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Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or building a new one from scratch, choosing countertops is one of the most exciting steps in the process. Besides the durable surface they provide for cooking, eating and entertaining, they’re also your kitchen’s main focal point that everyone notices right away.
It goes without saying that choosing the right material for your kitchen countertops is key. There are so many options to choose from including granite, marble, concrete, and wood. All of these are great choices, however, the material that is rising above the rest in popularity as of late is quartz.
If you’re considering quartz for your countertops but are unsure if it’s the right material for your kitchen, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I provide a complete and unbiased rundown of the pros and cons of quartz countertops. I explain each advantage and disadvantage in detail so you have all the facts necessary to decide if quartz is the right material for your kitchen.
Let’s jump right into it!
Click the links to navigate this article:
- What Is Quartz?
- Pros of Quartz Countertops
- Cons of Quartz Countertops
- Bottom Line: Are Quartz Countertops Worth It?
Before I get into the pros and cons, it’s important to understand exactly what quartz is and how quartz countertops are made.
Many people believe that quartz is a man-made material, but that’s not true. Quartz is a natural mineral composed of silicon and oxygen and, according to Geology.com, it’s the most abundant mineral on Earth.
The confusion around whether quartz is natural or manmade stems from the fact that quartz, which is the main component in quartz countertops, is a natural mineral but quartz countertops are, in fact, engineered by man.
To make quartz countertops, natural quartz is ground into dust and combined with other natural and synthetic materials such as polymers, resins, and pigments. The resins and polymers bind the quartz together making it hard and durable while pigments are added to give the countertop color. In some cases, recycled glass or metal flecks are added to spice up the design.
Natural quartz makes up about 90% of the final product while the other materials make up 10%.
Quartz countertops have many advantages including durability, appearance, and stain-resistance. If you’re thinking about picking quartz but need an extra nudge, here’s a comprehensive list of the reasons you should consider quartz for your countertops.
One of the main reasons people buy quartz countertops is because they are ultra durable. If you’re looking for a material that won’t crack, scratch, or get shipped easily, quartz is the way to go.
When the Italian company Breton invented the process of creating engineered quartz stone in 1963, their goal was to take advantage of the natural abundance of quartz to create a material more durable than stone. In addition, they could offer an unlimited variety of designs by adding pigments and other materials during the manufacturing process. Fortunately, Breton’s vision came to fruition and today quartz countertops are one of the most durable surfaces you can have in your home.
On Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which geologists use to measure the hardness and scratch resistance of minerals from 1 to 10 (10 being the hardest/most scratch resistant), quartz is rated 7 out of 10. For contrast, diamond is rated 10 and marble is typically between 3 and 5.
Just because quartz is durable doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. It’s possible to scratch or chip quartz but, due to its hard composition, the chances of damage occurring from normal, everyday use are minimal.
Manufacturers are so confident in the durability of quartz countertops that most offer generous warranties. Below are the warranty terms offered by the top quartz countertop manufacturers.
Cambria offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty that applies only to the original owner. It does apply if you buy a house with Cambria quartz already installed. It covers manufacturing defects but doesn’t cover damage resulting from misuse, mishandling, chemical exposure, direct or sustained heat or cold, outdoor installation, or excessive pressure. Basically, if you don’t abuse your countertops, they’re guaranteed for life.
Caesarstone offers a Residential Lifetime Warranty that covers the original owner but, unlike Cambria’s warranty, it can be transferred to a new owner. Once transferred, the warranty applies for 10 years prorated from the original date of installation. Like Cambria’s warranty, Caesarstone’s doesn’t cover damage resulting from abuse or outdoor applications. Also, it doesn’t apply if the countertops are used for any commercial purposes.
Silestone offers a 25 Year Warranty guarantees your quartz countertops will be free from manufacturing defects. Their warranty is transferable and, as long as the original owner completes the Transfer of Ownership Form, the new owner benefits from the same coverage. Like the others, Silestone’s warranty doesn’t cover damage from excessive heat, outdoor use, and any other violation of the standard use and maintenance guidelines.
Another advantage of quartz countertops is its variety of elegant, sleek, and modern designs.
Quartz countertop manufacturers can create nearly any design and color you want with pigments and other types of materials like recycled glass and metal flecks. Unlike with natural stones such as granite, with quartz, you’re not limited to the designs that Mother Nature provides.
Quartz countertops can be customized to go with any type of cabinet material, cabinet color, backsplash, and flooring. In addition to traditional stone-like designs, solid colored countertops like the one in the picture below are becoming extremely popular, especially in modern homes.
If you’re looking for the durability and low maintenance of quartz but want the veining and uniqueness of natural stone, most manufacturers have designs that look almost identical to granite and marble. Below are two examples:
Bottom line—with quartz, you can get any design you want and the possibilities are virtually endless.
Unlike natural stones which have microscopic pores throughout, engineered quartz countertops are non-porous.
Porous materials allow liquids to seep beneath their surface which can lead to staining, discoloration, and irreversible damage. Even worse, germs and bacteria can make their way into pores making it difficult to clean and disinfect. Because of this, homeowners with natural stone countertops are required to keep them properly sealed.
With quartz, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Since it’s a non-porous material, You don’t need to seal it and you never have to worry about liquid or bacteria penetrating the surface.
This leads to my next two advantages of quartz countertops, stain resistance, and low maintenance.
Due to its non-porous composition, quartz countertops are extremely resistant to stains.
Countertop stains commonly occur when liquid from a spill penetrates the pores of the stone. Granite and marble are more susceptible to staining due to their porous nature. If you look closely at older kitchens with stone counters, you’ll likely notice white spots, discoloration, and fading, especially if the owner forgot to reseal the surface every few years.
Here’s a look at a subtle, but noticeable stain on a marble countertop that is nearly impossible to remove.
Since quartz is non-porous, there is no way for liquids to seep in and cause stains, even if you forget to wipe up a spill right away. For most homeowners, but especially for families with young children, this is a major selling point.
Consumer Reports conducted a test where they put splotches of different substances such as vegetable oil, coffee, and grape juice on quartz and granite countertops and let them sit for 20 hours. While both materials showed high resistance to stains, quartz was more resistant to stains compared to granite in several categories including beet juice and food coloring.
Although quartz is stain-resistant, it’s not stain-proof. The resins and pigments that make up 10% of quartz countertops can react with certain chemicals and lead to damage. Avoid contact with bleach, high pH cleaners, permanent markers, paint, paint remover, nail polish remover, glue, and oil soaps. Exposure to these materials could damage and stain your quartz countertops.
One of the main reasons people buy quartz countertops is because they require little to no maintenance.
All this talk about sealing granite countertops, forget it. With quartz, you never need to worry about sealing and cleaning is a breeze. You simply wipe them with soap and water.
Companies like Weiman and Granite Gold sell special cleaners and polish for quartz, but they’re hardly necessary. If you run into a serious greasy situation, use a degreaser like Easy-Off, but 99% of the time, warm water and soap will do the trick.
With other materials, especially marble, you have to pay close attention to every substance that comes into contact with it, but with quartz, there’s not much to worry about and really not much to do. After all, you’ve got plenty of home maintenance projects to worry about, your countertops shouldn’t be one of them.
Quartz is a fantastic material not only for kitchen countertops but also for bathrooms, fireplaces, bars and any other area of your home. It’s an extremely versatile material due to its durability and variety of colors and designs.
While other materials are limited by their design and ability to withstand certain elements, quartz has nearly limitless applications.
So far I’ve covered all the wonderful aspects of quartz countertops, but before you call your contractor and order a bunch of stabs, you need to understand the downsides. Here are the reasons you might want to pass on quartz countertops.
If you’re on a tight budget you might want to consider other materials besides quartz. All the wonderful aspects of quartz—durability, non-porous, ability to custom design—come with a cost.
The price of quartz countertops ranges between $50 and $150 per square foot including installation but the actual cost completely depends on the quality of quartz, manufacturer, style, design, and type of edging. The number of slabs and finishes will also impact the cost. The more cutouts you need for sinks, soap dispensers and fixtures, the higher it will cost.
Although quartz is expensive, the alternatives, especially natural stones, are pricey too. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of quartz countertops is $75 per square foot, marble is $60 per square foot, and granite averages $40 – $60 per square foot.
Quartz can be customized into almost any design imaginable. The versatility of its appearance is an obvious advantage, however, if you’re looking for the truly unique look of natural stone, you might be better off with granite or marble.
Modern technology has enabled manufacturers to mimic the look of natural stone with engineered quartz, but it’s impossible to match the smooth waves and veining you get with the real thing.
Also, depending on the color and style, it can be more difficult to disguise the steams where two slabs meet, especially with light color countertops. Darker colors can mitigate this issue but they’re still more noticeable than they are with granite.
Most people love the appearance of quartz but others say it looks fake and cheap. Bottom line—with quartz, the design options are virtually limitless but it’s difficult to match the truly unique and exotic patterns you get with natural stone.
Susceptible to Heat Damage
Quartz is heat resistant, however, the resin and polymer fillers are not.
Exposing quartz countertops to hot cookware could melt the resins and cause permanent discoloration and damage. White spotting and cloudiness are sure signs of heat damage.
Some experts claim quartz can handle up to 300 degrees without damage and while others say they can only handle 150 degrees. The exact temperature threshold depends on the quality and manufacturer. Regardless, to be safe you should always put a pad or trivet between hot cookware and quartz countertops.
According to reports from homeowners, even the heat of warm dishes taken straight out of the dishwasher and set on top of quartz countertops can burn the resin binders and cause permanent damage.
Bottom line—If heat damage is a major concern for you, you might want to consider granite. Granite is practically heat-proof and can handle direct contact with cookware that is up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Installation Is Difficult
Installing quartz countertops is not an afternoon DIY project. It requires skilled professionals to measure, level, and secure the slaps to the cabinets or island.
Quartz is more difficult to install because it’s extremely heavy ranging between 20 and 25 pounds per square foot. Installers need to ensure the foundation is structurally secure and strong enough to handle the mass of the quartz.
Installers also need to carefully position each stab to minimize the visibility of steams. Depending on the pattern and colors, this can be a simple or extremely difficult task.
Made for Indoor Use Only
Quartz countertops become discolored with extended exposure to direct sunlight, so if your building an outdoor kitchen, choose another material.
The UV light will fade the pigments and leave your countertops with an unsightly yellow hue.
It’s possible that enough direct UV light through a window can fade the colors over time so be careful choosing quartz for sun-drenched rooms with large windows.
In my opinion, the pros of quartz countertops clearly outweigh the cons. It’s ultra durable, stain resistant, non-porous, low maintenance, and comes in nearly limitless elegant, modern, and natural designs. There’s not much to dislike about quartz countertops.
The main downsides of quartz countertops are their price, appearance (if you desire the look of completely natural stone), and lack of resistance against heat damage.
If its appearance and lack of heat-resistance aren’t deal breakers, you can get free estimates on the materials and installation costs from local contractors by submitting this form on HomeAdvisor.com. There’s no easier way to get instant, no-obligation quotes from local contractors and installers.
What Do You Think About Quartz?
Do you have quartz countertops or are you thinking about installing them soon? What do you like and dislike about quartz? Have you encountered any of the issues I covered in this article? Let us know in the comments below, and thank you for reading!
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