When natural stones landed in our kitchens, the main preoccupation was maintenance. Quartz took these concerns away. Engineered quartz countertops have lately become the favorite choice for most families. And since high demands affect the supply, the options multiplied at speed light. Today, we have the luxury to select between great designs, colors, and styles but we also have to consider the drawbacks of this material. After all, what comes free of problems! Here you are going to read the pros and cons of quartz countertops. So, let's do it starting with the obvious question.
Photo by D&Y Design Group
What Is Quartz?
The right term of quartz countertops should be engineered quartz countertops. That's to draw the lines between quartz vs quartzite countertops. Due to their name, the two materials are often confused. To be the devil's advocate for a sec this might be a desperate marketing strategy. Make sure to learn the quartzite countertops pros and cons to understand the advantages of disadvantages when it comes to quartzite countertops.
With that distinction made, let me get back to our original concern: what are quartfz countertops made of. Well, the material contains around 90%-95% ground quartz while the rest is a combination of pigments to provide the color and polymer resins to provide binding. Lately, some manufacturers started using less plastic and more organic resins, metallic flecks or recycled glass to make quartz greener.
All set with the 5%-10% of resins and pigments, but what is quartz? It's a mineral found on earth and particularly in sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic rocks. It consists of oxygen and silicon and it is distinguished by the abundance in colors and durability. It is actually one of the hardest natural stones, ranking 7 at the scale of Mohs Hardness.
Photo by F Running
You'd be right to assume that quartz is not used only for the construction of bathroom and kitchen countertops when it comes to interior decorating of apartments. It is also ideal for backsplashes, vanities, shower surrounds, fireplace mantels, walls, and flooring – to mention just a few.
Before I carry on with the quartz countertops pros and cons, let me just say that this material has now become one of the most popular ones on the market. Let's see the reasons why.
Advantages of Quartz Countertops
Quartz is non porous and thus stain resistant. No need to panic in the sight of spilled milk or coffee over your counter. Nothing will find a way to penetrate the material. And this doesn't only mean that no sealants are required but it forms the ground for the rest of quartz's advantages.
Photo by Zillow
Quartz is basically maintenance-free. The resins, which make it nonporous, protect the surface from getting stained and so no sealants are needed. So, that's one hassle/expense out of the door. What you can do is deep cleaning once in a while to keep it spotless and sanitized. Avoid abrasives; soap and water will clean the surface just fine. Other than that, you have nothing else to do.
Photo by Eddy Homes
No stains, no bacteria, no bad odors! And when microorganisms don't live and multiply in these narrow and moisture environments, mold doesn't get a chance to grow and expand. In other words, your countertop is mold-free and so you don't have to worry about your family's health.
Photo by Abodwell Interior Design
When you choose natural stone countertops, you have to settle for what Mother Nature offers you. That's not the case with quartz. The fact that it is engineered highlights the endless design possibilities. Thanks to the resins, the slab can be formed in any shape should you prefer curved edges and special styles to match your interior design to create a minimalist home. The pigments don't only provide a huge set of color options but offer the possibility of prevailing tones too.
Photo by Studio McGee
One more thing. Quartz countertops are not necessarily screwed. Installers often use epoxy and glue taking the design up a notch. Now, put the color options, the absence of fasteners, and the endless design choices in a bucket and see why quartz countertops can be the focal element to any home, especially if you have an open concept kitchen design.
The real beauty of quartz hides within. It's nice to have a dazzling countertop but if it's durable, that's even better. That's exactly the case with quartz. It provides excellent performance as an easy to maintain kitchen or bathroom countertop material due to the durability of both the natural stone and resins. Let's add here that the material is scratch free. It won't etch either. As long as you install it indoors, it won't crack or split. All good so far, you say but can I slice my cucumber on the countertop? Don't push your luck. The material is forgiving but not as forgiving as tolerating the blade of your sharp knives. Prefer to use a cutting board.
Photo by HouseLogic
When it comes to very durable and thus long-lasting materials, manufacturers usually don't give warranties. In the case of quartz, they do.
Photo by Vadara Quartz
Disadvantages of Quartz Countertops
It's considerably expensive. The costs range from $40 and could exceed $150 per sq. ft. In the long run, it proves to be cost-effective since it hardly requires maintenance and it's durable to last for a very, very long time. When you check out quartz countertops costs, don't forget that they always depend on factors, such as the design, the manufacturer, and location.
Quartz and your hot pots won't get along too well. Even tough materials can take beating up to a point. That's due to the presence of polymer resins, which are actually plastics and so non-tolerant to heat. Always use a pot holder to avoid cracks.
Not suitable for outdoors
If you had your mind set in installing a quartz countertop to your outdoor kitchen, time to change direction and choose another material. Quartz is not resistant to UV radiation and so the color will fade and the material will eventually warp or split.
Tip: manufacturers give warranties only for indoor installation.
Difficult to install
The main considerations of quartz countertops installation stem from the heavy weight of the material. It doesn't only take expertise but sound cabinets too. Since you'll need a professional installer, you should add the expense of labor to your budget.
The slabs come in specific sizes and installed side-by-side. In other words, there are seams. They are not too visible but still there to interrupt the surface. The consideration is greater when it comes to large islands, which look better when monolithic sheets are used. If you insist on getting quartz but are not thrilled with the idea of seams, prefer darker hues. Check out some great ideas on kitchen island designs.
The polymer resins used to make engineered quartz are petroleum-based products. And that's bad news. But wait, we have good news too. The fact that the material is non-porous and the latest efforts of some manufacturers to keep emissions to the minimum have gained them the acceptance and thus certifications by GreenGuard as a suitable product for healthy indoor air quality.
If you spill red wine, you just wipe it with a damp cloth and you are all set. Naturally, it's always easier to remove fresh stains instead of struggling with dried blemishes and grease. All the same, you can still clean your countertop effectively by using soaps appropriate for quartz. Avoid chemicals. Oftentimes, dish soaps suffice.
Photo by Billielourd
Quartz countertops colors vary based on the natural stone and pigments used. To make your day, let me just say that your choices are more than you will ever need. The color of the ground quartz is subject to the region. But since the final product undergoes a manufacturing process, the end result can be polished, textured or matte. It might resemble marble or granite and so your countertop might have the looks of genuine natural stones. But if you prefer solid colors, you can find great options in natural and bold hues.
Examples of solid colors include but are not limited to:
Absolute night or noir – two variations of black
Photo by All Marble and Granite Inc.
Photo by Vivid Stones & Quartz
Photo by MSI Stone
Photo by MSI Stone
Photo by Merchant Circle
Altair – deep green
Photo by Silestone
Examples of spotted quartz countertop surfaces
Flint black – black with random white and gray spots
Photo by Xylab
Carrara marmi – marble/granite like
Photo by PentalQuartz
Statuary classique – marble/granite like
Photo by Insignia Stone
Willshire red – a deep black & red combo
Photo by Fabricators Unlimited
Almond roca – a light sandy tone with pebble like patterns
Photo by Fireplace and Granite Distributors
Aragon – a mixture of beige and green mosaic
Photo by Nordby Design Studio
The names of the colors and patterns might vary between manufacturers but these are just a few samples to get an idea of the options available out there. Although most colors are neutrals (pale & bold), there are plenty of intense hues too, like reds and oranges.
Quartz brings the legacy of natural stone to your kitchen without the burden of maintenance. Engineered to remain stain resistant and thus safe and durable, quartz countertops make an exceptional choice for both the kitchen and the bathroom, where moisture and grease are always an issue. Since they are man-made, they are custom to meet the modern home interior design requirements and expectations and either lay low or become the focal point. The plethora of colors and designs make your choice easier. As for the material's drawbacks, they are there to remind us of three things:
- Nothing is immune to wear
- All things need care, especially when it comes to busy areas like kitchen countertops
- You should decide based on your own needs
So, weigh the quartz countertops pros and cons to draw your own conclusions.