Posted by: jeb1 | April 5, 2011

Hard Rock from Remodeling Magazine

Granite is the headliner in most kitchen remodels. Should quartz get more than second billing?

By: Lauren Hunter

Launch Slideshow

Hard Rock – Colorful Countertops

Surfacing manufacturers are expanding their color palettes. See what’s new from Cambria, Formica, Granite Transformations, Hanwha Surfaces, and Silestone.

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Hard Rock – Colorful Countertops

Surfacing manufacturers are expanding their color palettes. See what’s new from Cambria, Formica, Granite Transformations, Hanwha Surfaces, and Silestone.


    Cambria. Creating the look of onyx, marble, an granite without compromising the performance benefits of its quartz material, the maker is introducing 21 new colors across three collections. Each new color is named for a location in England or Wales where the Cambria family originated. The Canterbury color offers warm brown with copper flecks, while New Brighton (shown) features the beauty of onxy and can be backlit for a luxurious, radiant look.

    Formica. Building on it’s most successful residential laminate series, the maker is introducing seven new designs to the 180fx series. The new designs feature color variations that mimick natural stone slab and petrified wood in realistic 5-foot spans. Advanced printing technology and high-end finishes leave the material with a low-sheen, subtly textured feel, or a softly polished finish. The seven new patterns emulate marble, fossilstone, wood, and other natural materials. 800.367.6422.

    Granite Transformations. Five new colors have been added to the Trend Stone collection. Trend Stone offers the look of granite without the demolition and installation headaches associated with ordinary slab material. The non-porous, stain resistant material now comes in king ivory, Walker gold, mocha real, blue steel, and dark steel.

    Hanwha Surfaces. Beginning in February, 11 new product colors from the maker’s Hanstone quartz line will be available for distribution. Suitable for residential or commercial use, the new shades will incorporate soft browns, golden tones, creamy whites, and charcoal hues.

    Silestone. With a distinctive orange-peel textured finish, new Volcano Textured surface offers a tactile experience for normally smooth quartz surfacing. With a contemporary matte look and feel, a new technology applies a lightly indented effect to the quartz, which is available in five colors. Like other Silestone materials, subtly textured Volcano products remain non-porous and do not require sealing. Abuilt-in antimicrobial protection fights growth of mold, mildew, and odor-causing bacteria.

Whether homeowners work on it before a meal or gather around it afterward, the countertop is arguably the most visible item in a kitchen. And according to a 2010 REMODELING Reader Panel survey, homeowners are choosing granite countertops by a margin of about 3 to 1 over the next most popular materials (see chart).But why does granite get all the attention? Manufacturers and installers of granite and quartz weigh in on the benefits of each type of stone.

<strong xmlns="">Pressure &amp; Time</strong><br xmlns=""/> After nature does its part, mined quartz is crushed and mixed with resin to create subtly patterned slabs.

Pressure & Time
After nature does its part, mined quartz is crushed and mixed with resin to create subtly patterned slabs.

Beauty & Movement

“The customers we see that are looking at granite really are looking for that beauty and movement in the stone,” says Troy Roering, sales and marketing manager for Stone Holding Co., in Waite Park, Minn. “With granite, it’s like choosing a piece of art, whereas customers who want a more consistent look will choose quartz.”

Remodeler Ben Thompson agrees. “Both granite and quartz are premium products, but it comes down to aesthetics,” says the co-owner of Thompson Remodeling, in Grand Rapids, Mich., noting granite’s impact during the sales process. “We can take our clients shopping, pull out a big slab and show them that it’s the most dramatic and substantial item they’re getting for their new kitchen.”

Credit: REMODELING Reader Panel, April 2010

At the same time, Cambria PR director Stacia Smith says quartz is one of the fastest growing surfacing categories in the industry. “Granite is a mix of quartz, filament, and mica, and it’s the quartz component that gives the stone its strength,” she says. “While some granites can have as little as 20% or 30% quartz, a quartz countertop can have as much as 93% quartz and only 7% coloring and binding.”

Porous granite also requires sealing against moisture, adds Hanwha Surfaces product designer Lisa Herreth, and the consistency of quartz means the material can be seamed more easily than granite where fabricators may need to work with or around veining and inclusions in the stone. To that end, Thompson says he often finds that quartz installations require more seaming, while granite installations result in more waste.

Price It

For customers concerned about cost, Roering says that quartz does tend to cost more than base-level granite. However, “granite price has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with availability of that stone in the world,” he says. “If they’re quarrying 10 blocks and nine of them are usable, we would put that granite at a level-one or -two price point. But if only one of the 10 is usable, it would likely come in at a premium pricing category.”

Herreth adds that most quartz is cost-competitive with granite, particularly since the price of some stones has dropped dramatically in recent years, and can include green elements such as recycled content (usually glass), which might interest some homeowners. “Stone materials are going to last a lifetime,” she says, “so homeowners should consider choosing colors and patterns that will stay in style for the duration.”

—Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING.

This is a longer version of an article that appeared in the January 2011 issue of REMODELING.

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