Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain slabs in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!

Our previous article, ‘Outdoor Countertops: Materials, Ideas, & Design,’ is a wonderful resource for those planning to add countertops to their outdoor space. Indoor and outdoor countertops differ in both their uses and exposure to the elements. That’s why we assessed several common countertop materials for their outdoor performance. Does granite stand up to snow? Will quartz tarnish? We answer these questions and more! With plenty of tips and design ideas, our last article is a one-stop shop for outdoor renovations. 

Today’s article is actually the third installation in our ‘All About’ series, where we explore the unique potential of different countertop materials. Our first post, ‘All About Marble,’ explored marble’s association with luxury, how its composition contributes to its luminosity, and how designers are pushing the limits on how marble can be used in residential and commercial spaces. Our second post, ‘All About Granite,’ recounted the interesting history of granite, how the stone’s versatility has been put to good use by designers across the globe, as well as how granite is graded. We highly recommend giving the rest of this series a quick read to learn more about the wonder of two of the most popular stone materials!

Now, we shift our focus to quartz. While granite may still be the reigning champion—with 64% of new houses being outfitted with these countertops—quartz is proving itself to be a worthy contender. According to a survey conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association among kitchen designers, quartz is now their top choice. We want to explore why quartz is coming to be known as the “modern” countertop material and why more homeowners are turning to quartz for their countertop needs. First, we’ll explain what quartz is. (You’d be surprised how many people believe quartz is a naturally occurring stone!) Then, we’ll speak about the pros and cons of this material before weighing the opinions of a few experts. By the end, we have no doubt you’ll be excited to get your hands on a sample of quartz! 

Composition

Quartz is a type of engineered stone, which means quartz is manufactured. But, there’s an actual stone called quartz, right? Yes, there is! The quartz which can be found in the earth’s crust is composed of a crystalline mineral called silica. Natural quartz is quite hard, with a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, but also quite brittle. For this reason, natural quartz isn’t typically used for countertops, except in the case of quartzite (which is a type of rock composed of quartz sandstone). Now, in order to fortify natural quartz, countertop manufacturers grind up the stone into a fine dust and mix this dust with resin, other polymers, and pigments. Once set, engineered quartz is as hard as granite. 

About 90% of quartz dust is used, alongside 10% of additives, to arrive at the final product. Any color can be added to quartz during its formation to achieve a desired appearance. Natural quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on earth and, due to its wide availability, engineered quartz boasts a cheaper price tag than its natural counterparts. Since quartz can be found on every continent in vast quantities, the need for expensive quarrying and transportation are virtually obsolete. While certain types of custom quartz countertops will fetch quite the penny, most quartz countertops can be found between $50 and $150 per square foot. 

Pros

Quartz countertops are among the most durable on the market, rivalling even granite in their hardness. While soapstone may scratch and marble may stain, quartz countertops will do neither. As quartz is bound by polyester resin, the material lacks porosity. Without porosity, there’s nowhere for spills to seep into. This lack of porosity also makes quartz countertops easier to keep clean, since there’s also nowhere for microorganisms like bacteria to hide. They do not hold odor, can be used for cooking, and can be easily cleaned with a mild soap and warm water. Additionally, quartz is one of the few stones which does not require regular sealing or waxing. If you choose to invest in pure white quartz countertops, you can be fairly sure they’ll stay white for a very long time. 

The biggest positive for many looking to invest in quartz is its versatility. The stone is available in a near-endless variety of colors and textures. Quartz has the ability to mimic granite and marble, making it a good option for those who want the look of a stone without any added maintenance. However, as more homeowners lean towards contemporary, modern styles, quartz is delivering the understated countertops they desire. Due to their durability, quartz countertops are sure to last homeowners at least a decade and often much longer. 

Cons

While quartz is quite durable and you shouldn’t worry about a tray of cookies leaving scorch marks, it is not entirely heat resistant. Most manufacturers guarantee their quartz countertops are able to withstand up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but beware applying extreme heat to quartz countertops all at once, as this can cause the material to crack. 

As we spoke about in our ‘Outdoor Countertops: Materials, Ideas, & Design’ piece, quartz is not a desirable option for outdoor use. The material is not resistant to UV rays and, with constant exposure to the sun, will tarnish over time. The colors will fade or yellow and the surface of the countertop may even begin to warp. If you were considering using quartz for your al fresco kitchen, we recommend reading our other article for a few better options. 

The price of quartz depends upon a variety of factors, including manufacturer, installer, and aesthetic choices like edging. Given the obvious positives associated with owning quartz countertops, there are associated costs. While you are likely to find a quartz option less expensive than granite or marble, the higher quality the piece, the higher you’ll likely have to pay. 

Finally, the primary negative associated with quartz is its status as a man-made material. While natural options, such as granite, form according to the primordial processes of molten magma and the earth’s crust—quartz is made in a factory. And, while technology has come a long way, there’s no matching the stunning swirls and textures of natural stone. 

According to the Experts

According to Allison Babcock, interior designer at Allison Babcock Design in New York, the fact that quartz is man-made is a plus. “Because it’s mixed and manufactured in a mold,” she says, “slab sizes are consistent. You can use the entire slab instead of having to work around Mother Nature’s blemishes often found in natural stones.” For this reason, designers find quartz easier to work with than other natural materials. Meanwhile, Mor Krisher, the head of product design for Cesaerstone, harkened back to quartz’s durability: “The beauty of going with a quartz surface is that quartz is more resilient than many other materials.” Architectural Digest weighed in with this poignant note, as well. “[C]reative uses for quartz will continue to evolve along with modern life. The magic of this material is only a matter of imagination.” 

We’re happy to be able to share our knowledge about quartz with you. Are you ready for your quartz sample now? This engineered stone is a highly-durable option, sure to add value to any home. At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Tune back in for further articles in our ‘All About’ series. Until next time—thanks for reading!