A Comprehensive Guide to Quartz Countertops
Quartz is now among the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom countertops, but that was not always the case. It used to be so expensive and limited that only luxury homes had them.
Today, quartz countertops cost about the same as granite, and you can choose from a wide range of colors and designs from several brands. Some closely mimic the look of the most beautiful natural stones, while others offer slabs in colors and designs that will never come from nature.
However, how much do you really know about these quartz brands? How do you know which one to choose? This comprehensive guide to quartz countertops should help.
Quartz stone brands have many things in common. These include:
One of the biggest things these brands have in common is the manufacturing process. All quartz stone slabs use the same process called Bretonstone. This is patented technology invented by Marcello Toncelli in Italy. The company Breton S.p.a. holds the patent, licensing about 50 companies in different countries to use it. Different manufacturers may add distinguishing features in their product, but they all use the same process.
The Bretonstone process does not specify the materials used in the product. However, all quartz stone brands have a high quantity of quartz mineral in the mix, with the top brands claiming at least 90% quartz. This distinguishes it from other engineered stones such as solid surface, which only has 66% mineral content.
The high proportion of quartz in engineered quartz means it is very durable. Quartz mineral is one of the toughest minerals around. However, eliminating other minerals from the mix as part of the Bretonstone process) makes engineered quartz stone even tougher than natural quartz, which typically contains other minerals and impurities. It might even be tougher than granite in some respects.
Engineered quartz has a water absorption rate of 0.5%, which is the same as porcelain tiles. This means that they are practically non-porous. Engineered quartz countertops do not need sealing, unlike most natural stones such as granite and marble.
Natural quartz is heat resistant, so that component of engineered quartz is also heat resistant. However, the 10% or so contains resins and pigments is not, as these react to relatively low heat quite quickly. You can expect your quartz countertops to handle temperatures of up to 360 degrees F without damage for a short time, but it would be wise to avoid direct heat exposure altogether.
Engineered quartz countertops may intrinsically be the same, but they have important distinctions in terms of looks and other practical matters. These include:
Different quartz brands will offer products that are unique to each brand. The differences might be subtle in some instances, but they are there. The design might differ in terms of colors, mineral patterns and shapes, slab thicknesses, edge profiles, and finishes. You can often find the exact stone slab you want from engineered quartz catalogues.
Natural stone slabs mostly come in standard slab sizes of 114 inches by 66 inches. Slight variations might occur, but not by much. Some quartz brands, however, over slabs that can go as long as 125 inches. This means you can have longer countertops with no seams using quartz stone slabs.
All quartz stones come with manufacturer warranties. However, each brand will have different terms and conditions for their warranty. Some will offer 10 years, while others offer it for a limited lifetime. The warranty of some quartz countertops is transferable, while others are not.
The cost of each slab will depend on your supplier. As consumers cannot buy quartz stone for their countertops directly from the manufacturers, they have to go to authorized suppliers. The price for the countertops will depend on the agreement between the manufacturer and individual supplier.
As mentioned earlier, each manufacturer will put their unique mark on their brand. Here is a brief description of some of the top brands in the market.
Cambria is a subsidiary of a large dairy company based in Minnesota. It is only one of two American quartz brands and entered the market in 2000. While it is a relatively new entrant, it quickly captured a good chunk of the US market. It has some of the widest range of the most natural-looking stone slabs in the market, and offers them in jumbo sizes. Cambria is not available in big box stores.
Caesarstone is one of the first manufacturers of quartz stones outside of Italy, and claims to be “the original quartz surface manufacturer.” This is not true, of course, as Breton produces its own quartz stones and holds that title. Nevertheless, Caesarstone is one of the most recognized brands of quartz stones, and prides itself in its unique offerings, such as incorporating semi-precious stones or petrified wood in the mix.
A subsidiary of the Italian company Cosentino, Silestone is almost synonymous with quartz countertops in the US. It is particularly associated with bold colors and designs that make no effort to look natural. Silestone offers also shower pans, vanities, and sinks to match their countertop offerings.
Quartz countertops are common in the US, and for good reason. This comprehensive guide should help you make the right decisions when choosing your kitchen countertops. Consult with a reliable countertop specialist if you are still in doubt.
Granite ASAP is there for you. We carry a wide range of natural stone slabs as well as the best engineered stone brands in the country. Over 100 colors of granite and marble slabs are available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom. If you prefer engineered stone, we can offer you products from the Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI brands, each one carrying the manufacturer’s warranty. You can choose what you want and we will deliver it ASAP!
We service the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC.
Feel free to ask any questions over the phone, or get in touch using our contact form. We offer free estimates and quotes for any of your kitchen remodeling or bathroom remodeling needs.