The #1 definitive guide to quartz countertops. Before you buy, learn about quartz countertops benefits, features, design ideas, cost, installation, and much more!
Let’s talk about one of the most popular countertop materials on the market: quartz. It looks like natural stone, but quartz is engineered to be more durable, unique, and sustainable than natural stone countertops.
Continue reading to learn about the ins and outs of quartz countertops and why you should choose this engineered stone for your next renovation project.
What are Quartz Countertops?
Quartz countertops are man-made, engineered stone countertops. They are crafted from about 90% quartz (the world’s second most abundant mineral) and 10% resins and pigments, which gives manufacturers control over the color, pattern, and durability of their quartz countertops. While quartz countertops include natural stones in their composition, they differ from natural stone countertops in that they are an engineered stone that is more durable than most natural stone, are nonporous, and come in a variety of colors and patterns that imitate natural stone and other materials.
Quartz is a common mineral that is found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks from all over the world. Pure quartz is naturally clear, but other minerals found in rock formations can cause interesting colors and patterns within quartz gems.
Unlike natural stone countertops, quartz countertops are not cut from slabs of quartz. The quartz must be ground down into fine particulates and then mixed with resin to be used as a countertop. When combined with pigments and other natural stone, quartz countertops can take on a variety of beautiful patterns and colors.
Quartz countertops have grown in popularity over the past few years because they offer the beauty of stone countertops without the maintenance. Quartz countertops are engineered to be nonporous. This means that the countertops do not require annual sealing, and there is no chance of bacteria growing in its pores — a common risk for natural stone countertops.
With the durability and ease of maintenance associated with quartz countertops, they have become a popular option for a variety of applications such as countertops and wall cladding.
History of Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops have recently become a frontrunner in the North American countertop market, but they have been around for almost 60 years, with the first manufacturers starting production in the early 1960s. Breton, an Italian company, began manufacturing quartz countertops in 1963, an innovative, nonporous material that quickly became popular in Italy. Breton was the first manufacturer of the equipment used to make quartz countertops.
Quartz countertops didn’t gain traction in the U.S. until the 1990s and didn’t become widespread until the early 2000s when HGTV started promoting quartz countertops in its programming.
Some people think that quartz countertops didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. at first because they looked so similar to granite and marble countertops, while others believe that quartz countertops were not a convincing enough substitute for natural stone. In either case, scientists have figured out how to make quartz countertops look very similar to natural stone countertops and have even more unique and colorful designs than what is found in nature. Additionally, the West began to embrace quartz countertops after realizing its advantages over natural stone, namely its nonporosity, durability, and ease of maintenance.
Since the early 2000s, quartz countertops have been a popular and proven surfacing option for homes and commercial designs alike, and there are no signs of it losing popularity.
3 Benefits of Quartz Countertops
There’s a reason why more homeowners than ever are deciding to install quartz countertops in their homes. The material is extremely durable, stain resistant, and ultimately, a more sustainable choice. Discover more about the top 3 benefits of Quartz:
As a man-made surfacing material, quartz countertops are engineered to be durable — more durable than natural stone, butcher block, and other popular surfacing options.
Quartz countertops are scratch- and stain-resistant and can support overhangs that are up to 12 inches in width. Additionally, quartz countertops are heat-resistant. All of these features allow you to spend time enjoying your countertops instead of worrying about keeping them in good shape.
2. Stain Resistance
Quartz countertops are stain-resistant. They are a nonporous surfacing material, which means they are solid all the way through. Popular natural stone countertops like marble are susceptible to staining, especially if they are not properly sealed. Marble is More Than You Ever Needed to Know About Quartz Countertops especially prone to damage from liquids like red wine. Stains can be difficult to remove, and marble countertops may not fully recover from a dark stain.
HanStone Quartz is created from 90% mined quartz crystals and is manufactured in North America using mostly recycled water and some recycled materials, like mirror chips.
Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth, unlike some other natural stones. Quartz have low VOCs that meet GREENGUARD indoor air quality standards, making our quartz not only good for the Earth, but also safe for your home.
Making Quartz Countertops
How are Quartz countertops made?
HanStone Quartz countertops are manufactured using the most up-to-date Breton Technology, resulting in the most sophisticated quartz countertops on the market.
Quartz countertops are made by combining quartz crystals, silica, and resin in a vat. The resulting mixture has the look and feel of moist sand, which is then mechanically distributed into a form to be shaped into a thick slab, typically 3cm or 2cm thick.
The formed mixture is put into a vibro-compactor, which uses vibration, pressure and vacuum to transform the mixture into a compact slab. Once the mixture is compacted, it is cured using heat, resulting in a single homogenous slab that is stronger than natural stone.
When choosing your quartz countertops, it’s really important to keep the manufacturer in mind. Demand for quartz is growing. In fact, quartz has surpassed granite in popularity! Unfortunately, this means that some manufacturers may be outsourcing to other countries like China where production costs are lower. However, this can result in a lower quality product. Due to inconsistent quality control, many do not offer a warranty.
Some issues with Chinese quartz countertops may include resin pooling, inconsistent thickness, dye lot inconsistency, and inconsistent material qualities.
North America specifies the safe use of certain chemicals for indoor or outdoor use, but China does not. This means that your new kitchen countertops, if manufactured in China or any country where the safe use of certain chemicals is not closely regulated, cannot be guaranteed to be safe for your family.
HanStone Quartz countertops are proudly made in North America with high-quality, safe materials. Our patterns and colors are consistent, and we don’t settle for sloppy production or inferior materials, so that you receive only the best quality quartz countertops for your next improvement project.
Quartz Countertops Compared to Other Materials
Quartz countertops have become an established standard along with traditional favorites in the surfacing business like granite and marble. As an engineered stone, quartz is designed to have the aesthetic appeal of natural stone and durability only found through years of research and refinement.
Odds are, you’ve driven past a granite company with huge slabs of granite displayed on the roadside. People travel far and wide to pick the perfect piece of granite for their design project. Granite is one of the most popular countertop materials for a reason — it’s beautiful and durable.
Granite is the generic term used for many different types of natural stone that contain some levels of quartz, feldspar, and silica. These stones may be actual granite, or they may be gabbros or dolomites. Each one will require a different degree of maintenance.
Unlike quartz surfacing, granite is a porous surface, which means it has tiny pores that can be infiltrated by moisture and bacteria. To protect granite countertops from contaminates, it’s important to seal them yearly (or more often, depending on the stone) to keep bacteria and moisture out of the pores.
Quartz, on the other hand, is consistently easy to care for and is nonporous, so there is no risk of moisture or bacteria getting stuck in your countertops’ pores.
As said before, people travel far and wide to find the perfect slab of granite for their renovation project — there are no two slabs of granite that look exactly alike. Quartz, on the other hand, is consistent in color and pattern because it is an engineered stone. You don’t have to worry about finding a match for your granite or picking out the perfect slab only to discover that it is not large enough for your surfacing project.
And because granite is a generic term for many different types of rock, there is not much consistency with granite countertops. However, quartz countertops are consistently durable, as they are all made from more than 90% quartz and bound together with super strong resins, giving quartz a ranking of 7 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale.
Similar to granite, marble is also a porous surface. However, marble is generally softer than granite, making it much easier to chip than other natural stone surfaces. Marble is susceptible to stains from dark substances like red wine and acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons. Acidic foods can cause a change in the stone’s natural patina — a process called etching.
Quartz is an incredibly durable surfacing material that does not need to be treated with as much care as marble. It can stand up to everyday wear and tear, including red wine spills and acidic foods. Just wipe it clean with no worry of staining or etching.
Solid surface is also a man-made surfacing material, but it does not have as high of a percentage of natural materials as quartz. It is unique from many other surfacing materials because of its versatility. Solid surface can be shaped into unique forms using heat through a process called thermoforming, giving it the ability to be used for a variety of practical and artistic applications.
Solid surface is a durable material, but it is not as durable as quartz. It can become chipped or cracked if heavy items are dropped on it, and it can also be scratched if you choose to use it as a cutting board. However, solid surface, unlike many other surfacing materials, can be seamlessly repaired through sanding. More severe damage can be repaired by filling chips or cracks using a solid surface repair kit.
Laminate countertops are an affordable countertop option made from laminate-covered particle boards. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns that resemble natural stone, but laminate countertops are obviously man-made.
Due to their materials and layers, laminate countertops do not last as long as other countertop materials. Laminate can peel, especially on the edges, and when cared for, they typically last for about a decade.
Quartz countertops do not have layers — they are solid all the way through, and they are a convincing imitation of natural stone. Unlike laminate, quartz countertops are built to last. They will add value to your home and can last a lifetime.
Concrete countertops have grown in popularity over the past few decades and have become a popular choice for modern kitchen design. They can be aesthetically appealing, but concrete countertops aren’t the best choice for a heavily-trafficked kitchen.
First, concrete countertops are not as durable as you might think. Concrete works well for roads and sidewalks because of its compressive strength. However, it does not stand up well to impact because it lacks tensile strength. Concrete countertops can crack or break under impact. Quartz countertops, on the other hand, are incredibly durable and will not chip or crack from everyday impacts.
Second, concrete is a porous material. Have you ever noticed that roads and sidewalks get darker when it rains? That’s because water seeps into the tiny pores of concrete. This can be dangerous in the kitchen because porous materials can harbor moisture and bacteria. Additionally, when cooking raw meats, porous countertops can harbor any germs from the meat. Quartz is nonporous. With regular cleaning, your countertops will never harbor moisture or harmful bacteria.
Finally, concrete countertops require a much longer and more involved installation process than other types of surfacing materials. Concrete countertops often need to be poured on site, while quartz and most other surfacing materials can be cut to size and installed within a few hours. Concrete countertops require building a frame on top of your cabinets, pouring the concrete into the frame, and waiting for it to cure. This could render your space useless for several days while your countertops cure.
Residential Applications for Quartz Countertops
Quartz is a popular option for kitchen countertops because of its durability and beauty. Quartz can stand up to the everyday wear and tear your kitchen faces and will stand up to moisture, heat, and household chemicals.
Kitchen islands serve many purposes in the modern home, from prep stations to homework desks. Quartz works well as a kitchen island surface because it can handle spills and scuffs from cooking and preparing meals and can easily be cleaned after your kid’s next art project.
Kitchen backsplashes serve an important purpose — they protect your drywall from moisture, food splatter, and stains. Quartz is durable and easy to clean, making it an excellent option for backsplashes. Choose the same pattern as your countertops for a seamless look, or choose a different color or pattern to add some interest!
It has become more and more popular to run the quartz high up the wall, in some cases to the ceiling. Quartz countertops are a much more functional backsplash choice than tile or just about any other material.
Bathroom countertops, or vanity tops face a unique set of challenges each day: moisture from sinks, heat from hair appliances, and chemicals found in cosmetics, skin care products, and hair products. Quartz is resistant to heat, bacteria, and stains, making it a great option for bathroom countertops.
Every homeowner deserves a functional laundry room with plenty of flat surface for folding clothes, a sink for pretreating stains, and a space to hang clothes to dry. Quartz countertops is a valuable addition to laundry rooms because they are durable and resistant to moisture. You don’t have to worry about your laundry soap, heat from your drier, or moisture from drying clothes damaging your quartz countertops.
As a heat-resistant material, quartz surfacing also works well for fireplace surrounds. Using quartz surfacing instead of a more traditional material like brick or ceramic tile will add value and style to your home!
Commercial Applications for Quartz Countertops
Restaurant Bar Tops
Restaurant bar tops are some of the most heavily used areas in restaurants. Quartz bar tops can withstand the heavy use — bottles and glasses being slammed down and elbows scratching around the bar top — and create any aesthetic you want.
Quartz is incredibly easy to clean and is resistant to heat, stains, and scratches, making it a great option for restaurant tabletops. Just wipe clean with mild soap and water and your quartz will shine, welcoming your next guest to dine.
Hospitals must use nonporous materials for countertops and other surfaces because of the unique set of challenges they face: biohazardous materials and fluids. Quartz is solid all the way through and is resistant to bacteria. Just wipe clean with mild soap and water and then disinfect to ensure a sterilized workspace.
Quartz isn’t limited to countertops. Use quartz for wall cladding or the front of reception desks. With dozens of colors and patterns to choose from, you can create a welcoming entryway that is easy to clean and maintain, giving your hotel reception area a look of luxury that will welcome guests for years to come.
Conference tables are often where great ideas are born. Create an inspirational space with the beauty of quartz surfacing.
Quartz countertops can stand up to the constant moisture found on public bathroom countertops. Use quartz countertops in your public restroom to create an appealing space that is easy to maintain.
Quartz Countertop Colors
Colors play an important role in interior design, as colors have the ability to evoke certain feelings or emotions. Quartz countertops come in a variety of colors and patterns, some solid, some veined, and some patterned. Let’s learn more about the different colors of quartz countertops and how they can be used in your next design project.
White countertops look clean and brighten up a space, and they can be paired with virtually any color combination to create the aesthetic you want for your space.
Pair white countertops with blue accents to create a soothing environment, or pair with more reds and yellows to create warmth.
With modern technology, quartz countertops can be designed to be convincing substitutes for marble, granite, and even concrete. But the best part is that quartz countertops are more durable and easier to maintain than the natural stone they simulate!
Beige countertops add warmth to any space. Known for creating a calm, relaxing feeling, beige pairs well with other warm color tones like reds and oranges.
If you’re using beige countertops in your kitchen or bathroom, consider pairing them with dark wood cabinets or black cabinets for a touch of sophistication.
Beige is also a common base color of granite, and quartz can be veined or patterned to resemble beige granite countertops or even a warmer-colored concrete.
Perhaps the most neutral color for countertops, gray works well for countertops because it makes other colors pop. Quartz countertops come in a variety of shades of gray, including grays that resemble concrete and granite.
Gray is a balanced color and doesn’t evoke strong emotions like reds, blues, and greens, but it can be paired with virtually any color to create the aesthetic you want.
Because gray is so versatile, you can refresh your interiors without changing out the countertops. Whether you’re looking for a masculine, feminine, or neutral aesthetic, you can have it with gray quartz countertops.
Black countertops are a bold choice, but when used correctly, they show elegance, sophistication, and, sometimes, mystery.
There are several advantages to black quartz countertops, with one being that their color masks scratches, stains, and spills. Second, is that black countertops can either be used as an accent or as a focal point.
When using black quartz in your designs, be careful when pairing with other dark colors. Black has a tendency to blend together with other dark colors, reducing visual interest and contrast.
Quartz Countertop Cost Comparison
Quartz countertops are comparable to natural stone countertops in price, but they do not require the annual maintenance of natural stone countertops.
According to Home Advisor, engineered quartz countertops cost $15–70 per square foot, whereas natural stone countertops like granite cost $15–140 per square foot, a much wider price range. Quartz pricing is more consistent across the board.
Quartz countertops are pricier than other countertop materials like laminate and solid surface, but its value is well worth the price.
Marble or granite pricing may vary drastically from slab to slab because natural stone is priced based on the natural veining and coloring of the stone, availability, and several other factors. Quartz, on the other hand, is more consistent in pricing because it is engineered and fabricated rather than mined.
Quartz Countertop Thickness
Quartz countertops usually come in two standard thicknesses, 2cm (approximately ¾-inch) and 3cm (approximately 1-¼-inch) .
Choosing the right thickness depends on the project design and what you hope to accomplish with your quartz countertops. If you want a certain edge style, it may work better on one thickness than the other. Additionally, if you’re planning to use quartz for your kitchen backsplash and countertops, you may want to choose the thinner option so that your backsplash does not appear bulky.
Quartz Countertop Edges
Edge styles can really complete the look of your quartz countertops. Most quartz fabricators have a variety of edge styles that you can choose from that vary in detail. Some are squared off; some are beveled. There are many unique options to choose from.
A popular trend in the countertop industry is mitered and waterfall edges. Mitered edges give countertops the appearance of being thicker than they actually are by joining two pieces of quartz at a 45 degree angle. This can make countertops look anywhere from a few inches to more than a foot deep.
Waterfall edges are a type of mitered edge, but they reach all the way to the floor, making your countertops look like they “waterfall” off the edge of the counter and down the side of your cabinets. This modern look makes a statement and can make your kitchen island a stunning centerpiece!
Installing Quartz Countertops
Installing quartz countertops may be easier than you think. The key is to plan ahead and make sure to communicate your expectations with your fabricator.
8 Tips for a Successful Quartz Countertop Installation:
1. Discuss all the details first
Share your vision for your space with your fabricator, including any special edges, overhang, backsplash, or cutouts that you may want included with your countertops.
2. Make sure the space is ready
If you’re doing a home renovation project or new build, make sure other construction projects, like electrical and plumbing are roughed in, paint is dry, etc. before having your countertops installed.
3. Have a physical template
Instead of providing measurements to your fabricator, opt for a physical template. You’ll get a better, more accurate representation of your countertop.
4. Have your sink and appliances on hand
Make sure your appliances are installed when the fabricator comes to make a template of your countertops. Even small measurement discrepancies can cause huge problems.
5. Schedule your plumber for the next day
Give your countertops’ epoxy at least 24 hours to cure before installing your sink.
6. Protect your cabinets
Tape around the top of your cabinets to avoid epoxy drips during installation.
7. Use supports where needed
If your cabinets are not strong enough to hold your quartz countertops, make sure you have supports ready for installation.
8. Control for dust
We suggest cleaning your space before and after installation. Cleaning your cabinets before your countertops are installed ensures that dust from your cabinets will not settle in the epoxy used to install your quartz countertops. Then, clean after your countertops are installed to remove any dust that may have gotten stirred up during installation.
Enjoy your new quartz countertops!
Maintaining Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops are incredibly easy to maintain and do not require annual sealing, like natural stone countertops.
For daily maintenance, just wipe your quartz countertops clean with a soft rag and mild dish soap. A rubbing alcohol and water solution also works for daily cleaning.
If your countertops feel greasy, perhaps from cooking oil or other food preparation, wipe your countertops with a degreasing cleaner. Be sure there is no bleach in your cleaners and always wipe your countertops with mild soap and water after using a degreasing cleaner.
For tough stains, there are a few different things you can try. You can use different cleaning sprays, just make sure you wipe your countertops with mild soap and water after using chemical cleaners. Denatured/isopropyl alcohol also works well on tough stains, such as permanent marker or dye.
Additional Inspiration / Design Ideas
Quartz makes a stunning reception desk! Because of its durability, it can also be used to clad the front of reception areas. This type of overhang, similar to a metered edge, works well with quartz because it will not crack under its own weight, which can happen with natural stone.
Kitchen countertops are a classic choice for quartz. These beautiful black veined countertops give this home a luxurious aesthetic.
These quartz countertops have a matte black or gray finish, which resembles concrete. Quartz’s range of colors and patterns mean that you can have the look of concrete, marble, or granite, without the price tag and maintenance of those surfacing options.
Restaurant table tops are heavily used surfaces that deserve the durability and ease of maintenance that quartz can provide! And with countless colors and pattern options available, quartz can fulfill any design aesthetic you want.
Because of their durability, quartz countertops can support large overhangs without cracking or breaking under their own weight. Quartz works well for kitchen islands with oversized countertops just for this reason!
Quartz isn’t limited to straight edges. Create a fun, curved edge with quartz surfacing.
Here’s another example of gray quartz that looks like concrete. This beautiful island combines the ability to mimic natural stones and concrete and to support its own weight when used with large overhangs.
While quartz is traditionally seen as a countertop material, it can be used to cover a variety of surfaces. Use it as wall cladding, a fireplace surround, or both!
Remember those mitered edges we discussed earlier? Here’s a great example of a bold, thick mitered edge used to create a floating bathroom vanity. The possibilities are endless with quartz.
Why Quartz is the Right Choice for Any Application
Quartz is an incredibly durable and versatile surfacing material that can be used for virtually any surfacing project, from countertops to flooring to wall cladding.
As an engineered stone surface, quartz mimics the beauty of natural stones like granite and marble, but it does not require annual sealing because it is solid all the way through. It is naturally resistant to moisture, bacteria, and heat, and can withstand everyday wear and tear, making it an excellent option for wall cladding, flooring, and even fireplace surrounds.
Choose quartz for your next surfacing project! Contact an expert at Hanstone today.