If you’ve decided that it’s time to give your kitchen a little TLC and move forward with that remodel that you’ve been dreaming of, you may be surprised at the choices of countertops available in the market today. Over the last decade, design trends have been moving away from laminate countertops to stone countertops. If the natural stone look isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you may want to consider a countertop made from engineered quartz.
If you’re still on the fence and trying to figure out which material is the best option for your remodel, here is how quartz countertops compare with other natural stones.
Natural stone countertops are made from materials such as granite, marble, soapstone, slate, etc. These materials are 100% natural and are quarried directly from the earth. Quartz, on the other hand, is an engineered material. It is actually a combination of about 95% ground natural quartz and 5% polymer resins. Occasionally, for a specific look, there will be flecks of glass or metallic materials added into the mix.
With natural materials, every slab of stone is unique due to its exact composition of minerals, veining, coloring, and striations that naturally occur within the stone. This means no two slabs are alike. As for color options, natural stone countertops tend to come in browns, grays, beige, and sometimes pink or red depending upon the specific type of stone being used. With quartz being an engineered material, the countertops have a uniform appearance. Because it is a manmade material there are also more options available with quartz countertops. They come in a wider variety of colors and patterns, helping you find just the specific color needed to pull your whole design together.
Quartz was essentially designed to address the issues that homeowners often have with natural stone countertops, durability being one of them. This means that quartz countertops are often harder and more durable. In fact, they are practically indestructible—they are less likely to crack and chip. Two issues that are common amongst natural stone countertops. It is also less likely to show stains or spills since it is not porous like most natural stones. However, quartz is more likely to get scratched than natural stone countertops like granite.
Resistance to heat is one area where natural stone countertops outperform quartz countertops. Most natural stones are heat resistant. This means a hot pan is not going to discolor the stone. It may get cracked due to the thermal shock, but won’t get discolored. However, the resin used to fabricate the quartz cannot handle the high temperature (>150 degrees) of a hot pan and may result is a discoloration, leaving rings and other marks that cannot be repaired. Regardless of the type of countertop you choose, it’s always recommended to use a trivet or hot pad.
Both natural stone and quartz are heavy countertops. Given the weight of the countertop in these materials, installation is best left to the professionals. Having a professional install your quartz countertop is especially important, as a special technique is used to eliminate the visible seams between two pieces. This is one advantage of quartz over natural stone countertops that will still have a visible seam after the countertop is installed. Professional installation for quartz countertops is also important given that they are substantially heavier than natural stone countertops and the installer needs to confirm that the space is structurally sound.
In comparison to other countertop materials on the market (such as Formica, laminate, and Corian), natural stone and quartz countertops are more expensive options. Both natural stone and quartz countertops are in relatively the same ballpark.
- Granite: $50-200 per square foot
- Marble: $75-250 per square foot
- Soapstone: $60-190 per square foot
- Slate: $50-70 per square foot for tiles, $100+ per square foot for slab
- Quartz: $55-160 per square foot
Natural stone and quartz countertops must be cleaned everyday with water and soap, or a mild cleaning solution. Likewise, any spills should be cleaned immediately to avoid stains. Quartz is considered relatively low maintenance as there is no need to have the countertop resealed throughout its lifetime. However, with natural stone countertops like granite it is advised that they are resealed every year (sometimes at less frequency depending upon the specific sealant used).
When it comes to natural stone countertops there are epoxy kits that can be used to treat small scratches or chips. There is also the option of refinishing or polishing the surface to get the countertop back to its original glory. Epoxy kits can also be used to fill in small scratches and nicks in quartz countertops as well. However, it is more difficult to repair cracks in quartz due to their visibility thanks to quartz’s consistent color.
Both natural stone countertops and quartz countertops can be considered environmentally friendly. However, natural stone countertops must be quarried, which in and of itself takes significant energy. Then the stone must be transported to your location from wherever it was quarried. Quartz, on the other hand, is essentially made of left-over stone byproducts, reducing the amount of energy needed to procure the materials to fabricate the quartz. If your quartz is procured locally, then the transportation impact is reduced even more.
Regardless of whether you have natural stone countertops or quartz countertops in your home, prospective buyers are likely to be impressed. This means that regardless of whether you choose a natural stone like granite or go with an engineered material like quartz you are likely to make back your investment. However, the return you will realize will be greater with a granite countertop as homebuyers tend to give preference to the natural stone (which is likely because quartz is still a relatively new material to work with).
The Choice Is Yours
Ultimately, you must decide which material works best for your needs and your desired design. Both natural stone countertops and quartz countertops have their advantages and disadvantages. Natural stone has a more unique design, is more heat resistant, and has a slightly greater resale value, while quartz tends to have more color options, is stronger, and lower maintenance. Regardless of your decision, natural stone and quartz are high-end materials that will add a unique look to your kitchen or bathroom remodel.