The Best Countertop Material and Latest Trends

Everyone wants to know the best countertop material for kitchens. Is quartz really better than granite and marble for countertops? It’s now the best-selling countertop material, surpassing granite. Let me tell you WHY.

is quartz better than granite and marble

On a scale of 1 to 10 regarding hardness of material, diamond is a 10. Quartz is an 8, granite is a 3.5-5, and marble is a 3. That means quartz is nonporous, unlike granite and particularly marble. Granite requires frequent sealing, while quartz requires NONE. This puts quartz at a great advantage over both granite and marble in regards to staining.

Quartz is twice as hard as granite, three times as hard as marble. This makes it the best countertop material in a hard-working kitchen. It’s not indestructible, however. It can chip at the edge like the other materials if the edge isn’t slightly rounded and it gets struck too hard.

This morning, the new Cambria facility here in town hosted the Greater Nashville Chapter of RESA (the Real Estate Staging Association).

Greater Nashville RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) Chapter 

We were given a fabulous tour of the showroom and slab warehouse, as well as a lot of great information about quartz countertops and Cambria quartz, in particular. Cambria will definitely tell you that the best countertop material for kitchen applications is quartz.

Cambria is the only family-owned, American-made producer of natural quartz surfaces. From Minnesota, the Davis family started out in the creamery business. When a local start-up quartz company closed their doors in the 1990s, the Davis family somehow figured that producing quartz surfaces wasn’t that much different than producing butter (!), so they purchased the quartz processing equipment and the rest is history.

Cambria is now the biggest producer of quartz surfaces in the world. They recently unveiled eight new quartz designs, five of which are in their already popular marble collection:

best countertop material for kitchens

I’m going to show you some of my new favorites, as well as what quartz trends are on their way!

MY “OLD” FAVORITES CAMBRIA QUARTZ DESIGNS

Let’s start with a couple of my “old” Cambria favorites. Here is Nashville, quartz that looks like marble is particularly popular. Here’s a kitchen I did last year in Cambria Brittannica:

Melanie G Photography

If you are choosing on your own and haven’t seen a lot of specific countertops installed, you can misjudge what the counters will look like in place. Part of that is because you are either viewing them from too-small samples or else you are viewing them on the vertical (which is how slabs are stored in a warehouse) rather than on the horizontal.

Cambria Brittannica quartz

Here’s another of my quartz favorites in a kitchen where I chose colors, finishes, and lighting. It’s Cambria Torquay (pronounced tor-key), but unfortunately it’s difficult to see the veining in this photo:

 

MY NEW FAVORITE CAMBRIA QUARTZ DESIGNS

Now for some of the new favorites I got to view today. First up is very marble-like design that is called Swanbridge:

It has more visible veining than Torquay, but not as much as Ella or Brittannica. Another one I like is Carrick:

Cambria Carrick quartz

It looks fabulous with stainless steel. Carrick comes in either polished or matte. Light reflection from the sheen will make a polished finish appear a bit lighter than a matte (the same is true for paint).

cambria carrick quartz

As matte finishes are gaining popularity, Cambria is now producing matte versions of many of their new and already popular quartz designs. I’m really drawn to the Annicca – it’s a lot like Brittannica, but with a whiter base.

There are two new black and white quartzes that I really love in the Cambria Marble Collection: Rose Bay and Rosedale. Rose Bay is bolder and more uniform, like most quartz:

Rosedale has a patinaed, faded quality that many people prefer. It reminds me of faded acid-washed jeans (except gorgeous)!

It’s important to see a big slab of any countertop material, because there’s no way you can tell the whole pattern from a small sample. Cambria has two new surfaces, Clareanne and Queen Anne that are actually the inverse design of two of their most popular designs: Ella and Brittannica, respectively. While Ella and Brittannica have an off-white base with gray streaks/veining, these have gray bases with off-white streaks/veining.

Cambria Clareanne quartz

COLOR TRENDS IN QUARTZ

We got the inside scoop from Hollie from Cambria about the quartz trends that are coming down the pike from Paris and New York! The first one is not a surprise to me – more and more clients are asking for navy cabinets, so it’s no wonder that the next color trend in quartz is NAVY:

In the showroom, Hadley looks almost black but here’s an image from Cambria’s website:

Cambria Hadley

I can see using Hadley countertops with white cabinetry and gold hardware and lighting, can’t you?

Another oncoming color trend is olive green. You know how hot it’s been in fashion the last couple of seasons – so now it’s time for it to trickle on down to home decor. Expect to see this almost solid color quartz paired with a smaller dose of busier patterned quartz like this:

You’d definitely want to pair this off-white cabinetry and gold and/or copper metals to make it look like a modern choice.  Ok, there’s one more color trend to share and it may surprise you.  It’s cream. Yellow-based cream, to be exact. Hollie says designers are pairing it with white and black, which modernizes the cream.

If you are about to choose something as expensive as kitchen countertops, do yourself a favor and find a good designer to help you make the RIGHT choice. And it’s not just about the countertop choice, but about the other subsequent choices like backsplash, lighting, hardware, and paint colors that can make or break the overall design.

Is quartz better than granite and marble? Ultimately, only you can decide. I’m dying to know what you think of the new quartz trends!

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25 thoughts on “The Best Countertop Material and Latest Trends

  1. Laurel Bern says:

    Hi Kristi,

    Great post! Love the quartz counters. But this is funny. Right before your post showed up, I got a post from Maria Killam about kitchens, mostly backsplash and wall color and just before that I published a kitchen post mostly about floors. So, we’ve pretty much got kitchen finishes covered between us!

  2. Joanne says:

    Great post! I love quartz. Your point about seeing an entire slab versus a small piece of quartz is key. I chose my kitchen countertops from a sample size and have been disappointed with my choice since the day they were installed 3 years ago. An expensive error.

  3. Kay says:

    I see all the advantages to quartz, and the disadvantages of marble, but the natural stones have an organic feel that quartz cannot duplicate. I have Carrara marble in my kitchen and love it. It’s been four years, and because I don’t stress over it, it has plenty of imperfections, but it is still gorgeous. My niece just chose soapstone for her new kitchen, and it is beautiful. (She feels the way I do about quartz.). It’s a very personal decision, and while many will put ease of care first on their list of priorities, some of us will always prefer the natural and are willing to accept the down side. All that said, I have to admit that the gray counter looks perfect with stainless steel appliances, integrating them in a way that no other surface I’ve seen does so well.

  4. Helen says:

    Quartz is indeed great. However, I prefer the granite I had installed last week: slightly shiny, black Uba Tuba from Brazil, with slight flecks of silver. I kept a scrap piece to experiment with and can set a hot iron skillet on it with no consequence. It’s the newer 15-year seal and is really gorgeous.

    • Laura says:

      We’ve moved often over the last 10 years and I’ve had uba tuba in three houses now and HATE it. It’s impossible to keep clean and I hate the shiny finish. I’d love to rip them out and do butcher block, but it seems wasteful to do that. Obviously, I’m in the minority.

  5. Kristie Barnett says:

    Ok, I forgot to mention price points in the post! Most quartz is similar in cost to a mid to high grade granite. Some quartz is actually less expensive than most granite, except for the lowest grade, known as Tier 1 granites. Marble is typically most expensive, and you can get a marble look in quartz that is completely non-porous for much less than marble.

  6. Kathy says:

    I am really drawn to the navy blue, it is stunning with white cabinets but expensive if I stop liking navy blue!

  7. Linda says:

    I have natural quartize. Love it. I never see much mention of it in any blog. Why is that. I didn’t want a lot of pattern but did not want marble. The quartize seem the best choice and I am quite happy with it.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Quartzite is a beautiful natural stone product, but is more porous and not as hard as quartz (which is engineered stone). So it’s comparable to granite in those ways. I’m glad you love it, but I think you are right that most of what we hear about is quartz, probably because of the low maintenance advantages. Thanks for sharing your experience, Linda!

  8. Anne Smith says:

    I have been thinking of redoing my countertops but did not know what to use! Thanks you so much for the article. I can show my husband what to use.

  9. Sandy says:

    I have quartz in my kitchen, but it’s hard to afford for places where the counters are smaller, like bathrooms. I was disappointed last year when I couldn’t find any quartz counter tops that didn’t have a minimum square footage that made them outlandishly expensive for my small spaces.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Sandy, that’s true for granite, too. The best thing to do is to get bathroom or laundry counters at the same time you are doing kitchen counters, because there is a minimum square footage required. You can get remnants at most stoneyards, which will save you money in smaller spaces.

  10. Susie says:

    Hi Kristie! Do you have a recommendation for the counter edge? My sister-in-law is in the process of redoing her kitchen and she choose quartzite for her countertops. She was thinking about an ogee edge, but the contractor said the slab was not thick enough (I think) and it would look bad.

  11. Preethi says:

    Hi Kristie,

    We are building a new home and have few options to choose kitchen cabinets and counters. We want to do the white cabinets and blanco maple quartz. Is this something that would look good as opposed to Tebas black quartz counters? I am thinking of having bath counters to be a little different with same white cabinets as in the kitchen. We have options of choosing mountain mist, alpina white which are group 3 quartz. We could also choose Gray Expo which I believe is group1. Any advice on these quartz which would go well on white cabinets? We have 12 by 24 gray tile (linden Grigio) all over. Any advice will be very helpful. Thank you!

  12. Hollie @ Stuck on Hue says:

    I’m a traditionalist when it comes to countertops. I know that quartz is easy-care, and there are some lovely design options, but they can never match up to natural marble in my book. Granite I can’t stand, so no argument on that. If I were designing a contemporary kitchen, it would be quartz all the way, but my last house was a new-build based on a 1920s Craftsman look, and my “new” house is a 1916 four square. So for me, period details are important and marble is the best choice. I’m actually a very persnickity person but even I can overlook the cons of marble. I never had any staining issues with mine — just etching, mainly due to acidic foods, like a relative setting her giant, dripping bowl of fruit salad on the marble. Our perimeter cabinets were marble, but the island was walnut, which is where we did most of our food prep, so that helped too.

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