplashes will melt and discolor when exposed to high temperatures.
Hot pots, pans, and kitchen appliances can damage the backsplash and leave behind an unsightly heat stain.
If you’re installing quartz behind a cooktop, there must be plenty of space between the backsplash and the burners. Professional stoves with higher BTUs give off more heat and pose greater risks. If the heat is too close to the quartz, expect heat stains like this:
Always hire a professional installer to ensure there’s enough distance between the cooktop and the backsplash.
The exact heat tolerance of quartz is debated, and it usually depends on the manufacturer. However, experts say it ranges between around 150-300°F.
As mentioned earlier, quartz backsplashes are not 100% natural. Manufacturers add epoxy resin and pigments to turn quartz dust into a hard slab you can use as your kitchen backsplash.
While quartz can mimic natural stone backsplashes, it doesn’t provide the unique and imperfect look you get with 100% natural materials such as marble and granite. Even the veining is placed by hand or with a machine.
While quartz is durable, it’s also weighty and notoriously
tricky to install. It’s likely not something you’ll want to install by yourself. Lifting a heavy slab of quartz may cause back and shoulder injuries from the strain of the load.
Just one square foot of quartz cut 3 cm thick weighs around 15 pounds. Because of that, most backsplash slabs are either 2 cm or 1 cm thick.
Just as the resin makes quartz backsplashes more vulnerable to heat damage, it also makes them prone to fading. Epoxy resin lacks UV resistance, so prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will fade it over time.
Because of this, you’ll need to consider the placement of your quartz backsplash carefully. It’s not a good idea to place it near large windows with a lot of bright light. They’re also not suitable for outdoor kitchen setups.
If you chip your quartz backsplash, you’ll want to contact a professional to repair it. DIY repair jobs will be noticeable and reduce the aesthetic quality.
A professional can fill the chip and sand it down with specialized tools, making it look new.
Professional repairs cost around $200-500, according to Angi.com. Note that these are prices for countertop repairs, but they will be similar to a backsplash since they’re both quartz slabs. The prices may also vary slightly depending on where you live.
High-end quartz can be expensive, especially if you want a large, seamless slab. While quartz backsplash price information is limited, countertop prices can be used as a rough estimate.
HomeGuide.com estimates that quartz countertops can range from $30-150 per square foot. The price range per square foot depends on the grade of quartz you buy:
- Low-grade: $30-50
- Mid-grade: $50-80
- High-grade: $80-150
Again, these are figures for countertops. Backsplash slabs are usually thinner, so they should be less expensive, but this gives you a general idea.
Fixr.com estimates that the average kitchen backsplash is around 30 square feet and the materials and labor for that size cost $1,500. However, that price varies by material. According to their data, quartz tiles can cost as low as $600 to install, but a full slab that matches the countertop can cost as much as $4,500.
If you have a large kitchen, the cost could surpass this range.
I contacted several home design experts to get their take on the pros and cons of quartz backsplashes.
The expert at Cambria, a quartz manufacturer based in Le Sueur, Minnesota, said, “The main advantage to a quartz backsplash is its beautiful seamless design. There are no grout lines, so you can easily wipe it with soap and water. The main disadvantage is that it’s sensitive to heat. You have to be careful not to rest the hot pans or appliances against it.”
The designer at Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston, a design company in South Carolina, said, “Quartz backsplashes are becoming more and more popular because of their contemporary look. They are more expensive, but my clients love the look.”
The expert at Lincoln Kitchen Design Studio in Chicago, Illinois, said, “Quartz is aesthetically pleasing. It looks great, especially in modern kitchens. It’s also easy to clean, requires no maintenance, and it’s moisture resistant. The main downside is that a quartz slab is more expensive than almost any style of tile available.”
Kitchens, Baths, & Beyond, a home design and renovation company in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, said, “Full-height quartz backsplashes are beautiful. However, most of our clients select tile because it’s less expensive and, with tile, you don’t need to relocate electrical. If you do a full-height quartz backsplash, I recommend relocating your outlets underneath your wall cabinets so you don’t have to cut the quartz for your outlets.
Now that you know the pros and cons of quartz backsplashes, it’s time to decide if it’s the right material for your home.
Before I provide my recommendation, let’s quickly recap:
- Quartz is a hard and durable mineral.
- Because quartz backsplashes are manufactured, they can be made in various colors and styles to suit your preferences. But it lacks the uniqueness of 100% natural stone.
- Quartz doesn’t require any sealing because it’s non-porous.
- Without grout lines, it’s easy to clean.
- Quartz backsplashes can last for decades, and most are backed by a guarantee of at least ten years.
- The resin in quartz backsplashes limits their heat tolerance, and they will fade when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.
- Quartz backsplashes are difficult to install and repair on your own.
- Quartz backsplashes can be expensive, especially if you get a seamless slab or high-grade quartz.
Bottom line — quartz is an excellent backsplash material because it’s durable, low maintenance, and customizable. It provides a contemporary, seamless look you can’t get with tile. Plus, its popularity is rising, so don’t expect it to go out of style any time soon.
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