Kitchen Countertops: Quartz Composites, Part 3 of 7

By Jim Mallery Columnist

Part 3 of a seven-part series, Kitchen Countertops

You have upgraded your kitchen cabinets, and now you need to upgrade your countertops to match. In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we looked at granite slab, but if that's not exactly what you want, what are some other options?

Quartz Composite Countertops: The Granite Alternative

Still expensive, but maybe a little less so than granite slabs, quartz countertops are a comparable granite alternative to go with your new or refaced kitchen cabinets. Here are 10 considerations you'll want to examine before deciding on quartz composite.

  1. New tech. Quartz composites are a somewhat newer offering in countertops. They look a little like granite, and in some ways outperform that stone. Some kitchen designers believe quartz countertops eventually will supplant granite as the favored high-end kitchen material.
  2. Composition. Quartz countertops--brand names include Caesarstone, Silerstone, Cambria and Zodiac--are a mixture of crushed quartz and resins. They are 93 to 95 percent quartz.
  3. Harder. Quartz countertops are more durable than granite and are harder and less likely to chip or scratch.
  4. Impervious. The quartz/resin combination is not porous like granite and doesn't need to be sealed. That also makes it much more resistant to stains. Because it is impervious, it is easier to keep bacteria from getting a toehold. In addition, most quartz countertops are treated with anti-microbials that ward off germs.
  5. Edges. Quartz countertops are fabricated like granite, and need to be edged. Like granite, you have the choices of square, bull-nose or ogee edges. And like granite, an ogee edge on quartz is going to be a little more prone to chipping than the others.
  6. Installation. Like granite, quartz composites need professional installation. In fact, some quartz manufacturers require installation by certified installers to maintain the warranty.
  7. Looks. Quartz countertops are manufactured in a wide variety of patterns that mimic granite, though granite still offers more selection.
  8. Green. Quartz is considered a slightly more eco-friendly choice to granite. There is more of it, and gathering quartz is not as destructive as mining granite.
  9. Downside. So if quartz counters are stronger and require less maintenance than granite, why would you even consider granite? Besides more limited color choices, quartz composites do not have the lustre of granite. Compare the two materials side-by-side, and you will see that the granite has a deeper shine.
  10. Cost. Most quartz will cost about the same as low-end granite, but the price does not jump like granite when you look at more exotic patterns.

Quartz composite countertops are an effective, alternative to slab granite, but they probably won't save you much money over granite. In Part 4, we will look at other alternative solid counters.


About The Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.