Stephen Moss, MD of surface specialist Maxtop Quartz, explores explored the key characteristics of laminate, quartz and modular quartz and identifies some key opportunities to save time and money.
When it comes to kitchen refurbishments, worktops can be one of the key areas to save time and money. A cost-effective material provides the opportunity for installers to increase profitability, but quick and easy installations are also a great way to decrease time spent, therefore money spent, on a project.
As the age-old battle of solid surfaces vs laminate rumbles on, modular quartz is beginning to win favour from specifiers and installers alike. Previously, quartz was seen as a luxury kitchen surface, perhaps out of the price range of many projects, but the development of composite surfaces, such as modular quartz, is opening up the possibility of natural stone as an option for both kitchen and bathroom surfaces in more and more projects.
Not only are quartz alternatives cost-effective, they’re also simple to fit, lightweight, long-lasting and more importantly, quick to arrive on site and to install. The product offers many benefits versus other materials – some would say properties similar to laminate, but with the quality of solid materials.
Budget is a key factor when it comes to specifying materials, so it’s often easy to decide which surface will be used in kitchen or bathroom installations. Cheaper surfaces like laminate will be used where budget is low, whereas quartz or stone will be used where budget is more lenient and strength and durability are number one priorities.
Kitchen and bathroom surfaces, however, are a huge part of both the overall quality and look of a kitchen. As with any residential project, kitchens are a key selling point from student accommodation to council housing projects. This highlights just how important it is to use the best materials available, so laminate may not always be the best option, even for budget renovations.
Specifiers are held accountable for the materials they select, therefore need to carefully consider the whole life cost and price of the materials they use, ultimately making the decision based on return on investment. Generally speaking, it’s better to pay more for a long-lasting product than to pay less for one that will be easily damaged and have to be replaced regularly. Essentially, making a decision based on value, rather than cost, is advisable. But this doesn’t always mean breaking the bank.
While selecting laminate for projects with limited budget may seem like a go-to response, it’s advisable to do more research before coming to this decision. This is one of the main reasons modular quartz surfaces are on the rise. Speak to your current suppliers and get quotes from new ones to see if any stock any composite surfaces that offer the quality of stone with price points closer to laminate – there is such a thing as having the best of both worlds.
Time from order
If quartz is in budget for a project, it can be timescales that prevent it from being used. Whereas laminate can be bought straight from the shelf and installed pretty much immediately, there’s often a long wait for quartz to arrive after placing the order, lengthening the overall time spent on the project.
Ordering in advance isn’t always practical to combat this, for example, if you’re waiting on measurement confirmations or want to see the site before making specifying decisions.
Project budgets are being maximised with quick and quality installations, meaning tenants and occupiers can move in quicker and specifiers can move on to the next project sooner.
So again, it is recommended to explore the options further. Many composite surfaces are available straight from stock to site, providing an alternative material that still has a high-quality finish.
Ease of installation
A simple installation also reduces time spent on the project, placing importance on the worktop material specified once again.
Laminate’s lightweight properties make it easier to work with and the structure of the material makes it easier to cut vs stone surfaces.
Solid worktops like quartz are heavy, therefore more difficult to lift, work with and even cut. While these surfaces may take longer to install vs lighter counterparts, the final result is reliable, strong and durable.
The argument that the quality of quartz outweighs the drawbacks of timely installation still stands, but it’s important that specifiers and installers don’t underestimate the alternatives on the market.
Modular quartz surfaces are lightweight and easier to install but still offer the same strength and durability that a solid stone surface would.
The secret of Maxtop Quartz lies in the worktop’s engineering. The surface is lined with an 8 mm solid quartz edge and totals a depth of 40 mm, providing strength, durability and the desirable quartz aesthetic. The interior, however, is made from polypropylene and organised in a honeycomb structure, giving it superiority over standard quartz products, with lightweight and waterproof properties, as well as enhanced impact resistance. The product’s weight makes it easy to work with too, creating the opportunity for faster, more efficient installation.
It goes to show that research is a huge part of any public sector renovation, as it’s likely that specifiers can find the perfect surface for the project if enough time is spent on asking the right questions and sourcing the best materials, taking into account material price, availability, durability and value. Market innovations such as modular quartz must not be overlooked.