Countertops are a hot topic on social media, with many conversations drifting toward the same surface: quartz. Questions about quartz countertops are frequently the same: Why are they so special? Are they hard to keep clean? Are they better than other surfaces? What are the benefits of quartz countertops? We’ve explored the latest in countertop trends and considered a variety of countertop pros and cons. Let’s take a moment to focus in on quartz and why everyone is talking about this kitchen and bathroom surface option.
What is quartz? Quartz, also known as silicon dioxide (SiO2), is one of the most common minerals on earth. If you’ve ever held a rock, you’ve held quartz.
How are quartz countertops made? Quartz countertops were first created in Italy in the early 1960s. The process of creating a quartz countertop is similar to making a cake—the ingredients (polymer resin, ground quartz and pigment) are blended in a mixer, poured into a mold and baked at high heat. The composition of powered stone and binder classifies this kind of quartz as an engineered stone and one of the hardest surfaces in existence. According to the Mohs scale of hardness, quartz, like diamonds, is harder than steel.
What colors do quartz countertops come in? Pick any color in the rainbow and there’s a quartz countertop to match. Since added color is a component of the recipe, these man-made surfaces can be fabricated in a diverse array of shades, from solid primary colors to incredible replicas of natural stone (including veining!). These countertops can even be customized for texture to mimic real stone.
How does quartz compare to granite, marble or soapstone? Quartz countertops are very low maintenance. They’re resistant to scratches and nonporous, making them impervious to mold, mildew and stains—they’ll never need to be sealed like granite or oiled like soapstone. When it comes to cleaning quartz countertops, a sponge and soapy water should do the trick, unlike granite and soapstone, which fair far better when maintained with special cleaners. Despite its list of accolades, quartz isn’t as heat-resistant as granite or soapstone, and UV rays can alter the coloration—think twice before putting the quartz in a sun-drenched room. In terms of cost, quartz is more expensive than granite but cheaper than soapstone. Picking the right countertop comes down to personal taste, the needs of the space and your lifestyle.