Before I got into the cabinets and countertop market, I thought the word “quartz” was just a light pink, hexagonal gemstone that people kept in their pockets as good luck charms or wore in a variety of jewelry settings. While that is describing the mineral quartz, you shouldn’t confuse it with the quartz countertops you might want to put in your kitchen or bathroom.

Are quartz and quartzite the same thing?

The answer is: no. The names sound so similar that it is easy to think of them as the same product, but they definitely aren’t. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock (a soft, quartz-rich sandstone that was exposed to high heat and pressure) that is durable and naturally-occurring.

It usually comes in light grays and whites, doesn’t handle sharp objects or high heat well (so be sure to use a potholder and cutting board), and is UV-resistant. It is cut out of the quarries in slabs similar to marble and granite. Quartzite is pretty low maintenance, but it does require resealing about twice a year.

Quartz, on the other hand, is a man-made material that is composed of about 90% quartz crystals and 10% binders, resins, and colorant. It is durable, more heat-resistant than quartzite, and bacteria and stain-resistant. It also does not require resealing.

Does quartz come in a variety of colors and finishes?

Yes! Quartz isn’t just chopped up bits of other rocks mixed in with a little glue. It comes in different colors and patterns from white to black, tan to dark brown, specked to veined, and subdued to glitter-tastic. It can have the appearance of marble or granite, or it could look like a solid color all the way through.
The variety that quartz comes in can enhance any design element or existing motif. The thing that sets quartz apart from other natural stones is that, since it is man-made, it can be replicated, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to make a repair or replacement if the need arises.

Though the polished finish is the most popular, it isn’t the only one out there. You can also get quartz countertops in matte and brushed finishes.

Can I use quartz in the bathroom?

Another resounding yes. Its water-resistant and anti-bacterial properties make it the perfect material for a bathroom countertop. Not only that, but its heat-resistant properties also prevent unsightly hair straightener and curling iron burns on your countertop.

Would quartz do well in an outdoor kitchen?

While quartz is heat and UV-resistant, the artificial fillers can be damaged by excessive sunlight and heat. Granite would probably be a better choice for an outdoor kitchen or patio area, and most warranties for quartz are voided if used in an outdoor setting.

Is quartz expensive?

That question is tricky to answer because expense is all relative, right? That said, while quartz is more expensive than laminate or other solid surface, it lasts a lot longer and stays in better shape throughout its life than other countertop materials. You may be surprised to find that the price of quartz falls within the range of a mid-grade granite, so it may be more affordable than you think.

Is quartz difficult to maintain?

Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, quartz is not impervious to all damage. The engineered nature of quartz makes it scratch-resistant, but there are some things that you need to do (and not do) in order to keep your quartz countertops looking like new.

Do

  • Clean up gritty materials like sand or dirt right away.
  • Wipe up spills quickly.
  • Use a soft cloth to clean up messes.
  • Stick to hot, soapy water for most of your cleaning.
  • Use a cutting board when chopping up food.

Don’t

  • Drag or scoot heavy items across the counter.
  • Put hot pots or pans on the counter without a trivet. Quartz is heat resistant, but too much heat can melt some of the resins or result in a crack in your countertop.
  • Use an abrasive cleaner. These can scratch up and dull the surface of your countertop.
  • Use any kind of solvent – such as paint thinner or nail polish remover– on your countertop.

As wonderful as it would be to have a countertop that was impervious to all stains and scratches, such a thing just doesn’t exist. Quartz is pretty hearty, but you should take the time to clean it the right way. As soon as there is a spill, use a soft cloth and mild soap to wipe it up. If the stain gets the chance to dry, pull out your preferred kitchen surface cleaner and a non-abrasive sponge. For extra tough stains like grease splatters, use a kitchen degreaser like Easy-Off and a soft cloth. They also make cleaners specifically designed for quartz countertops.

Quartz is an exceptional material to use in your kitchen and bathroom. Its natural beauty, durability, and resistance to heat, bacteria, water, and stains make it an option well worth considering.