Granite and quartz are two of the most popular countertop materials used in kitchens and bathrooms today. They are both natural stones that are durable, low-maintenance, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. However, there are some key differences between granite and quartz that you need to understand before choosing a countertop material. This guide will explain how to tell if your countertop is granite or quartz by examining the appearance, composition, maintenance, durability, and cost.
The most obvious way to tell the difference between granite and quartz is by examining the appearance. Here are some distinguishing characteristics:
- Has a natural, unique pattern with swirls, specks, veins, and translucent quartz crystals. No two granite slabs are alike.
- Available in many colors like black, white, gray, red, brown, pink, blue, and green. Multi-colored granite is also common.
- Has a glossy, shiny finish when polished but can also have a honed/matte finish.
- May have small pits, cracks, or holes on the surface. These are natural characteristics.
- Has a uniform, consistent pattern with very subtle veining or speckles. Slab designs are more consistent.
- Limited color options like white, gray, black, beige compared to granite. Rarely has multi-colored quartz.
- Only available in a glossy polished finish. Does not come in honed or matte.
- Has a flawless surface with no pits, cracks, or holes.
So if your countertop has dramatic veining and coloring, visible crystals, or an uneven matte finish, it is likely granite. Subtle simple patterns and solid colors indicate quartz.
The composition and makeup of granite and quartz are very different, which affects their look and properties.
- A natural stone made up of quartz, feldspar, mica, and other minerals.
- Mined from granite deposits and cut into slabs.
- Each slab has a unique composition based on the granite deposit.
- An engineered stone made from crushed quartz blended with polymer resins and pigments.
- Manufactured into slabs under high pressure and vibration.
- Has a consistent composition across all slabs.
The natural stone composition makes granite more prone to defects while the engineered nature of quartz makes it uniform.
Caring for and cleaning granite vs. quartz countertops also differs due to their composition.
- Requires regular sealing every 1-2 years to prevent staining.
- Sealer wears off over time and needs reapplication.
- Can stain from spills like wine, tomato sauce, oils if not sealed properly.
- Needs special stone cleaners to avoid dulling sealant.
- Does not need any sealing due to non-porous surface.
- Resistant to staining without sealant.
- Can be cleaned with mild soap and water.
- More stain-proof and low-maintenance than granite.
Quartz’s man-made nature makes it very stain-resistant compared to natural stone granite that needs periodic sealing.
Granite and quartz have excellent durability for countertops but some differences affect longevity:
- Extremely hard and dense natural stone.
- Prone to cracks and chips if subject to heavy impact.
- Can last decades with proper care.
- Very durable but not quite as hard as granite.
- Impact-resistant due to flexible resin.
- Stains and scratches less than granite.
- Comparable lifetime to granite of 10-15 years.
Both materials stand up well to heavy usage in kitchens. But granite is more vulnerable to cracks while quartz is flexible.
The cost of granite vs. quartz countertops also differs:
- $40-70 per square foot installed.
- Exotic rare granites can be over $100 per square foot.
- Higher end due to natural material.
- $45-75 per square foot installed.
- More uniform pricing as it is engineered.
- Mid to upper price range for countertops.
While prices overlap, quartz tends to have more consistent pricing while rare granites drive up cost.
It takes a trained eye to discern granite from quartz countertops in some cases. Look for natural patterning, pitting, and required sealing to identify granite. Quartz has uniform speckles, fewer colors, and needs less maintenance. Both offer excellent durability for kitchen and bath surfaces. Evaluate the aesthetics, maintenance and budget to pick the best option for your space. With this guide, you can identify key differences and decide between granite and quartz countertops.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell the difference between granite and quartz visually?
Visually, granite has more variation in color and patterning compared to a more uniform appearance of quartz. Granite can also have pits, cracks, and holes on the surface while quartz will be flawless.
Does granite or quartz need more maintenance?
Granite requires periodic sealing to prevent stains which quartz does not need due to its non-porous surface. Quartz also resists scratches better than granite over time.
Which is better for kitchen countertops granite or quartz?
It depends on your priorities. Granite brings natural beauty and luxury but needs more maintenance. Quartz has more consistent looks and is lower maintenance. Both are quite durable in kitchens.
How do you know if granite is real or not?
Real natural granite has distinct mineral crystals, jagged patterns, pits and divots, unique coloring, and needs sealing. Faux granite laminates lack surface imperfections and won’t have the depth of colors and polish of real granite.
Can you tell the difference between quartz and quartzite countertops?
Quartzite is a natural metamorphic rock while quartz is engineered from crushed quartz and resins. Quartzite has earthy tones while quartz has uniform speckled patterns. Quartzite needs sealing like granite while quartz does not.