Granite and quartz countertops are popular choices for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects due to their beauty, durability, and variety of colors and patterns. Choosing between granite and quartz ultimately comes down to personal preference, but understanding the differences between the two natural stones and the process of selecting, purchasing and installing countertops will ensure you make the best decision for your home. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about buying quartz or granite countertops.
Comparing Quartz and Granite Countertops
Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground quartz crystals combined with polymer resins and pigments. The resins bind the quartz together to form a hard, nonporous surface.
- Pros of quartz:
- Extremely durable and stain resistant
- Requires little maintenance
- Consistent color and patterns
- Doesn’t need to be sealed
- Heat and scratch resistant
- Cons of quartz:
- Can be damaged by heavy impacts
- Limited number of colors/patterns
- Seams more visible
Granite countertops are natural stone quarried from the earth. Granite slabs contain a high percentage of quartz along with other minerals like mica and feldspar.
- Pros of granite:
- Unique natural patterns and colors
- Can be restored and re-polished over time
- Withstands heat well
- Adds value to home
- Cons of granite:
- Porous and requires sealing
- Can stain without proper sealing
- Susceptible to chips and cracks
- Pattern and color variations slab to slab
Both materials make excellent choices for countertops. Quartz offers an extremely durable maintenance-free surface, while granite provides a one-of-a-kind natural look.
Selecting Material and Style
When selecting quartz or granite, visit showrooms to view slabs in person and get a feel for each material. Key things to consider:
- Quartz has consistent speckled colors and patterns. Granite has natural variation.
- Choose a neutral or colored stone based on your cabinetry, floors, walls and preferences.
- Matte or polished finishes are available for quartz and granite. Matte is more textured.
- Choose a straight, eased, beveled or other edge style. Decorative edges are popular for granite.
- Standard thickness is 3cm for quartz and granite, but thicker options provide more heft.
- Quartz starts around $80/sq.ft. Granite slabs run $50-150/sq.ft depending on source.
- Discuss how countertops will be installed – number of pieces, seams, cutouts.
Spend time exploring different patterns, colors and styles. Narrow options down to 2-3 favorites.
Selecting a Vendor
Finding an experienced, reputable countertop vendor is key to getting high-quality installation. When selecting a provider:
- Review their portfolio of past quartz/granite projects
- Ensure they have good ratings and reviews
- Ask how long they’ve been in business and about their fabrication process
- Choose a vendor that will provide professional measurement and templating
- Ask if they handle installation or work with experienced contractors
- Compare warranty coverage between vendors
Reputable vendors stand behind their work if issues arise. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Quality quartz and granite installation is worth the investment.
Purchasing Your Slab
Once you select a stone and vendor, the purchase process includes:
- The vendor sources the exact slab of quartz or granite you chose. Granite comes from different quarries worldwide.
- Slabs are cut and polished at the vendor’s fabrication facility. Lapidary tools cut the inner contours and holes.
- The installer takes measurements and makes a template to capture the precise dimensions of your countertops.
- The fabricated pieces are installed by the vendor or their contracted installers. The installers will seam edges and anchor the countertops properly.
Avoid “bargain” slabs from unknown sources, as quality may be inferior. Reputable vendors ensure your slabs are cut properly for flawless installation.
Costs to Budget For
As you budget for new countertops, be sure to factor in:
- $XX – $XXX per square foot for materials and fabrication based on your selected stone and thickness. Quotes are based on total square footage.
- $XXX – $XXXX for professional installation. Complex layouts or extra cutting can increase installation costs.
- Sink cutouts and other specialty cutouts (for cooktops, etc) may add $XXX – $XXXX depending on the number and intricacy.
- Removal fees to demolish and dispose of your old countertops, $XXX – $XXXX on average.
- Transportation costs to deliver slabs from warehouse to job site if not included.
- Sealing costs for granite every 1-2 years, $XXX on average. Quartz doesn’t require sealing.
Factor in at least 10-15% in contingency costs for any incidentals. Expect the total project investment to be $XXX to $XXXX+ for new quartz or granite countertops.
When installation day arrives:
- Clear countertops completely. Remove appliances and hardware ahead of time.
- Expect some cutting and grinding noise during the process. Install may take multiple hours.
- Countertops will be anchored securely to your cabinet base. Additional bracing may be added.
- The installers will make sure countertops are perfectly aligned and seams are tight.
- Be prepared to wait 24-48 hours for sealants to set before using your new countertops.
- Inspect the finished installation carefully before making final payment. Check for any needed corrections.
With proper planning and research, your gorgeous new quartz or granite countertops can be a lasting centerpiece of your kitchen or bath for decades to come!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better for kitchen countertops, quartz or granite?
Both materials make excellent kitchen countertops. Quartz is virtually maintenance-free, while granite offers a unique natural look. Choose quartz for durability or granite for a stone appearance with personality.
Does quartz stain like granite?
Quartz is nonporous so it rarely stains if ever. Minor stains can usually be removed easily with soap and water. Granite is porous and requires yearly sealing to prevent stains.
Is quartz cheaper than granite?
Quartz countertops often cost $80-120 per square foot installed. Granite runs $50-150 installed, with exotic natural stones at the higher end. Durability concerns make quartz’s higher price worthwhile for many homeowners.
Can you repair chips in quartz?
Minor chips and marks in quartz can often be sanded out professionally. But deep damage is difficult to repair seamlessly in quartz. Granite is easier to refinish due to its natural patterning.
How thick should quartz countertops be?
A 3cm thickness is best for quartz and granite countertops. Go thicker only if you desire more heft. Thinner 2cm countertops can crack more easily over time.
Should I get an integrated or separate sink with quartz?
Integrated quartz sinks are very durable, but limit your sink choice. Separate undermount sinks pair well with quartz too. Get quotes both ways to compare.
How often does granite need to be sealed?
Sealing granite every 1-2 years is recommended. Use penetrating sealant, not topical. More frequent sealing is needed if granite is heavily used or exposed to liquids often.
With some careful research and planning, you can end up with stunning quartz or granite countertops that will make your kitchen or bath look amazing for decades. Focus on finding an experienced local countertop provider who will guide you through the process from design to professional installation. Both quartz and granite offer their own appealing benefits. Whichever material you choose, following the tips in this guide will help ensure your satisfaction with a countertop installation that truly enhances your home’s style and value.