Our Kitchen Renovation: Tips for Buying Quartz Counters

We finally chose counters! So you’ve now followed along as we decided on our kitchen layout, floors, cabinets, appliances, and here’s the story on the counters. We always knew that we wanted quartz, but we never got around to looking into them until a couple of weeks ago. We did a ton of research into what material would be best for us and decided on quartz because it doesn’t require sealing, doesn’t stain, works with undermount sinks (we didn’t know you can’t do an undermount with certain materials like solid surface), and is offered in the colors we wanted. The process of picking our counters was really stressful for us but we learned a bunch that we wanted to pass along in case anyone else is in the same situation!

choosing kitchen countertops

Tip #1: Look at the same samples in different light! First we went to Lowe’s and Home Depot, and honestly, we were incredibly frustrated with the experience at both of them. The lighting is horrendous, the customer service was mostly lackluster, and worst of all, no samples. Yep, you can’t take anything home, so we had to drag a floor tile and piece of cabinet into the store to compare, only to find that the lighting was so bad we couldn’t make any decisions. You can buy counter samples online, but the one we wanted had an estimated ship date of JULY 27, two months after we need the counters!

So… Tip #2: try to start planning counters early so you can buy samples online! Oops. We did all of this frantically in one weekend two weeks ago, when our kitchen was already half done. We love stress.

So, anyway, after we got frustrated at the big box stores, we decided to visit a stone supplier. They had some of the same brands (like Silestone) and some other brands (like LG), great customer service, but best of all… GOOD LIGHTING. So we took our floor tile and cabinet piece in there, too, and it turns out some of the options that had looked terrible at Lowe’s looked really good in decent lighting. Phew.

Tip #3: Big box stores charge by the square foot and stone suppliers charge by the slab! We liked three quartzes at the stone supplier, two of which were also available at Lowe’s (Silestone “White Zeus Extreme” and “Blanco Orion”). We got a cost estimate from the supplier and also ran the numbers at Lowe’s. Lowe’s was over $2,000 cheaper for the exact same materials! That’s HUGE, you guys. Here’s why: Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t stock or cut or install the stone themselves, but contract out the work to local stone suppliers, acting as a middle man. Because Lowe’s and Home Depot sell so much volume, they can afford to sell by the square foot, instead of charging you for an entire slab, but the stone supplier will charge you for an entire slab, even if you only use half of it. Get cost estimates from both, though, because you may get lucky.

choosing kitchen countertops / Silestone "Blanco Orion" vs. LG "Minuet"

Tip #4: Find out who the supplier is for your big box store & ask if they can get something you like that isn’t offered! We decided that we want to do plain solid white quartz on the long back counter (Silestone “White Zeus Extreme,” not pictured), and a marble-looking quartz on our island. Our first choice for the faux-marble was LG “Minuet,”  and second was Silestone “Blanco Orion,” which you can see above. We liked that the LG had slightly softer/lighter/less veining on a slightly whiter background, but they’re very similar. LG Minuet is not sold at Lowe’s BUT we asked Lowe’s who their supplier is, called that supplier and found that they sell LG Minuet. (This was a different supplier than we had gone to, by the way.) We asked Lowe’s if they could get Minuet from the supplier, even though they don’t sell it at their store, and they could! It was just a few dollars more per square foot than our second choice, which we thought was worth it. It pays to ask!!

Tip #5: Budget for extra charges. When we ran our numbers at Lowe’s, we didn’t take into account some extras, like the one-inch overhang all the way around adding to the total square footage, the charge for cutting out the undermount sink, and the brackets that we’d need to support the island overhang. All of these things add up quicker than you’d think.

So they’re coming out Friday to measure and fingers crossed they’ll be able to install it soon. We’re really excited about our choices, though of course it’s always nerve wracking to make such a big (expensive) decision in such a short amount of time based on such a small sample. Hopefully we chose right! What do you think of our choices?


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12 thoughts on “Our Kitchen Renovation: Tips for Buying Quartz Counters

  1. I didn’t know that you can get counter samples. Do they actually give you pieces of quartz or granite for these samples, or just similar color/pattern things? I would assume the latter, but it would be interesting if it’s the other.

  2. By all means, use the local stores run by local people trying to get by. Use their expertise, lighting and time…then March right over to the big box store and get what you didn’t know existed from then. That’s good for everybody

    1. If the local store’s estimate wasn’t DOUBLE Lowe’s, then by all means we would have loved to support them.

      1. I 100% understand taking the frugal road, but I was wondering if you returned to the local store to see if they would negotiate at all. I’m going through the same process (and actually looking at two of the same patterns, the Blanco Orion and the Minuet, along with Blanca Arabescato from MSI), and I have a quote from my local fabricator. I think it’s already pretty reasonably priced, but I’m going to talk to Lowe’s or Home Depot anyway to see what their pricing would be, and if it’s lower, I plan to ask the local store f they will match or at least come down in price.

        1. I started out by looking at granite. They had sales on YouTube because it was such a large supply of the local fabricator. In fact my local granite and cemetery headstone company offers to do that at a very reasonable price. But I decided to go to quarts. All the area towards dealers use the same supplier and fabricator. I soon as a sale at Lowe’s for 15% off plus a 5% discount if I put it on my charge card. Home depot also has sales and promised a good one this coming memorial weekend Cambria never has sales, but a store that sells a lot of their offer it at eight dollars a square foot cheaper. Plus the salesman promised a better sink for free +15 images to choose from. And additional cost would be cutting out the sink and polishing edges. Yes he gave me some free samples! However I’m spending thousands of dollars on a countertop and the samples are 3″ x 3″. Yes, it’s for Strve and Cambria also had a local show room with huge slabs so you could see what about your kitchen would look like

  3. Also in the process of pricing quartz countertops (MSI Frost White) for my gray cabinets. What has been the experience with any of the big box stores with turn around time, installation and customer service ? Local stone supplier seems to be fast, one week.

    1. Hi Maria! Every big box store works with a different local supplier, and once the store puts in the order you pretty much deal exclusively with the local supplier to schedule everything. So the turnaround time is more related to the local supplier than the store. In our experience, we had a little trouble getting the supplier to answer/return our calls in a timely manner, but we actually called Lowe’s to complain and they lit a fire — so it was nice to have someone at the store who was on our side and could act as a middleman. We also had a delay because of a mistake we made that ended up delaying everything a few extra weeks — whoops! But our contractor had told us that it’s usually about a two-week turnaround from order to installation. I hope that helps answer your question. Good luck with your counters!

  4. Quartz countertop is famous for many reasons. One of the most important benefits of this material is—it requires very less maintenance. Most people are busy today and hardly get time to think and analyze about all these stuffs and learn what would be the best for their liking, needs, and requirement. Kitchen renovation is definitely a stress-full process and average homeowners like me would be overwhelmed by the options. So I would suggest them to hire a reliable kitchen remodeling professional who have years of experience and skills to build the dream kitchens.

  5. I am SO HAPPY I came across this story. I am also trying to figure out if I should go through a local store here or Lowe’s. Lowe’s is running a sale right now another brand but they don’t have my first choice of the LG Minuet… or so I thought…Now I know that it could be possible for me to get it through them. Can I ask what they charged per square foot for the Minuet? Also, do you have pictures of your finished kitchen? Thank you

  6. Lowe’s and Home Depot give a 10% discount to military every day. Including retired. And also their dependents can buy with out them being there. And it is on sale as well as regular prices.

    1. We have a military discount at Lowe’s but how did you get it at Home Depot? WE could not get it at Home Depot everyday.

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