A few weeks ago we replaced our kitchen counters with HanStone Quartz and after having butcher block counters for 3 years, I wanted to discuss why we made the switch and the pros and cons of each.
I am obsessed with how light and bright out kitchen is now and I am so happy with our decision, but it wasn’t a quick decision or one without thought and planning.
You may remember if you have been a reader here for awhile, that 3 years ago we made over our kitchen. We didn’t change the layout or the actual cabinets, but we did paint the cabinets, replaced hardware, built the kitchen island, installed a farmhouse sink and new faucet, installed new light fixtures, installed marble tile backsplash, and put in maple butcher block countertops.
I still think that combo of wood and white is so pretty! I was happy with every decision we made. All the updates made a huge difference and they all fit within our limited budget. Since we did all the work ourselves, we were able to do all of those changes fairly quickly (most of it over the period of about month).
Around the middle of last year, I noticed our kitchen island top was worse for wear. Unlike the rest of the kitchen counters the island top wasn’t butcher block– but 2×6 pine boards. They had become stained, had nicks and small gouges (pine is pretty soft after all), and the Waterlox finish we put on had started to wear off. I could have sanded the whole thing down and refinished it, which would have been the most cost effective option. However, I wanted something that was easier to maintain in the long run, and would have more appeal to the next person who lives in our home. Plus I could feel my personal design style moving slightly further from Farmhouse and embracing some more modern elements, and the white quartz counters felt like a good transition.
We loved it so much that it didn’t take more than a few months for us to decide to pull the trigger and replace the rest of the counters as well. If you are local to St Louis, we used DiPrimo Fabricators for fabrication and install. We paid for them to come and make a template of our kitchen, fabricate the counters (cut them out and created edge finish we wanted), and install them. We had a very positive overall experience, so if you decide to use them, ask for Scott and tell them I sent you! 😉
So here is my break down of what I love and don’t love about both options, so you can consider if you have a kitchen makeover in your near future.
Pros & Cons of Butcher Block Counters VS. Quartz
BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERS
- Cost Effective. Even though we partnered with Lumber Liquidators for the butcher block, if we had paid cash for them, it would have been $500 for 2- 6′ slabs of maple (already at counter depth) plus about $50 in materials to finish them (we applied 4 coats of food safe Waterlox). We chose to install them ourselves, but it wasn’t difficult, since we basically just cut the length of the required pieces and screwed them into place from the cabinets going up. Knowing that the install was DIY-able made it possible for us to even have new counters, since we didn’t have to pay anyone else to do a custom job.
- Adds Warmth. The contrast of the warm wood next to the white backsplash and white cabinets was so pretty and added a warmth to the kitchen unlike anything else. There is also something about wood elements in a room that effects mood and a connectedness to nature, something I discussed in this post last year.
- Forgiving. Because I knew I could fairly easily refinish areas of the counters that ever got damaged or stained, I wasn’t ever worried about mishaps. Nothing was ever going to crack or chip from something hard hitting it, and no stain was unfixable. Knowing the butcher block counters were so forgiving allows me to not worry so much when kids were in there making a mess. 😉
- Requires Maintenance. Stains are pretty much inevitable, as is the finish wearing down. For whatever reason, and it may be the type of cleaner we used, as the Waterlox finish wore down, the finish became sticky/tacky. The stickiness or tackiness did not feel good when you pressed your hand on it, and it attracted dirt and things like plastic bread bags. Many times the print transferred which required extra scrubbing, which wore down the finish even more. This is not devastating, mind-you, because it all can be refinished and be as good as new, but still annoying. Maple is a hardwood so we didn’t have any problems with gouges or marks– but we always used cutting boards.
- Maintenance is Messy/Smelly. To fully refinish all the counters, we would have had to sand down the counters using an orbital sander, which would have required us to put up plastic drop clothes surrounding the kitchen so the dust didn’t go everywhere in the house. Then once you sand the finish off (may or may not require going down to bare wood, depending on stains), and clean all the sawdust up, re-applying Waterlox is a 2-3 day process. Even though Waterlox is food-safe and very hard once dry, it is oil-based and very smelly. Windows have to be open to provide adequate airflow for drying and at least 3 coats have to be applied (with a 12 hour dry time minimal between coats).
- Yellows Over Time. Even though I knew this would happen some beforehand, I underestimated how yellow the counters would look after 3 years. Maple starts out pretty light, so that was a bummer for me. If we chose a darker wood to begin with, like walnut, this wouldn’t have been noticeable at all.
- Absorbs Light. The wood finish, while shiny, definitely didn’t reflect much light. We have one window in the kitchen and since it is small, at night especially, it felt small. I didn’t even notice this as much until we replaced the island top with quartz and was surprised how much brighter the room was with that small change.
- Harder to Keep Clean. Even when the counters were brand new, it wasn’t always obvious when there was a residue left from something. I can understand wanting darker floors to hide stains or dirt, but that is the opposite of what I want in my kitchen since that is where I prepare food for my family. I like the see where the dirt is immediately so it can be cleaned. My kids often didn’t clean up messes adequately since they couldn’t see what was still dirty, although this ‘CON’ is true for ANY type of counter that isn’t lighter colored or white.
HANSTONE QUARTZ COUNTERS
- Extremely Durable. HanStone Quartz uses natural quartz which is twice as hard as granite even! This fact makes it extremely durable since it is chip, scratch, heat, bacteria, and stain resistant. Their residential quartz has a lifetime warranty which you can read about here.
- Non-Porous. Even though the natural veining and coloring often looks like marble, this quartz is completely non-porous which means it doesn’t ever need to be sealed, polished, or conditioned.
- Reflects Light. I mean, obviously this is only true for light-colored or white quartz, which is what I chose. I love how much light the new counters reflect and how much bigger the room feels and appears, even at night!
- Practically Maintenance-Free. Soap and water or rubbing alcohol and water is all you really need to clean these quartz counters. However, if there ever is a ‘stain’ you wonder about, they have a whole page to what they suggest using to clean them right up! The only thing to be wary of is to not use harsh, abrasive scrubbers.
- Beautiful Design. The beautiful coloring and veining in all the samples I have seen is gorgeous and natural-looking, reminding me of marble. Additionally the design is clean and versatile with so many different tastes, that this will be a nice selling point when we sell our house in the future.
- Fabrication and Installation is Professional. Since I’ve been pregnant, I haven’t had the same energy to work like I used to, and I was so relieved that the installation was completely taken care of. The only thing we chose to DIY was the removal of the old counters, which, I’ll admit, was a bit of a pain because we wanted to be careful not to damage the existing backsplash. With certified installers, we knew it would further guarantee that everything was done right, the warranty would be in full effect, and nothing would be damaged. They are also legit way better at applying silicone caulk than I am (haha!) so everything is sealed on the edges perfectly.
Our 7 month old poodle puppy, Rio, looking so proper! haha
- Cost Investment. I’m not going to lie, this was definitely not cheap. We had been wanting this upgrade for awhile and had been saving before we took the plunge. Even with that, we chose to DIY and remove the old counters to make it more affordable. When we replaced our island top last fall, we even opted to install the finished piece ourselves to save money since it only required gluing it down (nothing complicated like corners and around a sink, and making up for counter height discrepancies). Your local fabricator will likely have a different cost per square foot than ours, and the material cost might vary slightly, but DiPrimo told us with this particular color of HanStone Quartz, which happened to be one of the most expensive colors, it costs around $100 per square foot, for materials, fabrication, and installation. HanStone provided the materials to me for this partnership, but I had to pay for fabrication and installation.
- Not Indestructible. Just because it is chip, scratch, heat, bacteria, and stain resistant, DOESN’T MEAN it is chip, scratch, heat, bacteria, and stain-PROOF. This is one of the most durable countertop surfaces you can buy, but it isn’t indestructible, so you still have to take care of it. I wouldn’t bang heavy or metal objects on it, or use anything abrasive to clean it. When in doubt consult HanStone’s care and maintenance page.
- Thinner height. HanStone Quartz comes in 2 cm or 3 cm height. The one I selected came 3 cm height. When we removed our old butcher block counters, there was a difference of a little over 1/4″. We wanted the new counters to meet up to where the old counters were (because that is where the backsplash ended), so they had to install a plywood spacer under the counters. They installed it flush with my cabinet face, so all I have to do is install a thin piece of trim under the counter lip to hide it, and then paint it. If my cabinets were factory finish and I didn’t want to do this option, then all fabricators also offer a mitered edge where they can make the counter look thicker. This does cost extra though.
This is what our kitchen looked like the night before install a few weeks ago. You can see the red paint of the old wall color when we moved in. We painted our kitchen and dining walls Sherwin Williams Timid Blue the first day we moved in.
Now, I couldn’t be happier with how everything looks.
And as cliche as flowers in the sink are (in the home decor world), I can’t deny they look so darn pretty!
Trader Joe’s has so many at a good price right now because of Valentine’s Day!
What do you think? Do you like the change or did you prefer the butcher block?
Thanks for visiting and I’d love to hear what you think of my ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list!
This post was sponsored by HanStone Quartz, but all opinions and reviews are my own.
Sources (some affiliate links used):
Counters: HanStone Quartz in Montauk
Ceiling Fan: Discontinued, but similar here
Light over sink: Lowe’s – Allen+Roth Bronze Mini Vintage Clear Glass Globe Pendant
Sink: Ikea (discontinued)
Backsplash: Home Depot
Cabinet and island paint color: Benjamin Moore Advance, off-the-shelf bright white
Wall color: Sherwin Williams Timid Blue
Window Valance: Joann Fabric, Hudson 43 Upholstery Fabric in Pepper Devol
Kitchen Stools: World Market