Over the past two years, engineered quartz stone surfaces have made an aggressive entry into the marketplace, finding a niche between solid surfaces and granite. Like solid surfaces, they offer easy cleaning and extensive choices of color and design details. The hardness of quartz — 7 on the Mohs scale (gypsum is 2, a diamond is 10) — makes these materials impervious to most scratches. They have the look of granite but are nonporous and do not need to be sealed. Depending on local supply, these quartz-based materials are usually cheaper than most granites.
"Customers are being driven by the colors and color consistency of quartz because they are exotic, and to get them in natural granite is pricey," says Paul Calafiore, general manager of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Newington, Conn. "Usually when we do a quartz job, it's because a customer had to have a particular color." He estimates that his company uses quartz surfacing in four to five of its 35 to 40 annual jobs. It's particularly popular in the kitchen and for customers with a mid-range budget, he adds.
Color and consistency make engineered stone surfaces advantageous in the selection process, too, says Dave Weeks, sales consultant with Duracite, a fabricator and installer in Fairfield, Calif. "In today's busier world, it's easier for the buyer to come in and select from a small sample of quartz products because it's consistent in color and texture, whereas with granite, they usually have to go to a slab yard and look at a whole piece to approve it because of the age and variations, and that's a big-time consumer," he says.
Both Calafiore and Weeks say that engineered stone's popularity among consumers will depend upon ease and channels of distribution, competitive pricing (versus mid-range granite, especially), variety in slab size (so product isn't wasted when creating tiles for backsplashes) and incorporation of more stone-like design features, such as veins.
"I don't think quartz can overtake natural granite, but it can run even with it," says Calafiore, "I've seen some great possibilities with quartz, so who knows how far they can take it."
Weeks agrees: "It's definitely here to stay."
Below, representatives from some of the leading engineered-quartz manufacturers shared with us the information you'll need to help you and your customers get top value for your dollar.
Price range: $60-$80 per square foot
Distribution: Certified fabricators in all 50 states, selected distributors, Lowe’s
Warranty: 10 years from date of purchase; covers materials and labor if fabricated by a Caesarstone-certified fabricator
Colors & styles: 38 colors in five groups: Solo, Duet, Crystal, Nova, Twilight; polished or honed; customized color service available for large orders
Standard slab size: 122"X53"; 1/2", 3/4" or 11/4" thick
Stain resistance: Can withstand exposure to tea, soda, wine, vinegar, lemon juice and spices
Maintenance requirements: Routine cleansing with a damp cloth and liquid detergent (multipurpose cleanser, detergent or bleach for stubborn stains or spills)
Composition: 93% quartz, 7% pigments and polyester resins
Price range: $3.50 to $18.30 per square foot (not including installation)
Distribution: Independent distributors and fabricators throughout the country
Warranty: 10 years against manufacturing defects
Colors & styles: 18 colors in four styles: Astral, Terra, Genesis and Petra
Standard slab size: 120"X55"; also offers floor and wall tiles
Stain resistance: Highly stain resistant
Maintenance requirements: Clean with water and neutral soap or detergent
Composition: At least 92% quartz
Price range: $40-$75 per square foot
Distribution: Distributors in 29 states, concentrated in the Northeast, Midwest and Southwest
Warranty: 10 years from date of installation; all warranty claims subject to inspection and approval by an authorized Technistone representative
Colors & styles: 20 standard colors, three special-order colors, high-gloss finish
Standard slab size: 52"X120"
Stain resistance: Unaffected by oils, wines, sodas and acids
Maintenance requirements: Clean with a scrubber and common household cleanser
Composition: 93% quartz, quartz Silica or granite and 7% resin, colors and binders
Price range: $75-$95 per square foot
Distribution: Primary fabrication facilities in Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis; selected retailers and fabricators throughout the United States
Warranty: 10 years from date of purchase, offering replacement of the defective product, repair or refund of the purchase price at the company’s discretion (no liability for labor to remove and/or reinstall the product)
Colors & styles: 32 colors; polished, semi-gloss or honed
Standard slab size: 118"X52"; also offer 12"X12" and 24"X24" tiles
Stain resistance: Resistant to stains caused by wine, fruit juices, liquid food coloring, tea, grapes, paints, nail polish and remover, automotive fluids and permanent markers
Maintenance requirements: Clean with warm water and soap or common household cleanser for tough stains (but avoid scouring products)
Composition: Pure quartz
Price range: $45-$90 per square foot
Distribution: Selected distributors (70-plus), EXPO Design Center, The Home Depot
Warranty: 10-year limited end-user warranty not applying to color variances, thermal shock, chemical abuse or defects caused by misuse, with the manufacturer’s option to repair or replace the product at no cost, including labor charges
Colors & styles: 47 colors in six “series" — Cielo, Mesopotamia, Mythology, Stellar, Stone and Tropical Forest
Standard slab size: 54"X120"; 1/2", 3/4" or 11/4" thick
Stain resistance: Resistant to spills from coffee, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, ink and makeup
Maintenance requirements: Clean with warm water and soap
Composition: 93% quartz combined with resins
Price range: $60-$100 per square foot
Distribution: Distributors and retailers in all 50 states, selected Lowe’s and The Great Indoors stores, authorized Zodiaq Installers and Corian fabricators
Warranty: 10 years from date of installation, given the product was installed by a DuPont Authorized Zodiaq Installer; includes necessary labor charges needed to repair or replace the product
Colors & styles: 26 colors
Standard slab size: 52"X118"; 3/4" or 11/8" thick
Stain resistance: Resists staining from wine, vinegar, tea, lemon juice, soda, fruits and vegetables
Maintenance requirements: Clean with a damp cloth and non-bleach, nonabrasive cleanser
Composition: 93% quartz crystals; nontoxic, chemically nonreactive and hypoallergenic