20 years ago, the stone worktop industry was almost exclusively dominated by marble and granite. These days, quartz is by the far the most likely product you will find installed in kitchens when looking for a stone worktop.
One of the main reasons for this is the stain resistance of quartz kitchen worktops is far greater than marble and granite worktops. Quartz worktops also require far less maintenance and do not have to be resealed every year unlike granite worktops and marble worktops.
Most of the top quartz brands in the UK such as Silestone, Artscut and Caesarstone are made of 92-94% natural quartz material and then the rest is a resin that binds the material together and makes it the desired colour. Because there is a manmade element to making the stone they are also sometimes referred to as composite worktops. In reality though, despite the prevalence of quartz worktops in the market, most people still refer to them as marble and granite worktops as they are just not aware that they are made of a different material.
Another reason that quartz worktops now dominate the kitchen worktops market is that the material is much more reliable when cutting. For natural stones there are natural vents that move through the stone. Sometimes these can open when cutting through the material and resin is needed to put inside. They can also open up naturally over time and lead to a crack in the worktop. These can be filled with a resin but again this is not ideal, and the appearance of the repair can vary n how seamless it looks. Additionally, for granite worktops a lot of them require bars to be put in grooves underneath the worktops in order to support them. This can mean a bit more workmanship and cost are associated with granite worktops. This type of work is not required for a quartz worktop, making it ideal for customers on a low budget.
Quartz countertops are a lot more uniform as well which makes them a very efficient option. The slabs all come exactly the same size and the variance between batches are minimal. This means it is not as necessary to view the slab because of the lack of variance. This can be a major factor when depending on the size of the granite slabs in stock, for a very large batch you may get situations in which the project can fit into 2 slabs instead of 3 slabs. This can create a bit more urgency when booking in natural stone jobs and although the sizes can sometimes work in your favour, overall the experience can be a lot more stressful.
Another reason that quartz worktops have become so popular is because there are many cost-effective options out there to make your worktops more affordable. A lot of natural stone slabs come about 6m² in size so there can often be a lot of wasted material after your project is complete. This can make quartz countertops more affordable option in some circumstances compared to a granite worktop. Most quartz worktop brands such as Unistone and Artscut have varying slab sizes that mean you can reduce the amount of wastage in the material being used, increasing the value for money that you obtain.
You can also mill down quartz worktops for upstands in some occasions. This is a lot more difficult to do for marble worktops and granite countertops. This means that for granite and marble you often have to have 30mm upstands with your 30mm worktop. This is because the process of milling down can be stressful on the stone, and where certain marble and granite slabs can be more fragile, the process can cause them to crack or break. You may also need to have multiple joints in your granite upstand.
There is also a much wider variety in the colours available in the quartz product range. Whilst it is possible to pretty much make quartz into any design, the most popular designs are definitely the subtle white Carrara marble effects as well as the Calacatta style products. Quartz products such as the Artscut Bianco Mysterio, Caesarstone White Attica and Silestone Snowy Ibiza have become extremely popular as replacements for the popular white Carrara marble style as they offer the beauty of natural stone but do not come with the poor scratch resistance and stain resistance that a real marble product would provide. It is also very popular as whilst people like white kichen countertops in general, they do like a slight vein in it to give it a bit of colour and pizzazz.
In terms of colour the white Carrara marble effect may be the main choice for many customers but the light grey quartz colours are probably the most popular quartz products being sold throughout the UK and in the London market outside of that. We have found that Enfield, Ealing, Brent and Bromley are hotspots for grey quartz.
Typically, most people go for 20mm worktops when looking for quartz. 20mm matches the thickness of most kitchen units from Howdens, Wren, Magnet, Benchmarx, Wickes and many other kitchen companies. 20mm worktops are also more closely associated with modern, contemporary kitchens as well. They are also better if you are on a lower budget since the material cost is less. Worktop fitters also prefer 20mm kitchen worktops as they are a lot less heavy to carry!
30mm composite worktops are making a come back though, they suit shaker kitchens very well and that is becoming a more popular option for many customers. Artscut Verona is a particularly great option for 30mm as the thick subtle white Carrara style composite worktop offers a slightly warmer option than the Bianco Mysterio and White Attica that are very bright and more well suited to the contemporary, modern kitchen worktop. The classic, traditional kitchen is much better suited to having a 30mm quartz countertop. It may require a higher budget is certain circumstances, but it is worth the investment for a worktop that should last upwards of 25 years. 30mm worktops are also more likely to be found in the outlying areas of London rather than in the centre of the city. Particularly, areas such as Surrey, Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Essex, West Sussex, Cambridge and so forth.
The Calacatta veined style composite worktops are also incredibly popular. Silestone Calacatta Gold and Artscut Calacatta Oro in particular have given customers options to have the best slabs on the market that are worth thousands upon thousands in cheaper variations that still look great. These worktops are very popular in South London areas such as Dulwich, Kingston, Clapham, Wimbledon, Croydon and Dartford.
Another popular style of quartz in the UK that has stood out is the subtle shimmers and sparkly quartz products. As some of the most basic but fantastic looking stones, they are ideal for customers that would like to upgrade from a laminate worktop as they are still very cheap and cost effective but still are incredibly hardwearing and resistant to both stains and scratches. They also offer a little bit extra for people that are not quite sold on the plain white quartz products. Whist the plain white quartz is a classic option and one of the bestselling quartz slabs on the market, sometimes people do like a little bit extra in terms of pattern, colour and texture to give their worktops a little extra flair. Whatever your preference is as a customer, there are definitely enough types of quartz worktops in order to find something that suits you!
Caesarstone in particular have taken the lead in introducing more concrete style quartz into the market. Taking advantage of the honed and matt finishes that are available for some quartz products it has allowed them to other a unique product to the market that was not possible in the days of marble and granite worktops.
This has been taken a step further by brands such as Dekton that have started dominating the stone market by offering industrial type colours but at lower prices and being more practical compared to actual concrete and metal worktops.
On the subject of Dekton, this brand comes under the bracket of sintered worktops, often also called ceramic kitchen worktops or porcelain countertops. They have taken a bit of market share away from the quartz market when it comes to stone worktops due to the designs being printed on top allowing for a much higher amount of detail and vibrant colour. However even with their escalating popularity it is unlikely that they will end up overtaking quartz as the best stone worktop on the market. This is firstly because they are a lot less cost effective to fabricate. For customers on a budget the quartz worktop is far superior due to the price of quartz worktops often being lower. Additionally, they have not yet created a product that has the vein going through the side of the stone. This can be very egregious for people looking for a veined marble effect kitchen worktop since the pattern will not continue through, unless you pay to have the stone built up which can be an expensive option for customers even with high budgets.
One area in which quartz worktops are not recommended is when going for the plain black option. Regardless of if it is Silestone, Unistone or Caesarstone, plain black quartz is more susceptible to marking, scratching and smearing. Many fabricators in the UK, including The Marble Group have stopped doing these plain black composite worktops as it is a rare occasion where the granite alternative is a better product.
In terms of how price of quartz kitche worktops varies, it depends on many factors. The first of which is the size of the kitchen first and foremost. A small kitchen will likely only require 1 slab of quartz. This would be a single run under 3 metres with a reasonably sized splashback, or a L shape with neither length being longer than roughly three metres long as well. More than 50% of our UK quartz orders are for average sized kitchens that require 2 slabs. The most common composite worktop formatting for this size kitchen is a long L shape with splashback or a large island and single run with either a splashback or an end panel on the island. Larger kitchens will likely take 3 or 4 quartz slabs to produce. Understandably the larger the job, the more fabrication costs so this will in turn cause an increase in the quartz worktop price.
Edge details can also be a large factor for quartz worktop prices. At The Marble Group the most common edge detail in the UK is the double bevelled/chamfered edge. This is the cleanest finish of the standard edgings and fits very well on a modern kitchen worktop. Pencil edges are more common on traditional kitchens but the edging does have associations with laminate worktops so many people are put off a bit by the way it looks as they do not want people to assume their stone worktop is cheap and actually made of plastic. Sharknose/Apex edges are a little more costly but can give the quartz worktop a floating effect and work very well with led recessed lighting underneath. Apex edges are more popular on modern, contemporary kitchen countertops. 20mm is the recommended thickness as well as 30mm quartz is too thick for the floating effect to be noticeable. Ogee edges and bullnose edges are another edging option, although the price of the quartz worktop will be much higher with these as they take a lot of masonry and workmanship to pull off. These edges are more commonly found on traditional quartz kitchen worktops.
The thickness of the kitchen worktop definitely has an impact. Just because 30mm is 50% thicker than the 20mm composite worktop does not mean the overall price of the quartz worktop is 50% higher as well though. Nevertheless, for customers on a low budget 20mm quartz is recommended. You can get thicker worktops for quartz, 50mm is quite a popular option. This requires the material to be built up which can be very expensive. People do sometimes worry about the weight of quartz worktops but as long as they are properly supported almost all units can support the weight whether your actual kitchen comes from Howdens, Wren, Wickes or another company.
Recessed drainers, flush mounted hob cut outs and recessed sink cut outs can also turn a low-priced quartz worktop into quite an expensive one as this again require more fabrication.
In terms of the effect of brands on the price of composite worktops it can be quite large. In general, the price of Unistone is about 10-15% less than the price of Silestone and Caesarstone and then Artscut is about 10-15% less than Unistone. Dekton prices are often higher than all the quartz brands including Caesarstone and Silestone. It does depend on the colour as well though, the price of silestone Marengo, the Silestone White Storm price and the Miami White prices are very reasonable even though they are from an ‘expensive’ brand. The price of Silestone Calacatta Gold or Eternal Statuario on the other hand can be high, especially as many people go for the 30mm option. Just because Unistone prices are assumed to be cheaper does not make it so. At The Marble Group the price of Silestone Calacatta Gold is less than the price of something such as the Unistone Venatino even though Silestone is seen as more expensive. Caesarstone is an interesting one as often they only do small slabs of stone. This can make them more cost effective for smaller jobs even though they are seen as a premium brand. On the other hand, Silestone often does only large slabs, this can make the price of your quartz worktop more cost effective than Caesarstone on certain projects since you pay only need to pay for 2 Silestone slabs instead of 3 Caesarstone slabs.
In terms of why one style of quartz is priced higher than another, there is a slight cost difference due to the difficulty in which a colour can be produced and the design. But mainly it is a case of supply and demand as well as the perspective of the customer. It is pretty much like many designer fashion brands charging high prices for garments that are similar to other brands out there. Customers look at the price of Silestone Calacatta Gold and expect it to be high, so that is what the quartz brand can get charge.
When discussing the quality differences between quartz worktop brands, the difference is realistically quite minimal. Undertaking stain tests, we found that all of the main brands (Silestone, Caesarstone, Unistone, Artscut) are very resistant. You do get minor variances where in testing Silestone performed better against ink-based stains whereas Artscut did better against tea and coffee stains, but it was minimal at best. Choosing a worktop should realistically come down to which colour you prefer, the warranty and then worktop price afterwards.
For the warranty of the stone, Silestone, Artscut and Caesarstone all come with 25-year warranties against any defects in the stone. This mainly includes imperfection in the stone. None of these warranties cover staining though if you were to leave wine spilled on the worktop over night or something like that. Whilst the surfaces are staining resistant, quartz is not completely impenetrable as a surface, so a decent amount of care and caution is required to keep your composite worktop in perfect condition. At the bottom of this text there is also a quick guide on how to keep your quartz worktop in excellent condition and what to do if marks and stains do occur.
For heat resistance, quartz kitchen worktops are resistant to up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. This does mean you have to be a bit careful of putting piping hot kitchenware on top of the surface as it can crack or burn. Warranties from the stone quartz brands will not cover this. As a rule of thumb though, cracking of quartz countertops is very rare and, in the UK, we get very few enquiries about it. The main thing to look out for is not to but very hot and very heavy things on the worktop as the mixture of pressure and heat is what caused the transfer of heat to get into the surface quickly and cause cracks in the surface.
It is not recommended to have outside quartz worktops as they can be affected by strong UV rays and the surface can become discoloured. In these circumstances a marble or granite worktop would be more resistant than a composite worktop.
The Marble Group has extensive experience supplying, templating, fabricating and fitting quartz stone countertops as we have completed quartz projects in every Inner London, Greater London, Outer London borough including Camden, Greenwich, Hackney and Hammersmith. We have also completed many projects in Islington, Kensington and Chelsea. Wembley, Sutton, Hounslow, Romford, Bexley, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Merton, Richmond and Lambeth too.
The Marble Group may have started in North London, but we do supply quartz worktops to the whole nation. We do lots of jobs in Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool, as well as many areas in the centre of the UK such as the Midlands.
With regards to how to clean your quartz worktop, here is some information below on what the experts have suggested so you can keep your quartz worktop perfect for a lifetime.:
The following recommendations have been made to preserve the quality and lifetime of your new worktop. The surface has already been sealed and is a reasonably easy surface to maintain.
Clean the worktop with a neutral base cleaner. A neutral pH product or detergent like Cif Actifizz is advised.
Dry off worktops to avoid dull patches appearing. Hard water and soap residues that may be left behind during daily use need to be wiped. It is also important to wash the worktop with warm clean water every month.
Glass and stainless steel cleaning cloths do a good job of leaving the quartz smear free.
Whilst the stone is stain resistant, it is not stain proof. Ensure that oil, grease, wine, vinegar, lemon, fizzy drinks, coffee and any similar product should be wiped up with a cloth dipped in a neutral base detergent and rinsed with water.
Do not expose direct to sunlight. Quartz should not be used outdoors or in places subject to strong direct sunlight or exposed to UV lighting.
Do not expose quartz to excessive heat. We strongly advise the use of a tripod/trivet to place your pans on when taken direction from the hob, or your trays straight from the oven. Deep fryers and other very hot items can mark the surface or cause cracks to appear. A good rule is: if it is too hot for your hands, it is too hot for your tops.
Do not use a sealer on the quartz. Quartz is non-porous and therefore if a sealant is applied it will sit on top of the surface and dirt will trap easily, marks will appear and your worktop will become dull. A sealer or water-repellent is not to be used on a composite work surface.
Limescale can build up on the surface of the stone over time. To remove this, please dilute normal household vinegar with some water and rub the affected area, and then rinse off immediately.
Worktops should not be brought into contact with chemicals or strong acids. These include paints stripper, brush cleaner, oven cleaner, nail varnish remover, degreaser or similar products.
Removal of stubborn stains (silicone) or other marks can be removing using a small application of acetone or ethanol; but it is important that after application that these solvents are immediately rinsed and washed off. If necessary, a plastic scouring pad can be used lightly on the surface.
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