When you get a chance, go and take a look at a kitchen modeled before this past decade. What you’ll most likely notice is a plastic-y finish to almost every surface. This effect is produced by materials known as laminates. Constructed through a process of molding together layers of resin-soaked paper in intense heat to form a solid slab backed by a chip wood base, laminates were cheap, lightweight and almost everyone had kitchens filled with the material.
However, this past decade has finally brought some innovation to kitchen décor as trends have moved away from synthetic materials towards natural textures. Look at any newer kitchen and you’ll find counters of polished marble, soapstone, granite and most popularly engineered quartz.
What is Engineered Quartz?
Engineered Quartz provides the best compromise between artificially made laminates and the rustic beauty of natural stones. This material is created through a man-made process where 94% naturally occurring quartz minerals are mixed with a 6% blend of engineered resins and pigments to create an enormously hard, durable and attractive surface that can mimic the qualities of many other materials.
Why Engineered Quartz?
If you’re wondering what benefits engineered quartz offers over a completely natural material like granite, there are many reasons why we prefer the former.
The most important quality that quartz brings to the table is its resistance to chips, scratches, dents and any other physical damage. While granite is known to be a hard material, natural stone surfaces come with natural vulnerabilities that you won’t find in engineered quartz countertops.
Granite is a naturally porous substance which makes it very susceptible to stains from even the most minor spills. To avoid this you’ll usually have to seal a granite countertop upon purchase and then at regular intervals from then onwards in order to maintain a clean finish. Quartz requires no such maintenance, all you need to do ensure these surfaces stay shiny is to wipe them down regularly with a wet cloth. Unlike granite though, this material is not completely heat-resistant, so you’ll want to avoid laying down any hot pots and pans directly on the surface to avoid melting the resins.
Engineered quartz is a flexible, malleable material you can shape it into large joints with fewer seams than a granite countertop would have. It’s also a relatively eco-friendly choice, as most of the crushed quartz used to make up your countertop will be sourced from quarry byproducts and excess organic materials.
Quartz and granite countertops come in at comparable price points with granite perhaps being the slightly more expensive. Both options are definitely more expensive than laminate surfaces. Prices for quartz slabs usually range anywhere from $85 to $150 per square foot depending on brand, color, configuration, and location. While granite pieces start from around $70 and increase exponentially in price from there. It’s important to remember that granite must be extracted in one big piece and shaped from there in order to guarantee consistency, whereas quartz is a man-made substance that can be fashioned as desired.