Since first emerging onto the market, quartz has maintained a reputation of unbeatable durability and stellar performance. In the beginning, however, many consumers felt that it fell short of what natural stone, such as granite and marble, could offer them in terms of appearance. The patterns, flecks, and veining formed during its manufacturing process weren’t organic enough to appear realistic, and simply didn’t measure up to the movement and shimmer that makes natural options so dynamic and captivating.
Luckily, that’s all changed. Modern day quartz manufacturers have determined methods of producing it in such a way that the markings it forms are less consistent – and far more believable. Engineered through a combination of crushed rock, resin, and dyes, this man-made stone is just as sturdy as it’s always been, but looks-wise, its on a whole new level. Finally able to compete with everything that natural materials have to offer, quartz is becoming a game changer among design enthusiasts and decorators. Sara Malek Barney, owner of Austin based interior & events design company BandDDesign, gives quartz the seal of approval: “I love working with quartz because of it’s durability and classic design. You know when you are working with quartz that is going to be timeless and look just as good in ten years as it did the day you installed it.”
If it isn’t enough that certain brands of quartz can now mimic the likes of marble with amazing accuracy, then perhaps its remarkably low level of maintenance will appeal. Unlike other countertop materials, with the exception of soapstone, quartz will never need to be sealed or resealed – and it’s still as close to indestructible as you’ll find. Along with its impressive resistance to staining, it also handles hot pots and pans, acidic foods, and knives like a dream. When you combine all of that with its eco-friendly status (the slabs are made with rock that would otherwise be considered waste), it’s easy to see why quartz is such a rising star.
Quartz Has a Unique Beauty of Its Own
You should know that quartz isn’t an option worth considering merely because of its ability to successfully replicate the appearance of natural stone. In fact, this material can stand entirely on its own in terms of what it has to offer. Because quartz is manmade, the unique possibilities it presents are seemingly endless. Granite, marble, and quartzite are mined directly from the earth, so you pretty much get what you get as far as color and pattern. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does limit your options to what Mother Nature sees fit to provide.
Quartz, on the other hand, can be customized during the manufacturing process in order to produce vibrant tones that, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to find. Lively shades of blue, red, green and violet are suddenly viable colors for your countertop, all thanks to the ingenuity that this particular stone has to offer. Not to mention, it provides the potential to create one-of-a-kind patterns, as well as add flecks and veining that you just won’t see anywhere else. For homeowners who want something truly different for their kitchen or bathroom, a touch of colorful quartz could be just the thing.
The Beauty of Marble – Minus the Maintenance
Marble, in spite of its elegance and glamour, can be a rather problematic choice for kitchen countertops. Aside from the fact that it must be sealed – and periodically resealed – it’s also rather susceptible to heat, staining, scratches, and chips. Whereas with quartz, you can bang around the kitchen with relative impunity, marble is unfortunately a different story. It can be fashioned into a fabulous backsplash or table, and is sure to do well in bathrooms and powder rooms, but may not be the best option for high-activity kitchens.
Happily, quartz manufacturers have taken notice of this predicament, and are providing alternatives that satisfy homeowners who love the look of marble, but don’t want to commit to a potentially high-maintenance countertop. While these companies have been making stone that resembles a variety of granite since quartz was first invented, true marble lookalikes have taken time (and the correct technology) to perfect. Now, to the delight of many, there are a significant assortment of options that have been made available by a number of leading brands.
Carrara marble is very highly sought after, and many styles of quartz have been designed to resemble it. A company called Cambria offers a version named Torquay, which comes in a gorgeous, milky white with subtle swirls of gray and tan, along with a handful of other equally beautiful marble lookalikes. Silestone, another well-known manufacturer, has a similar product called Lyra. Also available from them is their own take on Calacatta marble – Eternal Calacatta Gold – which is indistinguishable from the real thing. Meanwhile, Statuario marble, which is also very desirable, meets its match in Caesarstone’s quartz version, called Statuario Nuvo.
A Few More Excellent Alternatives
Some natural materials, such as onyx, are yet to be believably replicated in the form of quartz, but other imitation stones have been made available – and they’re quite convincing! Take soapstone, for example. It actually has quite a bit in common with quartz, with many of the same strengths – excluding one thing: it scratches relatively easily. Most marks can be buffed out, but a handful of substitute quartz versions are available for those who like how soapstone looks but don’t want to bother with maintaining it. Silestone has one called Charcoal Soapstone, which may not have the natural stone’s texture, but sure looks the part. Quartz Master and Zodiaq have their own versions as well, called Nero Marquina and Portoro, respectively.
Limestone is another natural material that can be duplicated rather effectively using quartz. Formed under intense pressure over the course of millennia from fossils, sand and shells, this stone is relatively easy to repair, but the necessary upkeep wouldn’t be worth installing it in a kitchen. While its quite good at withstanding heat, it doesn’t do as well with chemicals, scratches, chips, or stains, and periodic resealing is required to prevent bacteria buildup and other issues. Once again, Silestone offers an impressive quartz alternative called Capri Limestone – a rosy, beige stone that is available in a polished finish. Q Premium Natural Quartz has a couple of interesting options worth checking out as well; there’s Boletus, and a darker selection named Mocato.
Clearly, quartz’s star is on the rise for good reason, and as technology continues to progress, who’s to say what new heights it will reach?
What the experts say
Laura Umansky, founder and Creative Director of Laura U Interior design loves working with quartz: “At Laura U we use quartz all the time. And I find that it comes as a surprise to many people that quartz isn’t 100% natural stone. It looks so luxe, while being durable and luxuriously waterproof. I love a light-colored quartz countertop against a custom tile backsplash and dark-colored cabinets. One major feature to consider is that quartz hides seams so much better than granite. If your counters have a lot of right angles, quartz is a preferred option.”
Nicola Croughan, interior designer from Blinds Direct writes: “Quartz is a top choice in terms of durability and low maintenance. It falls under the Mineral trend alongside marble and terrazzo, which achieve that much sought-after ‘geological chic’ look.”
Traci Darden, owner of Elements of Design in Colleyville, TX, told us: “We have been making selections for new home buyers and renovations for over 20 years and granite has been King for the majority of that time. However, with today’s more contemporary interiors, buyers are definitely drawn to quartz for their tops. A couple reasons for this that buyers are liking: The consistency in the slabs – because quartz is man made there are production techniques used that allow a very high consistency between slabs, runs, etc. Whereas in contrast, granite is natural and mother nature will give you whatever she wants 🙂 Second – because a main component of quartz is resin – it is less porous than it’s counterpart granite. That should not be interpreted to mean it is stain proof – but the composition is there to make this a durable and likable product for even the most particular homeowners.”
Brett Seidl, owner of Brett Nicole Interiors based in The Colony, TX tells us: “Quartz is fantastic for use in the kitchen. It’s versatile enough that it can transcend a range of styles. And, because it’s non-porous it’s a very durable and low maintenance product.”
Jessica Regan, owner and principle designer at J.Marie Interiors, Forney, TX states: “In my experience, quartz has offered a gorgeous modern alternative to a more traditional granite stone. The availability of a solid natural Stone has allowed me to coordinate other materials that I wouldn’t be able to bring into my designs otherwise. I used a white quartz in my Rockyglen remodel and everyone absolutely loved it!”
Faye Smith, from Faye Smith Interior Design writes: “Current trends have quartz increasing in popularity over granite. Other than its limitations of needing to be away from sunshine and no surface heat over 300 degrees placed on it, it’s got great durability – and staying away from the big swirls of granite has quartz visually preferable.”