When it comes to choosing countertops for your kitchen or bathroom, two of the most popular options are quartz and granite. But which one is better? There are pros and cons to both materials that are worth considering. This article will examine the key differences between quartz and granite countertops to help you determine which is the better choice for your needs.
Durability and Maintenance
One of the most important factors when choosing a countertop is how durable it is and how much maintenance it requires.
Granite is one of the most durable natural stone options for countertops. Made from hardened volcanic magma and containing high levels of quartz, granite is nearly impossible to scratch or chip. It can last for many decades with proper care. Granite is heat resistant and can withstand hot pots and pans, though prolonged heat exposure may cause some fading or discoloration over time. It is also stain-resistant, though spills (especially oils) should be wiped up quickly to prevent possible staining. Sealing granite about once a year will help prevent stains and discoloration. Overall, granite is a very low maintenance option that can provide a beautiful, rugged countertop surface for years to come.
Quartz countertops are made from about 90% ground quartz mixed with polymer resins and pigments. This makes quartz harder and less porous than natural stone. Quartz is nearly non-porous, so routine sealing is not required. It resists scratches, stains, acid, impact, heat, and water. With simple cleaning using a soft cloth and mild detergent, quartz can maintain its deep, lustrous appearance for many years. Quartz can also be repaired in cases of significant damage, which is not possible with granite. For those wanting an easy-care, durable surface, quartz is an excellent choice.
Winner: Quartz – Though granite is very durable, quartz’s non-porous quality makes it slightly more scratch, stain, and heat-resistant for busy kitchens. Quartz also requires less sealing and maintenance overall.
Appearance and Design
The look and design potential of each material is another key consideration.
Granite’s appearance is unmatched by manufactured countertops. With natural color variations, veining, and movement, no two granite slabs are alike. Granite can be polished to a shiny surface or finished with a honed or leathered texture. It comes in diverse patterns from solid colors to bold variegations. The natural beauty of granite works wonderfully in both traditional and contemporary designs. One downside is that the stone’s natural fissures mean slabs must be cut and pieced together, which can result in visible seams.
Quartz offers a wide array of consistent colors and patterns like sparkling aggregates, swirls, and veining. But because it is engineered, the look tends to be more uniform without natural markings. The consistency makes it easy to match pieces seamlessly for a clean, modern look. Quartz provides flexibility to mimic granite, marble, and other natural stones. Certain quartz patterns do a good job approximating granite’s visual depth and interest. A large color palette allows quartz to work with almost any design aesthetic. Illumination from natural or artificial lighting creates an eye-catching sheen.
Winner: Tie – Granite’s natural beauty is hard to match, but quartz offers far more color and pattern options to personalize your space. It comes down to personal preference. Granite has an organic, natural look while quartz offers vivid consistent designs.
Budget is often a primary factor when tackling a kitchen or bath remodel. So how do granite and quartz stack up cost-wise?
Natural granite slabs tend to cost $40-$200 per square foot installed. More exotic granite can run up to $300 per square foot. The overall price depends on the stone’s rarity, color, thickness, and cut. Labor makes up about half the total granite countertop cost. Granite’s natural beauty comes at a cost, but many find it worth the investment for its unmatched visual appeal and longevity.
Quartz countertops run $70-$150 installed per square foot on average. Some premium designer brands cost up to $200 per square foot. The pigments used to create quartz’s color and patterns play a role in pricing. Like granite, about half of the total installed price includes fabrication and labor. Quartz costs more than materials like plastic laminate but is competitive with granite and offers a consistent, quality look.
Winner: Quartz is generally the more budget-friendly option. But granite price can overlap with lower-end quartz. The prices vary quite a bit for both materials, so get several quotes before deciding.
For eco-conscious homeowners, the materials’ environmental footprints may guide the decision.
Granite is an abundant natural material, but mining does create pollution and depletion of resources. New methods allow granite to be harvested with less waste, minimizing environmental impact. Granite is inert and recyclable, often reused or repurposed. Being a lifelong countertop, replacement frequency is low. If maintained well, granite’s long lifespan offsets much of its embedded carbon cost. Overall, granite can be an eco-friendly option with proper quarrying processes.
Some quartz contains up to 45% recycled content from pre-consumer waste streams like porcelain, glass, mirrors, or industrial materials. Production uses natural quartz and resins made partly from recycled plastic. Quartz has a smaller carbon footprint than granite since its manufacture requires less energy and transportation. And quartz fabrication results in almost zero waste. While not completely natural, quartz is an eco-friendly manufactured surface.
Winner: Quartz is likely the greener choice based on recycled content, lower emissions, and less waste production compared to granite mining.
How the materials withstand hot cookware is another point of comparison.
As a dense natural stone, granite can stand up to heat very well. Pots, pans, and other hot items can be placed directly on the surface without worry. Using trivets or pads is optional. However, prolonged heat exposure in one spot can potentially dull the granite finish or discolor it slightly. Overall, granite’s heat tolerance is superior to many other countertop choices.
Quartz is also heat-resistant, but sudden temperature changes can potentially cause cracks in the material. The resins that make quartz non-porous have less heat tolerance compared to natural stone. Quartz manufacturers recommend using hot pads or trivets for very hot cookware. While quartz can typically withstand routine cooking tasks, extreme direct heat could compromise the structure and appearance over time.
Winner: Granite is better equipped to handle high, sustained heat. Quartz works fine for regular cooking tasks but benefits from trivets for the hottest pots and pans.
Sanitation and Cleanliness
Kitchens demand clean, hygienic countertops. Here is how granite and quartz compare in this regard:
Being somewhat porous, granite can absorb liquids, leading to potential staining and harboring of bacteria if not sealed properly. Annual sealing is recommended to prevent this and maintain sanitation. Proper cleaning and disinfecting keeps granite perfectly safe for food prep. Cracks or fissures in the stone can also collect debris and grime if not cleaned routinely. Overall, granite can remain very hygienic with the right precautions.
Quartz’s non-porous surface makes it impervious to moisture and microbes. Joints are also tightly bonded. This prevents any absorption or buildup of germs and grime. Quartz requires no sealing to stay sanitary. Simple wipe downs with soap and water keep quartz pristine and germ-free. Its seamless appearance also limits areas where bacteria could hide. These qualities make quartz one of the most hygienic countertop materials.
Winner: Quartz – Its non-porous properties and tight bonds between slabs give quartz the edge for cleanliness and food safety. No sealing needed!
An ideal countertop withstands normal wear and tear without showing scratches and scuffs. Here is how the two materials compare:
As one of the hardest natural stones, granite is very scratch resistant. But no stone is completely scratch-proof. Over time, granite can develop minor nicks and scratches, especially if subjected to sharp objects, heavy impact, or dragging. Regular cleaning and sealing help granite maintain its original polish. For a pristine appearance, small scratches can be buffed out by a professional. Overall, granite fares well against normal kitchen use but is not invincible against scratches.
Quartz’s durability comes from its high quartz content and polyester resin binder. This makes quartz one of the most scratch-resistant countertop materials outside of diamonds. Under normal conditions, quartz does not scratch or scuff easily. Even exposure to sharp blades or abrasive use only leaves a minimal mark that is hard to detect. But gouging or sanding quartz can compromise the surface. Within reason, quartz stands up remarkably well to slicing, dicing, and other kitchen tasks.
Winner: Quartz – Its hardness and resistance outpaces granite’s defenses against scratches, scuffs, and cuts. Quartz finishes stay smooth and unmarred through years of use.
Kitchens demand surfaces that inhibit bacterial growth to prevent illness. Here is how the two options compare:
As a natural stone, granite is inherently resistant to bacteria itself. However, granite can provide an attractive home for bacteria if liquids seep into etched or porous areas. Frequent cleaning and sealing are needed to prevent potentially hazardous bacterial growth. Rough finishes or fissures make granite more prone to harboring bacteria if not properly maintained.
Quartz’s non-porous composition makes it impossible for bacteria to penetrate the surface. Joints between quartz slabs are also tightly bonded with adhesive, leaving no room for bacteria to fester. The combination of antimicrobial additions and quartz’s density create an inhospitable environment for microbes. Routine cleaning is all that is needed to keep quartz surfaces sterile. The material is an ideal choice for avoiding bacteria issues.
Winner: Quartz – With an impenetrable surface and antimicrobial properties, quartz strongly deters bacterial growth and spread. No sealing or special precautions needed.
An ideal kitchen counter repels stains from cooking, drinks, or household use. Here is how the materials compare:
Granite is generally stain-resistant to common kitchen substances like wine, oil, or food. But being somewhat porous, sealing is needed to prevent potential staining. Certain granite finishes are more prone to staining without proper sealing. Acidic liquids like lemon juice or vinegar can etch and discolor granite if left for prolonged contact. Annual sealing and prompt cleanup of spills keeps granite stain-free.
With a non-porous surface, quartz repels virtually any stain, including oils, juices, wine, coffee, and other liquids. The tightest quartz installations are impervious. Quartz requires no sealing to remain stain-proof. Even the most stubborn spills that sit overnight can be wiped away effortlessly. Acids have no effect on quartz’s finish or color. This makes quartz arguably the most stain-resistant countertop material on the market.
Winner: Quartz – Simply unbeatable when it comes to repelling stains. No sealing or treatment needed. Granite requires more care and maintenance to avoid absorption.
Homeowners and families with children often prefer countertop materials with no concerning chemicals or VOCs. Here is how the two options compare in this regard:
Granite is a 100% natural material made of just stone. It contains no toxins, VOCs, chemicals, or byproducts that could impact air quality. Granite’s long lifespan also limits replacement and waste. Outside of emission during mining and fabrication, granite itself is completely non-toxic and environmentally inert.
Pure natural quartz crystals are harmless. But concerns have arisen around potential VOCs from the resin binders used in engineered quartz. However, technological advances have allowed quartz manufacturers to provide non-toxic options that meet health and environmental standards. When selecting quartz, pick a brand that expressly avoids hazardous compounds in their resins. Many reputable companies now offer ultra-low or zero VOC products that match granite’s safety.
Winner: Tie – Both materials can provide non-toxic choices for home installation. Just be selective about quartz brands to avoid any with concerning chemistry.
Is Quartz Countertop Better Than Granite? Key Takeaways
- Quartz requires less maintenance and sealing than granite. It also better resists scratches, stains, heat damage, and bacteria growth.
- Granite offers a more natural, unique aesthetic with unmatched visual depth and sparkle.
- Quartz costs a bit less than granite on average while offering more color consistency and pattern options.
- For environmental impact, recycled-content quartz has a smaller footprint than granite mining.
- Both materials provide non-toxic choices, but quartz requires vetting brands for low VOC formulations.
- With proper selection, care, and sealing, granite can also be quite durable, sanitary, and long-lasting.
The choice between quartz vs granite countertops depends largely on your priorities – function vs beauty, practicality vs pampering, value vs luxury. For convenient upkeep and worry-free durability, quartz makes an exceptional choice that outperforms granite in many tangible aspects. If natural elegance, uniqueness, and classic design traditions speak to you, then granite may be worth the added care and maintenance required. Either material can serve you well for decades in the kitchen or bath when selected and maintained properly. Do your homework on brands, colors, finishes, and textures to find the right fit. Consider where each material shines to pick the best one for your needs and sensibilities.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Does quartz need to be sealed like granite?
- No, quartz does not require any sealing due to its non-porous surface. One of the benefits of quartz is that it keeps its stain-resistant properties without sealing.
- Can you set hot pots and pans on quartz?
- While quartz can withstand normal cooking heat from pots and pans, manufacturers recommend using trivets or pads for direct contact with extremely hot cookware to prevent potential cracking or discoloration over time. Quartz can handle routine cooking tasks but may be vulnerable to sudden temperature extremes from the hottest pans straight out of the oven.
- Is quartz more sanitary than granite?
- Yes, quartz is widely considered more sanitary and hygienic than granite. Its non-porous surface resists microbes and moisture penetration far better than natural stone. Tight seams also discourage bacterial growth. Quartz requires no sealing to stay germ-free. Granite needs diligent sealing and cleaning to maintain the same level of cleanliness and food-safety.
- How long does quartz countertop last compared to granite?
- Both materials can last many years, even decades, with proper care. However, quartz often lasts longer than granite thanks to its durability and non-porous qualities. Quartz routinely stays looking new for 15-25 years. Granite can last that long as well but is more prone to etching, staining, and wearing down from heat or slicing over time.
- Is quartz cheaper than granite?
- Generally, yes. Quartz runs $70-150 per square foot installed on average, while granite runs $40-200 per square foot. There is some overlap in pricing, but quartz from top brands is usually 10-20% less than high-end granite. This makes quartz the more budget-friendly option overall.
- Can quartz get stained?
- It is possible but highly unlikely. The non-porous resin finish makes quartz nearly impervious to stains. Spills that sit for hours simply wipe away with no trace. Only the most stubborn substances could potentially leave a faint mark if not cleaned promptly. Quartz is arguably the most stain-resistant countertop material available.
When choosing between quartz and granite countertops, consider how each rates in terms of maintenance, appearance, cost, durability, heat/scratch resistance, and stain protection. Quartz excels at cleanliness, resilience, and practicality, while granite offers a stunning visual impact like no manufactured material can achieve. Make sure to factor in your own priorities and needs. Get all the facts so you can confidently invest in a countertop that will enhance your home for many years. With proper care, either granite or quartz can provide lasting beauty, but understanding the core differences will help you pick the ideal material for your space.