Everything You Need to Know About Quartz Countertops

Surprising facts about quartz and how it compares to other kitchen countertops

Quartz kitchen countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Quartz kitchen countertops have certain qualities that make them special, even among other stone countertops like granite. You can find quartz kitchen countertops in many colors—from bright whites to cool grays, warm creams, and rich browns and blacks. Some quartz has veining that makes it look like marble. And some options contain mirror chips that reflect light and appear to make the countertops sparkle.

What Is a Quartz Countertop?

Quartz countertops are a form of engineered stone made from ground-up particles of quartz bound together with resins.

Considering quartz kitchen countertops for your home? Here are some facts to know about this material, as well as some quartz kitchen countertops pros and cons.


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  • 01 of 10

    Quartz Countertops Aren't Solid Quartz

    In most quartz countertops, some quartz is present. But about 10 percent of the material volume in a quartz countertop isn't stone at all. Rather, it's a polymeric or cement-based binder. And the other 90 percent? Crushed up waste granitemarble, and natural stone or recycled industrial wastes, such as ceramic, silica, glass, and mirrors.

    Yes, there's some actual quartz—sometimes a lot of it. All of this rock material mixed together and held together with binders is what gives a so-called quartz countertop the look and feel of stone.

    More accurately, a quartz countertop should probably be called engineered stone or compound stone—terms that more accurately describe the way these products are created. The industry, in fact, is increasingly using the term engineered stone to refer to this type of countertop.

    Bottom line: Quartz countertops can include some amount of actual quartz, but they include no solid quartz extracted from quarries and likely have lots of other materials in them, as well. 

  • 02 of 10

    All Quartz Countertops Essentially Flow From 1 Source

    In 1963, the technology of creating engineered stone was developed by the Breton company in northeast Italy, which licensed the process under the trademark Bretonstone®.

    Over 50 years later, Breton is still going strong and manufacturing quartz countertops. The process consists of blending pulverized natural stone aggregate with a mix of polymers, removing the air, and then heating and shaping the material into slabs that have the hardness and appearance of natural stone. 

    Bretonstone technology has been licensed to more than 50 companies around the world, including such famous quartz brands as Silestone, Cambria, and Caesarstone. While these manufacturers add their own flair and nuances to their engineered stone countertops, they are still working off of that original brevetto, or patent, from Breton.

    Some forms of quartz countertops now include fragments of mirrors and other glass, brass metal filings, and various mixtures of granite and marble. Considerable effort goes into creating mixtures that produce unique looks. 

  • 03 of 10

    Quartz Has a Cheese Connection

    Cambria is a brand that represents a huge chunk of the U.S. market for quartz countertops. Yet few people know one bit of interesting trivia about this American-owned company: The company also makes cheese.

    The Davis family business, now based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, began in the 1930s as a dairy business that gradually expanded into an association of several companies: St. Peter Creamery, Le Sueur Cheese Company, and Nicollet Food Products. It was not until 2000 that the Davis family began its entry into the engineered stone business by purchasing quartz processing equipment.

    Even today, the Davis family businesses supply large quantities of cheese each year to Kraft Foods. 

  • 04 of 10

    The Term Bretonstone Is Not Derived From French

    The trade name Bretonstone is not related to the word Breton, a term referring to the people of the Brittany region of France. Bretonstone was actually developed more than 900 miles away from Brittany in Castello di Godego, located about 20 miles from Venice, Italy.

    The Breton in the word Bretonstone is a portmanteau—a blended word composed of bre (for brevetti, roughly meaning "patents") and ton (for the surname of founder Marcello Toncelli).

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  • 05 of 10

    Quartz Countertops Are Eco-Friendly

    Fiberboard as a building material is much maligned, but you can say this about it: No tree was ever cut down for the express purpose of making fiberboard. The same holds true of engineered stone countertops. The 90 percent of stone-like materials that form the base of quartz countertops are all waste byproducts of other quarrying or manufacturing processes. No natural stone is quarried solely for use in quartz countertops.

    Even the resins that compose the remaining 10 percent of a quartz countertop have become more natural and less synthetic. Breton's trademarked term for this ingredient is "Biolenic Resins," referring to a combination of artificial and organic resins, the latter derived from non-food vegetable oils.

  • 06 of 10

    You Often Walk on Quartz

    People might think of quartz in terms of kitchen or bathroom counters. But quartz is also slabbed out in massive sizes for floors, especially in commercial structures like shopping malls. No doubt you have walked on quartz countertop material and not even known it.

    Quartz has come full circle because the very first material that inventor Marcello Toncelli developed was hand-poured mini slabs of about 12 by 20 inches, cut down and used for floor tiles. Countertop applications did not come until years later. Indeed, even in the mid-1970s, slabs only measured about 50 inches long—hardly a size one could call countertop-worthy.

  • 07 of 10

    Quartz No Longer Competes With Granite

    For years, quartz tried to play the natural stone game, and it was all about deciding between quartz kitchen countertops vs. granite. Quartz sought to develop a reputation as a more durable, less porous, and more easily fabricated version of slab granite.

    While granite-look quartz materials still ply the market in huge numbers, quartz that looks like nothing else is an increasingly popular segment. One example is Caesarstone. As if "modern" weren't a current-enough style category for consumers, Caesarstone now has an "ultra-modern" category with offerings such as Apple Martini, Blizzard, and Crocodile.

  • 08 of 10

    More Quartz Means Lower Granite Prices

    According to a report from the Freedonia Group, quartz countertops are continuing to take over granite's market share. Homeowners who in years past might have chosen slab granite are increasingly choosing quartz.

    But this has one fortunate side effect for anyone who wants to install granite: lower prices due to less demand. Freedonia notes that "granite prices declined over the last decade, making the material more widely available." 

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  • 09 of 10

    Quartz Is a Relatively Pricey Option

    Quartz is generally cheaper than granite. However, it's not a cheap countertop overall when compared to other options like laminate or butcher block.

    Quartz countertops cost $15 to $70 per square foot on average. Meanwhile, granite costs roughly $15 to $140 per square foot. And marble will run you around $15 to $190 per square foot.

    On the inexpensive end, laminate costs on average $8 to $27 per square foot, and wood or butcher block costs $10 to $38 per square foot. Porcelain or ceramic tiles are also inexpensive countertop options at $3 to $28 and $1 to $15 per square foot, respectively.

  • 10 of 10

    Quartz Has Excellent Durability

    Quartz kitchen countertops are nonporous, so they don't need sealing like granite or marble do. This also means quartz does not get water stains easily.

    In addition, quartz does not scratch easily; in fact, granite tends to scratch easier than quartz. But extreme pressure can cause a scratch, chip, or crack.

    The good news is it’s possible to buff out light scratches with polish and get your countertops looking like new again. It’s also possible to fix deep scratches using an epoxy filler. However, the key is scratch prevention by doing things like always using cutting boards.

  • Are there any cons to a quartz countertop?

    One disadvantage of quartz countertops is they're not very resistant to heat. Because quartz countertops usually contain about 10% resin, a hot pan or baking dish placed directly on the surface can cause whitish, cloudy discoloration. Quartz countertops can also be costly.

  • What is the difference between high-quality and low-quality quartz countertops?

    The most significant difference between high-quality and low-quality quartz countertops is the amount of resin used. Low-quality quartz has about 12% resin, and high-quality quartz has about 7% resin.

  • Is there a difference between quartz and quartzite countertops?

    Quartz is a manufactured material mixed with other stones and resin, while quartzite is a pure, natural stone. Quartzite resembles marble or granite, with delicate veining, and is usually $10 more per square foot.

  • What is the best-rated product in quartz countertops?

    Three of the best quartz countertop brands are Cambria, Caesarstone, and Silestone. They all feature plenty of quartz countertop color options to choose from, as well as multiple textures and thicknesses. Some smaller but still well-rated brands include Viatera, allen + roth, Daltile ONE Quartz, and Pental. 

  • What is the cheapest option available within quartz countertops?

    Quartz countertops can range from $1,500 to $12,000. Factors affecting the price include the size of the project, any customizations (such as a sink cutout or beveled edges), and the quality of the quartz. Labor costs also can vary by location.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Countertops. The Freedonia Group.

  2. Countertop Prices by Material. HomeAdvisor.

  3. How Much Do Quartz Countertops Cost? HomeAdvisor.