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The Three Grades of Quartz

January 24th, 2024 | 3 min read

By Mara Colleli

There’s no doubt that quartz materials are beautiful pieces of engineered stone. Quartz materials, like countertops, are made from at least 90% stone particles and the other 10% is normally resins, colorants, and fillers. Deciding whether to install quartz countertops commonly comes down to cost. The price of a quartz countertop is dependent on the size, color, labor, and the grade. The grade of quartz is determined by the thickness and percentage of resin along with the coloration and percentage of stone materials in the quartz slab. Selecting a good grade of quartz will provide a homeowner with the security that their countertop will last a long time.

The Different Quartz Grades for Residential Spaces:

There are three different grades of quartz that determine the cost, durability, and the overall value of the home. Each slab of quartz is evaluated by professionals to determine the grade it receives. It is easy to fall in love with quartz but it’s more important to fall in love with a quartz slab that is the best fit for your home so understanding the three grades is pertinent before you purchase.

First Choice:

Quartz products that receive the first-choice grade have rich and vibrant color variations with little to few veining throughout. The surface of these quartz materials is smooth and almost mimic marble. In first choice, the resin percent levels stay between seven and eight percent, making the material have a distinct gleam because there is more stone content. With there being more stone content in first-choice quartz, the cost range is the highest out of the three choices. The cost range is normally between $80 to $110 or more per square foot but quartz materials classified as first-choice have the highest longevity.

Commercial Grade:

Materials that are classified as commercial grade quartz are predominantly used for hotels, restaurants, and other service-related businesses. Compared to first choice, commercial grade is not always as premium but it normally is the best cost option with the average range being between $60 to $80 per square foot. This grade is often referred to as the “standard” quartz because it is the easiest to come by. In commercial grade quartz, the stone content is less compared to first choice and has a little bit more resin content at eight to eleven percent, making the longevity value decrease.

Second Choice:

Quartz materials that are labeled as second choice are considered “builder grade”. Builder grade materials often reflect lower or cheaper quality and is commonly used in prefabricated homes. Second choice quartz is a lot duller than first choice or commercial grade because it contains up to 15% resin. Quartz countertops with a higher resin content not only makes the slabs heavier but also more susceptible to damage. Second grade quartz countertops are normally in the $50 to $60 per square foot price range which makes it very attractive for first time projects.

Evaluating Quartz Countertop Grades

The first and best sign that a quartz countertop is a higher-grade, is the color consistency. High-quality quartz will have consistent coloring throughout. What does that mean? For starters, most kitchens require more than one slab of quartz to complete the job. In order to produce a cohesive look, the base color of the quartz countertop should be the same color. For consistent coloring throughout multiple slabs of quartz, the formulas to create these slabs should be the same and the engineering should be the same.

The next step would be to evaluate the patterns, textures, and veining of different quartz countertops. A sign of a lower-quality slab of quartz is when the features are only surface deep. The patterns, veins, and textures should run through the entire thickness of the slab. Aggregate is a term used to describe or measure the crushed material that forms the patterns in quartz. Measuring the aggregate throughout a slab of quartz is important because it should be equally distributed throughout the slab. Poorly distributed aggregate may cause pits and pockets throughout the slab which can result in weight imbalances. Weight imbalances in a slab of quartz can increase the fragility and risk of chips or cracks.

Lastly, checking the polish of the quartz slab is important to measure the structural integrity of the slab. The surface of a countertop should be smooth no matter the material. A rough, blotchy finish on a countertop indicates spotty or rushed work. It’s important to check for these things when shopping for quartz countertops because it helps determine the longevity and durability of the slab.


Why Choose Quartz:

Quartz is a great material for residential spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. Engineered quartz is great for kitchens because it is extremely durable and scratch resistant. It is also a great choice for bathrooms because it is non-porous, so germs and bacteria rarely build up on the surface. Quartz is also a low maintenance option that comes in a variety of colors and patterns that fit in any home.

Over the years, the demand for quartz materials has increased, with a huge increase in countertop creation. Quartz countertops are extremely popular in the kitchen space because of the low maintenance factor. It is a good choice for homeowners who want an easy to clean and maintain surface that will feel brand new every day.

When deciding if quartz is the best option for your home, it is good to keep in mind that quartz materials are not all the same. Each slab of quartz has differences that can determine the price and overall quality. Taking into consideration the three grades of quartz will help you decide what the best option for your home is. When you are shopping around for quartz, do not hesitate to ask questions because being the most informed helps you make the best decision.

Ready to invest in high-quality, custom cabinets to match your elegant Quartz countertops? 

Schedule your free in-home consultation with JSB Home Solutions today!