Here, we’ve rounded up what the designers — Carlos C. Forteza, Tracy Lynn, Gregory Thomas and Chase Dowell — say are the pros and cons of the material.
Cost of Engineered Quartz Countertops
The cost can vary wildly, depending on the quality of the material, the color, the manufacturer and installation fees. Installation costs will also vary, depending on the sizeand thickness of the slab, your location, if you have stairs, if it can fit in an elevator, if yourequire a waterfall edge or faucet holes and other job complexities. In Los Angeles, designer and builder Carlos Forteza of CCForteza says his clients usually pay $55 to $75 per square foot for engineered quartz installed. But in other areas of the country, the cost can be much higher or much lower.
Supplier Allison Allen of Stone Works International, in Eugene, Oregon, says current popular colors average about $80 per square foot installed. A good starting price forbasic solid colors, she says, would be about $65 to $70 per square foot installed. Marble looks usually run $90 to $100 per square foot installed.
It’s important to keep in mind, too, that larger projects often naturally have a lower cost per square foot. Gregory Thomas, architect and design consultant at The Neil Kelly Co., also in Eugene, says a tiny powder room slab could easily end up being $200 or more per square foot installed after you factor in material waste and a markup by a general contractor.
Advantages of Engineered Quartz
Color options. Engineered quartz comes in a multitude of colors, making it easy to find an option that works with your palette. You can pick a solid color or an option with speckles or veining that imitates natural stone. Some engineered quartz options “look so much like an authentic stone these days without the hassle of maintenance and cost,” Forteza says.
Toughness. Engineered quartz is extremely durable, which is important in the bathroom, where it might come into contact with acidic or colorful substances that could stain another material, such as natural stone or wood. It also resists cracking, chipping, etching and scratching.
Low cost. Engineered quartz is “a relatively cost-effective option for its quality and durability,” making it a great choice if you’re on a budget, says Tracy Lynn, designer and owner of Tracy Lynn Studio in San Diego. The price depends on the veining and color variation — some options can cost as much as natural stone — but engineered quartz is still a great choice for value.
Nonporous. The nonporous quality of engineered quartz makes it hard to stain and doesn’t allow it to support bacterial or viral growth, which is important in the bathroom, Thomas says.
Low maintenance. To clean engineered quartz, all you need is soap and water, and you won’t need to seal it. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbers.
Easy installation. Engineered quartz is often easier to install than natural stone.
Longevity. Most manufacturers offer a 10- to 15-year warranty, but if you maintain it properly, which is not very difficult, Forteza says engineered quartz should last a lifetime.
Limiting looks. If you want to use engineered quartz for a large countertop, you can’t get it book-matched, because the veining is usually the same on each slab, not mirrored like natural stone.
Visible seams. If you need to use multiple slabs of engineered quartz — where the counter has to turn a corner or if it is especially long, for instance — you will most likely see the seams between them. This tends to be less of an issue for bathrooms, because the countertops are usually smaller. If it is an issue, you can downplay the seams with careful planning, but they will be more noticeable than with a natural stone.
Not heat-proof. Engineered quartz can be damaged by hot tools, such as a curling iron, unlike a granite countertop. To avoid heat damage, you will need to use a trivet for hot items.
Not indestructible. In addition to high heat, engineered quartz can’t withstand large impacts.
Not stain-proof. Though engineered quartz is stain-resistant, Thomas says, it can still stain. He adds, “Some quartzes are less stain-resistant than others, so one must do due diligence when researching choices.”
Chemical sensitivity. General household cleaners that contain bleach or acidic chemicals can damage your engineered quartz countertop. Check the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations before you use any product on your countertop.
Location restrictions. You should not use engineered quartz outside, and it is also recommended that you don’t use it on or near fireplaces.
Lynn and the rest of her design team lean toward white, gray, or a white-and-gray option that looks like marble. The last of the three is often requested by clients who want the look of marble but at a lower cost and with more durability.
Thomas often uses whites in the bathroom for a fresh look, “but lately I’ve become intrigued with darker and richer colors,” he says. For example, he likes the look of a chocolatey countertop material paired with soothing blues and greens often found in bathroom materials, such as shower glass (as seen in this photo).
Chase Dowell, designer and owner of Chase Dowell Interior Design in Houston, saysQuantra’s Himalyaya 5000 is his favorite engineered quartz, as it most closely mimics marble.
Thomas likes to repeat the countertop material in other locations in the bathroom, such as the tub deck, wall niches, or seats or windowsills inside the shower. When you are shopping for engineered quartz countertop material, look for remnants at suppliers that you can use for these smaller projects, he advises. “You may be able to get a really good savings,” he says.
Dowell loves clean design and typically will use a gray-and-white countertop that has an edge with a chamfer, or symmetrical slope. This creates a great base that he can then complement with color accents.
Chrome is Forteza’s favorite finish to use with engineered quartz. “Most of my design is on the traditional or transitional side,” he says. “So I stay with the classic chrome.”
Go-To Manufacturers for Engineered Quartz
Caesarstone, Q Premium Natural Quartz from MSI, Pental Surfaces, Silestone, Cambria and Quantra are well-known manufacturers.
Because engineered quartz has gained popularity recently, Forteza suggests looking into the brands you’re considering. “Sure, [engineered quartz is] less expensive, but if the material fails, it’s not something that you can easily replace,” he says. Be sure to check the warranty and what would void it, such as installation by someone who is not preferred or licensed to install that brand.