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After a couple of decades as merely an alternate to granite and marble for kitchen countertops, engineered quartz countertops are finally coming into its own. Currently the reigning favorite among homeowners and designers in the US, quartz countertops edged out granite by a narrow margin because they are very durable and widely available in a large range of beautiful colors and designs.
Quartz stone used for kitchen countertops are manmade, a mix of quartz, resin, and pigments bound together by a combination of heat and pressure. To all intents and purposes, it is a stone, although it is not a naturally occurring one. Some people continue to reject quartz countertops for this reason, claiming it does not have the same look and depth of granite or marble. While this may be true, quartz countertops have their own advantages.
Quartz countertops use quartz stone, one type of engineered stone resulting from an engineering process called Bretonstone. This is a patented technology owned by the Italian company Breton S.p.a. using vacuum pressure to form a solid mass of great density. Its inventor, Marcello Toncelli, licensed about 50 companies all over the world to use the technology to make engineered stone.
While the Bretonstone process itself does not specify the use of quartz materials, only companies that use a mix with at least 90% quartz can claim its products are engineered quartz. The advantage of using quartz for these countertop materials is the inherent durability of quartz, which is why quartz countertops are so tough.
Aside from durability, quartz stone has a distinct appearance that sets it apart from other engineered stones. This might be due to the near purity of the material, enabled by the manufacturing process that eliminates impurities inherent to natural stones such as granite. It is also non-porous, with a water absorption rate similar to porcelain tile at 0.5%. These characteristics make quartz countertops resistant to stains and scratches.
The only problem with quartz stone is that it is not heat resistant. The quartz material itself is, but the polymer resins and coloring agents in the mix are not. These also make it susceptible to fading under direct sunlight. However, using it indoors and placing trivets and heat pads on the surface can minimize heat damage to quartz countertops.
Quartz countertops more than make up for this one weakness by giving homeowners many more options than available for natural stones. Most people recognize some of the top brands of quartz stone in the market, but might not know much about them. If you are considering quartz countertops for your own kitchen, you should know something about some of them. Comparing popular brands of quartz countertops should help.
Caesarstone has laid claim to the “original quartz surface manufacturer” title. While this is not technically true as the Breton company has its own line of quartz stone, it is the first quartz stone company to make it popular in the residential market.
Founded in 1987, Caesarstone has its base in Israel. It manufacturers quartz stone in its factories located in the Bar Lev Industrial Zone and the Kibbutz Sdot Yam. Quartz stone basically replaced terrazzo tiles as the traditional business in the area when its popularity fell in the home market.
The designs of Caesarstone quartz go beyond the typical. Some product lines mix in unexpected elements, such as gems found in the Concetto Collection. Homeowners can also go for the Motivo Collection, which offers unusual finishes such as crocodile skin and lace.
The company currently has 53 designs with a choice of one of eight edge profiles, one of three finishes, and one of two thicknesses. Caesarstone offers a lifetime warranty on its products, which the original buyer can transfer on a pro-rata basis of 10 years.
The interesting thing about Cambria is that it started out in 2000 as an off-tangent investment by the owners of a long-established dairy business in Minnesota. The original factory occupied just 150,000 square feet, but business was so good that it more than doubled in size over the next five years.
Cambria is one of only two companies based in the US. Contractors like dealing with Cambria because it has a simple price arrangement. Homeowners cannot purchase Cambria quartz stones directly. They have to go through an authorized distributor such as interior designers and remodeling contractors. This ties in directly to the non-transferable, limited lifetime warranty, as this is void if you deal with an unauthorized agent in purchasing and installing the stone.
Most people like Cambria because of its smooth, natural look and finish. You can order in custom sizes, such as longer slabs to keep seams to a minimum. Cambria has 133 colors and designs available in 19 edge profiles. You can choose fine, heavy, or mixed textures with slabs in one of three thicknesses.
One of the most recognizable quartz stone brands is Silestone of Cosentino. This Italian company takes pride in producing quartz slabs in attractive and unusual colors and designs, making it distinctive for homeowners and designers.
Silestone comes in 142 designs and colors with your choice from 15 edge profiles. These slabs are available in three textures and three (1.2, 2, and 3 cm) thicknesses. Silestone also makes it easy to match your countertops with accessories, including sinks, vanities, and shower pans. Quartz stone products come with a limited, transferable 25-year warranty.
Quartz countertops are a good choice for many kitchens. If you are in the market for them, you can order it through reliable remodeling contractor Fairfax Kitchen Bath. We are a Class A, licensed and insured contractor, registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we service the DC, MD and Northern Virginia metropolitan areas.
When you contract with us, you can be sure you will get a quick turnaround on your products, and receive it much faster than ordering what you need from big box stores. We specialize in fabricating kitchen countertops and backsplashes to specifications, and installing them within budget and on time.
We carry the products you need for your kitchen upgrade, including natural stone and engineered quartz slabs, cabinets, shelves, sinks, faucets tiles, backsplashes, knobs and pulls, and hardwood flooring. We carry only the top brands for these products, such as Silestone, Cambria, Caesarstone, Blanco, Kohler, Schrock Cabinetry, and Mosaic Décor. Our products come with manufacturer warranties that ensure your satisfaction with the quality and installation.
You can see the products before you buy so you can decide for yourself if the quality is what you expect. We have a showroom in Fairfax, Virginia you are welcome to visit.
Contact us today to get a free quote for your kitchen remodeling project!