Quartz worktops used to be highly reserved for high-end homes, not least because of their highly luxurious aesthetic appeal, but also because – at one time – it would’ve been a big investment to purchase true quartz countertops. Yet, for the last few years, we have seen them appear in more kitchens and bathrooms as they have grown in popularity.
As different quartz brands proliferate, this engineered stone has become more easily accessible with more affordable pricing. In fact, it is often confused with solid surface and natural stone worktop materials, like granite and marble because of its high-end feel.
How are Quartz Worktops made?
Unlike natural stone, quartz contains man-made additives, stabilising the material and eliminating the unpredictability that can come with the former. Quartz worktops combine around 90% ground quartz with around 10% resins, polymers and pigments, forming an incredibly hard surface.
Does quartz scratch easier than granite?
A quartz worktop does not require the same level of maintenance demanded with stone counters and won’t need sealing or resealing. It is also highly scratch resistant – making it the ideal choice for a range of applications. However, despite its durability, it is still more likely to scratch than its granite counterpart. If you are applying quartz worktops in a well-used part of the home, we would advise care and attention is paid to avoid any unnecessary damage taking place.
Are quartz worktops cheaper than granite?
Granite can be bought both on a budget and for a high-price project – but you certainly get what you pay for with this material. Until recent years, quartz was deemed a pricey investment by comparison.,. However, as the material has skyrocketed in popularity and availability, the price has come down considerably.
You can now purchase a granite or quartz worktop for pretty much the same price; and quartz certainly offers a greater variety of designs.
Quartz Brand Similarities and Differences
Despite the brand name, all quartz worktops resulted from the patented technology invented over half a century ago by the founder of Breton S.p.A., Marcello Toncelli. Although the Bretonstone tech and machines are licensed to 52 companies worldwide, each licensee adds their own flair and nuances. It is important to remember however that they are all still working off the original patent.
Although quartz surfaces now come from different brand names, they have similar outstanding qualities, which are as follows:
- Toughness – During processing, impurities and softer minerals are eliminated, leaving only the hardest mineral, quartz. This means quartz surfaces are more durable and harder compared with natural granite.
- Composition – Quartz surfaces are composed of 93% mineral content, giving this engineered stone its distinctive look and feel.
- Heat resistance – Despite misconceptions, it is actually the quartz’s minerals that are 100% impervious to heat, not the binders, as many believe. In fact, they can withstand up to about 360°F. However, this is only true for short amounts of time – so users should be mindful of this, particularly when using quarts worktops in the kitchen.
- Low water absorption rate – Quartz’s absorption rate is on par with that of porcelain tile, which is about 0.5%. A material is considered non-absorbent if it weighs less than half of 1% more following water being absorbed into the surface.
- Visible seams – Two or more slabs need to be seamed together unless you have a small worktop. The seam could be minimised depending on your installer’s skills.
When there are similarities, of course, differences are just around the corner. The following are the differences between varying quartz brands:
- Sizes of the slabs – To reduce chances of seaming together slabs, opt for larger quartz slabs. It is also more cost-efficient doing this.
- Prices – Yes, prices will not be uniform. This will likely depend on consumer and dealer negotiations, which are of course variable.
- Quartz slabs are wholesale-only – They are also confined to the supply chain between the approved dealer/installers and the manufacturer.
- Designs and edges – The main difference between these quartz brands is the range of designs. “Design” refers to the slab’s overall visual appearance—size, colour, streaks, shape of minerals and striations.
- Edges – edge profiles are not formed by the fabricator but are rather built into the slabs during manufacturing.
- Warranty – Although all quartz surfaces come with a warranty, they only differ in the warranty’s limitations, length and transferability.
Brands that dominate the market
SILESTONE KITCHEN WORKTOPS
Silestone is Cosentino’s flagship quartz surface, an Italian company based in Almeria, Spain. Architects and designers lean toward Silestone because of its vibrant solid colours, which is the brand’s main distinguishing factor. This brand offers bold bright red, greens, blues and oranges not found in any other quartz brands.
Silestone is not limited to backsplash materials and worktops, but also extended its designs for shower pans, vanities and sinks. Silestone offers a robust 25-year warranty with no pro-rata limitations and is transferable to ensuing owners.
CAESARSTONE KITCHEN WORKTOPS
Dubbed “the original quartz surface manufacturer,” this quartz surface was formed in 1987 by the kibbutz as a way of replacing their failing terrazzo tile industry. Caesarstone is a publicly traded company with headquarters in Israel and a factory at the Sdot Yam, a kibbutz in the Haifa District of Israel. Caesarstone also has another factory located in in Bar-Lev Industries Park.
Known for pushing the boundaries of design, Caesarstone creates designs that are simple and sharp yet outstanding, veering away from replicating the appearance of a faux stone. For example, its Pure White is a clean and modern look. The Concetto Collection boasts 10 unique surfaces incorporated with semiprecious stones including tiger’s eye, dumortierite, agate and also petrified wood, whereas the Motivo Collection deeply embosses lace textures and crocodile skin.
CAMBRIA KITCHEN WORKTOPS
Being the only American company in the quartz surfaces industry, Cambria is still considered a relative newcomer, having only joined in 2000. This privately held Minnesota-based company began as a dairy business in 1936. Cambria started with a 150,000 square-foot factory in Le Sueur, Minnesota, but within just five years, the plant’s size tripled.
Cambrian offers the widest variety of colours, designs, edges and of course slab sizes. There are a number of reasons why interior designers, architects and homeowners are drawn to Cambria’s charming qualities. One such reason is the incredibly natural-looking patterns that they offer. They also have the best polish and smoothest finish. A great majority of Cambria’s selections fall in one price group.
They are among the companies that offer massive-sized slabs, which are economical for large projects. However, Cambria slabs could only be purchased at bath and kitchen dealers or through architects, builders and designers. You definitely can’t find them in big box home improvement stores.
CHECK OUT THIS TABULAR COMPARISON OF QUARTZ LEADING BRANDS.
|Textures||Smooth, satin, matte||Heavy, mixed, fine||Suede (small pores), smooth, volcano (large pores)|
|Thicknesses||3/4″ (2 cm), 1 1/4″ (3 cm)||1 cm, 2 cm, 3 cm||1.2 cm, 2 cm, 3 cm (1/2, ¾ and 1 ¼ inches)|
|Dimensions||Slabs, 56.5″ x 120″||Standard size, 55.5″ x 122″ Jumbo, 65.5″ x 132″||Standard size, 55″ x 120″ Jumbo, 63″ x 128″|
|Warranty||For original owner, lifetime limited warranty. Transferable to subsequent owners but only on a 10-year, pro-rata basis and only if the original owner has transferred warranty on behalf of the new owner.||Lifetime limited warranty only to the original owners of the product. The warranty is not transferable.||A 25-year limited warranty that is transferable but only if the original owner transfers the warranty to the next owner.|
*Number of edges currently listed on the company’s website. Quartz brands are not limited to the edges listed. Note that warranties tend not to cover edgework.
Other brands that are worth looking
Manufacturing quartz surfaces is not a cottage industry like concrete, wood, laminate or even solid surfaces. This requires not only expensive machinery but also large manufacturing facilities. Despite that, a number of midsized companies have surfaced over the last 10 years. In fact, some architects and designers prefer using these companies because of their more reasonable price range.
Formerly a division of LG, a South Korean company producing anything from solar energy equipment to chemicals and electronics, LG Hausys is widely known for their HI-MACS acrylic solid surface. Viatera® offers unparalleled beauty with extraordinary benefits far exceeding those of any other natural stone. It comprises a vast collection of 64 designs spread amongst tans, greys and beiges.
DALTILE ONE QUARTZ
World renowned for over 70 years, Daltile has been the industry leader in porcelain, natural stone and ceramic tile. They’re known worldwide for their quality products, customer service and a wide variety of colours and finishes. The company’s ONE Quartz line offers a modest 38 designs. They also offer cost savings, which a few larger brands do not.
Zodiaq is DuPont’s answer to the all-time popular quartz surfaces. DuPont is the same company that invented Corian, the solid surface brand. Their engineered kitchen worktops are made out of 93% quartz crystals, with the rest being 7% acrylic resin, binders and colours. Zodiaq is manufactured in Granirex, DuPont’s plant in Thetford Mines, Canada. This brand offers 54 colours in 2 cm and 3 cm thicknesses, in 63″ x 120″ slabs.
This Seattle-based distributor tends to be a lot more affordable compared with other quartz brands. In fact, over the years since they have started offering quartz surfaces, their colours and patterns have become more on trend than other well-known lines.
Quartz worktops offer not only timeless beauty and luxury but also unparalleled strength and durability. This engineered stone is your everyday surface, combining quartz’ superior durability and strength with modern-day manufacturing innovations.
If you are would like to find out more about quartz worktops, or would like to shop our collection – why not get in touch with us on 0800 652 2013.