Countertop Thickness: Why it Matters
When it comes time to picking your new quartz or granite countertops, many people don’t even know there are options or how those options affect their countertops. In fact, many people often buy thinner, lower quality material without realizing what they are buying. Read on to learn how to choose the thickness of quartz or granite for your counter top project.
Generally speaking, there are 3 thickness of quartz slabs used for countertop fabrication. Countertop thickness is measured in centimeters. The standard thicknesses are 1CM (some manufactures actually use 1.2CM), 2CM, and 3CM. 1 CM is equal to 3/8”, 2CM is equal to ¾”, and 3CM is equal to 1 ¼”.
Granite fabrication is typically only available from 2CM or 3CM. Most granite is too fragile for 1CM.
Each thickness has its own application and it is important to know these differences when shopping for new countertops. If you are in the Puget Sound area, stop in at chat with one of our countertop experts in our Tacoma or Bremerton locations. We fabricate and install countertops from Olympia to Seattle as well as parts of the Kitsap Peninsula.
1 or 1.2 Centimeter
The thinnest available option, 1CM (which for the purpose of this article includes 1.2CM) is typically used 2 applications.
The first and most popular way 1CM quartz countertops are used is in prefabricated countertops that have a laminated edge. Known as “prefab” in the industry, these slabs typically come from an overseas factory with the edges pre laminated and pre polished.
A laminated edge is made by taking a small strip of the same material and gluing it to the bottom of the slab, effectively making it look double the thickness. This can be done with any thickness of material. Most prefab granite countertops are a 2CM body but have a 4CM laminated edge. Prefab quartz countertops can be a 1CM body with a 2CM edge, 1.2 CM body with a 2.4 CM edge, or a 2CM body with a 4CM edge.
A common issue with prefabricated countertops is the warranty or lack there of. To learn more about countertop warranties and what they cover, read our Countertop Warranty Guide
Prefab Countertop Pros & Cons
|Usually the cheapest countertop option||Very fragile|
|Can be fabricated quickly, resulting in less wait time.|
|Untrained eye can’t tell the difference from 3CM||Overhangs require lots of support|
|Slabs are often warped making for bad seams|
|Seam on edge|
|Different thickness undermount sink reveal|
|Size and color limitations|
The second way 1CM quartz is used is in vertical wall cladding applications primarily because of its lighter weight. The fragility of the thinner material is typically negated once it’s secured to the proper backing such as plywood or drywall.
Vertical applications can include fireplace surrounds, shower walls, or wainscoting. 2CM and 3CM can also be used in vertical applications, but wieghs significantly more. When mitered edges are required on an area such as outside corners, 2CM and 3CM provide a much better surface area for the miters adhesive.
Two centimeter is also found in prefab, laminated edge applications but 2CM quartz without a laminated edge is becoming a popular look amongst people with a modern, contemporary aesthetic. Because quartz is stronger and requires less support than granite, its thinner profile can be used to create a clean, minimalistic look.
While 2CM granite would require plywood support on top of the cabinets, which leads to the necessity of a laminated edge to hide the plywood, 2CM quartz countertops do not require plywood support unless spanning more than 24”, and therefore can often be installed with significantly less support than 2CM granite.
2CM Countertops with a laminated edge (as well as 1CM, and 1.4CM) are most often seen in new construction housing where the builders are trying to achieve a high end look at a low cost.
Three centimeters is the preferred thickness for both quartz and granite countertops for most countertop fabricators, designers, and architects. It offers the most durability, size flexibility, and color options.
3CM material can go directly on top of the cabinets without the need for plywood support.
Laminated edges are rarely seen with 3CM material and typically only used to achieve a massive, really thick look.
2CM vs 3CM countertops
|1 frac34; “ profile||
1 ¼” profile
|Overhangs more than 8” must be supported||Overhangs more than 16” must be supported|
|Material weight 10lbs per SF||Material weight 15lbs per SF|
|Limited Selection Availability||Large Selections in Stock|
Which Thickness is Right for Your Countertops?
In the vast majority of situations, 3CM is the best choice. It provides the most flexibility for design and typically has the largest selection of colors and designs. With 3CM there is no need for a built up laminated edge to hide plywood underlayment and it provides the most strength of any quartz thickness.
2CM quartz can also be installed without plywood support, but requires support for overhangs over 8”. While more desirable for some aesthetics, the thin edge of un-laminated 2CM is not for everyone and will lower the overall height of your counters by ¾” unless adjustments are made to your cabinetry.
1CM quartz is most typically used by builders, flippers, or budget conscious consumers who want the lowest price product available while still having the overall look of quartz counters. Both 2CM and 3CM are far superior to prefabricated 1CM or 1.2CM which will require plywood support and has very limited factory produced sizes which can lead to seams that can be avoided with 2CM or 3CM slabs that are cut to size just for your kitchen.
If you’re not sure which countertop thickness is right for you, the answer is 3CM. 3CM is the standard for custom cut countertops and provides the highest strength and durability of all the countertop options.