Quartz and granite countertops are two of the most popular options for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Many homeowners wonder if quartz has a similar shiny, glossy appearance as polished granite. The short answer is no—quartz has a more consistent matte finish while granite ranges from matte to highly reflective depending on the stone and finish. However, both materials can be beautiful additions to your home. This article will compare the shine levels of quartz and granite countertops to help you choose the right one for your style and needs.
How Shiny is Quartz?
Quartz countertops have a smooth, matte finish that does not reflect light. The quartz crystals and polymer resins are blended together to create a non-porous material with consistent coloring and texture. This gives quartz a more uniform appearance than natural stone. Here are some key facts about the shine of quartz:
- Quartz has a matte to softly honed finish that does not reflect light strongly. It has a smooth, velvety feel.
- The matte finish nicely disguises minor scratches and marks from daily use.
- Fingerprints and water drops are less visible on quartz than on more reflective surfaces.
- Quartz lacks the dazzling, mirrored shine created by a polished granite surface.
- Color and shine level depends on the brand. Some have a bit more sparkle from embedded flecks and crystals. Overall, quartz leans towards the muted end of the shine spectrum.
- Quartz is not as flat and uniform as solid surface materials like Corian®, but is less reflective than granite. It strikes a good balance for many homeowners.
- Darker quartz colors often appear slightly more reflective than light and neutral tones.
In summary, quartz has a smooth matte finish that minimizes glare and reflections. It will not be as reflective as polished granite or other natural stones. Quartz offers a subdued, soft shine that hides marks well.
How Shiny is Granite?
Granite is an entirely natural stone that is mined from quarries. It has random variations, veins, and movement that make each slab unique. The finish dramatically impacts the shine level of granite. Here are some key granite shine facts:
- Polished granite has a high-gloss, glassy, mirror-like finish. It offers the most dramatic and reflective shine.
- Honed granite has a matte, satiny finish. Light is diffused softly, not reflected sharply. This is closer to quartz’s shine level.
- Other finishes like leathered, brushed, or flamed offer varying degrees of shine. Leathered is the most matte, with a soft almost suede-like texture.
- Darker granites often appear shinier than lighter color options. Rich blacks, blues, greens, and reds tend to reflect more glow.
- The natural pits, variations, and movement have an impact on shine. Heavily patterned granite appears less even in luster.
- The shine level can vary slab to slab. Examine a full slab in person before finalizing a highly reflective polished granite.
Granite’s diverse shine levels mean you can select anything from a bold mirrored surface to a soft honed finish. Pay close attention to the finish when picking out granite to achieve your preferred shine intensity.
Key Differences in Shine
While many homeowners gravitate towards quartz for its uniform matte finish, granite offers unique shine characteristics:
- Granite’s polished finish has a brilliant, mirror-like glow, while quartz has a muted, matte glow.
- Granite’s shine comes from light reflecting off the surface, while quartz has a more absorbent, velvety finish.
- With proper sealing, granite maintains its original factory finish shine. Quartz can become slightly duller over time with minor scratches.
- Granite has interesting variations in shine intensity within a slab due to natural patterning. Quartz is highly consistent.
- Finger prints and water marks show more dramatically on polished granite than on quartz. Granite needs diligent cleaning and sealing.
- Quartz hides minor marks better, while polished granite highlights any etchings or flaws.
Both options can be beautiful and provide years of enjoyment. Take into account traffic, cooking habits, and personal preferences when deciding between variable granite shine and uniform quartz shine.
Factors Affecting Shine Levels
Several factors impact how shiny your countertops appear over time beyond just the material and finish:
Cleaning and Sealing
- Diligent cleaning and sealing are required to maintain the original shine level on granite. Quartz is nearly maintenance-free.
- Sealing fills the microscopic pores in granite. This helps prevent etchings and preserves the polished glow.
- Buildup of dirt, stains, and debris will dull any countertop surface. Quartz is more stain-resistant, but granite needs careful prompt cleaning.
Wear and Tear
- Granite can chip or etch over time, especially on the edges and high traffic areas. This impacts shine.
- The matte finish of quartz hides general wear better than polished granite. But quartz can develop minor surface scratches.
- Daily use polishes the most frequently used areas of a countertop. This makes them shinier while less used zones remain duller.
- Direct sunlight and intense lighting cause greater light reflection and shine intensity.
- Dim lighting diffuses light more evenly and cuts down on strong reflections.
- Ambient task lighting can help balance out shiny spots and glare on granite.
Color and Pattern
- Darker materials reflect more light and appear shinier. Whites and light granites have a more muted shine.
- Granite’s natural markings and movement results in variations in polish and sheen.
- Consistent solid surface quartz lacks the dynamic shine interplay of natural granite.
Achieving a Reflective Shine
If you want maximum brilliance and shine, selecting a dark black or emerald green polished granite is the way to achieve this. Here are some tips:
- Carefully inspect the full granite slab before finalizing a reflective polished option. Look for variations.
- Consider a granite with less heavy patterning or fewer pits for the most even high-gloss effect.
- Black, blue, and green polished granites tend to have the most mirror-like shine.
- Use a granite sealer like StoneTech BulletProof® annually to maintain the polished gloss.
- Keep polished granite away from direct sunlight to reduce glare and heat absorption.
- Use a granite polish occasionally to restore the original factory polished finish.
- Clean frequently with a granite-safe cleaner and microfiber cloths to prevent dulling buildup.
- Expect to see fingerprints and water spots readily on a highly reflective polished granite.
Taking steps to protect the finish will allow you to enjoy the brilliant wet-look shine of polished granite for years to come.
Achieving a Matte Look
For a muted matte finish that minimizes glare and reflections, quartz is the clear choice. Here are some tips to achieve a soft matte look:
- Stick to solid quartz slabs from quality brands like Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone, and Viatera.
- Lighter quartz colors tend to look a bit matte than darker dramatic shades.
- Cambria’s BrittaniccaTM quartz has one of the most consistently matte and honed finishes.
- Use quartz colors with a medium grey undertone for a true matte no-shine aesthetic.
- Select a leathered or honed granite finish rather than polished for a matte look.
- Matte countertops hide fingerprints and spills better than highly reflective finishes.
- Diffused task lighting keeps reflective glare at bay on any countertop material.
- Matte countertops feel smooth and cool rather than slick or slippery.
The matte appeal of quartz adds an elegant yet understated visual. Embrace the muted shine and minimal glare of quartz for a contemporary countertop look.
How Lighting Affects Countertop Shine
The lighting in your kitchen or bath drastically impacts how shiny your countertops appear. Evaluate lighting when selecting finish options. Here are some key tips:
- Direct sunlight causes the most intense shine. Avoid polished granite in sunny spaces prone to glare.
- South facing spaces see the harshest direct sunlight. East and west facing rooms also get intense sun.
- Indirect natural light diffuses shine minimally. North facing rooms have the most even ambient lighting.
- Adjust window treatments as needed to control excessive reflections or glare spots on countertops.
- Focused recessed and track lighting create strong directional shine. Avoid directly lighting countertops.
- Pendants, chandeliers, and overhead fixtures disperse light for medium shine potential.
- Wall sconces, under cabinet, and task lighting produce minimal shine intensity.
- Swapped out dated fluorescent lights for LEDs for cleaner shine. Use dimmers to control shine levels.
- In general, prioritize diffused ambient lighting over harsh directional lighting on countertops.
Evaluate the lighting orientation and styles planned for your space. This will guide the best countertop finish in terms of reflecting or minimizing shine.
Matching Backsplash Shine Levels
The shine level of your selected backsplash material impacts how seamlessly it pairs with countertops. Here are some tips for matching shine aesthetics:
Low Shine Backsplashes
- Matte finishes like subway tile, marble brick, or textured stone complement both granite and quartz countertops.
- Honed stone backsplashes have a flat matte finish that doesn’t reflect much light. Great for a muted look.
- Ceramic and porcelain tile or mosaics provide pattern and color without added shine.
- Concrete, stamped metal, and wood offer organic textures with no sheen or gloss.
Medium Shine Backsplashes
- Polished stone marble, travertine, limestone, and onyx reflect more light than honed stones.
- Small format glass tile or stone mosaic provides gloss while still diffusing shine.
- Stainless steel and nickel metal backsplashes have an appealing soft glow sheen.
- Elongated glass tile and subway styles bounce less light than intricate mosaics.
High Shine Backsplashes
- Polished glass, mirror, metal and onyx backsplashes work best with polished granite counters.
- Glossy ceramic or handmade glazed tile offer wet-looking shine.
- Light colored polished marbles like Calacatta create more shine intensity.
- Multi-piece mosaic arrangements amplify an overall reflective effect.
See how different backsplash shine levels pair with your chosen countertop material and finish. Balance light reflection and diffusion to suit your lighting and aesthetic.
Pros and Cons of Highly Reflective Countertops
Should you choose a brilliant polished granite or toned-down quartz for your kitchen or bath remodel? Here are some key pros and cons to consider about highly reflective countertops:
- Creates a dramatic, luxurious, and elegant visual impact.
- Reflective shine increases the sense of natural light and space.
- Polished stone surfaces highlight the depth, movement, and details of natural granite.
- Easy to keep clean as dirt and grime readily show.
- Darker colors like black, blue and green granite offer gorgeous dimensional shine.
- Excessive shine causes glare which can make lighting and seeing tasks more difficult.
- Mirror-like shine emphasizes fingerprints, watermarks, and normal wear and tear.
- Reflective surfaces show more contrast between worn areas and pristine spots.
- Strong reflections and glare can give headaches for those light sensitive.
- More likely to show streaks, smudges, and imperfections.
- Requires diligent sealing and daily cleaning to keep up the mirror-like effect.
The bold shine of polished granite makes a strong impression but requires maintenance. For most homeowners, quartz or honed granite offer sufficient shine without glare.
Pros and Cons of Matte Quartz Countertops
Here are some benefits and downsides to consider about quartz’s muted matte finish:
- Soft, velvety matte finish minimizes glare and reflections.
- Marks and fingerprints blend in instead of standing out.
- Controlled look shows the intended quartz color accurately.
- Does not strongly accentuate natural lighting, shadows or wear.
- Ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and tasks requiring strong visual focus.
- Works well with a wide range of backsplash materials.
- Lacks the gleaming shine and elegance of polished stone.
- The muted finish can read as slightly flat and dreary to some.
- Matte quartz does lose a bit of depth compared to dimensional granite.
- Does not highlight movement, veining, or granular texture like granite.
- Needs replacement vs. re-polishing if shine dulls or damage occurs.
- Micro-scratches may be faintly visible over time with use.
For most settings, the adaptability of quartz’s gentle matte glow outweighs the minor drawbacks. Embrace quartz’s subtle beauty, diffused light, and mark disguise abilities.
Achieving Balance Between Shine and Matte
The ideal countertop shine level involves balancing light reflection and diffusion. Here are some tips to strike the right balanced glow:
- Mix finishes – Choose honed granite on the perimeter with a polished granite island for accent shine. Or pair a quartz perimeter with polished granite accents.
- Use larger-scale patterning – Granite with sweeping movement or whorls reflects light uniquely at different angles. Quartz aggregators diffuse shine.
- Incorporate texture – Honed or leathered granite, concrete, or wood add organic matte texture against polished stone. Quartz incorporating shells or chips add interest while maintaining matte finish.
- Diffuse with color – A bold colored quartz like deep blue or patterned granite distracts from shine level. Crisp white enhances it.
- Zone lighting – Use ample task lighting to balance out any natural glare spots on countertops. Light the room not just the surface.
- Employ multiple materials – Have quartz counters with a polished stone or glass mosaic backsplash for a balanced glow.
Take the time to see full slabs and samples in your space at varied times of day. This helps select the ideal blend of light diffusion and reflection.
FAQs About Quartz and Granite Shine
Does quartz shine change over time?
Quartz maintains its matte sheen well but may dull slightly with minor scratches from use. Avoid abrasive cleaners. The shine level remains relatively uniform so polishing is not required.
How often does polished granite need resealing?
In bathrooms or kitchens see heavy use, reseal granite every 9-12 months. For light use residential spaces, every 2 years works. Always use a reputable penetrating sealer made for natural stone.
Do quartz countertops look dirty?
Not at all! The matte finish disguises most dirt, smudges, food, and water splatters. Quartz requires only simple cleaning to keep the surface pristine.
What is the least shiny granite?
Honed granites offer the most matte, diffused finish. Bianco Romano, New Caledonia, and Kashmir White take an excellent honing and have muted shine when polished. Since granite varies piece to piece, look at whole slabs.
Is there a glossy quartz?
A few quartz lines do offer reflective finishes such as polished, high gloss, and luminescence. Most have subtle sparkle from mica, mirror chips, or refined stone. Silestone Eternal Calacatta Gold has exceptional polish. Otherwise, glossy is rare in quartz.
Which is better polished or honed granite?
This depends on your needs! Polished granite makes a brilliant visual statement but shows flaws. Honed is more matte but mutes movement. For heavy kitchen use, honed is ideal. Polished works better in low traffic settings.
Is granite or marble more shiny?
Freshly polished, marble and granite have similar shine potential. However, marble is softer and loses its polish more readily. Granite better maintains a glossy polished finish over time with proper care.
In summary, quartz countertops offer a beautifully soft matte glow that minimizes glare and hides marks. Polished granite provides strong light reflection and prominence, but requires diligent care. Balance the pros and cons of each finish against the lighting, traffic, and uses of your space. With smart material selection and diffused ambient lighting, you can achieve the perfect blend of shine and matte that both completes your design vision and functions beautifully.
Are Quartz Countertops Shiny Like Granite: Final Considerations
The article above explores in detail the shine and light reflection qualities of quartz versus granite countertops. Here are some final tips to keep in mind:
- Evaluate the finishes of full slabs in person before finalizing a purchase. Photos do not show shine and reflection fully.
- Carefully match backsplash materials to your selected countertops’ level of shine. Too much variation looks disjointed.
- Clean quartz with a mild non-abrasive cleaner and granite with stone-specific cleaners to maintain the factory finish.
- Ambient and task lighting minimize shine intensity on any countertop material. Never rely solely on strong overhead lighting.
- Darker colors increase apparent shine, while lighter tones have a more matte effect in both quartz