Determining whether your countertops are made of quartz or granite can be confusing. These two materials share some visual similarities but have distinct differences when it comes to performance, maintenance, and cost. This guide will walk you through the key factors to help identify quartz vs. granite countertops.
Quartz and granite can both display intricate patterns and flecks of color, leading many homeowners to mistake one for the other. Here are some telling signs of each material:
- More uniform in appearance with consistent speckles and veins.
- Available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Manufacturers mix natural stone with resins and pigments.
- Glossy sheen across the entire surface. Does not need sealing or polishing.
- Harder to spot seams between slabs.
- More unique natural patterns, rarely exactly alike between slabs.
- Limited color options determined by the natural stone. Tends toward neutrals of white, gray, beige.
- Reflective, glossy finish when polished but can appear rough in some areas.
- Visible seams between slabs since matching patterns precisely is difficult.
So if your countertops display an unusual marbling or distinctive crystallized flecks, they are likely granite. Quartz will appear more homogenous.
Maintenance and Durability
Quartz and granite also differ regarding long-term care and durability:
- Does not need periodic sealing to prevent stains.
- Resists scratches, burns, and etching from acids.
- Stays looking pristine for years with simple cleaning.
- Needs no polishing to maintain the smooth surface.
- Needs reapplication of sealant every 1-2 years to prevent stains.
- Can chip, scratch, burn, and etch if not properly sealed and handled with care.
- Gradually loses its shine over time without professional polishing.
- More prone to damage from knives, pans, and household cleaners.
Quartz’s non-porous surface makes it practically maintenance-free compared to natural stone.
In general, expect to pay:
- Quartz: $80-140 per square foot installed
- Granite: $60-135 per square foot installed
Quartz is on the higher end of the price scale due to its engineered composition and consistent quality. Prices can vary widely based on the brand, complexity of patterns, and edge treatments.
Granite has a wider range depending on the stone’s rarity, thickness, finishing processes, and cut shapes.
If you still can’t pinpoint just by looking, here are some simple ways to identify what your countertops are made of:
Try scratching the surface with a knife or key. If it leaves a mark, it’s likely granite. Quartz is almost impossible to scratch.
Place a hot pan from the stove or oven for a minute or two and remove. Granite will show burn marks and discoloration compared to quartz.
Pour some water on the counter and let sit for 15-20 minutes before wiping dry. If the stone appears darker, that indicates granite absorbing the liquid. Quartz will repel water.
Look underneath for any manufacturer logo or identification indicating if the surface is engineered quartz or natural stone. This can confirm what mineral makeup your countertops contain.
Caring for Quartz and Granite
To keep both quartz and granite looking like new:
- Use coasters under glasses and trivets for hot pans.
- Clean up spills immediately to prevent stains.
- Use gentle, non-abrasive cleaners and avoid bleach or ammonia.
- For granite, reseal every 1-2 years using a penetrating sealer.
- Avoid using countertops as cutting boards to prevent damaging the surface.
Quartz requires virtually no maintenance while granite needs more care and precautions to maintain its beauty. Follow the tests and tips above to successfully identify your existing countertops. Understanding whether you have quartz or granite will ensure you keep them gleaming for years.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main differences between quartz and granite countertops?
The main differences are that quartz is engineered from natural stone and resins while granite is 100% natural stone. Quartz requires less maintenance, resists scratches and stains, and has more consistent coloring. Granite needs periodic sealing, can scratch and chip more easily, but has more variation in veining patterns.
Is quartz or granite better for kitchen countertops?
Quartz is better for kitchens that will see a lot of use and abuse. Its non-porous surface can handle hot pans, spills, and daily wear and tear with little signs of damage. Granite provides a unique, high-end look but needs more careful handling and maintenance.
How do you tell the difference between the two just by looking?
Examine the stone patterns. Granite has natural variations in speckles, veins, crystals, etc. Quartz tends to look more uniform. Quartz also has a smoother, glossier, and seamless appearance while granite has a more textured look.
Why is quartz more expensive than granite?
Quartz costs more because it is engineered from over 90% natural quartz mixed with pigments and resin for durability. The manufacturing process allows for consistent colors and patterns. Granite’s cost is lower because it is harvested directly from quarries with less processing involved.
How long do quartz and granite countertops last?
Both can last over 15 years with proper care. However, quartz maintains its original beauty longer than granite since it does not etch or scratch as easily over time. As long as granite is regularly sealed, it can also remain in great condition for many years.
When deciding between quartz vs. granite, consider your budget, style preferences, and how much maintenance you are willing to take on. Quartz delivers worse resistance and fewer safety concerns but comes at a higher price. Granite offers a striking natural look that fits well in upscale kitchens as long as it is handled with care. Taking time to inspect and test your existing countertops using this guide will reveal whether quartz or granite graces your home.