You’ve probably heard a million things about the pros and cons of Quartz countertops. Some praise its virtues as if they were the physical manifestation of everything right about the world. However, on the other end of the spectrum you’ll hear enough of how bad it is that it’d paint anyone as a fool for even considering.
Well, business propaganda and marketing bias aside, the truth, as always, is somewhere in between. Whether it’s quartz, granite or solid surface, choosing the right material depends on your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences, so it’s prudent to understand both the ups and downs”
Although its name might lead you to think of natural stone, the quartz we’re talking about here is really an engineered composite. It combines a high percentage of crushed quartz (about 90 to 94 percent) with a binding polymer resin to create something that has the best of natural stone and synthetics (e.g. solid surface, laminates). With that in mind, let’s explore the primary pros and cons of quartz countertops:
Unlike natural stones that contain microscopic pores over its entire surface, the resin in between the crushed quartz bits evenly fill out the gaps and surface.This makes quartz countertops very resistant to stains as liquids and pigments won’t seep in and cause a mess, unlike natural stone. It also makes cleaning easier since any mess or spills simply glide off the surface.
More important, however, is that non-porous quartz countertops are highly anti-microbial, a desirable characteristic where hygiene is a concern. Without gaps or spaces (pores) for microorganisms to latch on, it significantly inhibits their ability to grow and form colonies.
Many common bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus (which you can find living on your own skin!) produce dangerous toxins that are difficult to destroy. Therefore it is DEFINITELY in your best interest to not let them breed in the first place.
In the worst case scenarios, pores can trap liquids in between a solid surface – making it the perfect place for many common types of bacteria to start building biofilms. This is a real problem since biofilms protect the bacteria and can make getting rid of them a gazillion times harder than it should.
Compared to other synthetic-based options, such as solid surface and laminate, quartz will not bend and warp if it were to come into contact with hot objects. In addition, burn marks on quartz countertops can be repaired by sanding down the surface. This isn’t possible with solid surface or laminated countertops, which would’ve popped and sizzled into an unsalvageable mess and must be replaced.
Composed almost entirely of hard quartz mineral, quartz countertops will blunt knives and other sharp metal objects before it scratches. But while the resin is soft and susceptible, very little of it is exposed on the surface, and is unlikely to scratch except in the most severe cases. Still, it’s far more durable than solid surface countertops are, which scratch and cut easily.
Quartz countertops exhibit greater durability to cracking due to impact compared to granite, thanks to the polymer resin in between the crushed quartz. Flexible and elastic, the resin serve as shock absorbers that disperses the energy from an impact before it reaches the hard but brittle stone – the same properties that makes Kevlar so resistant to high-speed projectiles.
In addition, the granules of crushed quartz in the flexible resin polymer matrix provides even more “give” that further helps disperse high energy impulses which would otherwise be destructive to the surface.
If there is one often recurring theme in everything is that there’s always some give and take. While the polymer resin filling in quartz countertops contributes to many of its advantages, it is also the cause of most of the failings. Below are the main disadvantages of quartz countertops:
Probably the first thing anyone will notice is the price tag. Costing just a little less than granite (18% less), and significantly more expensive than solid surfaces (54% more) or laminate (270% more), quartz countertops are quite expensive. Nevertheless, its durability, ease of maintenance and hygiene benefits makes up for its price.
Although great at holding up in a kitchen environment, quartz countertops aren’t the best choice for outdoor use. Prolonged exposure to the elements will quickly fade as the polymer resin and colour pigments react to sunlight and chemicals in the rain and air.
It is also more likely to get scratched as conditions are a little less controlled outside of an indoor environment. While that isn’t to say that quartz cannot be used outdoors, there are simply better options to choose from, such as granite, stainless steel or even concrete.
While it will not melt and warp like solid surfaces countertops would, placing a hot object directly on quartz is probably going to leave burn marks or obvious discolouration. Using a pad or trivet will completely circumvent this problem, but there are times when you might just forget to use them. Also, what if your little kid started climbing out the window? There won’t be time to look for trivet…