Noble and chic – that’s how quartz worktops look. But can they do more than just look good? Are they suitable for everyday cooking, even for the legendary kitchen party? And how do quartz composite countertops compare in price to other countertops? We put quartz stone products under the microscope for you. Spoiler: No one can beat hardness grade seven in a hurry – but you may have to clean quartz countertops more often.
Quartz Countertop: What’s Inside
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral found on the earth’s crust. Strictly speaking, quartz is crystallized silicon dioxide – this makes quartz a natural raw material for your kitchen countertop.
But to make a countertop, the material must be processed. Strictly speaking, quartz countertops are quartz or quartz for kitchen backsplash products, wiper strips, and side panels. Because: of the ground quartz (about 93 percent of the mixture), manufacturers add resin binders and so-called enhancing additives such as pieces of glass and dye, mica particles, or other special effects.
All of this makes it possible for you to buy quartz countertops in pure, unadulterated white, for example, for your kitchen in white. A chemical transformability that is not possible with a granite countertop. Or, you can buy the quartz countertop with the look of a natural stone countertop – just with more functionality for your residential kitchen. Quartz composite countertops are available in mottled look, matte, and polished. In principle, almost all other countertop materials can be imitated in appearance and color.
The popular Silestone quartz countertop comes in 60 colors. Silestone is the patented quartz material from the Spanish company Consentino. It is about to become the brand name for all quartz composite products – as we know it from high-pressure cleaners, safety glass, or paper tissues. Silestone is resistant to stains, stable and available in both polished and matte finishes. And: the material is not exclusively used for quartz countertops in thicknesses of 12, 20, and 30 millimeters but is also available as a kitchen sink. Countertop and kitchen sink in one cast – a good trick, especially in small kitchens, to make the kitchen appear larger.
Another well-known brand name in the quartz composite products market is Caesarstone. Sophisticatedly designed quartz countertops made of polyester resin in all imaginable colors with all imaginable patterns, thanks to true artists, go from an ordinary countertop to the eye-catcher of the kitchen. The countertops of the Israeli company of the same name have sonorous names such as “Tiger Eye” or “Amethyst Rock”.
Advantages and disadvantages of quartz countertops in the kitchen
Quartz countertops have advantages and disadvantages. Using our list below, you can weigh whether a quartz countertop is the right choice as you plan your kitchen.
Advantages of a quartz countertop
- Quartz is a durable, water-resistant material. Scratch and wear marks on countertops are very rare.
- Quartz countertops are food safe and durable because moisture cannot harm them. Water and lime marks form very rarely, if at all. So if a little chalky water should land on the quartz surface, it’s no problem.
- Small scratches or signs of use can be repaired relatively easily on quartz countertops.
- Aesthetically pleasing quartz countertops offer various design options and colors, making them the perfect match for your dream kitchen. A quartz countertop adds a modern flair to your kitchen without removing its coziness – as can happen with a steel countertop, for example, or even a concrete countertop.
- Quartz countertops do not have a porous surface, so they are smooth and, therefore, easy to clean, as no special cleaning agent is required, and they are hygienically clean.
- Quartz countertops offer good value for money.
Disadvantages of a Quartz Countertop
- The surface of a quartz countertop is so hard that placing objects on it, especially glasses, is usually not without rattling and clattering. Noise-sensitive people can be bothered by this.
You should not place hot pots or frying pans on the quartz countertop because it can cause damage.
- The manufacturing material, i.e., the quartz composite, is not purely natural but a mixture of several materials – this does not please every kitchen designer.
- Unfortunately, depending on its appearance, a quartz countertop may not look natural.
- Fingerprints and grease stains are more visible on solid-colored quartz surfaces than on other countertops. Especially on the so-called leather-look countertops, every greasy finger is visible – this increases the cleaning effort and, unfortunately, reduces efficiency.
- Some manufacturers recommend only products that market themselves as cleaning agents and explicitly write in the care instructions that neither dishwashing detergent nor any other cleaning agent is recommended for quartz countertops – this gives the impression that the quartz surface is very sensitive and needs a special cleaning agent – but this is not the case.
How Suitable for Everyday Use Are Quartz Countertops?
The kitchen countertop must be able to withstand a lot and at the same time emphasize the look of your kitchen. Quartz countertops are available from most manufacturers in several thicknesses: 15 and 20 millimeters, and with a substructure and beveled block edge in 30 and 40 millimeters thicknesses. Quartz countertops tend to be among the lightest: Between 29 and 44 kilograms weigh a square meter – considering that a wooden countertop weighs more than 70 kilograms, the quartz variant is very light.
Quartz composite products are extremely scratch, impact, shock resistant, and liquid repellent because the quartz surface has no pores – this means cleaning the quartz countertop is easy and facilitates hygienic work in the kitchen. However, damage to the quartz countertop often occurs when hot objects are placed directly on it; great energy and force are applied to a small countertop area. Therefore, you should always use a trivet for the hot pots and pans.
However, since most quartz countertops have a seven-hardness rating, you’ll have to be very rough wielding your wooden spoon or paring knife to cause permanent damage. For the love of your kitchen knives, you should chop the fruits and vegetables on a cutting board because the quartz countertop is harder than the cutting surface of your knife. You would need to sharpen it quite frequently to be able to chop anything at all again if you regularly cut with it directly on the quartz countertop.
What can change slightly, over time and with exposure to strong sunlight and UV rays, according to the manufacturer, is the color. Whereas quartz countertops do not fade but only show a slightly noticeable color change compared to the day they were installed.
Care Tips for Quartz Composite Countertops
Warm water, a dishcloth, and some washing-up liquid or glass cleaner – that’s all it takes to clean a quartz composite worktop. If you want, you can also use vinegar water and remove stuck-on, dried-on food residue with a wooden or plastic scraper or, in tough cases, a metal blade for ceramic cooktops. According to most manufacturers, wiping thoroughly with warm water and wiping the quartz composite countertop with a dry cloth after cleaning is important. If you use cold water to rinse or don’t wipe at all, you could provoke streaks or shading on the countertop – this could also happen if you are too good about cleaning and use chamois leather on the quartz surface.
You can carefully treat stubborn stains on the countertop with a few drops of white spirit. However, you should never use alkaline cleaners i.e., lye, to clean your quartz composite countertop. You should also avoid polishing the worktop with polish, grease, or wax-containing agents – this will create a dirt-trapping layer on the quartz countertop that will be difficult to get rid of and negatively change the look and feel of your countertop.
Quartz countertops score points in everyday life with their hygiene, ease of cleaning, low maintenance, and classy look. So, they are family and party friendly and stand up to the turbulent life. Quartz countertops match all types of kitchens, from shabby chic to wood kitchens to American kitchens, because they can be matched in color and pattern. But before you decide, consider our seven tips for the best kitchen countertop.