Quartz 101: Advantages, Disadvantages, and How to Care For It
Quartz. You’re probably hearing about it everywhere, seeing it in your Pinterest feed. It’s even being featured on DIY television shows. Let’s dive into the intricacies of quartz ownership with a quick study of Quartz 101!
When we refer to “quartz countertops,” what we really mean is engineered quartz . Engineered quartz is made from natural quartz composite that is combined with pigments, recycled material and other fillers that are held together with a resin binder to make it a nonporous solid surface. There are quartz factories all over the world, with some manufacturers utilizing plants in multiple countries to produce their color line.
Engineered quartz is a durable, stain resistant surface option with beautiful, consistent patterns that can be created in a factory. This is an advantage when compared to natural stone, where we get what nature gives to us and every slab is unique. Engineered quartz manufacturers can produce thousands of slabs that all virtually look the same with minor differences, so it is not necessary to hand select your slabs like we recommend you do with granite.
There are many quartz manufacturers producing colors that replicate natural stone patterns, terazzo, concrete, and even marbled paper! Another advantage to being able to control the pattern, is some manufacturers offer the look or vein flow of a few rare marble and quartzite varieties at a lower price point than their natural stone counterparts.
Please be aware that when considering quartz as a surface, there are few sizing standards in this side of our industry. Many quartz slabs are only available in one size and they may come in smaller dimensions than some granite slabs can be found in. Finished quartz dimensions at their maximum can span between 119-136″ wide and 59-75″ tall.
Although that seems like a diverse range, large islands are in style and sometimes the pool of available color options shrink a bit when you go above 10 ½ feet in width. When homeowners have a very large island or an island with angled turns, sometimes a quartz color they love isn’t large enough to accommodate it without a seam. Your Stone Consultant has access to individual slab sizing for every line we offer and will work with you to find a color and stone type that meets your budget and your desired look.
Typically, pricing for quartz countertops start at about 15% more than granite will at the entry level in the midwest, but for the most part their pricing is competitive as we go into the higher price tiers. Your material pricing is largely determined by how much material we need to complete your project, how much the manufacturers charge for your material, and we then consider the entire scope of what is required to complete the job.
Quartz manufacturers offer warranties on the material ranging from 10 years to a lifetime, with some warranties allowing a prorated transfer to buyers when you sell your home. Your stone consultant can provide you with a copy of your warranty information and fill you in on the proration if you are prepping your house for the market. Please note that virtually no quartz warranties offer coverage for chips, staining, or heat damage, which leads us to our next points.
Now here’s the part where it will probably sound like we’re talking you out of quartz as a countertop option but we’re really not. We love quartz too! Most homeowners with quartz countertops will not encounter these issues, but we want our homeowners to know they exist. We want to arm you with as much information as we can to help you make the best-informed decision for your home, and your family.
Quartz may be nonporous and stain resistant, but it is not stain-proof! Please clean up spills in a reasonable amount of time, do not let them linger. Do not let a spill sit on your countertop for hours or days before cleaning it. Red wine, coffee, tea, some spices, tomatoes, and hot sauce have been known to leave surface stains on light colored quartz if left sitting long enough. Try soap and water first. If that doesn’t work, try a liquid stone cleaner, following label directions. If that doesn’t work, contact us so a Stone Consultant can guide you through the cleaning procedure recommended by your quartz manufacturer.
Our Project Managers have experience troubleshooting over the years for customers we have and have not installed, and they have encountered damage to the finish on quartz when the homeowner’s well water had a pH that was too alkaline. Even some hand soaps have damaged the finish of a quartz top if spills were allowed to sit for too long. If you experience surface staining, please refrain from using harsh abrasive cleaners or “magic” cleaning sponges to get the stain out. They can cause swirl marks or even take the polish out of your countertop. A cloth or soft sponge and some elbow grease should tackle most jobs. Please note that it is difficult to restore the finish of quartz to the same luster it had when it was new, so please exercise caution when you’re choosing a cleaning accessory.
Next, let’s cover heat resistance. While quartz is a heat resistant material, does that mean you can put a hot pot on it? Nope! Although the resins used to hold engineered quartz together are usually cured at medium temperatures under 200 degrees, they can react with heat at any point above that. If a hot pot sits on the top for too long, you can end up with scorch marks on your top or even cause it to crack from thermal stress if it becomes exposed to temperatures that go beyond what it was designed to handle.
A coffee pot used on the countertop should be fine, but we recommend you put other heated appliances like electric skillets, waffle irons, or Crock Pots up on a trivet or wood cutting board to keep the surface beneath it cool. Please use a trivet or heat pad for any contact with hot pans or cookware. In the bathroom, please use a heat mat to protect your top from curling irons and straighteners. A good rule of thumb with quartz is, “if it is hot enough to hurt your hand, it could harm your top”.
A soft cloth with soap (without bleach) and warm water is recommended for everyday cleaning.
We recommend using a stone cleaner on your quartz tops (it is made from natural stone particulate, after all,) though gentle multi–surface cleaners and disinfecting wipes are generally safe to use on quartz if you follow the directions on the label. Never use straight bleach to disinfect your quartz tops, the pH is too alkaline and can damage the resin.
If you get hard water scaling around your faucet, CLR makes a bath & kitchen cleaner that can remove deposits without damaging your counters.
Do not use paint thinner, oil-based soaps, laundry detergent or solvents to clean your quartz top.
Please wipe away oven cleaners and rinse the area with water immediately if it comes in contact with your top to prevent damage.
Never sit or stand on a countertop because it can cause a stress crack or fracture. Please use a step ladder to change that light bulb. You probably know which bulb we’re talking about.
Other Quartz 101 Guidelines
Quartz tops are scratch resistant but are not scratch proof. You could end up with gray knife marks on a white quartz surface, as well as scratches if the conditions are right. Please avoid cutting directly on your countertop and put that cutting board to good use!
Engineered quartz does not need to be sealed. Never try to put a sealer on a quartz top, it can create a haze.
Quartz countertops that come in a honed finish will require weekly maintenance to prevent patina from forming. Some homeowners welcome the aging process, but if you want your tops to look like they did when they were first installed, your Stone Consultant will provide you with cleaning guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Please note that oily fingerprints can show up on a honed countertop before making your decision to go matte.
If you chip your countertop, please save the chip if you can so it can be included in a repair. Quartz chips can be repaired with an epoxy. While the material will be stable and look better cosmetically after the repair is performed, it will never be as strong in the chipped area as it was when the material was whole. This is true for every countertop material.
Congrats, you have completed Quartz 101! Peak Stone Consultants are knowledgeable and always eager to help you learn proper care for your stone. When in doubt, please contact us before trying anything you’re unsure about. Advice is always free, repairs come with a cost!