Ask the Expert

Curious about quartz

Q: For years I’ve been dreaming of granite countertops, but now that I’m finally planning to remodel my kitchen, I’m hearing that “quartz” is the hottest material for countertops. What exactly is it, and should I choose it instead?

Quartz is certainly all the rage right now, but whenever one is considering a new product it's usually worth the time to try to sort out the promotion or trendiness from the actual merits of the product itself.

Commercially the term ‘quartz’ refers to a man-made engineered product which combines natural quartz in a resin-based polymer. It's mixed in liquid form, then poured into slabs that are 2 or 3 cm thickness. It seems that everyone has their own line of quartz these days with quite an endless array of patterns, styles and colors, running from the neutral non-descripts and basic beiges, to those that mimic stone and stars and sparkles. Like any other product, when trying to make comparisons, there are advantages and disadvantages of each and applications where one will be more or less suitable than the other. Natural stone has always been a good choice and remains so, but there are some advantages to a quartz product, with qualification, that would make it a better option in certain applications. It is a stronger product than stone, but that doesn't mean there won't ever be an issue of chipping or breaking. It is generally more stain-resistant, but the lighter colors can still be problematic. It is not heat resistant and is susceptible to scorching. The non-natural look of it is an advantage over stone in the design of clean modern decor, but if one is looking for the beauty of a natural product, it comes close, but doesn't quite get there. It has a look all its own, which if you like, should, in my view, be the most compelling reason to use it.

My best advice would be to know and trust your fabricator. Find someone who has been around long enough that knows their products, knows which materials best suit which applications and what can be expected from a product five years after it's been in use. Find someone that is going to stand behind what they sell and provide you service, long after the sale – in the end, that is often the most significant part of the decision.

Mark Sprano is the owner of Alaska Marble & Granite Inc., specializing in high-quality stone products, including building and paving stone, stone and quartz countertops, providing custom fabrication and installation, in Anchorage since 1983. Visit alaskamarbleandgranite.com.