Quartz Countertops: Everything You Need to Know

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Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

Considering a quartz countertop for your kitchen? Learn the pros and cons in this guide.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think we may have a finished kitchen very soon! Can you even believe it?!

We began the Greenfield kitchen renovation approximately six weeks ago, and last week our quartz countertops got installed.

You read that correctly – we have countertops! That means we have a sink…which means we are no longer washing dishes in the bathroom and eating takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If that’s not a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.

Side note: remind me to never again renovate a kitchen while living in it.

Anyway, “busy” doesn’t even begin to describe the last couple of months. We’re taking a much-needed vacation at the moment to recharge our batteries. But once we get back, we’ll have just a couple more projects to finish, like installing floating shelves, building out the custom range hood fan, tiling the backsplash, adding hardware, touching up paint, etc. Just a couple minor details, ha!

Back to our beautiful quartz countertops: Today I’m thrilled to share all the details in partnership with Gold Line. We’ve worked with Gold Line in the past and have always had top-notch experiences. If you are local, I cannot recommend this company highly enough!

Whether you’re starting a remodel yourself, or you’re taking notes for the not-so-near future, today’s article is chockfull of information. Make sure you bookmark it for future reference!

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

How does the look of quartz compare to other materials?

When choosing a countertop material for the Greenfield kitchen, I wanted something high-end, fairly light, and with minimal movement. When talking about countertops, movement refers to the distinct patterns that flow through the piece of stone.

Although marble doesn’t necessarily have minimal movement, it is one of my favorite countertop materials, even in a kitchen. But with the Greenfield being an investment property, I knew I had to choose a material with mass appeal. Unfortunately, most home buyers are hesitant to have marble in the kitchen, because, although undoubtedly beautiful, it’s one of the least durable and most high-maintenance natural stones. Granite is a significantly more durable material than marble, but it typically has either a very distinct pattern or bold movement, so that was out of the question in terms of aesthetics.

So, I set out to explore quartz.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

What exactly is quartz?

I’ll be honest, before I started researching quartz, I had thought it was a natural stone. I’m willing to bet you did too.

Alas, quartz is an engineered, or man-made, stone. It is made up of 95 percent quartzite (hence the name), and 5 percent polymer resins. Essentially, quartz is 95 percent natural, whereas other stones are 100 percent natural. But it is that 5 percent, however, that makes quartz far more durable and more low-maintenance than marble, granite, and quartzite.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

Just how durable is quartz?

The top four high-end countertop materials are granite, quartz, quartzite, and marble. Quartz is the hardest, and thus the most durable of all four. In fact, it’s one of the toughest countertop materials available due to the man-made polymer resins.

That said, you cannot cut directly on the countertop. That was the most-asked question when I shared our newly-installed countertops on Instagram.

Important to note, however: You cannot cut directly on any of the other aforementioned materials, either, which is something most people are unaware of. Home buyers mistakenly think that if the countertop material is natural stone, then it can be used as a cutting board. That is simply not true. Sharp knives will scratch and etch the surface of any stone – natural or engineered. Quartz ranks higher on the Moh’s Hardness Scale at a 7, as opposed to granite, which ranked at a 6. For reference, a diamond is classified as a 10. This means that quartz is the most scratch-resistant material of the four; however, scratch- resistant does not mean scratch-proof!

In addition to being scratch-resistant, quartz countertops are considered heat-resistant too, and can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, this is one reason quartz works well as fireplace surrounds. However, as with most other stone materials, you cannot put a hot pan directly on the surface.

“Wait, what? But I thought you just said it’s heat-resistant!” is probably what you’re thinking right now.

If you were to play a hot pan on quartz, the sudden change from cold to hot can result in thermal shock, leading to discoloration or cracking. So yes, while a gradual increase in temperature is okay, putting a hot pan directly on the stone is not. This is a small but very important detail that most home buyers are unaware of, much like the question of cutting directly on stone.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

What about maintenance?

One major difference between quartz and most other countertop options is that quartz is non-porous. As such, it never needs to be sealed – unlike most other materials. In fact, Gold Line recommends quartz for anyone needing a low-maintenance material in their kitchen.​

For everyday cleaning, Gold Line recommends warm water with a gentle soap solution that doesn’t contain any astringents or harsh chemicals, which can wear down quartz with repeated use. Then, using a separate cloth and fresh water, wipe away all traces of soap.

Because of its non-porous factor, quartz won’t stain when exposed to colored foods or liquids. However, it’s still best practice to wipe away spills as they happen, because the color may not have an effect, but if the spill is in any way acidic, that’s a different story.

For a hardened mess, a flexible plastic scraper and some warm water are the perfect tools for chipping away at the mess. For stubborn residue, use equal parts water and distilled white vinegar solution to cut through the film. You can also replace vinegar with hydrogen peroxide. Some people recommend using a magic eraser for stains, but I’ve not tried that myself. My guess it that it would depend on the finish of your quartz countertops, seeing how the magic eraser could possibly dull polished surfaces.

Quartz is also antimicrobial, so you can rest assured there is no mold hiding in your countertops. You can’t say the same for natural stone due to its porous nature.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

Let’s talk about cost. How does quartz compare to other materials?

Possibly the second most-asked question on Instagram is that of cost. Generally, quartz can run anywhere from $50 per square foot up to $200, and that includes labor.

Want the best quality, best price, and the best overall experience?

I’ve got a secret for you: Choose local, small companies over big box stores when ordering countertops. Local companies, like Gold Line, are able to offer a level of customer service you simply cannot find at big box retailers. We’ve been using Gold Line for all our countertop projects, and it’s always been about more than a transaction for them; it’s about building relationships with their clients – and that’s the kind of people you want on your team when going through a stressful house renovation.

Local, small companies are also able to offer the best price. Big box stores essentially act as the middleman between the manufacturer and the customer. Additionally, yet another third party is responsible for the installation. By eliminating that middle step, you’re setting yourself up for significant savings.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

My general advice for choosing quartz.

  1. Considering the nature of my work, I have quite the collection of countertop samples. So when time came to choose countertops for the Greenfield, I had a good idea of what I wanted. Obviously, that may not be the case for the typical homeowner. I strongly recommend bringing samples home and comparing them against cabinets, lighting, paint color and any other finish in the room. Essentially, you’re creating a physical moodboard to see how these various materials will look together. A stone in the fluorescent lights of a showroom can look completely different in the lighting that’s in your home.
  2. Equally important as samples is seeing the slab in its entirety. Although quartz is generally more predicable than natural stone in terms of appearance, it’s still a good idea to see the coloring and veining on a bigger scale beyond the sample. I like to Google the slab name and find photos of kitchens with that stone installed. Sometimes what appears as light and minimal in a sample can actually be quite a busy pattern when viewed as a full slab.
  3. Although some quartz is available in both polished and honed finishes, I personally would not recommend the latter. Just like with paint, a matte finish on quartz shows every fingerprint. That can take away from its low maintenance factor, because you’ll be wiping your countertops all day long. The high sheen and reflectiveness of polished quartz has a better ability to hide any smudges on its surface. Furthermore, honed quartz is actually porous, meaning it requires re-sealing on a regular basis.
  4. Obviously, countertops are one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen renovation. I would never encourage others to go over their budget. But I will say that in some cases the price difference between your favorite stone and the one you sort of like can be minimal, especially in a smaller kitchen. For example, say you’ve set a budget of $60 per square foot or less. But you find a stone that you really, really like, and it’s $64 per square foot. For an average-sized kitchen, that $4 difference will not amount to much. The average kitchen counter size is 30 square feet. So that $4 difference would come out to an additional $120, or the difference between paying $1800 for countertops you sort of like and paying $1920 for countertops you really, really like. In the big scheme of things, that $120 difference is not very significant.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

To sum up, a list of pros and cons.

Advantages of quartz include:

  1. Appearance: There’s no doubt about it, quartz is beautiful. It can be manufactured in any color or pattern you desire. Quartz can also mimic the appearance of any other stone, making it a versatile material that caters to many different tastes.
  2. Non-Porous and Antimicrobial: Because quartz is so dense, you never have to worry about bacteria getting trapped in its pores, like you would with natural stone. As a result, it’s a more sanitary choice for kitchens and bathrooms.
  3. No Sealing Required: Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed, while most other countertop materials require a sealer to be applied regularly to protect them from absorbing liquids, staining, and other types of damage.
  4. Low Maintenance: A damp cloth is all you’ll need for day-to-day cleaning. For tougher messes, you’ll want to avoid harsh chemicals, but that’s the case for any natural stone. In fact, natural stone has a longer list of cleansers to avoid than quartz does.
  5. Scratch- and Stain-Resistant: As I’ve explained in earlier paragraphs, resistant doesn’t mean that it can never be damaged by those elements. However, there’s a lower chance of that happening with quartz than with natural stone.

Disadvantages of quartz include:

  1. Cost: Because of its many advantages, quartz comes with a high price tag.
  2. Not Heat-Proof: Due to the polymer resins that make up approximately 5 percent of quartz, this countertop material is more susceptible to thermal shock.
  3. Engineered: Quartz is only 95 percent natural, so for homeowners who have a strong preference for natural materials, quartz may be less desirable.

Quartz Countertops - Everything You Need to Know

I hope this article answers all your questions about quartz countertops. If you have a question about something I missed, ask away in the comments, and I’ll try to help!

We couldn’t be happier with the level of luxury that quartz countertops have added to our kitchen. I’m so pleased with the experience we’ve had with Gold Line and am excited to continue working with them on our future projects! I’m currently trying to convince the husband to let me use marble in the Greystone kitchen, but we shall see!

Tune in over the next couple weeks as we finally wrap up the entire Greenfield remodel, including the kitchen and master bathroom. Make sure you’re subscribed to the FOXY OXIE email list, so you’re the first to know when new posts are published.

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