All About: Quartz Countertops

Countertop Spotlight

Are you thinking about renovating your kitchen? Doing research on countertop materials? If so, then our Countertop Spotlight series will help you. Today we look at quartz countertops, otherwise known as engineered stone countertops.

Material: Quartz

How It's Made: Quartz countertops are man-made engineered stone countertops formed by combining 90% ground quartz (a natural hard mineral) with 8-10% resins, polymers, and pigments. This forms a very hard granite-like surface. The appearance depends on how the quartz is ground: coarsely ground quartz produces a flecked appearance, while finely ground quartz produces a smooth look.

Major Brands: Italian company Breton owns the patent to manufacture solid surfaces from quartz and resins. All other companies use that patent for their own brand of quartz countertops, including Cosentino (Silestone), DuPont (Zodiaq), Cambria, CaesarStone, Avanza, and Technistone.

Environmental Impact: Light-Moderate. Quartz is the second most abundant material in the earth's crust (which is good), but the acrylic resins used in quartz countertops are petroleum by-products, and they often contain alumina trihydrate fillers made from bauxite ore, which is mined primarily under toxic conditions in developing countries. However, the countertops are still extremely durable and non-porous. Additionally, a few major brands including Zodiaq, Formica, Wilsonart and Silestone have been certified by GreenGuard as low emitting. Other brands, like Cambria Quartz, are mined and made entirely in the USA.

Pros: Extremely hard and durable; glossy sheen; non-porous and stain-and-crack resistant; does not require sealing or resealing; wide range of colors; easy to clean with mild soap, water, and a soft cloth.

Cons: Expensive; not heat tolerant; seams are inevitable for large countertop designs.

Installation: Professional installation strongly recommended. Quartz countertops are quite heavy!

Price range: $60 - $100 per square foot

Kitchn Reader Reviews:

I recently upgraded my counters, and after weighing pros and cons of all materials, I settled on quartz. Not only is is durable with almost zero maintenance, you have an array of color options to pick from. - alllebasil
I'm very happy with my Zodiaq Quartz. Colors are good without being too "disco" or "boring" (as opposed to the leading quartz brand). Not a chip in it after 4 years, not a stain or a scratch. Nice and cold for rolling pastry — actually, that's probably the worst aspect: Put your toast down on it for a minute while you get the jam, and you might as well start over. But the heat-distribution quality is also great for defrosting things like a stack of wonton wrappers or a thin steak. - joelfinkle
I'm all about quartz countertops, we've just installed them in our kitchen and they are a wonder to clean. It is true that these days cheap wildly patterned granite (I agree, sometimes they look like straight up barf) are almost universally chosen by developers, this is probably because quartz is more expensive these days. - noelle153
We spent $5K on quartz (I freaking loooove it), where we could have spent about $500 on the same amount of laminate. - angus

Related Kitchn Posts:

All About: Granite Countertops
Corian Plus Six Alternatives
What Kind of Countertops Do You Have?

Readers, do you have quartz countertops? If so, tell us what brand and what your experience has been!

(Images: 1. Peter Murdoch | The Kitchn; 2. Lauren Zerbey | The Kitchn; 3. HomeWerks; 4. Caesarstone; )

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