Granite and quartz are two of the most popular countertop materials for kitchens and bathrooms. Both offer durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance that make them attractive options for homeowners. But how do they really compare? Are quartz countertops as good as granite when it comes to factors like appearance, durability, cost, and maintenance? This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of each material to help you decide which is the better choice for your home.
Granite countertops are renowned for their timeless, natural beauty. Granite forms deep within the earth’s crust, resulting in striking color variations, intricate veining patterns, and a depth of visual interest that man-made materials simply cannot replicate. No two granite slabs are exactly alike – each one has its own unique colors and patterns.
Granite’s natural appeal comes from its raw, organic aesthetic. The swirls of minerals and crystals create a visual vibrancy. Granite can exhibit dramatic contrasts with dark, brooding tones juxtaposed against flashes of bright, saturated color. Whites, pinks, reds, grays, browns, blacks, and other hues make every granite slab one-of-a-kind.
The stone’s veining also contributes to its beauty. Thin veins of contrasting minerals weave across the granite, often perfectly complementing the background color. Granite’s veining can be discreet or bold, minimal or intricate, depending on the particular stone.
With granite, homeowners can choose a countertop that reflects their personal style. Want something bold and daring? Dramatic granite patterns in midnight black or autumnal burgundy can provide visual punch. Prefer a more subdued look? Creamy grays and beiges with subtle veining offer understated elegance. There are thousands of granite options, making it easy to find the perfect look for your space.
Quartz countertops offer more uniformity than granite. Rather than a completely natural stone, quartz is an engineered material composed of ground quartz aggregates combined with resins and pigments. This manufacturing process allows makers to control the coloration and patterns in quartz. While no two slabs are exactly the same, quartz lacks the striking uniqueness of granite surfaces.
The resins allow quartz to exhibit some veining and speckling, mimicking the look of natural stone. But the patterns tend to be repeated, creating a more repetitive visual appearance. The overall look is generally more uniform than the raw, unpredictable aesthetic of granite.
Quartz does provide a wide spectrum of colors and patterns to choose from. Options include solid tones, aggregates, speckles, and veins in white, gray, beige, brown, black, cream, blue, red and other shades. Engineered quartz offers more consistent colors throughout the slab, unlike the color variations of natural granite.
Many homeowners appreciate quartz for its neater, tidier look compared to the busier, more chaotic appearance of granite. For those desiring an orderly, uniform aesthetic, quartz can deliver. However, for those who want the true depth and natural beauty of genuine stone, granite remains unrivaled.
As an igneous rock formed deep underground, granite boasts exceptional strength and hardness. It ranks between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale, only diamond is harder. This makes granite highly impervious to scratches, chips, and cracks.
In a busy kitchen, granite stands up admirably to heavy use and abuse. Pots, pans, and other objects can be set on granite surfaces without worry. Its dense composition resists scratches from cutlery. And granite can handle accidental bumps and bangs that inevitably occur during food preparation and clean up.
Granite also resists heat very well. Pots and pans straight from the stovetop or oven won’t scorch or damage granite. This durability and stain-resistance makes granite an ideal choice for busy kitchens and family homes.
Over time, the exposed surface of granite countertops develops a natural patina, adding to their charm and beauty. Signs of wear merely accentuate granite’s organic, lived-in appeal. Major chips or cracks in granite are very rare, and the stone remains in excellent shape for many decades with basic care.
Engineered quartz is also renowned for its exceptional durability and strength. In terms of scratch resistance, quartz rates at 7 on the Mohs scale, slightly harder than granite. Quartz stands up admirably to knives and other kitchen tools. The resins form a tough, damage-resistant surface.
Quartz also retains its pristine smoothness over time. Unlike granite, quartz won’t develop a worn patina with use. Even after years of heavy use, quartz keeps its like-new sheen. For those wanting countertops that maintain their flawless look, quartz is a good option.
However, quartz lacks the natural strength and density of granite. Over time, quartz can potentially sustain more chips, divots and cracks compared to granite. Hot pans and objects can potentially scorch or damage quartz since it does not have granite’s heat resistance. Quartz remains very durable for everyday use but does not quite match the resilience of natural stone.
In terms of upfront costs, installed quartz countertops are generally pricier than granite. Starting national averages for basic granite are around $40-$50 per square foot installed, compared to $70-$100 per square foot installed for quartz. However, there are affordable and premium options for both materials that go beyond these ranges.
Several factors affect exact costs:
Location – Prices vary regionally based on local material availability. Installation in major metro areas also costs more.
Stone type – For granite, more exotic imported stones are pricier than domestic granite. With quartz, higher-end designer brands carry bigger price tags. Budget quartz options are closer to granite in price.
Complexity – Countertops with complex edges, cutouts, and other custom elements cost more. Simple rectangle layouts are most affordable.
Size – Bigger countertop jobs incur higher total costs but lower per-square-foot rates.
Vendor – Check multiple vendors. Some offer better deals than others.
Consider the total cost for your specific project, not just average pricing. Visiting showrooms to view samples and get quotes is recommended.
In terms of long-term value, both granite and quartz are sound investments that will last for decades. Paying more upfront for quality materials results in lower lifetime costs compared to cheap countertop materials that need frequent replacement. Both granite and quartz add noticeable value for resale as well.
Basic maintenance keeps granite countertops looking like new. Simple tasks include:
- Use coasters under glasses/mugs to prevent etching or dulling from condensation rings.
- Wipe up spills promptly to prevent potential staining.
- Clean frequently with a pH-neutral granite cleaner.
- Avoid harsh cleansers or chemicals that can degrade granite’s protective seal.
- Reseal every 1-2 years to replenish sealing that protects against stains.
Granite requires minimal maintenance to retain its flawless appearance. But it does need more routine care compared to quartz. Granite must be sealed regularly, while quartz never needs sealing. And small scratches can develop on granite surfaces over time.
However, signs of use on granite merely add to its charm and do not impact functionality. Keeping granite pristine takes some work, but for many the natural beauty of granite is worth the modest effort. Hiring professionals for deep cleaning and resealing every few years can further simplify upkeep.
One major advantage of quartz over granite is that it requires virtually no maintenance. The resin surface and stain protection means quartz does not need periodic sealing. Quartz also resists scratching and etching from kitchen use.
Routine care involves:
- Wiping up spills to prevent staining.
- Using a mild soap and water to clean. Avoid abrasive cleansers.
- No sealing is needed.
The low-maintenance nature of quartz makes it an easy-care option. However, quartz lacks the living patina that makes used granite so appealing. Pristine quartz can start to seem sterile and dull over time. Signs of use on granite impart character.
- Granite requires more routine maintenance like sealing and polishing but develops an attractive patina over time.
- Quartz needs almost no maintenance but lacks granite’s natural patina.
Beyond the major factors above, other considerations can influence the granite vs quartz decision:
Sustainability – Granite is a natural material while quartz relies on man-made components. Granite can potentially be recycled but quartz cannot. For green building, granite has an advantage.
Trendiness – Quartz caters to contemporary sensibilities while granite has more timeless appeal. Some trendy quartz styles may look dated down the road.
Resale Value – Both materials add value but granite’s enduring popularity gives it an edge for resale. However, quartz is unlikely to detract value.
Variety – Granite offers virtually unlimited options. Quartz has far fewer color/pattern choices. Customization is easier with granite.
Fabrication – Quartz is more flexible for complex cutouts and edges since it is engineered, while granite fabrication is limited by the natural stone slab sizes.
Radon/Radioactivity – Granite contains trace natural radioactivity. Quartz is radiation-free. However, granite radiation levels are considered negligible except in rare cases.
These points can further guide your decision process when evaluating quartz vs granite.
The Bottom Line
Granite and quartz each have their own sets of pros and cons:
- Unmatched natural beauty and variety
- Superior durability and heat resistance
- Timeless, always in style
- Environmentally sustainable
- More expensive upfront costs
- Requires regular sealing
- Can develop minor scratches over time
- Seamless, uniform appearance
- Very low maintenance
- Easy to keep pristine condition
- Better for complex layouts
- Lacks depth of natural stone
- Not heat or scratch proof
- Some styling may look dated eventually
- Less environmentally friendly
Quartz provides an excellent alternative to granite with some advantages in terms of appearance, care, and pricing. But for those desiring the unbeatable beauty of natural stone along with extreme durability, granite remains the top choice. Granite has retained its popularity for good reason – it simply offers an elegance, visual interest, and long-lasting quality that engineered quartz cannot quite equal.
Are Quartz Countertops as Good as Granite? FAQs
Still deciding between quartz vs granite? These commonly asked questions provide more key details to inform your decision.
Is Quartz Stronger Than Granite?
Quartz is slightly harder and denser than granite according to the Mohs scale. But granite’s natural properties make it more resistant to cracking and chipping. Both materials are very strong and durable, but granite ultimately has greater natural strength.
Does Quartz Stain Easily?
No, quartz has excellent resistance to staining. The polymer resins create an impervious surface, and most quartz has stain-fighting materials integrated. However, some deep colors may show stains more. Blot spills quickly just to be safe.
Is Quartz Expensive to Maintain?
No, quartz requires virtually no maintenance, unlike natural stone that demands regular sealing. The main upkeep for quartz is periodic cleaning with soap and water. Quartz’s non-porous surface stays pristine with little effort.
Does Quartz Lose Its Shine?
Quartz retains its glossy sheen indefinitely. Unlike granite, it does not develop a worn patina. But some may find the perpetually perfect quartz surface to seem too uniform or sterile over time. Granite achieves a more nuanced aged look.
Is Quartz Bad for Health?
No direct health risks are associated with quartz surfaces in countertops. It does not harbor bacteria growth. However, the adhesives and resins used in some quartz fabrication may emit minuscule VOC amounts. Proper indoor ventilation is advised.
Is Quartz Eco-Friendly?
Not really. Quartz relies heavily on mining, resin adhesives, and transportation for manufacturing. The resins and polymers also prevent recycling. Granite has a much lower carbon footprint as a natural material. But quartz does offer some bio-based and recycled content options.
Does Quartz Scratch Easily?
Quartz is impressively scratch resistant thanks to its durability. However, it can get minor surface scuffs over time with daily use. Avoid abrasive pads and take care with sharp objects. Granite better withstands incidental scratches. But quartz scratches less easily than many other countertop materials.
Does Quartz Need to Be Sealed?
No. Sealing is completely unnecessary for quartz since it is non-porous. Granite requires regular sealing to prevent staining and damage. The lack of sealing needed is a maintenance advantage of quartz over natural stone like granite.
Is Quartz Harmful to the Environment?
Somewhat. Quartz fabrication does involve mining and relies heavily on petroleum-based resins. The energy used in manufacturing is greater than for natural stones. And quartz is not recyclable. Overall, quartz has a larger carbon footprint compared to granite and other eco-friendly surfaces.
Granite and quartz each have their merits as countertop materials. They remain neck and neck as the top two choices for most homeowners. Ultimately, choosing between them comes down to individual priorities and preferences.
Those who value natural beauty, immense style options, extreme durability, and timeless appeal will gravitate to granite. For those wanting a low-maintenance, pristine surface with contemporary style, quartz has much to offer.
By weighing all the factors and considerations, homeowners can make the best decision between granite and quartz for their particular kitchen or bath remodel. With their respective strengths, either material makes an excellent investment with beauty and performance that will endure for a lifetime of daily use.