Quartz Counters are Engineered for Improved Performance and Color Selection
Quartz stands out among high-end countertop options for its beauty, strength, low-maintenance, and versatility. Although quartz counters are engineered stone – not 100% stone – the addition of polymer resins and pigments makes for a final product that outperforms natural slab granite in a number of areas.
What is Engineered Stone?
Depending on the manufacturer, quartz countertops are 90 to 93 percent natural quartz. The remaining 7 to 10 percent is a mixture of polymer resins and pigments. The resins act as binders that strengthen the countertop, while the pigments add color. At a glance, quartz counters are indistinguishable from stone slab counters. It’s what you can’t see – the resins – that really set these engineered countertops apart from their natural stone brethren.
Reasons to Install Quartz Countertops
- Durability: The science that goes into quartz countertops effectively removes the striations that can cause cracks in natural stone slab. The proof is in the warrantee: Most quartz countertop manufacturers guarantee their products for up to 15 years. Natural stones like granite, by comparison, don’t always come with that type of coverage.
- Protection: The resins that are seamlessly integrated into quartz countertops eliminate the porosity of 100% stone products. As a non-porous countertop, quartz is protected against stains, moisture and microbes without the need for sealing. To gain comparable performance from natural stone, sealant must be applied once per year.
- Color Choice: Geologic forces conspire over millions of years to produce some fantastic color schemes. But if you’re looking for an unorthodox hue to complement your kitchen or bathroom decor, natural stone may not provide exactly what you’re looking for. There’s no such concern with engineered stone. While you can certainly find quartz countertops in traditional stone colors, the addition of pigments allows for the creation of colors such as pink, blue, magenta, green, and bright red. Some manufactures also offer textured finishes that you won’t find on natural stone.
- (Relatively) Green: Every building material has some environmental impact, and quartz is no exception. The good news is that quartz is an extremely abundant mineral, and engineered stone products in general have little to no radon (a radioactive gas that can be found in natural stone). The bad news is that the acrylic resins contained in engineered stone are derived from petroleum, and the transportation required to import mined materials can take an environmental toll. Homeowners who are particularly concerned about the greenness of their countertops should consult the manufacturer pages of products like Silestone, Zodiaq, and Cambria.
Quartz Countertop Costs
Despite the fact that quartz isn’t 100% natural stone, it is priced similarly to granite. If you’re looking for a lower-priced countertop material, you may want to consider laminate or tile.
- Including installation, expect to pay $50 to $100 per square foot installed for quartz countertops. For 30 square feet of counter space, that’s an estimated cost of $1,500 to $3,000.
- Factors that can bring the total cost up include buying a thicker countertop, installing a custom backsplash, or applying custom edging.
- It’s possible to order wholesale quartz countertops at a considerable discount – as low as $6 to $10 per square foot (plus shipping) – but keep in mind that the very heavy weight of these products makes DIY installation very difficult.