If you haven’t had the opportunity to update your countertop in recent years, you are in for a real treat and some important decisions. Surface options include laminates, concrete, wood, metal, stone, and natural quartz.
Historically speaking, granite has been popular among new homebuyers and remodelers for its beautiful surface, array of edge styles, and overall durability. But it’s time to reconsider the topic.
For all its beauty and durability, granite has several weaknesses that are hard to avoid (unless you never use your kitchen!):
- Staining and bacteria. To prevent staining and bacteria from seeping into its structure, most granite surfaces are regularly sealed. If the sealant wears, the unsealed or poorly sealed surfaces can absorb tough stains that are impossible to remove like wine, oil, and juice.
- Etching. Cooking with citrus? Lemons can etch polished surfaces like granite, resulting in dull spots, water spots, and glass rings. Etching also affects marble, travertine, limestone, onyx and sometimes slate.
- Scratching and cracking. Granite is susceptible to scratches and cracks over time, especially if countertops are used for food preparation. These scratches will negatively affect the appearance of your counters, and absorb moisture and liquids if not repaired.
Cambria natural quartz
Love that sleek stone look but hoping for much less maintenance? Then check out Cambria, a natural quartz surface product. I’ve been hearing Cambria pop up in more and more conversations recently and I have to admit, my curiosity piqued.
Happy to say, while I was at the Monark Showroom on Hayden-Greenway, I was formally introduced to Cambria by Camille Matthews, a local sales representative. I was at Monark attending a recent National Kitchen and Bath Association continuing education seminar on quartz surfaces. NKBA is an organization that supports kitchen and bath professionals so I knew the topic would be on trend and very insightful.
Having seen the product in action, I can attest Cambria captures the beauty and depth seen in nature. Cambria is also non-porous, stain resistant, scratch resistant, and maintenance free. Simply put, quartz is a unique countertop material and Cambria’s stunning designs and edge profiles put their natural stone surfaces in a class of their own.
Quartz vs. granite
Besides being one of the most abundant minerals on our planet, quartz is one of the hardest. According to the Mohs hardness scale, quartz is a 7 – which means it’s 2.5 times harder than granite. Granite does contain quartz but the difference in hardness is attributed to the other minerals making up its composition: Mica and Feldspar. Without getting too much into geology, Mica is flakey and used in makeup and cement. Feldspar is a flux typically used in pottery and ceramic glazes. These two minerals make up 40-60% of granite and contribute greatly to granite’s porosity and instability.
I was also intrigued to learn about the Cambria quartz surfacing fabrication process. First it’s important to know that Cambria’s product is 93% quartz. The process begins with the whitest and clearest quartz so the pigments are not distorted and they can control color. Different sizes of quartz particulate are used, and while the exact mix depends on the design being produced, each design utilizes fine granules of quartz to fill any gaps. This dense compaction of the quartz attributes to its superior density and durability. The slabs are compacted, cured, and heated and, after baking, they are cooled and then polished. Cambria does not use wax or polishing agents, just water and diamond polishing heads. Bonus—the slabs never need refinishing. After a comprehensive inspection process, the slabs are prepared for shipping.
Cambria Galloway™ in Coastal Collection™
Unique applications for Cambria
The sheer size of the slabs allows for large installations, as seen in a gorgeous waterfall edge in this modern kitchen.
But it’s not all about countertops. Cambria is stunning and well-suited for many other surface applications. Consider the trend of marble in shower and tub surrounds. Marble is a popular stone, but it’s not a good choice in bathrooms or kitchens due to potential discoloration and liquid absorption. Cambria has an ever-expanding collection of beautiful designs that achieve the marble aesthetic, without the maintenance. Plus, Cambria is three times harder than marble and, most wonderfully, nonporous.
Cambria Ellesmere™ in Coastal Collection™
Uses for Cambria also extend to fireplace surrounds on wrapped fireboxes. Just imagine a sleek fireplace façade. Simply stunning, right? Thicknesses vary depending on the intended purpose, so be sure to discuss this with your contractor so there are no surprises at installation.
Floor: Langdon™ in Coastal Collection™
Desktop: Ramsey™ in Marble Collection™
The Cambria edge
Nearly any edge profile is possible with Cambria. Check with your fabricator for the best edge profiles for the application to ensure it meets your needs in terms of design and durability.
Cambria Roxwell™ in Oceanic Collection™
Cambria is available in more than 130 distinct designs inspired by nature. There is natural movement and pattern variations in the quartz surfaces, which is something to consider when bonding two pieces together. While the design and colors will be very consistent from slab to slab, no two slabs will be identical. Cambria recommends looking at a few different samples of one design and, if possible, looking at a full slab to truly see and understand the design you are considering.
There are many options when designing countertops. Cambria can execute precision cuts with fabrication machines to execute complex patterns allowing for beautiful, custom installation. So my mind immediately goes to inlays—imagine the possibilities! Exact measurements are required, so it’s great to know that Cambria works only with certified installers who have been trained to work with their product, ensuring it is custom fit for your space.
Here are some other interesting facts I learned about Cambria.
- NSF-51 certified. Any place you can use stainless steel, you can use Cambria. It is nonporous material and certified for food and splash zone use by NSF International.
- Environmentally conscious. Cambria is LEED certified by GREENGUARD as a low-emitting product for indoor air quality. The natural quartz stone is ethically mined primarily in North America. 100% of the water used in processing, as well as tooling and scrap materials, are comprised of recycled materials.
- Certified Kosher. Cambria has received the UMKosher symbol representing the highest quality of kashrut supervision.
Peace of mind with Cambria
Exceptional products enable Cambria to confidently give you peace of mind. Cambria comes with a lifetime limited warranty for the original owner of the home.
It’s important to note that you can’t set hot pots or pans directly on Cambria. Always be sure to use a hot pad or a trivet to protect your countertops, as Cambria is a natural stone surface that may be affected by direct heat.
With your creative vision and the help of Cambria, your kitchen design can become a gorgeous, inspiring space to enjoy for years to come.