Kitchen Countertops: Quartz vs. Solid-Surface Materials

September 15, 2020

When choosing what material your kitchen countertops should be made out of, most homeowners look for similar properties. You want something beautiful, yet durable. Affordable, yet aesthetically pleasing. Low-maintenance, but sustainable. Especially for homeowners who are concerned about the durability of their countertops, synthetic (or partially synthetic) materials like quartz and solid-surface materials are strong contenders. But what’s the difference between quartz and solid-surface countertops? And how can you know which makes the  most sense for your family?

Answering those questions starts with understanding the primary differences between quartz and solid-surface materials. 

Solid-surface materials are synthetic, commercially produced countertops that are essentially composed of mineral dust and pigments sealed with resin. Quartz, on the other hand, is composed of about 93-95% natural quartzite that is similarly engineered and held together by resin.

Physical Appearance

Quartz is one of those timeless materials that you’ll find everywhere from your neighbor’s brand new home to historic mansions. It’s striking, stately, and elegant—the perfect option for those who desire a classic aesthetic. 

Solid-surface materials, on the other hand, were created as an alternative to the plastic, laminate counters of the 50s and 60s. They work great in both mid-century modern and contemporary design. 

Solid-surface countertops offer nearly invisible seams, whereas quartz countertop seams are typically visible. Quartz provides the appearance of natural stone with the strength and sustainability of engineered materials. 

Durability

Quartz is indisputably the tougher material here. Quartz is extremely strong, non-porous, and moderately heat resistant. Solid-surface countertops, on the other hand, are fairly easy to scratch and scuff. It is worth noting, however, that heat-related scorches can usually be buffed out of solid-surface countertops, whereas a rare crack in a quartz countertop is much harder to remedy.

Price

Solid-surface and quartz countertops are virtually the same when it comes to cost. The expense associated with either can range dramatically depending on the size, shape, and amount of customization involved in your project. 

Sustainability

In the conversation on environmental friendliness, there’s a bit of a coin flip between solid-surface materials and quartz. Solid-surface materials consume less energy in manufacturing, but they’re made with a fair amount of toxic chemicals. Quartz requires more energy upfront because quartzite must be mined, but most quartz is produce locally and includes recycled content. 

Because quartz is likely to last much longer than solid-surface materials, it ultimately wins out in sustainability. Unless you encounter a significant kitchen disaster, you’ll likely never have to replace your quartz countertops.

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