Even if you can easily imagine every detail of your dream kitchen, you still have a lot of design decisions to make when you’re finally ready to achieve that vision. From materials and colors to fixtures and flow, kitchen remodeling and renovation options often seem endless.
Of the countless choices you have to make in a kitchen renovation, perhaps none is as daunting as selecting the right countertop material. There’s a broad assortment of available options, and each one comes with its own set of positives and negatives.
With that in mind, we’re starting a regular blog series that explores the ins and outs of all the major countertop choices, starting with a trending favorite: quartz.
Quartz Countertop Basics
It comes as no surprise that quartz countertops rank as one of the most durable, hardwearing options available — after all, quartz is one of the hardest, most resilient minerals on earth. It’s also one of the most abundant.
Unlike natural granite and marble countertops, which are made of a single slab of stone that’s mined from a quarry in a large block, cut to a workable size, and polished to perfection, quartz countertops are an engineered stone product made of quartz particles and other minerals that are bound together by resins.
Although the quartz ratios vary by product, the average quartz countertop consists of ground quartz particles (around 90% by volume) and polyester resins to bind them together (close to 10% by volume), along with pigments to give it color.
Quartz countertops may contain small amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks to enhance their design, or they may be made of an engineered stone blend that contains quartz along with a significant amount of crushed granite, marble, or ceramic.
When quartz countertops first began appearing in homes a couple of decades ago, they were somewhat nondescript, meaning they didn’t have the organic pattern and color variations that make natural stone counters like granite and marble so beautifully unique.
Fast-forward to today, and ongoing advances in manufacturing technology have transformed quartz countertops into a shining star of modern kitchen design and a highly sought choice that continues to increase in popularity with each passing year.
That’s because the elemental ingredients that are combined and shaped into quartz slabs can be modified and recast into virtually any design aesthetic.
They can be made with just the right proportion of flecks, patterns, and veining to make them look exactly like natural stone countertops, or they can be pigmented with bold, eye-catching colors that are sleek and stylish. They can also be made to look and feel just like concrete.
Pros and Cons of Quartz
Originally designed as a more adaptable and better-performing alternative to natural stone, quartz countertops fulfill their purpose with great success. Even so, every countertop material has specific benefits and drawbacks, including quartz:
Advantages of quartz
- Design versatility: Quartz can be custom fabricated in any style, shape, thickness, or color, and finished in a myriad of ways (polished, honed, sandblasted, or embossed). Unlike natural stone, it can also receive specialized edging.
- Impeccable consistency: Manufactured with advanced technology and finished to the highest standards, quartz countertops are perfectly uniform and contain no flaws. Their seams are also virtually imperceptible.
- Exceptional durability: Quartz is super strong and highly resistant to scratches and stains. For all practical purposes, it’s also impervious to acid and heat (but only up to a point — see below).
- Nonporous and antimicrobial: Unlike natural stone surfaces, nonporous quartz countertops don’t need to be sealed, ever. Odor-causing mold, mildew, and bacteria can’t penetrate the surface, either.
- Environmentally friendly: If you like the idea of creating a greener, more sustainable home, quartz countertops have you covered: about 90% of the materials that form the base of these engineered stone products are waste by-products of other quarrying or manufacturing processes.
Downsides of quartz
- Higher-end pricing: Quartz ranks as one of the more expensive countertop options, with pricing that’s comparable to natural stone. Engineered stone countertops cost considerably more than acrylic solid surface countertops, the primary budget-friendly alternative to quartz.
- Vulnerable to extreme heat: Quartz surfaces are heat-resistant up to 150 degrees, but sudden, extreme heat or prolonged contact with a very hot item can cause surface cracks. To protect quartz surfaces from scorch damage, it’s always best to set hot items on a trivet or hot pad.
- Not an outdoor kitchen option: Currently, there’s no engineered stone countertop that’s made for use in an outdoor kitchen — in fact, installing a quartz counter outside will most likely void its warranty, since outdoor use can cause it to fade, warp, or split over time.
The Bottom Line on Quartz
If you want a nonporous, antimicrobial countertop that looks exactly like natural stone but is more durable and much easier to maintain, quartz is an ideal solution. Although it does come with a higher-end price tag, its resiliency and longevity can make it well worth the extra cost.
From matte limestone and textured slate to glossy granite, veined marble, and thick concrete, quartz can masterfully imitate a wide range of popular countertop materials. Colorfully tinted quartz counters can be a sophisticated design focal point in an understated, modern kitchen.
To learn more about quartz countertops, as well as the styles and options available, visit Cambria.