When choosing a countertop for your kitchen or bathroom, two of the most popular options are quartz and granite. Many homeowners find themselves trying to decide between these two beautiful, high-end materials. One of the biggest considerations is durability – which countertop will stand up better over time? This leads to the key question: are quartz countertops actually stronger than granite?
Durability Comparison Between Quartz and Granite
There are a few key factors that contribute to a countertop’s durability:
Hardness and Toughness
One of the most important measures of strength is a material’s hardness and toughness. Granite is very hard, rating 7 or higher on the Mohs hardness scale. This means it is difficult to scratch or etch granite. Quartz is even harder than granite, rating around 8 on the Mohs scale, making it one of the hardest countertop materials available.
Both granite and quartz are also tough materials that can withstand impact. Quartz is slightly more flexible, so it may resist cracks from impact better than more brittle granite. Overall, quartz rates higher in both hardness and toughness.
Resistance to Scratches and Etching
Related to hardness is a material’s resistance to scratches and etching. As mentioned above, both quartz and granite are very hard, so they are resistant to scratches. However, quartz resists scratches better than granite over time.
Granite is more prone to etching from acidic liquids like wine, citrus, and some cleaners. These materials can start to eat away at and dull the surface of granite. Quartz has outstanding resistance to etching and staining. Even the most acidic foods or cleaners will have little effect on a quartz surface.
When it comes to heat tolerance, granite is generally superior to quartz. Granite can withstand heat up to around 650 degrees Fahrenheit before experiencing any issues. On the other hand, quartz tends to lose its shine and integrity when exposed to sustained heating over 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
So for tasks like setting hot pans directly on the counter, granite is a better performer. However, quartz offers enough heat resistance for typical kitchen tasks. Just use trivets or hot pads for extremely hot cookware.
Chip and Crack Resistance
Over time, countertops may develop chips or cracks from impacts, such as a glass or bowl being dropped. Quartz tends to be more resistant to chipping and cracking versus granite.
Granite is brittle and may chip if subjected to sharp impacts. Quartz is engineered to be flexible and resistant to cracks and chips. However, no countertop material is completely immune to damage from excessive force.
Quartz also outperforms granite when it comes to stain resistance. The resins used in quartz make it non-porous, so spills and messes don’t easily soak in. Anything that is spilled on quartz can usually be wiped right off.
Granite is slightly more porous, so some spills, especially oils and juices, may soak in and stain the surface. Granite requires more prompt cleanup and sealing to prevent stubborn stains.
Appearance Over Time
In terms of appearance over many years of use, quartz often maintains its color and gloss better than granite. Granite has to be regularly resealed to maintain its polished appearance. And even with resealing, granite may develop faint stains over time that affect its look.
The glossy, vivid appearance of a quartz countertop is less likely to fade or dull. Simple cleaning is enough to keep quartz counters looking like new for decades.
Are There Any Downsides to Quartz’s Superior Strength?
The strengths of quartz relative to granite come at little cost in terms of downsides:
- Price – Quartz is generally priced a bit higher than natural stone like granite. But for many homeowners, the added cost is worth it for quartz’s durability and low-maintenance nature.
- Fewer style options – Granite comes in a wide range of natural color patterns. There are fewer style options available in quartz, though still plenty of attractive modern designs.
- Requires factory fabrication – Quartz counters need to be fabricated in a factory setting, not custom-cut on site like granite. But for most homes, one of the many existing quartz color patterns and shapes offers a good fit.
- Limited very dark/light colors – The resins in quartz make it difficult to achieve a true black or pure white color. Granite has greater flexibility for more dramatic dark and light shades.
- Can lose glossiness over time – While quartz maintains its look better than granite, the glossy surface can gradually become a bit duller with regular use after many years. Re-polishing can help refresh the gloss.
Overall, quartz’s superior durability and performance comes with few trade-offs versus natural stone counters like granite. For most kitchens and baths, quartz offers an outstanding combination of strength, beauty, and convenience.
What Makes Quartz So Strong Compared to Other Materials?
So what is it specifically that makes quartz such a super strong material compared to granite and other countertop options like marble or laminate? There are a few reasons why quartz has such formidable durability:
Quartz countertops get their name from one of their key ingredients – quartz particles. Quartz is an extremely hard mineral made of silicon and oxygen that rates 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. By using crushed quartz in the manufacturing process, these counters gain durability and strength.
In addition to quartz particles, quartz counters are composed of tough polymer resins. These act as binders to hold the material together. Polymer resins form a plastic-like material that is resistant to scratches, impacts, and heat. The resins make quartz counters flexible enough to avoid chipping and cracking under pressure.
Quartz counters are engineered in manufacturing facilities under strict quality control. The mixture of quartz, resins, and color pigments allows complete control over the product’s performance. This gives quartz an advantage over natural stone, where performance can vary from slab to slab.
The dense resins in quartz prevent liquid and stains from penetrating the material. Quartz counters are completely non-porous, making them impervious to etching, mold, and bacteria growth. Liquids and dirt remain on the surface for easy cleanup.
High Heat Tolerance
Thanks to its resins, quartz can tolerate brief exposures to heat up to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, laminate counters max out at around 175 degrees, making quartz much more heat-resistant. While not as heat-tolerant as granite, quartz offers plenty of strength against typical cooking heats.
The meticulous manufacturing process allows quartz counters to fully leverage the durability of quartz particles and polymer resins for unmatched strength. No other engineered countertop material can match quartz’s combination of hardness, toughness, and stain resistance.
How Does a Quartz Surface Gain Its Pattern and Color?
A quartz countertop’s color and pattern are important aspects of its appearance. Here is an overview of how quartz gets its vivid visual features:
- Pigments added during manufacturing – Color pigments are mixed with the quartz material and resins to achieve a certain design. Different pigments are used to create various colors and patterns. Popular tones range from crisp whites to bold blues, grays, blacks, and browns.
- Quartz particles – Since crushed quartz ranges naturally in color from clear to grayish-white, the quartz fragments themselves lend some subtle patterning and coloration. Sparks of quartz particles may be noticeable in the surface.
- Bits of recycled glass or stone – Tiny pieces of recycled glass or natural stone are sometimes added during manufacturing. These pieces bring random flashes of color and texture, similar to the sparkle effect of granitic minerals.
- Polishing and finishing – The finishing stages of production involve vibro-compacting and polishing the slab’s surface. Polishing brings out the full glossiness and color vibrancy of the material. Finer and finer polishing grits are used to achieve a smooth, mirror-like surface.
- Unmatched consistency – Unlike natural stone, the engineered process allows quartz slabs to maintain uniform patterning and color consistency. The entire slab and multiple slabs will all exhibit the same intended appearance.
In summary, advanced manufacturing techniques involving pigments, particles, and polishing allow quartz counters to rival the beauty of natural stone while surpassing its strength. The patterns run throughout the thickness of the slab for durable long-lasting appearance.
What Are Popular Quartz Countertop Patterns and Colors?
Quartz offers wide design flexibility when it comes to colors and patterns. Here are some of the most popular options currently available from top brands:
- Whites – Crisp, clean whites like Blanc de Carrara or Statuario Venato are in demand. These mimic the look of marble without the required maintenance.
- Grays – From pale silvery grays to rich blue-grays, these sophisticated tones work in any style kitchen. Popular examples include Sleek Concrete and Absolute Black.
- Neutrals – Taupe-colored quartz like Taj Mahal or Luna Pearl is widely installed. The soft neutral beiges pair well with most cabinets and tile backsplashes.
- Blacks – Dramatic dark quartz slabs like the deep Galaxy black or striking Midnight consist of mostly black with silver sparkles.
- Blues – Vibrant medium to dark blues are trending choices. Oceanside and Atlantic Salt are two stormy blue examples gaining popularity.
- Browns – Warm, earthy browns like Brown Fantasy, Copper Canyon, and Mountain Elm blend beautifully with natural wood cabinets.
Thanks to advanced manufacturing processes, quartz can mimic natural stone, concretes, marbles, and granites in stunning colors and patterns that capture the latest home design trends.
Does a Quartz Countertop Need To Be Sealed Like Granite?
One of the most appealing maintenance aspects of quartz is that it generally does not require regular sealing like natural stone countertops. Here’s a look at why quartz counters don’t need sealing:
- Non-porous material – Quartz is impervious to liquid penetration thanks to its super dense composition and polymer resins. Spills and messes remain on the surface rather than soaking in.
- No natural cracks or pits – Natural stones like granite have tiny cracks and pits in their surface that can allow stains to penetrate if not properly sealed. Quartz’s smooth homogeneous surface eliminates this concern.
- Stain protection built-in – Most quartz is pre-treated by manufacturers with stain protection that repels moisture. Coupled with its non-porousness, built-in protection prevents stains from taking hold.
- Low maintenance reputation – Being stain proof and requiring no sealing is a major marketing advantage for quartz counters. Manufacturers don’t want the hassle of sealing ruining its low-maintenance reputation.
- Hygienic qualities – The fact that quartz resists bacteria, stains and etching means it holds up extremely well over time without sealing. Keeping the pristine surface intact preserves its hygienic qualities.
The bottom line is that sealing and re-sealing are simply unnecessary steps with quartz counters. For busy homeowners, avoiding this extra maintenance burden is a huge selling point that sets quartz apart from high-maintenance natural stone.
How to Care for and Maintain a Quartz Countertop
Caring for quartz countertops is quick and easy, thanks to the material’s high durability and stain-resistance. Here are some tips for keeping quartz counters looking their best:
- For regular cleaning, use a mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads that could dull the finish.
- Immediately wipe up spills, especially oils, wines, and acidic foods. Though quartz resists staining, prompt cleanup preserves its flawless appearance.
- Use cutting boards and trivets. Though quartz stands up to cutting and hot pans, using boards and trivets protects from scratches or burns.
- Deep clean occasionally with a stone cleaner. This removes stubborn dirt and restores luster for like-new shine.
- If surfaces become dulled over many years, have the quartz re-polished by a professional. Refinishing restores the glossy finish.
- Avoid using sealants or waxes, as these aren’t needed thanks to quartz’s inherent stain resistance.
With just simple care, quartz counters will stay looking like new for many decades. No special maintenance like re-sealing or polishing is required. Just quick daily upkeep and occasional deep cleaning keeps quartz counters in tip-top shape.
Is Quartz a Good Choice for Bathroom Countertops?
With its superior durability and water-resistance, quartz is an excellent choice for bathroom vanity countertops. Here’s why quartz excels in bathrooms:
- Stands up to soaps, creams, hair products without etching or staining
- Ability to withstand splashes and spills means less damage from toiletries and cosmetics
- Non-porous surface denies mold or bacteria growth, even in humidity
- Tough enough to resist chips and scratches from dropped bottles, appliances, etc.
- Easy cleaning lets you wipe away water spots, soap scum, and toothpaste splatters
- Resilience against common bathroom cleaners like bleach, toilet cleaner, and disinfectants
- Visual appeal of patterns, colors, and gloss bring elegance to the space
- Matching or coordinating quartz sinks and tiles available
- 10-15 year or lifetime warranties provide peace of mind
With bathrooms seeing heavy daily use, quartz provides the ideal combination of durable, sanitary, and stylish surfaces able to withstand the demands of this wet environment. Quartz delivers the highest quality with minimal maintenance required.
How Does Quartz Compare to Other Engineered Countertops?
Engineered countertops provide high performance and consistent quality. Here’s how quartz stacks up against two other popular engineered choices, solid surface and laminate:
Quartz vs. Solid Surface Counters
- Quartz is harder and more scratch resistant
- Quartz has higher heat tolerance (around 300F vs. 175F for solid surface)
- Quartz resists stains from oils, dyes, and solvents unlike solid surface
- Quartz maintains glossy finish better over time than solid surface
- Wider variety of colors and patterns available in quartz
Quartz vs. Laminate Counters
- Quartz is much harder and more durable than laminate
- Laminate can bubble, peel, swell, or warp if exposed to heat or water
- Quartz never needs sealing unlike some laminates
- Stains and cuts in laminate are permanent, while quartz is stain-proof
- Quartz offers a high-end look for not much more cost than laminate
In summary, quartz represents the top tier of engineered countertops. It provides the best qualities of strength, beauty, and convenience when compared to other options like solid surface or laminate composites.
Is It Possible to Repair Damage in a Quartz Countertop?
While quartz counters are incredibly strong, it is possible to damage a quartz surface. Here are some options for repairing quartz:
- Minor chips, scratches, and scuffs can often be sanded and polished out by a professional installer. Refinishing restores the quartz’s smooth finish.
- Small nicks and cracks under 3 centimeters can usually be repaired with filler. The filler is tinted to match the quartz color and hardened.
- For cracks over 3 cm, the damaged section may need to be cut out and replaced. A matching quartz piece is cut to fit and bonded into place.
- Thermal shock cracks from sudden temperature changes may require a full quartz slab replacement. It’s tricky to patch sections of thermally-shocked quartz.
- Difficult stains could potentially be remedied with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, nail polish remover, or by re-polishing.
While quartz itself cannot be truly “repaired,” professional countertop fabricators have techniques to refresh, patch, or replace damaged sections of a quartz countertop. Contact the quartz manufacturer, as many offer warranties on their products to assist with damage repairs.
Are Quartz Countertops Worth the Investment?
With quartz counters costing around $80-140 per square foot installed, they represent a significant investment. Here’s a look at what makes them worth the cost for many homeowners:
- Extreme durability – Quartz can last unchanged for decades with proper care, making it a lifetime countertop choice.
- Savings on maintenance – No need for periodic sealing or polishing like natural stone requires.
- Stainproof qualities – Spills wipe away instead of turning into permanent stains.
- Resale value – Quality quartz counters add value when selling a home. They are expected by buyers in higher-end homes.
- Visual appeal – Striking patterns and glossy finish make a design statement.
- Consistent quality – Engineered process prevents flaws and variability.
- Hygienic properties – Resists bacteria growth and tolerates cleaning chemicals.
- Easy upkeep – Just requires simple soap-and-water cleaning.
For those prioritizing longevity, low maintenance, and resilience, quartz delivers excellent return on investment. The durability and convenience make quartz a wise investment for years of trouble-free beauty.
FAQ About Quartz Countertops
Still have some lingering questions about quartz countert