Not so long ago granite was the go-to for all kitchen and bathroom renovations but in the last 10 years quartz has slowly pushed its way to number one. There are more than a few reliable companies manufacturing quartz but the luxury, high end options are limited. Two of the biggest players in that arena are Cambria and Caesarstone but even between those two, there’s a lot to learn before you can feel comfortable being able to pick the perfect quartz countertops.
It’s not easy for a homeowner to understand the nuance between brands. What makes Cambria and Caesarstone, similar and different from each other? I”m breaking it all down today to make your research a little easier.
WHAT IS QUARTZ?
Let’s start with the basics. What the heck is quartz? Unlike marble or granite, quartz is not mined as slabs. It’s a man-made product made up of 95 per cent ground, natural quartz mixed with 5 per cent polymer resins to hold it together.
BENEFITS OF USING QUARTZ:
- it’s extremely durable and made to last. It’s perfect for families or people who like to entertain.
- it’s not as porous as its natural stone counterparts which means it doesn’t absorb liquids and isn’t prone to staining the way natural stone is.
- doesn’t chip as easily as natural stone because of the manufacturing process.
- it’s considered a healthier choice for countertops. Since it’s not porous, there aren’t any open access points for germs and bacteria to live. It inhibits the growth of microorganisms and is therefore considered antimicrobial.
** one of the downsides to using quartz is that it’s not heat resistant. That means that you can’t place hot items directly onto the surface. If you’ve previously owned a granite countertop you may be used to doing that so you’ll need to retrain yourself if you’re switching to quartz.
CAMBRIA is based in Minnesota and is the only American player in the quartz world. They have their own quarry in the US. Cambria prides themselves on being a more green option than their competitors. During the manufacturing and engineering process 100 per cent of the water used is reclaimed and recycled.
CAESARSTONE is based in Israel and they have 3 manufacturing facilities – 2 in Israel and 1 in Georgia. They are one of the oldest in the industry that began as a way to replace the faltering terrazzo tiles in Israel.
COLOUR & PATTERN
Quartz is man-made which means that colour and pattern options are much greater than anything you can find in natural stone.
Most homeowners aren’t embracing the world of colour when it comes to their kitchen and bathroom countertops- yet. However, having a variety of greys and whites to choose from is extremely useful. Now that we’re seeing colour sneak back into people’s homes I’m expecting to see a lot more colour used in countertop selections in the near future.
You may not know that I’m a certified True Colour Expert. What that means to you, is I can help you spot the undertones in neutrals which is super important to make sure the undertones all match when you are selecting finishes for your home.
If you’re renovating and want a neutral kitchen using mostly white or grey you’d quickly learn that there are A LOT of options for white or grey paint. Yes, it can be very overwhelming!
Same goes for countertops. You might think you can just pick a white and it’ll be perfect but it’s so important that your quartz selection works with your cabinet colour and your tile. So having multiple neutral options makes it easy to coordinate all your materials and finishes in the space.
CAMBRIA offers over 200 colours!! They have the largest selection of patterns that mimic natural stone. If you love the look of marble, Cambria will give you the look without the maintenance issues of a natural marble.
CAESARSTONE offers over 65 colours (still pretty remarkable!) They have limited patterns with natural stone look but they do have some really interesting and unique patterns like deep embossing, lace textures and crocodile skins. If you want something unique and bold, this is a good place to start looking.
Slab sizes are fairly consistent across the board whether you’re selecting quartz or a natural stone. CAMBRIA offers their standard slab at 55.5” x 122” but they also offer a jumbo size at 65.5 x 132”.
CAESARSTONE offers the standard size at 56.5” x 120”, plus they are now offering 64X131 in some colours
WHERE TO PURCHASE
CAMBRIA isn’t a product that you’ll be able to source at big box stores, perhaps because of their status as a luxury option for quartz. Don’t worry though, there are countless options available through kitchen and bathroom dealers. You can also purchase through designers, builders and architects.
CAESARSTONE is still considered a luxury option even though they do sell their products through Home Depot in North America. Just like Cambria, you can find Caesarstone at bath and kitchen dealers and it can also be sourced through designers, builders and architects.
**One word of caution, do NOT purchase your countertops based on the small sample you’ve seen.
You may have heard me talking about the importance of using large samples for picking paint colours. It’s even more important with quartz selections because the pattern can’t be accurately viewed on a small square sample.
Sometimes the sample doesn’t show any of the pattern and you’ll be extremely shocked at what you can end up with if you haven’t seen the entirety of the slab. Go to a kitchen dealer or a fabricator showroom to view the large slabs before committing to your quartz purchase.
CAMBRIA and CAESARSTONE are both relatively the same price. The pricing varies by grade of stone. The complexity of the design will play the biggest role in why one is more costly than another.
You can expect to pay between $60-$100+ per square foot before installation. Installation costs will depend on the size of your kitchen, how many cutouts (faucets, etc) are being made and the level of difficulty of the installation.
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One of the reasons people love quartz is because It’s extremely easy to maintain the overall look of your countertops and to keep them clean. Both CAMBRIA and CAESARSTONE suggest you wash with a soft cotton cloth and warm water, and mild soap. If you really want to use a cleaning product you can find a list of approved products on their websites.
With all quartz products avoid abrasive, strong alkaline, acid, oxidizers, or other chemical cleaners.
Both of these companies offer a warranty but be careful of the fine print. CAMBRIA offers a lifetime limited warranty. Since 2018 its policy has changed to allow the warranty to transfer to a new owner which is great news for homeowners who may be planning to sell their home in the future.
CAESARSTONE offers a lifetime, limited warranty to the original owner. It is transferable but only on a 10 year, pro-rata basis. If you’re thinking you may sell your home in the near future, speak to your dealer or designer before you purchase.
Before you go running out and collecting quartz samples for your new kitchen, learn as much as you can and create and organized and cohesive design strategy for your space.
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a plan.
Do the work now and you’ll thank me later!