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What is Quartz?
Quartz is a ground mineral and found in abundance in metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. If this is too geological to comprehend, think of quartz as one of the strongest and most resistant natural minerals found in all parts of the world since it can form irrespective of the temperatures. To pinpoint the durability of quartz, let me just say that it ranks 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. With that brief reference to the quartz as a mineral, let me answer one more main question.
What Makes Quartz Countertops so Special?
Quartz countertops are not entirely made of the ground mineral. They are manmade and so we often talk about engineered quartz countertops to distinguish them from the quartzite countertops – since their name is similar. Quartzite is a natural stone and so there are plenty of quartz vs quartzite countertop differences. Engineered quartz countertops are made of approx. 90% – 95% ground quartz while the rest is polymer resins and pigments – although some manufacturers also use metallic flecks, recycled glass or organic resins. Overall, the pigments provide the color and the resins provide the elasticity, which makes quartz countertops so durable. Now, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of quartz countertops.
The Advantages of Quartz Countertops
Quartz is moisture and stain resistant because it’s non-porous. That’s great news for both kitchen and bathroom countertops. If you spill wine on the kitchen counter or nail-polish on the bath slab, there is no need to panic. You can simply wipe the stain without worrying that it will penetrate the material. That comes with the extra benefit of enjoying an antimicrobial counter. Bacteria grow when they find food and moisture. Since quartz countertops stay free of stains, they will also be free of bacteria and thus bad odors and thus mildew and thus safety concerns. Pfew, I said my line…
One of the most attractive things about quartz countertops is that they are maintenance-free. You don’t have to bother with sealing or oiling the surface as you would do with natural stones, like marble or granite countertops. It’s non-porous and thus stain resistant. And here comes the even better news. Since it’s not stained, it’s antimicrobial too. So no worries about the safety of your children. How is it cleaned? Easily. You just use a wet cloth and if there are some stains here and there, add a mild cleaner and you are all set. One thing though; don’t use abrasives or rough pads which might dull the counter or damage the bond of resins and quartz.
Since quartz countertops are manmade, the designs and style possibilities are nearly endless. And so you don’t have to settle for what nature provides. In fact, the resins used to make slabs offer flexibility and this is good for two reasons:
- Flexible countertops are resistant to cracking and chipping.
- As far as beauty and appearances are concerned, they give room for infinite designs. The fabricator can make countertops in any shape and this is the feature which makes quartz countertops versatile. They will blend right in any home interior style.
The quartz countertop design options are infinite. Since they are manmade, they might have a consistent color or a patterned design. Some slabs are easily confused with marble countertops due to the swirls and veins but quartz counters might also have a pebble-like or mosaic-like pattern. So you can get a marble-like quartz countertop without the disadvantages of the natural stone. Sounds good?
The catch? There will be seams. Not that only quartz slabs have seams but it’s important to point it out. Now, what’s the problem with the visible seams? Although they are concealed, they are still there and based on the work of the contractor, you might see and feel them. The problem with the seams as far as the appearance of the countertop is concerned is the movement of the pattern. It’s interrupted by the seams, especially if the fabricator doesn’t provide you with slabs of the same design that will allow the pattern to continue from one end to the other. It’s important to mention that to your fabricator although it costs more because it makes a world of difference.
Many Color & Style Options
The color options are as many as the style choices. After all, this is a fabricated product. The manufacturers get the natural quartz and then add pigments and resins to make the slabs. Now, the pigments give the color of the slab. And so the hue of the slabs depends on the pigments used for the counter’s fabrication. The countertop can be matte, polished or textured. Apart from patterns, you can find a world of solid colors ranging from white, black, and red to gray, deep green, or blue. And so your options are endless. Quartz beautifully mimics granite, mosaic, marble and any natural stone and is offered in a rainbow of solid hues.
It’s one of the most durable materials thanks to the natural quartz and the resins. The ground mineral ranks 7 at the Mohs Scale of Hardness while the resins add the elasticity needed to make the counter impact resistant. So quartz countertops are very, very durable. And that’s their real beauty, especially if we are talking about high-traffic kitchen and bathroom countertops. They are scratch resistant and so you don’t have to worry about knife cuts. After all, there is no sealant on the surface that might be ruined by the blade. All the same, they are not bulletproof and so it’s best to use cutting boards. Before I move on, let me just add that quartz countertops won’t etch. And that’s vital.
What’s etching? It’s the little white marks on countertops created by acidic foods and drinks.
The good news is that quartz countertops are not susceptible to etching and thus if you squeeze oranges for the kids or drop vinegar on the slab, you don’t have to worry.
The Disadvantages of Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops cost. Although the price depends on your location, vendor, and the slabs you choose (thickness, size etc.), it is high. Simply put, if you want a cheap countertop, quartz is not your guy. Instead, go for laminate countertops although they lack the feel and beauty of quartz. The good news? You have some choices. You can find cheaper slabs and spend approx. $40 per sq. ft. while the most expensive ones cost about $70 to $100 per sq. ft. The difference? Apart from the above factors, the quality of the slab will also determine its price. They are all manufactured in a similar way but the number & quality of the resins (and other components) and the pigments will make a difference. That’s because the most high-end products come out in more colors, patterns, and designs. And then the composition of the slab will also determine the durability and thus longevity. But this is what should put your mind at ease. Due to their durability and resistance, quartz countertops last for a very long time and this will compensate for the initial high price.
When you consider quartz countertop costs, don’t forget to calculate additional expenses. These would include sink cutouts, edge finishing, covering the seams, getting similar slabs and installing them to create movement, adding support to cabinets underneath and installation.
They hold okay under heat but don’t place your hot pans on the countertop. Although they are not sealed, quartz countertops contain polymer resins which are plastic and therefore won’t put up with high temperatures for long.
NOT Resistant to UV Radiation
That’s their weakness. And so if you are planning to build an outdoor kitchen, don’t choose quartz for the countertop. The color will dull and the slab will eventually crack or warp. This happens because the UV rays take their toll on the resins which bind the material together and then the fall of your outdoor quartz countertop empire will begin.
What Say You?
Clearly, the advantages of quartz countertops outnumber the disadvantages. To help you organize your thoughts, here’s a quick recap of the pros and cons of quartz countertops.
|Extremely Durable||NOT Heat Resistant|
|Many Color & Pattern Options||Expensive|
|Scratch & Etching Resistant||NOT for Outdoor Kitchens|
|NO Need to Seal|
|Easy to Clean|
When it comes to appearances and thus color, design, and pattern options, no other material beats the choices quartz countertops offer. Manmade but also composed mainly by one of the earth’s most durable ground minerals, they are extremely strong and this makes them expensive too. So you have many good reasons for choosing quartz countertops for your kitchen but not without considering their drawbacks too. Enjoy the process!!!