Quartz and granite are two of the most popular countertop materials used in kitchens today. Many homeowners find themselves trying to decide between quartz and granite when renovating their kitchens. An important factor to consider is the weight of these two materials, as lighter countertops are often perceived as more modern and luxurious.
An Overview of Quartz and Granite Countertops
Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from crushed quartz particles blended with plastic resins and pigments. The quartz content typically ranges from 90-94%. Some key features of quartz countertops include:
- Non-porous surface that resists stains
- Durable and scratch-resistant
- Available in a wide range of colors and patterns
- Requires very little maintenance
- Manmade material created in factories
Granite countertops are natural stone that is mined from quarries. Granite is an igneous rock containing quartz, feldspar, and other mineral deposits. Some characteristics of granite countertops are:
- Each slab has a unique natural pattern
- Durable, heat and scratch resistant
- Can be porous and require yearly sealing
- Limited color options determined by region of origin
- Mined from quarries as a raw natural material
Both quartz and granite make excellent choices for kitchen countertops. The key differences come down to manmade vs natural material, color options, and maintenance requirements.
Are Quartz Countertops Lighter Than Granite?
Yes, quartz countertops are generally lighter than granite. On average, quartz weighs about 115 lbs per cubic foot while granite weighs about 165 lbs per cubic foot.
Some key factors that contribute to the lighter weight of quartz:
- Engineered Material: Since quartz surfaces are engineered in a factory, manufacturers can control the density and weight of the material. Lighter weight quartz requires less internal structural support.
- Quartz Content: Natural granite contains more heavy minerals like quartz, feldspar, and mica. Quartz surfaces contain only 90-94% crushed quartz particles.
- Thinner Material: Granite is usually 1-2 inches thick, while quartz can be as thin as .5 inches. Thinner pieces translate to less overall weight.
- Porosity: Granite is naturally porous and absorbs moisture over time which adds weight. Quartz resins fill in pores creating an impermeable surface.
While weight ranges can vary based on specific quartz brands and granite types, quartz consistently rates lower on the scale. This makes quartz an ideal choice for homeowners looking to reduce countertop weight load.
How Much Lighter is Quartz Compared to Granite?
On average, quartz weighs about 30% less than granite per square foot. Here is a breakdown of typical weight ranges:
- Quartz: 115-140 lbs per cubic foot, or 9-11 lbs per square foot
- Granite: 155-175 lbs per cubic foot, or 13-14 lbs per square foot
Based on these estimates, a standard 25 square foot countertop would weigh:
- Quartz: 275 lbs
- Granite: 375 lbs
So quartz would be about 100 lbs lighter for a typical sized kitchen countertop installation. That’s equivalent to the weight of a grown adult!
However, thickness and density can vary. A thick 3cm granite may weigh 15 lbs per square foot. While a high density quartz may reach 13 lbs per square foot. But in most cases, quartz averages out considerably lighter.
Benefits of Lighter Quartz Countertops
The lighter weight of quartz countertops provides several advantages:
- Easier installation: Reduced weight puts less strain on the cabinetry and allows for simpler installation. Complex structural reinforcement may not be required.
- Versatile designs: Low weight quartz can be manufactured in larger unsupported spans for seamless countertops and minimal seams. Thinner material also facilitates unique shapes and curves.
- Perceived quality: Lightweight materials are viewed as higher end and more refined. The lighter palette contributes to the luxurious aesthetic of quartz.
- Increased safety: Lower mass quartz poses less risk of damage or injury if accidentally dropped during installation or everyday use. Granite has greater potential to crack or cause harm if it falls.
- Transport and handling: Work crews charge fees based on weight. Lighter quartz slabs will have lower shipping costs and be easier to maneuver.
- Energy efficiency: Reduced mass requires less energy for transportation. This results in lower carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and distribution.
Factors That Impact Countertop Weight
While quartz is generally lighter than granite, there are some variables to consider:
- Thickness: Thicker slabs will drive up the weight per square foot for both materials. Standard granite and quartz are 1.2” and .5” thick respectively.
- Density: The specific type of granite or composition of quartz can affect its density and weight. Some varieties will be heavier.
- Reinforcement: Additional support installed underneath like plywood or steel will add to the total weight. But quartz usually needs less reinforcement.
- Finish: Polished, honed, or textured finishes can marginally impact the weight. Minor variations are negligible.
- Area: Larger surface areas mean more collective weight, although the per square foot weights remain equivalent.
- Overhangs: Extended countertop overhangs will increase the linear square footage and contribute greater weight.
While thickness accounts for most weight differences, all these factors should be taken into consideration during design and installation. Professional guidance is recommended.
Are There Any Downsides to Lightweight Quartz?
The reduced weight of quartz countertops has overwhelmingly positive impacts. However, a few potential downsides include:
- Perceived value: Some customers associate heavier materials with luxury. The lightness of quartz may be viewed as less valuable.
- Sound transmission: Granite’s mass absorbs more sound. Quartz materials can increase noise transmission from appliances.
- Fragility: Thinner engineered quartz has a higher chance of cracking if overloaded or improperly supported. Granite is more rigid.
- Heat resistance: Granite is more resistant to extreme direct heat. Quartz is susceptible to scorching at very high temperatures.
- Eco-friendly: Granite is a 100% natural material while quartz relies on resins. But quartz is more sustainable overall due to transportation emissions.
In most cases, the pros of lightweight quartz far exceed the cons for the majority of homeowners. Any minor downsides can be mitigated with proper design and reasonable care.
The Bottom Line
When choosing between quartz and granite countertops, quartz is the clear winner in terms of lightness. On average, quartz weighs about 30% less than granite per square foot. This translates to nearly 100 pound weight savings for standard sized kitchen countertops. The engineered composition and thinner profile of quartz are the main factors contributing to its lower mass. The reduced weight provides advantages in terms of appearance, installation, safety, and maintenance. While a few potential drawbacks exist, the positives of lightweight quartz make it an excellent choice for most homes. If keeping your counters light is a priority, quartz countertops are definitely the way to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much lighter are Caesarstone quartz countertops compared to granite?
Caesarstone is one of the most popular quartz countertop brands. Their standard 1.2 cm thick quartz weighs around 9 lbs per square foot. In contrast, 1.2” granite weighs 13-14 lbs per square foot. So Caesarstone quartz would be about 30% lighter than granite.
What quartz countertop brand is the lightest?
Cambria quartz is among the lightest options with an average weight of 7 lbs per square foot at .5” thickness. Their thinner profile, low-density materials, and reinforced backing contribute to the lighter weight.
Is engineered quartz stronger than granite?
Engineered quartz is harder and more scratch resistant than granite. But granite is stronger in terms of flexural strength and impact resistance due to its rigid dense composition. Quartz is more prone to cracks if overloaded or poorly supported.
Does thicker quartz make it heavier than granite?
In most cases, no. Even at 3 cm thickness, high quality quartz like Silestone weighs around 13 lbs per square foot. While 3 cm granite jumps to 15 lbs per square foot. The engineered composition keeps quartz lighter at comparable thicknesses.
Is there a big difference between 2 cm and 3 cm quartz weight?
Yes, increasing the thickness significantly increases the weight. A 2 cm quartz may weigh 11 lbs per square foot. At 3 cm, it can reach 13 lbs per square foot. That’s nearly a 20% weight increase. Thicker materials require more structural support.
When evaluating kitchen countertops, quartz clearly surpasses granite in terms of lighter weight. Homeowners seeking to reduce mass and installation complexity will benefit from quartz. While variables like thickness and density play a role, quartz averages 30% less weight per square foot. The engineered composition facilitates optimal performance at lighter weights compared to natural granite. With benefits such as easier handling, perceived luxury, and design flexibility, lightweight quartz delivers on all fronts.