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Shopping for kitchen counter tops is not easy. First you have to decide what type of counter your want (granite, quartz, wood, laminate or tile are popular choices). Then you have to navigate all the different brands out there.
Cambria, Silestone, Caesarstone, Zodiac…are just a few of the different brands of Quartz Counter top out there and sifting through all the marketing BS and deciding what to buy is challenging to say the least. Even cheap, chinese made quartz counters are a significant investment and you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on an inferior product.
In this post we’re going to summarize our thoughts on Quartz counters and share some links for you to do more research if you like. Stay tuned for future posts on Granite, Wood, formica and other kitchen counter top choices.
What is a Quartz Counter Top?
Quartz countertops are man-made engineered stone countertops formed by combining 90% ground quartz (a natural hard mineral) with 8-10% resins, polymers, and pigments. This forms a very hard stone like surface that is very durable and easy to maintain.
Quartz is a very hard material, second only to diamond. The resin binds the quartz minerals together and the combination is “baked” under heat and pressure. The resin binder makes the whole recipe non-porous. It does this by filling in all the cracks and crevasses between the quartz crystals. What you end up with is a very hard, durable and non-porous work surface. Not to mention the fact that they look real nice too.
Pro Tip: Try mixing the counter tops materials in your kitchen. A wood top for the island and quartz around the perimeter for example
What Does It Cost?
Quartz has historically been more expensive than granite, but times have changed, technology has improved and now the discussion is not so cut-and-dry. Quartz generally runs from about $65-$100 per square foot installed. So your average quartz counter top of, say, 40 square feet will run from $2,600-$4,000.
You may have seen “deals” on granite counters at your local big box store on lower end granite. Be very wary of these teaser rates… they often come with up charges for even minor things and have hidden costs. The average price for granite, installed is about $60 a square foot but can be as high a $150 for very unique slabs.
Some companies have a sliding scale for the price of their quartz, rating the materials from A to E with E level materials being more expensive than A level. We prefer Cambria brand Quartz for the high quality but also because they price all their quartz uniformly so the cost is the same no matter what color or style you choose.
How Does Quartz compare to Granite?
Quartz in generally considered more durable and more maintenance free. Granite is a natural stone so it is inherently weaker but it can also be more unique. For a definitive guide on the difference check out this link: https://blog.udemy.com/quartz-vs-granite-countertops/
Are their differences between the different brands of Quartz Counter?
Italian company Breton owns the patent to manufacture solid surfaces from quartz and resins. All other companies use that patent for their own brand of quartz countertops, including Cosentino (Silestone), DuPont (Zodiaq), Cambria,CaesarStone, Avanza, and Technistone.
There is not a lot of difference in the major brands but there are some cheap quartz counters out there that use cheap fillers and are not a durable or stain resistant as a Silestone, Cambria or Caesarstone counter. Be wary of cheap knock offs.
Some distinct differences between brands:
- Cambria is made in the USA and have a strong commitment to recycling and reuse of their waste products. Cambria is only available through a Cambria dealer, not in the big box stores
- Spanish company Silestone includes microban, an anti microbial chemical, in their counters. Silestone is commonly found in big box stores
- Made by the chemical company DuPont, Zodiac includes up to 25% recycled content in their Terra line of counters. Zodiac can be less expensive and is found in the big box stores.
It’s the Installation that Matters:
Despite the differences what is really important is who is installing the counters. It takes training, skill and patience to install quartz counters properly. One issue we have with the big box stores in they tend to hire low cost installers who do a poor job of installing the counters. Like many things the devil is in the details and you may not notice the installation errors for weeks (which is what they are counting on). As a rule I suggest staying far away from installers who work for any of the big box retailers
Our Preference: Cambria
At McManus Kitchen and Bath we prefer to install Cambria quartz countertops because we like that they are made in the USA, are committed to creating a zero waste manufacturing process and have uniform pricing across all their colors and styles. Our installers are very experienced and meticulous when it comes to the details that matter.
Thank you for reading! We’d love to be a part of your next remodel. Check out our design services page