Granite vs. Quartz Countertops

Granite countertops remain in high demand for their beauty and durability. Quartz countertops, often called engineered stone countertops, are similar in appearance and performance, yet quite different in their makeup.  Is there a clear-cut choice between the two? Both types have their enthusiasts. The key is to understand them more fully, and when you do, you’ll know which type suits your purposes the best.

Natural Stone vs. Engineered Stone

Granite counters are mined from the earth in blocks. The blocks are then sawn into slabs or tiles and polished for installation. Quartz countertops are manufactured from crushed quartz that is mixed with pigment for coloration and resin as a binder. The quartz content is typically 92% to 94%.

If you want authentic natural stone countertops, then granite is the way to go.

The Appearance of Granite and Quartz

Both types have their strong points. Granite shows slight, natural variations in the hue of the stone, with a wide range of colors and patterns. The coloration of quartz is more consistent, and it is available in an even wider array of colors.

Which one looks “better?”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder here, both are very good looking. As you browse your options, you’ll get a feel for which one you prefer.

The Issue of Durability

While natural granite is strikingly beautiful, it does have its weaknesses. The stone needs to be sealed at installation and resealed on a regular basis. Quartz doesn’t require this level of care. In addition, natural stone countertops including granite, slate and sandstone stain quite easily. Granite that has been sealed with a resin-based product during manufacturing will be more resistant to staining than standard granite, but still not as stain resistant as quartz.

Granite can also crack and chip more easily than quartz. Both have a lifespan of 25-50 years depending on the level of care they are given and how they are used. In the area of durability, quartz has the advantage over granite.

The Cost of Granite vs. Quartz Countertops

It’s really a toss-up in this category, quartz ranges from $70-$140 per square foot installed and granite starts at about $65 and can go to $175 or slightly higher for exotic material.

The Greener Building Material

Natural granite countertops produce fewer carbon emissions during production than quartz countertops. Neither one emits significant amounts of radon or volatile organic compounds. Granite has the slight edge as an ecofriendly building material.

More Reasons to Consider Granite

Are you still undecided about which is the best choice for your home,? If so, here are some of the additional reasons given by homeowners who chose natural granite over quartz.

Nothing Beats the Real Thing: This is the approach of homeowners who really enjoy having natural materials in their home—they choose solid wood flooring instead of laminate or engineered wood,  wool areas rugs instead of nylon. If that sounds like you, you’ll appreciate the natural beauty of granite and see its potential flaws as character.

This really is the chief reason to select granite, slate, limestone or other natural stone over quartz. Some say that quartz is up to 94% natural because of the content of crushed quartz. That’s true, but it’s like saying concrete is natural because its ingredients are found in nature. Like concrete, the quartz is heavily processed, and that takes away the natural feel and turns off some homeowners. When you look at natural stone, you see the striations and slight color changes that make the stone unique. The color and design is real. Quartz countertops feature designs that were engineered into them. Fans of natural materials would rather have a chunk of stone mined from the earth adorning their cabinets and not something whipped up in a factory and artificially colored.

The Bottom Line: If you ultimately decide on natural stone, make the commitment to seal it yourself or have it sealed by a professional on a regular basis. Keep a dishrag handy to clean stains immediately. Pour wine and juice into glasses while holding them over the sink or a table, not the countertop. Don’t leave wet or dirty dishes on them. Taking the extra care required will maintain the natural beauty you want for your home.

More Reasons to Consider Quartz

Quartz Is Easier to Keep germ free because it is and non-porous. Granite, slate and other natural stones do have pores and tiny capillaries within the minerals that can wick up liquid and result in stains. There’s more: those pores and capillaries can also harbor germs such as bacteria and viruses. The non-porous surface of engineered quartz won’t collect these contaminants, so quartz is a better choice for cleanliness. Properly sealed natural stone does a decent job keeping out germs, but if the sealant breaks down, there can be issues. It’s worth noting that a few of the quartz countertop manufacturers like Silestone and HanStone treat their countertops with a germ-fighting coating that enhances hygiene. In addition germs can be washed off of quartz with milder cleansers while some recommend using harsher cleansers on granite and other natural stones.  The ease in maintaining the cleanliness of quartz countertops is one of the primary reasons that they are preferred by parents with young children and also make more sense for the elderly who may be more susceptible to viruses and bacteria.

Some Granite is Dyed: Always ask whether or not the granite you’re considering is dyed. This is most common with black granite samples. Stay away from dyed granite as  its color may fade or become blotchy over time, especially in areas that receive more water and cleaning  such as food preparation areas. Quartz, because the pigmentation is consistent throughout the material, will remain very colorfast.

The Bottom Line

If quartz works just as well for you as natural stone, and you want something that offers more color options and requires less maintenance, are more durable and stain-resistant, then quartz may be right for you.  But, if you are drawn to natural stone’s luster and unique characteristics, then the little maintenance is well worth the trade off (as a side note we can also put you in contact with professional sealing companies offering lifetime guarantee for a natural stone worry & maintenance free seal).

​If you have additional questions please contact an Integrity Stonework professional.

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