The Beauty of Stone Slab Meets the Durability of Solid Surface
Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone or engineered quartz, combine the best features of synthetics and real stone. Popular in Europe for years, quartz counters are fast becoming one of the hottest home improvement commodities in the United States. After you learn about the benefits of this handsome, durable, and maintenance free material, chances are good that you'll jump on the quartz bandwagon.
How Quartz Countertops are Made
While it's possible to buy a quartz counter made from 100% quarried stone, most are in fact a man made product consisting of 90 to 95 percent quartz, a small amount of plastic resins, color pigments, and other substances (such as those that add antibacterial properties). Individual manufacturers, however, have their own engineered quartz formulas, resulting in products that differ slightly in appearance, performance, and price.
Due to its composition, engineered stone is more similar to solid surface than natural stone. But before you write it off as just another faux stone, consider that engineered stone is made predominately from real quartz, and that the additives make it superior to real stone in a number of ways.
Engineered Quartz vs. Natural Stone Slab
Even the most ardent advocates of real stone countertops are apt to change their mind when they understand the benefits of engineered stone.
- Color: Although stone has some gorgeous natural colors and patterns, it can sometimes be difficult to find a slab that perfectly matches your existing decor - especially if your kitchen is part of an open area that also contains, for example, a dining room. Engineered quartz, however, available in a huge range of colors, makes it easy to coordinate your counters with their surroundings.
- Maintenance: Despite being extremely hard and heavy, stones such as granite have naturally-occurring imperfections that can lead to cracks. Natural stone is also porous, and needs regular applications of sealant to keep it at peak performance. Engineered quartz countertops, on the other hand, are specifically engineered to have a uniform composition and appearance. They are additionally non-porous, providing resistance against scratches, water, bacteria, mold, and mildew without sealing.
- Guaranteed Performance: Most engineered quartz manufactures offer a product warranty - something you almost never find with real stone. It's even possible to purchase a quartz countertop with a lifetime warranty.
Quartz Countertop Costs
- Quartz countertops typically cost $50 to $120 per square foot installed, although prices as high as $200 per square foot are not unheard of. Assuming 30 square feet of counter space - which is about average - that's a price range of $1,500 to $6,000 (although $1,500 to $3,500 is more realistic).
- Custom work, including custom edging, can add to the cost of quartz countertops, as can a tricky installation (i.e. many corners and odd shapes). Removal and disposal of existing countertops might also cost extra.