Quartz Countertops: Updating the Kitchen Counter for Impact on a Budget
In this post: White quartz countertops add beauty to the kitchen. Here’s a clever secret for updating the kitchen counter to make an impact on a budget.⇒
It’s common to see a kitchen renovation and think, “Wow, what a complete transformation! They must’ve completely gut that kitchen to achieve such a change!”
But the truth is you can actually transform the room while leaving the most expensive things in place.
This is exactly what we did with our kitchen, saving money with almost every decision.
I’ve created a series of posts which explore the details of our remodel and explain each step of the way. In this post we’ll look at how we approached the kitchen countertops.
You can find links to the rest of the series at the bottom of this one.
The photo above shows you where the room started. With cherry cabinets, a dark gray backsplash and black granite countertops, my goal was to lighten up the room as much as possible, ending up with a kitchen that was as close to all white as possible.
Saving Money on Our Countertop Makeover
Since the kitchen was relatively new and our update was primarily cosmetic, we opted to save a boatload of money by making the fewest changes as possible, yet changing those things that would offer the greatest impact.
To that end, while I really would have loved to replace all of my black granite counters, we chose to replace only the island, as it’s dominant position in the center of the room would offer the most bang for our buck.
I’d been wanting this renovation since the day we bought our house, so I couldn’t have been more excited when they came to install the new counter. This was the very first step in the plan, so I eagerly cleared out the kitchen and happily anticipated the ripping out of this first big item.
I’d worked with this stone company before (they did our butler’s pantry) and they were quite efficient, so I visited the yard to select my slab and they templated and were ready to install just a week or so later.
I was in awe of how quickly the old slab got removed. (We saved it in the garage for a possible future bathroom counter.)
In addition to the island counter, I knew I’d also be changing my backsplash, so they removed the 4″ slab that was part of the lower backsplash. This piece drove me absolutely crazy as it broke up the line of the backsplash and I was thrilled to see it finally removed!
We were lucky when the thick piece of granite was removed that it didn’t ruin the perimeter counters that would be staying in place. I was anxious to see the rest of the backsplash gone, but that was being done by the tiler, so it would have to wait for another day.
Above you can see the new slab in place and the beginnings of a lighter room. The space still looked quite dark at this point, but I knew where we were headed and so I tried to look only at my new white slab.
Selecting Quartz Countertops
I selected a white quartz with a calacatta marble look. The material was chosen for its performance and durability and for the way it visually worked with my upcoming backsplash. Following is a run down of the pros and cons of quartz. (For alternative counter choices, scroll to the end of the post.)
Advantages of Quartz Countertops:
- Durability: Quartz is one of the hardest minerals, making it highly resistant to scratches, chips, and cracks. It can withstand the rigors of daily kitchen use and is less likely to show signs of wear and tear compared to other materials.
- Low Maintenance: Quartz countertops are non-porous, which means they do not absorb liquids and are resistant to stains. They are easy to clean and require minimal maintenance. Simply wiping them with a damp cloth and mild detergent is usually sufficient.
- Wide Range of Colors and Patterns: Quartz countertops are engineered using a combination of natural quartz crystals and resin binders. This allows for a wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes to choose from, ensuring you can find a design that complements your kitchen decor.
- Consistency and Uniformity: Unlike natural stone countertops, such as granite or marble, quartz is manufactured and has a more consistent appearance. This can be an advantage if you prefer a uniform and predictable look for your kitchen counters.
- Hygienic: Quartz countertops are non-porous, which makes them resistant to bacteria growth and helps maintain a clean and sanitary surface in the kitchen. This is particularly important for food preparation areas.
Disadvantages of Quartz Countertops:
- Cost: Quartz countertops tend to be more expensive than some other countertop materials, such as laminate or tile. The cost can vary depending on the brand, quality, and design you choose. (It is, however, less costly than marble or quartzite.)
- Susceptible to Heat Damage: While quartz is highly durable, it is not heat-resistant. Placing hot pots or pans directly on the surface can cause thermal shock and potentially lead to cracks or discoloration. It is advisable to use trivets or hot pads to protect the countertop from extreme heat.
- Limited Resistance to Chemicals: While quartz is resistant to stains, it is not entirely immune to the effects of harsh chemicals. Certain chemicals, such as bleach or strong solvents, can damage the surface and should be avoided. It’s best to clean quartz countertops using mild and pH-neutral cleaners.
- Visible Seams: Since quartz countertops are manufactured, they are typically installed with visible seams at the junctions where two slabs meet. Although skilled installers can minimize the visibility of these seams, they may still be noticeable, which can affect the overall aesthetic appeal.
- Vulnerability to UV Light: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or UV light can cause the color of quartz countertops to fade over time. If your kitchen receives a lot of sunlight, it’s recommended to use window coverings or consider other countertop materials that are more resistant to UV rays.
This one simple change was only the beginning but it already made a pretty big impact. I’ve always looked past what was actually in this kitchen and seen what was in my head, so the lighting I’d chosen when we first moved in would work much better with our new lighter look.
I was now able to look at the kitchen with this tunnel view below, and see only the counter, the white pantry doors and silver appliances behind it. It was the closest I could come at this stage to approximating what the final result would be!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post which covers replacing the hated floor!
TO SEE OUR REMODEL IN MORE DETAIL, PLEASE VISIT THESE POSTS:
AND FOR THE FINAL REVEAL OF THE COMPLETED KITCHEN: Dramatic Kitchen Renovation without Removing Cabinets
WE’VE SUBSEQUENTLY REPLACED THE PERIMETER COUNTERS, AS WELL, SO YOU CAN SEE THAT HERE: Using White Quartz Countertops in a Kitchen Remodel
Other Countertop Options
Two other options for countertop materials that will get you the same look are marble and quartzite. Here are several key factors to consider when comparing these materials.
- Natural Beauty: Marble is a natural stone with timeless elegance and beauty. It is known for its unique veining patterns and variety of colors, which can add a luxurious and sophisticated look to a kitchen.
- Heat Resistance: Marble has good heat resistance, allowing it to withstand moderate heat. However, it is still recommended to use trivets or hot pads to protect the surface from direct contact with hot pots and pans.
- Porous Nature: Marble is a porous material, meaning it can absorb liquids and is prone to staining. It is important to promptly clean up spills to prevent potential stains and to seal the surface regularly to help protect against stains and etching.
- Maintenance: Marble requires regular maintenance to preserve its appearance. It should be sealed periodically, and specific care should be taken to use pH-neutral cleaners to avoid damaging the surface.
- Softness and Vulnerability to Scratches: Marble is softer than quartz, quartzite, and some other countertop materials. It is more susceptible to scratches and can be damaged by abrasive cleaners or cutting directly on the surface.
- Natural Stone: Quartzite is a natural stone that is formed from sandstone and undergoes metamorphosis under heat and pressure. It has an elegant and unique appearance with varying patterns and colors, often resembling marble.
- Durability: Quartzite is highly durable and is known for its hardness, making it resistant to scratches, heat, and stains. It can withstand the demands of a busy kitchen and is suitable for high-traffic areas.
- Heat Resistance: Quartzite has excellent heat resistance properties and can tolerate hot pots and pans placed directly on its surface without being damaged. It is a popular choice for those who frequently cook or bake in their kitchens.
- Natural Variation: Since quartzite is a natural stone, each slab has its own distinct pattern and coloration, adding a touch of uniqueness and character to your kitchen. If you appreciate the beauty of natural stone and its variations, quartzite is a great option.
- Sealing Required: Quartzite is a porous material and requires regular sealing to protect it from stains and etching caused by acidic substances. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for sealing frequency to maintain its appearance and longevity.
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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That’s a pretty slab, with that vein running diagonally.
You make me glad I didn’t go with black granite when I did my kitchen (I ended up with red marble).
Why don’t you like the floor? In the photo it looks like nice terra cotta tile.
Can’t wait to see the new backsplash!
Thank you! As for the floor, what I really hate about the tile is that it’s a dull drab color that seems to suck the life out of the room when you enter. It’s actually a mood killer for me. It’s not real terra-cotta and so it lacks the richness and warmth of that tile. It’s also an incredibly dark foundation for the space which also drags it down. I’m curious to see what you think when you see the new floor… 😉
You are off to a grand beginning! The new countertop is fabulous!
The new counter top looks great! I can already see your new kitchen in my head too! Those chandies are going to look fab in the redone space!
Thanks, Nancy!! It’s funny, my family can’t necessarily understand my vision until they see it, but I know you can! 😉
Lory, gorgeous and Quartz lives up to its name. We have it in our new home and you can do anything to it and I mean anything. Items straight from the oven goes on top. If you cut on the service with a knife nothing. We don’t do that on purpose bad for the knives but you can. Spill anything on it, perfect. I use Windex vinegar to clean and perfect. Love this stuff.
Your chandeliers sparkle over top of the Quartz.
can’t wait to see the progress.
Thanks, Cindy, and I’m so glad to hear that! I really agonized over not going with real marble, but ironically, the real deciding factor was that the color actually matched the marble backsplash tile better than the slabs they had available. But the performance issue was a major part of the choice as well… 🙂 Thanks for following along!!
It’s a beautiful slab, Lory! You’re going to love your new kitchen and I for one can’t wait to see you style it!
Thanks, Ginger! I’m in the process now of ordering some bits for the styling, so stay tuned… 😉
It’s wonderful that there are some beautiful choices out there that look like marble. Can’t wait to see the rest!
Thanks, Elizabeth!! The slab was probably the one thing I was most unsure about, so it should be smooth sailing from here… 😉
I can just hear the excitement in your post. The quartz is beautiful, and a wise choice in an area that gets so much use. These little tidbits are so fun-just makes me so excited to see what’s next lol! We still haven’t gotten to our backsplash–hopefully, by spring. We’re in the mist of painting the entire interior, among other projects. Seems there’s always something to do. This is when I wish for that adorable little cottage.
So many projects, so little time! Wish you the best in creating everything you want… 🙂
Gorgeous piece of white quartz! I am so excited to watch this transformation!
My kitchen has always had white cabinets, but at one time we had black granite on the counters as well. It showed every single spot and I didn’t like that…..so when we replaced with what we have had since our last remodel I was happy. I always wanted white…but I can’t win on some things with the Mr! Looking forward to your next steps.
Yeah, I would have preferred all white, but most of the work I do on the island, so it should be a big help… 🙂 Our black granite is black galaxy, so it also has gold flecks in it, so not only does it show spots, but it also makes it impossible to clean crumbs. Drives me nuts! But I did have the fabricator seal the granite while he was here, so it’s much easier to clean than before.
The new bright color is great on the island. I am sure you are enjoying it. I can’t wait to see the progress!
Thanks, Chloe! I am for sure… 🙂
Your new quartz countertop looks more like marble than any other quartz I’ve seen! I wonder what the brand is. When I got new countertops awhile back, there wasn’t any quartz that looked enough like marble to suit me. Quartz was out of our budget anyway. I got the Formica 180 fx calacatta gold marble laminate. The edges bug me a little. I really like your straight edges on your quartz much better than the edges on the granite you replaced. I really like your butler’s pantry so I’m looking forward to seeing your finished kitchen!
Thank you, Lucille! Yes, I agree about the straight edges. If I could have changed the ogee edge on the black granite I would have. I don’t know the name of the quartz maker because we bought it from a local marble yard. But so far I’m very happy with it. Still would have preferred real marble, but it just wouldn’t hold up as well in the kitchen… 😉 Thanks for visiting!!
I am getting ready to replace my black granite with a similar look so this was really helpful as I am not one who can visualize very well. We are leaning toward quartz over quartzite as we want something very durable and doesn’t need sealing as we use our kitchen a lot. Do you find the quartz durable? I see the one post that indicatesshe puts hot pans on it with no problem which I really like.
So far the quartz has been awesome! I always put hot things on it. Not sure what it will look like after 10 years, but so far very happy… 🙂
Your kitchen remodel was my inspiration when we remodeled our kitchen during the pandemic. I was unhappy with the granite I had selected years ago but my hubby was adamant it was staying. Our budget couldn’t justify throwing away thousands of $$$ in granite. Everything else in the kitchen was torn out. The company that removed and reset the slab suggested a different, but compatible, piece for our huge island. Bingo! Now I love all the granite! I also removed the 4” granite backsplash and used a similar marble as yours to tile from the countertop to the bottom of the cabinets. Every time I walk in my kitchen now I feel so happy!
I’m so glad to hear that!! There are often tricky ways to solve our design issues for far less money than we might think… 🙂