One of the most important pieces of a kitchen is the countertops. Selecting the right countertops can give a kitchen the beautiful focal point while providing much-needed space for food prep. Two of the most popular options for countertops are granite and quartz. Both have their pros and cons, like durability for granite and cost for quartz. There is a lot to know about both materials before making the right choice for your kitchen countertops.
What is Quartz?
While there are a lot of similarities between quartz and granite, there are some important differences to notice. For starters, unlike granite, quartz is not entirely natural. Countertops made from granite are done so with 95 percent natural ground quartz. The remaining five percent is made up of polymer resins.
When you hear the term “engineered stone,” quartz is usually one of the first products mentioned. It is possible to add other minerals as well. Unlike granite, they do not come naturally in slab form. They are formed into slabs for the use of countertops as well as a bevy of other products.
What is Granite?
A purely nature stone, granite comes directly from stone quarries. It is a very hard stone and, unlike some of its counterparts, is not manufactured. It is also mined globally, meaning the granite that you choose could be mined from different sites.
When it has been mined, it is then taken and cut down to a more manageable size. From there, it is polished to give it a finer, more beautiful finish. This is what you see when you are shopping for granite countertops.
What to Consider When Choosing Stone Countertops
As far as comparing the two materials, there are more than a few important distinctions. Comparing them based on cost, appearance, maintenance, environmental impact, durability, and any added home value will give us a clear comparison of the two.
Many times, it all comes down to personal preference. People tend to lean one way or the other and even things like a major cost difference will not sway them. They are similar enough in nature that, for most people, it does come down to that important cost factor.
You can’t talk about building material without mentioning the cost. For most of us, a budget is a natural part of any project. We would all love to splurge on the highest of high-end products, but that just isn’t in the cards.
When it comes to a direct comparison between the two, granite is generally the more cost-effective though it can vary based on manufacturer. The price of installation is something to consider as well, with quartz being slightly more difficult to install.
The average cost of having a granite counters installed runs anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500. A quartz countertop, meanwhile, would average out between $3,000 and $7,500. When buying it on your own, they are quite similar in their cost per square foot. Just keep in mind that a slightly cheaper material may be worth more than your time and effort during the installation process.
It is highly advised that any countertop work involving quartz or granite be done by a professional. It is all too easy to leave the structural integrity compromised, which would then require professional intervention anyway. Though it may be hard to fight the urge to save a few bucks, spend to have it professionally installed.
When it comes to countertops, the single most important factor is appearance. The kitchen is one of the make-or-break rooms in a home and having a breathtaking appearance can make a world of difference, especially when trying to sell the home.
Quartz has become immensely popular in recent times, mostly due to its appearance. It looks like your average stone but it is highly customizable. Being able to choose from a ton of different colors and styles means more easily being able to match up your design aesthetic.
Granite, though it comes in a plethora of patterns and colors in its own right, isn’t quite as diverse as its counterpart. That said, if you are looking for a standout slab made of unique mineral compositions, then you would be hard-pressed to find two granite countertops that look the same.
When it comes to appearance as a whole, it is hard to beat quartz. The level of versatility in terms of choices is a hard one to beat and they all offer a superior look. Going with quartz countertops is definitely suggested if you are prepping your home for sale.
The good thing about both of these materials is that they are relatively easy to keep clean and fairly resistant to stains. With a little bit of gentle soap and water, you can remove most stains quickly.
Quartz tends to stay cleaner over the long haul, though, thanks to the resins within. Depending on what reports you read, quartz is also far less susceptible to harboring bacteria, which is again due to the resins making quartz a less porous surface.
Another major reason why both quartz and granite are so popular these days is that they are made up either largely (quartz) or entirely (granite) of natural materials. Since granite is made entirely of natural materials, it gets a slight edge in terms of eco-friendliness.
That said, quartz has roughly five to seven percent polymer resins and color pigments that are used to bond all the materials together. Though they aren’t natural, resulting in more carbon emissions, they are also considerably more durable over time.
It isn’t all eco-friendly for granite, either. Granite countertops mean having to quarry out of the earth. Quartz is basically leftover stone byproducts, which does not require any quarrying. Though there were some somewhat scary reports about the eco-friendliness of granite, the Environmental Protection Agency has come out and basically stated that they are not toxic nor do they have radon in them.
Generally speaking, though, quartz has a decided advantage over granite in terms of durability, though they are both highly durable materials. Because granite is somewhat porous, it has to be properly sealed at installation and then again over time. Granite also tends to have natural flaws to them that make them more susceptible to cracking.
As for quartz, there is no sealing required. This is because of the resins used during the fabrication process of quartz slabs. Not only that, but quartz is also uniform throughout the slab, which means that it rarely (if ever) cracks.
You generally should be fine with either, but granite requires more ongoing maintenance to keep it looking in top condition. This is partially why quartz costs a bit more than granite; it requires no sealing at either installation or on an ongoing basis to maintain its look.
Though there are plenty of homeowners out there who renovate their kitchen for their own purposes, the vast majority of kitchen renovations come with the goal to sell in mind. Increasing the value of the kitchen will generally increase the value of the home.
Due to their natural beauty and versatility, quartz and granite are some of the most popular materials in kitchen renovations. They are the kind of high-end materials that can impress potential buyers and really make an impact when it comes time to sell.
It has been shown that both materials slightly improve the overall real estate value of the home (though it is really the work on the kitchen as a whole). Due to the natural materials, some buyers prefer granite. But it is hard to beat the look and natural durability of quartz.
Pros of Quartz Countertops
There are a plethora of benefits to going with quartz countertops. The biggest are their appearance, stain resistance, and durability. But there are far more benefits to going with quartz than you may realize. Here are more than a few reasons why you should be going quartz for your next countertops.
Whether you opt for quartz or granite, you can feel good knowing that they have a high level of durability. The process of creating engineered quartz stone began back in 1963 and the goal was to make something that was more durable than stone.
Because of the resins involved in the manufacturing process, quartz countertops are ultra-durable. That means no scratching, chipping, or cracking easily. If you cook a lot or have kids in your home, going the quartz route is the right option.
Keep in mind that quartz is durable, not necessarily indestructible. That said, the chances of everyday wear and tear doing damage are slim to none. That can be highly reassuring especially given the cost of quartz.
Right behind durability in terms of the biggest positives for quartz is its appearance. Quartz is one of the most beautiful countertop materials out there. It has a sleek, elegant look and is offered in a wide array of modern designs.
Not only that, but quartz countertop manufacturers are able to create just about any color or design that you can think of. They do so using pigments of color as well as materials like flecks of metal or recycled glass to create some of the most beautiful, unique looks out there.
Because it isn’t entirely natural, there is a higher level of customization involved compared to granite. They can go with any cabinet color or material, any backsplash, and any type of flooring. If you are trying to really maintain a specific aesthetic, quartz makes it much easier.
When it comes to countertops, keeping them clean is one of the biggest priorities. Depending on what type of material you choose, that is either easy or a lot more difficult than you might think. But part of the reason that quartz is so popular is that it’s easy to maintain.
First and foremost, they do not require sealing, which granite countertops do. You can basically install the quartz countertops, clean them when necessary, and that’s about it. There are some special polishes and cleaners for quartz, but soap and water generally will do the trick.
Quartz also tends to not stain. Unlike materials like marble, you can generally just wipe away any messes without the concern of staining. With enough home maintenance to take care of, not having to worry about countertops is huge.
One of the biggest reasons that so many homeowners and renovation specialists choose quartz is because it works just about anywhere: bars, fireplaces, bathrooms, kitchens, and more. Because of the wide array of designs and colors, as well as its durability, it makes for a versatile material.
Most other materials are limited by their ability to withstand certain elements or by their design elements. Quartz, meanwhile, has nearly endless applications. If you like matching aesthetics throughout your home, quartz is a great way to achieve that.
Cons of Quartz Countertops
While there is certainly a lot to like about quartz, it is not without its faults. There is definitely a lot more to like about them than there is to not. As is the case with everything, however, it is important to know the downsides as well as all of the perks. Here are the most important downsides to quartz.
Even with all of the perks that come with quartz countertops, you can’t talk about them without mentioning the price. If you are on a tight budget, quartz is probably out of the cards for you. Every great aspect – being non-porous, durable, and highly customizable – comes with a price tag.
On average, quartz will run in the neighborhood of $50 to $150 per square foot but that depends on the installation, quality of the quartz, style, design, manufacturer, and the type of edging involved. You can reasonably expect to spend around $5,000 for the average kitchen, which can scare off more than a few people when choosing a kitchen countertop material.
Though quartz is very durable and less prone to things like cracking, it is far from invincible. For example, quartz has a high resistance to heat; the resin and polymer fillers used in the manufacturing process are not heat resistant.
Placing hot cookware on a quartz countertop could mean damaging or melting the resins within. That means potentially permanent damage or discoloration. If you notice cloudiness or white spotting, there is a good chance that heat damage has been done.
Pros of Granite Countertops
While there is certainly a lot to like about quartz, there is equally as much to like about granite. Both are similar in a lot of ways, but have distinct differences between them. Here are the most important perks of going with a granite countertop
Let’s get one thing clear: neither granite nor quartz is cheap. If you are planning on renovating with a tight budget, finding another material is probably best. That said, compared to quartz, granite is generally a cheaper option that doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of design or durability.
Granite countertops will generally run somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 and $4,000 for the average kitchen, but that includes backsplashes, the total square footage, and edge profiles. That means you simply get more bang for your buck out of granite than you would with quartz.
The final quote can vary depending on fabrication, installation, and material, but you can find some “low-range” price options around $40-$50 per square foot in some areas. That can mean major savings while maintaining a high-end look.
Because natural stone is used in the composition, it has a certain visual aesthetic that quartz just doesn’t. While it means more limited selection in terms of patterns and colors, there are still plenty to choose from and they have a distinctly different aesthetic from quartz.
It is always a good idea to check out the entire slab first, however. Some exotic granites have huge, flowing waves to them and getting a smaller sample may not necessarily be a good representation of what the whole slab will look like.
Because granite is made up of 100% natural materials, it has a much smaller carbon footprint than most other countertop materials on the market, quartz included. If being environmentally friendly is something that matters to you, this is a huge factor.
Quartz is largely natural but has some polyester and styrene resin to it, which has a higher level of carbon emissions to it. If you want something that is durable, beautiful, and environmentally responsible, it is hard to beat granite.
One of the biggest issues with quartz is that it isn’t entirely heat resistant. Granite, meanwhile, won’t blister or melt when they are exposed to heat. If you are the kind of person that rests hot cookware right on the counter, you don’t have to worry about doing damage to your granite countertops.
That said, they aren’t invulnerable. It is not recommended that you leave items like crockpots on the granite for long periods of time. But for most general cooking practices, your granite countertops should hold up to the task.
Cons of Granite Countertops
Just like quartz, there is a lot to like about granite but there are some inherent flaws. They compare in a lot of ways but one major downside to granite that doesn’t get talked about is selection. There just aren’t as many color and style choices available when compared to quartz.
Let’s get this out of the way first: granite is a very durable material. If you have granite countertops installed, you don’t have to worry about chipping or breaking. But you do have to potentially worry about cracks.
Part of the installation process involves sealing. Because granite is so porous, it is more susceptible to cracking. But when it is sealed, the odds are drastically reduced. Without sealing over the life of the countertop, there is an increased chance of cracking. Compared to quartz, which does not crack, there are some durability issues in comparison.
Difficulty to Repair
While granite countertops are not likely to have many issues, they do occur from time to time. Even things like chipping and cracking can pop up from time to time and they are difficult to remedy without professional intervention.
There are times when a color-matched epoxy can fill the void, but it is generally advised that a professional intervene.
The Final Thought on Stone Countertops
When it comes to choosing between granite and quartz, you really can’t go wrong with either. They both offer a high-end look that is so valued in kitchen renovations. Quartz offers a few more choices and is a lot easier to maintain while granite is more cost-effective and is made entirely of natural materials.
In the end, the choice comes down to budget and preference. Neither is a cheap material, though granite is generally quite a bit less expensive overall. It all depends on what kind of granite or quartz you choose, who does the installation, etc.