Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops and Some Alternatives

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Quartz countertops first came about in 1963 when it was invented by the Italian company Breton. Over 50 years later, all quartz worktops still come from the same source after the company licensed the Bretonstone technology to 52 companies all over the world. It soon became popular in Italy and Europe for decades but only made a splash in the U.S. in the 1990s.

Quartz used to compete with granite and could be manufactured to look like one or a marble or limestone. The natural stone game has now relaxed but has provided homeowners a wide variety of options for their kitchen countertops.

This dark quartz countertop is stain resistant and durable. Costs $9.95 at Home Depot

Pros

  • Quartz countertops have the gorgeous appearance of a natural material, but since they are manufactured, they are a lot more durable. Because they don’t have the natural weakness that is commonly associated with stone, they will last for a long time once they have been professionally installed in your home.
  • You can choose from a wide range of colors and unique natural looking variations when you opt for quartz. Due to the unique way that it is manufactured, it will have a luxurious appearance that looks natural and appealing. When you choose quartz that has a number of different colors in it, then it will easily match your kitchen, even if you change the color scheme of the room.
  • While granite and concrete are two other durable countertop options, quartz is generally a much better choice because it will not crack as easily. Homeowners who install quartz countertops don’t have to worry about heavy pots or pans chipping the counter.
  • One main problem with some countertops is that they are porous, so they will become easily stained. Choosing quartz not only ensures that your countertops always look amazing, but also that dangerous viruses or bacteria will not be able to grow in them.
  • Quartz countertops do not require the expensive and time-consuming upkeep that other countertops demand. Some countertops need to be resealed on a regular basis due to their porous surfaces; since quartz is not porous, homeowners do not have to worry about this task.

Cons

  • One of the main drawbacks to installing quartz countertops in your home is that it comes with a hefty price tag. Since it is such a high-end product, you will pay more for it than you would for an alternative choice.
  • You will also have to pay for professional installation because it is a solid surface material. Unless you know how to create bullnose edges, then you will have to consider the cost of professional installation in the final price of your new countertops.
  • They look fairly modern and may appear out of place if your home is more traditional.
  • Quartz is not as resistant to heat as other countertop choices are, and so homeowners have to be careful when placing hot pots on the counter and be sure to always use a hot pad to minimize the heat transferred to the countertop.
  • The seams are obvious, which can be distracting if you have a large countertop and want to have an uninterrupted surface. If there are a lot of patterns in your chosen quartz, then it is even more difficult to hide the seams and to match up the patterns.

Alternatives

1. Granite ($9.95 each)

Natural granite that has a high resistance from scratch, stain and heat.Source: Home Depot

These polished countertops are heavy, long-lasting, and unique. They have to be professionally installed and sealed to ensure that they will last and that you won’t have any unattractive staining.

Pros

  • Every granite countertop is going to be completely unique because it will have been mined as a large slab that is different from any other one in the world.
  • There are many different colors and shades to choose from.
  • Granite can be cut in large slabs, which may allow you to create countertops that do not have an unsightly seam.
  • While this material is porous, a professional sealing will allow it to better withstand stains.
  • There is a wide range in cost, making it easier to find granite countertops that fit your budget.

Cons

  • These countertops require regular sealing so that they don’t hold stains or bacteria. If you do not have the time or ambition to complete this task once a year, then granite countertops may not be right for you.
  • They can crack when something heavy is dropped on the countertop.
  • Due to the amount of variation in the color and appearance of granite, it can be difficult to find pieces that are more monotone.

2. Marble

Compact and durable marble countertop.Source: Home Depot

Marble countertops look great in most any kitchen but do not have the strength to last under heavy use. While they look very high-end, it’s important to consider how you will be using your kitchen before having them installed.

Pros

  • They are very elegant and will instantly improve the appearance of the kitchen or bathroom where you have them installed.
  • Marble comes in a number of countertop choices, and since no slabs are exactly alike, then you won’t have to worry about anyone else having the same countertops as you do.
  • Because these countertops are heat resistant, they are ideal in the kitchen, as you can place hot pans or pots on the countertop and not worry about marring the surface.

Cons

  • Marble is very porous, which means that it will quickly absorb any liquids that are left to rest on its surface. Dark liquids, such as wine, can quickly stain the marble and be impossible to get out.
  • As gorgeous as this material is for a countertop, it isn’t strong enough to stand up to regular use in the kitchen. It’s easy to accidentally scratch the surface with a knife and even to chip the countertop with a heavy pan.
  • Regular sealing is important to keep the counter from being stained, but when not done correctly, this will not be an effective barrier.

3. Slate

Slate countertop with a rustic finish.Source: Home Depot

This alternative countertop comes in gorgeous colors and will last well as long as you are gentle with it when cleaning it or bumping into the edge. While its surface is very strong, the edges tend to be a bit more fragile.

Pros

  • While a beautiful countertop choice, slate does have a few color shifts in it, making it much easier to have a countertop that is more uniform.
  • There are many color choices, making it easy to choose one that will improve the appearance of your home.
  • Completely non-porous, you won’t ever have to worry about stains setting into the counter or bacteria breeding if you are not thorough when you clean your countertops. Stains being unable to penetrate the surface means that the countertops will look pristine for a long time.
  • This countertop is very durable and won’t easily crack, even if you drop something on the counter.
  • Slate is a much more affordable choice for countertops than other, pricier options such as marble or granite, making it a great choice if you are redoing your kitchen or bathroom on a budget.

Cons

  • Many professional installers recommend that you round the corners of your slate countertops so you won’t have to worry about them chipping, as the edges do tend to be a little bit brittle.
  • The material can be damaged if you use a cleaner that is too abrasive, so even though slate will stand up to stains, most professionals advise that you seal the surface to protect it.

4. Wood

Reddish-brown mahogany countertop.Source: Home Depot

More and more people are installing wood countertops due to their warm and homey feel. While some people use them as a cutting board, it’s important that you take care of your knives and don’t accidentally cut your countertops.

Pros

  • Wood countertops will add warmth to your kitchen in a way that other countertops cannot. Since you can stain them to be different colors, you can easily choose from lighter or darker countertops that will improve the appearance of your room.
  • There is a large variety of wood types to choose from for your countertops as well as finishes, stains, and even edge treatments that you can use to personalize the space.
  • It doesn’t matter what style you have used to decorate your home; wood will work with anything from rustic to contemporary.
  • These countertops won’t just look warmer, they are actually warmer to the touch than concrete or stone countertops.
  • If you are worried about sustainability, then using reclaimed wood for your countertops is a great choice, as is recycling it when you finally replace them.

Cons

  • This is a porous surface that can harbor bacteria if it has not been properly sealed. Over time, normal wear and tear will mean that you need to reseal your countertops to keep them working their best. This can mean simply refinishing them or completely sanding them down.
  • It can easily be damaged and dented by heavy pots, and while some homeowners appreciate the charm that these marks bring to the kitchen, others do not.
  • When used as a cutting board, it can quickly dull knives.

5. Concrete

Concrete countertop durable enough for indoor and outdoor use. Source: Home Depot

This heavy countertop will stand out in your kitchen and is great if you love to cook and need places to put your hot pans. Because they’re so heavy, you will often need to have new cabinets built underneath in order to support them.

Pros

  • It’s easy to stain your countertops to create a one-of-a-kind piece that stands out in your kitchen.
  • This hard surface will stand up to marks, dents, and dropped pots without being marred.
  • Concrete is great in both kitchens and bathroom because it is so heat resistant. If you place a hot pan or curling iron on the countertop, you won’t have to worry about burning or damaging the surface.
  • It’s possible to get almost any shade that you want for your kitchen, and professionals can actually mimic the appearance of other types of countertops. This is a great way to get the look of natural stone or granite without the drawbacks of these types of countertops.

Cons

  • It can be quite expensive to have these countertops installed, especially if you opt for a custom design.
  • These countertops have to be resealed regularly to keep them from staining.

6. Corian

DuPont Corian countertops are the smart choice in solid surfaces.Source: Home Depot

A classic countertop, this material is not as strong as other alternatives, but can easily be installed in a few different colors.

Pros

  • This man made material is available in a number of different colors, making it easy to match or complement the colors in your home.
  • It’s very easy to clean and most spills will wipe up without any extra work.
  • The material is non-porous, making it stain resistant. Soy sauce, grape juice, and red wine won’t stain unless left for a long period of time.

Cons

  • These countertops do tend to scratch easily, so you will never want to use knives on the surface. Unfortunately, these scratches are usually permanent.
  • Hot pans can damage the countertop and affect its appearance.
  • Corian is a pricy countertop option, making it out of range for many homeowners who want to redo their kitchen on a budget.

7. Laminate

Laminate countertop with a smooth, matte finish.Source:  Home Depot

Perfect for a rental or for a quick kitchen update, laminate does not look as professional as other alternatives and tends to become damaged rather quickly.

Pros

  • This is usually the least expensive way that you can replace your countertops, making it ideal if you are on a budget or likely to update your kitchen regularly.
  • It’s very easy to install a new laminate countertop. These countertops can even be installed over existing ones, making the whole process a lot faster.

Cons

  • The surface is very easy to damage with knives, hot pans, and even hot metal spoons placed on the surface. Due to the design of laminate, it’s not easy to replace just one part of the countertop.
  • It will not add any resale value to your home due to how inexpensive it is to install.





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