Choosing a Countertop for Your New Kitchen? Think Quartz
When you want to outfit the kitchen in the new dream house plans you purchase, one of the main attractions will be the countertop. Granite has been the reigning king of countertops for several years now. But there is a new kid on the block that has been steadily gaining valuable space in kitchens worldwide: quartz.
Quartz has a few advantages over granite and might just give it a run for the throne. Quartz is the most abundant mineral on earth. It has a chemical composition of silicone and oxygen (SiO2). It is extremely durable and resistant to heat and chemicals. This mineral has a vast array of colors and is used in products such as glass, sandpaper, and gemstone jewelry. Here is what you need to know before about quartz countertops before searching for your dream home among house plans with great kitchens.
1. How are quartz countertops made?
Countertops are made with 94-percent quartz material that is mined and then ground down to pieces ranging from large fragments to pebble-size pieces. The quartz material is then mixed with a resin that binds to the quartz and fills in any gaps. Pigments may also be added to give a uniform color throughout. The mixture is then baked or formed under pressure to create slabs.
Quartzite crystals (above), which are processed into smaller pieces, form the basis of quartz countertops.
These countertops are so durable that most manufacturers offer warranties. Typical warranties run 10 – 15 years, but there are some that go as far as 25 years. The manufacturing process makes the quartz-resin material super-hard as well as strong, so it’s resistant to chipping and most cooking challenges like grease, wine, and typical household cleaners. Quartz countertops also do not require the attention to periodic sealing that granite does. That makes them ideal as the surfacing material for eating counters in house plans with eat-in kitchens.
New-technology quartz countertops can be made with a more-random pattern than previously, allowing them to look more like a natural, rather than manufactured, material.
4. Easy to clean
Cleaning a quartz countertop is easy. Simply wipe with warm, soapy water. For tough messes, use a gentle scrub. Using scouring pads or harsh chemicals are no-nos. These can dull the finish and even eat away at the resins.
5. Colors and patterns are abundant
Quartz has come a long way since it started out. Manufacturers now make quartz in a variety of colors and patterns. Slabs are made to have the natural veining that is seen in granite. Some also contain specs of flashy metals and glass. Neon colors are also popping up for a modern twist. There is a good variety of colors and patterns for everyone.
Note the veining – similar to natural granite veining – in this modern kitchen’s quartz countertops.
6. Price getting better
Price was the main inhibitor for several years for those looking to install quartz countertops when building their dream home plans. But as products become more available, the price of quartz in the kitchen has come down. Prices are now more comparable to granite but still slightly pricier, with a general range of $50 – $90 per square foot.
7. Certified installer required
Most manufacturers require anyone who sells their product to have trained and certified installers. This gives you a peace of mind and ensures things will go smoothly. Quartz is becoming more popular, but those who live in rural areas might find it difficult to get access to quartz countertops because of this requirement.
Most manufacturers require that quartz countertops like those in this kitchen from a 2-story, 4-bedroom, 3½-bath Craftsman home plan be installed by a certified professional (House Plan 109-1191).
8. Heat resistant, but not proof
Even though this product is extremely durable, it is not indestructible. Unlike granite, extreme heat will damage the countertop. 4000 degrees F is the most it can handle without scorching. To keep it looking it’s best, use trivets and potholders when setting hot objects on the top.
Though superior in some ways to natural granite countertops, quartz countertops should be protected from high heat, while granite needs no such protection.
9. Heavyweight champ
This heavyweight needs a few considerations before getting the go-ahead. Even though granite is a heavy material as well, quartz countertops may be denser and heavier. Cabinets should be of superior, all wood construction to be able to hold quartz tops. If large quartz slabs are going upstairs, consider asking a contractor to make sure the floor is sound before installation.
The pigments used in quartz countertops are not made to withstand the glaring UV rays. The sun’s powerful rays cause the material to fade. Outdoor use is not recommended.
All in all, quartz is a great material for countertops in the kitchen. But before choosing it, make sure you know all the pros and cons. Think about your daily use and which features are most practical for you. Talk with your local supplier if you have any questions. If quartz is right for you, you’ll be loving it for a long time!
Note: the lead image is of an "Ice Flake" quartz countertop manufactured by M S International, Inc. For more information, click here.