Quartz of Appeal
With the look of natural stone, minus the maintenance, quartz gives granite a run for its money as a countertop surface. Here’s why you should consider easy-care quartz:
Made from one of the hardest minerals on Earth, quartz countertops are arguably the most durable option for kitchens. They’re also some of the most eye-catching. They come in a wide variety of colors, including fire-engine red and apple green, as well as earthy browns, blacks and creams, with sparkles and veining for the look of granite or marble. But unlike natural-stone slabs, which are mined, these slabs are engineered in a factory.
Their primary ingredient is ground quartz (about 94 percent), combined with polyester resins to bind it and pigments to give it color. For some designs, small amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks are added to the mix. The resins also help make counters stain and scratch resistant and nonporous, so they never need to be sealed. Compare that with granite, the reigning king of high-end countertops, which typically requires a new protective topcoat at least once a year in order for it to look optimal.
In the past, the biggest knock against quartz was that it lacked the patterns and color variations of natural stone. But that’s a moot point now, with all the manufacturers offering multihued slabs with enough flecks, swirls and random patterning to make them almost indistinguishable from “the real thing.” Once available only with a polished finish, now you can get quartz with a honed, sandblasted or embossed treatment. So if it’s the look of matte limestone, textured slate or glossy granite you want, there’s a quartz countertop for you.
Quartz is made using natural quartz crystals that are mined then ground into a dust or an aggregate that is fused with resin binders under intense heat and pressure to form a solid slab. Pigments added during the process impart color to the countertop.
Cost: Expect to pay about the same as you would for natural stone, around $60-$90 per square foot, including installation.
DIY or hire a pro: Like natural stone, quartz slabs are very heavy. Though the added resins make them more flexible, they can crack if not handled properly. I suggest working with certified installers.
Where to buy: You can order through a designer, who has myriad vendors from which to choose. You also can order through a kitchen design showroom and big-box stores such as IKEA, Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Durability: Quartz countertop manufacturers provide warranties ranging anywhere from 10 to 15 years to lifetime, depending on the company.
Edging: Just as with granite, the fancier the edge, the more it costs.
Terri Parsons, Allied Member ASID, NKBA
Principal Interior Designer
Anne Parsons Interiors