Countertop and Kitchen

The Case for Quartz Countertops

In a recent post, I suggested to a reader that quartz countertops would be a good choice in her quest to find the most durable and easy-care option, because quartz doesn’t stain, doesn’t require any kind of sealant and cleans up like a dream. And, I said, quartz is cheaper than granite.

Countertop and Kitchen

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In no time, I received this email response:

I was in the kitchen and bath remodel business for over 30 years. I worked with laminate, granite, and quartz. The quartz countertops do not perform better than granite.

I had complaints all the time for staining. Also you cannot set anything hot on quartz because it leaves a ring.

One more correction you need to make is that quartz is definitely NOT cheaper than granite!! I know from experience. Mary Lou

It took only a few hours in research mode for me to realize that Mary Lou is right; I was perhaps too general in my response. Here’s what I’ve learned.

There’s quartz and then there’s quartzite. They’re often confused, but not the same. It’s important to know the difference.

Quartzite is natural stone formed from sandstone and quartz, found all over the world. It is mined and sawn into slabs, which are later precisely cut to become countertops.

Quartz, on the other hand, is engineered; factory-made. Ground up quartz rock is mixed with resins, polymers, binding agents, and pigment to form a very hard granite-like product that does not require sealing in order to resist stains.

Quartz is not super-high-heat tolerant, which makes trivets and hot pads absolute must-haves for use on quartz counters. The resin used to make quartz is plastic making it prone to damage and even melting if a very hot pan is set directly on the surface.

Quartz is hard but not hard enough to hold up against chopping and cutting on it directly. Always use a cutting board to avoid ugly scratches.
While quartz will resist permanent staining from wine, vinegar, tea, lemon juice, fruits, and vegetables, it’s a good idea to wipe up all spills immediately before they have a chance to dry. Use a mild dishwashing detergent like Blue Dawn and a soft cloth.

For dried spills and heavy stains use glass cleaner and a non-abrasive sponge. Keep a plastic putty knife handy to scrape off gum, food, nail polish, paint or other messes that have hardened as they dry.

For really tough stains—permanent marker for example—moisten a cloth with Goo Gone (found in some home improvement stores and online) and rub it into the stain. Rinse thoroughly with warm water followed by mild dishwashing detergent to remove any residue.

Never use abrasive cleansers or scouring pads on quartz as both may dull the surface. Fortunately, soapy water will usually be all you need.

And should harsh solutions like nail polish remover, drain cleaner and dishwasher rinsing agents come in contact with the quartz, rinse the surface immediately and thoroughly with water.

As for price comparison to granite, there’s no set answer. Often quartz is cheaper, but not always. The price of both quartz and granite vary greatly due to variables like color, supplier and availability; whether you’re dealing with a retailer, wholesaler or fabricator. You have to shop around!

With all this being said, I stand by my original advice. If you want durable, beautiful and long-lasting counters at the best price with the least amount of maintenance required, my pick remains quartz.

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