When considering what type of worktops to specify for a new kitchen, granite is often seen as the most upmarket and luxurious type; after all, granite worktops are composed from a wholly natural material and, like comparing a traditional wood floor with a laminated or engineered wood type, an authentic and natural material is often seen as the ultimate in luxury.
That said, granite has its drawbacks and there is a material that combines the benefits and prestige of granite with none of the disadvantages. This material is quartz – a high strength and less expensive alternative offering similar levels of luxury.
What is a Quartz Worktop?
Like granite, quartz is a natural material mined from the earth. Whereas granite is used to create a worktop in its original form, quartz is mixed with small amounts of resin to create a strong and smooth surface. This makes for a very hard granite-like worktop which can have a flecked or smooth look depending on how finely the quartz is ground. A key benefit is its flexibility of finish because all types of colours and effects can be created including marble and granite-effect.
Nothing is lost in terms of perceived quality, prestige or a feeling of having a ‘luxury kitchen’ compared to granite. Indeed, quartz offers a number of advantages:
1. Uniform appearance
Because granite is a wholly natural material, it will differ from slab to slab in colour and finish. Some people like this while others don’t, so quartz worktops – with a consistent appearance throughout – would be an ideal choice if a uniform look is preferred.
Granite worktops need sealing, preferably annually, to prevent staining as it’s a porous material. Quartz isn’t so needs no treating or sealing. If liquids are spilt on quartz, a quick wipe usually does the job whereas a granite surface could stain in the event of something like red wine being spilt.
As a non-porous material, quartz is a very hygienic choice since liquids cannot seep in and harbour bacteria.
Granite is seen as very high strength – but then so is quartz, so you’re not losing out in specifying it.
Generally speaking, fitting your new kitchen with quartz worktops will cost less than granite but the perceived quality and luxury look is very similar. Some may still hanker after the natural granite, but quartz can be a preferred aesthetic option in its own right. This particularly applies when specific colours or effects are desired.
Quartz will also help considerably in adding to the value of a property. The kitchen will look every inch a top quality installation (so long as other aspects of it is in keeping with the investment made in quartz or granite worktops), and this will help with the saleability of a property. An appealing kitchen is a definite plus point as it’s a space where people spend a lot of time.
6. Maintaining appearance
It’s very straightforward to keep kitchen worktops looking good with quartz. Because of its non-porous nature, liquids and other matter can be wiped away easily without the need to scrub and use any particular anti-bacterial soaps or cleaners, and it won’t stain.
It’s also highly scratch resistant due to its hard wearing surface, so will retain that luxuriant look for many years if basic levels of care are taken.
Quartz: now the Best choice for Kitchen Worktops?
With the relatively recent advancements made in the manufacture and design of quartz worktops – especially in the flexible ways it can be coloured and textured – it really does offer the benefits of granite without any of its disadvantages. It’s a good material to choose from a resource viewpoint: quartz is the second most abundant material in the earth’s crust.
When investing in top of the range worktops such as granite or quartz, then you’re clearly seeking the best and most luxurious kitchen possible. When this can be achieved with the benefits shared with granite of ultra-long life and an upmarket look, but offering levels of practicality granite cannot match as discussed above, then quartz is a firm favourite in planning and achieving a luxurious kitchen.
Matt Morley is the director Medusa Stone, one of the leading stonemasons in Essex. Medusa Stone is based in Basildon and they specialise in designing, building and fitting the finest stone kitchen worktops.