How to Tell Granite from Quartz Countertops

Granite and quartz are two of the most popular countertop materials used in kitchens and bathrooms today. Though they share some visual similarities, there are several key differences between granite and quartz that you can use to tell them apart.


Granite is a natural stone that is mined from quarries around the world. It is an igneous rock that forms from magma or lava as it cools. Granite has a crystalline structure and contains minerals like quartz, feldspar, and mica that give it color and unique veining patterns. No two granite slabs are exactly alike.

Quartz countertops contain crushed quartz combined with resin and pigments. The resin binds the crushed quartz together to create a durable, non-porous surface. Quartz slabs are man-made in factories, so they have a more uniform appearance than natural granite. Quartz usually has less dramatic veining and swirls compared to granite.

Color Variation

Granite comes in a vast array of colors like black, white, gray, red, blue, brown, and green. There can be a lot of variation even within a single slab. Quartz has less color variation overall and many popular quartz colors mimic granite patterns. However, quartz usually lacks the striking color contrasts that granite displays.


With natural granite, the pattern depends on the types of minerals present. You may see speckles, swirls, veins, or clusters of color. Quartz has an engineered, fabricated look with less intense veining. Cheaper quartz can appear too uniform, while higher quality options mimic granite’s randomness.


Granite’s texture is glossy but coarse and grainy to the touch due to its mineral composition. Quartz has a smoother texture and feels less porous than granite. Granite can be honed to a matte finish, while some quartz has subtle texturing to emulate granite’s grittiness. Quartz has a more consistent texture throughout a slab.


Quartz is one of the most durable countertop materials available today. It is resistant to scratching, staining, etching, and heat. Granite is also durable, but not quite as resilient as quartz. Granite can chip, scratch or stain if subjected to abuse. Both materials add value and elegance to kitchens.

Scratch Resistance

Quartz rates at 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it very difficult to scratch or chip. Granite rates from 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so it’s slightly more prone to scratching over time. Use cutting boards to protect either surface.

Heat Tolerance

Quartz can withstand brief exposure to temperatures up to 300°F. Prolonged or extreme heat can damage the resin. Granite is heat resistant too, but some minerals like feldspar may fracture under extreme temperatures. Use trivets for hot pans on either countertop.


  • Granite needs periodic sealing to prevent stains. Use pH-neutral cleaners. Avoid harsh chemicals that can dull the finish. Re-seal every 1-2 years.
  • Quartz is non-porous so it never needs sealing. Simply clean with soap and water. No special stone cleaners required. Easy maintenance is a perk of quartz.

Quartz rarely needs polishing or professional cleaning. Granite may require occasional professional honing or polishing, which can’t restore the original factory finish.


In general, installed quartz countertops range $80-$120 per square foot installed.

Granite averages $60-$105 per square foot installed.

Quartz is often viewed as a premium material, but granite costs can rival quartz at the high end. The final price depends on slab quality, pattern, and color for either material.

How to Tell Visually

  • Examine veining patterns. Granite has more intense, random veining while quartz looks more fabricated.
  • Look at the edges. Granite has natural, uneven sides. Quartz has smooth, uniform edges.
  • Check for color uniformity. Quartz usually has low variation while granite has more color contrasts.
  • See if the backsplash matches the countertop exactly. This indicates engineered quartz rather than natural granite.
  • Feel the surface texture. Granite has a coarse graininess while quartz feels smoother.

Ask Questions

If you’re still unsure if a countertop is quartz or granite, ask these questions:

  • Is the countertop man-made or natural stone?
  • How resistant is it to heat damage and scratching?
  • Does it need periodic sealing or special cleaners?
  • Can you show me examples of how the patterns vary in slabs of this material?

The answers can help confirm if the countertop is indeed granite or quartz. Don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson these types of questions to make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.

When in Doubt, Get an Expert Opinion

If visual examination and questions don’t provide a definite answer, have an expert view the countertop. Look for these professionals:

  • General contractor – They work with both materials frequently and can identify key differences.
  • Countertop installer – Fabricators work hands-on with slabs and have experience distinguishing quartz from granite.
  • Stonemason – Masons are specially trained to identify all stone types and characteristics.

These experts spend significant time looking at and handling granite and quartz slabs. They can recognize subtle distinctions between the two that the average homeowner may miss. Don’t hesitate to enlist a professional’s help to determine what type of countertop you have.


With a keen eye and by asking the right questions, you can learn to tell the difference between quartz and granite countertops. Key points to look for include veining patterns, texture, consistency, and edge details. Durability and maintenance needs are also telling factors. When uncertain, call in a contractor, fabricator, or stonemason to identify for certain whether your countertop is natural granite or engineered quartz.