Quartz, or engineered stone, is the new kitchen countertop of choice according to Deborah K. Dietsch for the Washington Post.

Quartz looks just like granite, though requires less maintenance and is more durable. The material is stain resistant so it is easy to clean and doesn't need to be sealed. Dietsch writes:

To fabricate the artificial stone, manufacturers such as Caesarstone, Silestone and Cambria blend crushed quartz with resins and pigments, pour the mixture into molds and apply pressure to compact the slabs, which are cured and polished into the final product. The quartz is then cut and finished like real stone.

“About 75 percent of our clients are opting for quartz over granite,” says Bill Millholland, executive vice president of Case, a design-build firm in Bethesda, Md. “More people want a contemporary aesthetic in the kitchen, and the clean look of quartz goes with that. Granite goes better with traditional decor.”

In choosing between natural and artificial stones, homeowners should keep in mind that quartz is not necessarily less expensive than granite or marble. Eddie Castro, vice president of Stone and Tile World in Rockville, says quartz can range from about $65 to $135 per square foot, including fabrication and installation costs, compared with non-exotic granite at $50 to $60 and marble at $55 to $95 per square foot installed. Quartzite ranges from about $90 to $120 per square foot, including installation, Castro says.

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