When it comes to choosing countertop materials for kitchens and bathrooms, two of the most popular options are quartz and granite. Both offer durability, aesthetics, and value, but they have some key differences. This article will examine the pros and cons of quartz vs. granite countertops to help you determine which is the better choice for your home remodel or new construction project.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with polymer resins and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while polymer resins account for 6-10%.
The resins bind the quartz particles together to form a durable, non-porous surface that is resistant to scratches, stains, heat, and water. The pigments introduce color options that range from solid hues to patterns that resemble natural stone.
Quartz slabs are manufactured in factories under highly controlled conditions to produce consistent coloration and patterning. The slabs are then cut to size for installation as countertops. Brands such as Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone are among the leading quartz manufacturers.
What is Granite?
Granite is a natural stone that forms over millions of years as magma slowly cools below the earth’s surface. It consists primarily of quartz and feldspar minerals along with various other trace minerals that introduce color variations.
Granite forms in large deposits or slabs within quarries. It is extracted in blocks or slabs that are later cut and polished into countertops or other surfaces. The stone’s mineral composition makes it very hard and durable.
No two granite slabs are exactly alike – the stone exhibits random, unique patterning and coloration based on its mineral makeup. Granite remains a popular choice for countertops and other surfaces due to its beauty, longevity, and natural origins.
Quartz vs. Granite: Key Differences
While quartz and granite share some similarities, they have some distinct differences when it comes to aesthetics, properties, maintenance, and cost.
- Granite has an organic, natural look with distinctive veining, speckles, and color variations. No two slabs are alike.
- Quartz has a more uniform appearance, often with subtle patterns. The colors and patterns are added during manufacturing.
- Granite comes in a wider range of colors from bold blues and greens to neutral whites and blacks.
- Quartz also comes in a wide spectrum but tends to skew towards lighter grays, whites, and beiges. Some brands offer vivid solid colors.
- Both materials can be glossy or matte. Granite tends to have more texture due to its natural patterning.
- Quartz is engineered to be harder, less porous, and more flexible than natural stone.
- Granite is still highly durable, but quartz has superior resistance to chips, scratches, and stains.
- Quartz is non-porous so liquids don’t penetrate the surface. Granite is slightly porous, requiring sealants.
- Granite is heat resistant, but prolonged direct heat can damage the sealant or cause cracks. Quartz is generally more heat resistant.
- Quartz slabs are more flexible and less prone to cracks during transportation and installation.
- Quartz requires very little maintenance; just simple cleaning with soap and water.
- Granite needs periodic sealing to prevent stains from penetrating the surface. It also requires careful cleaning.
- Granite can develop hairline cracks whereas quartz is engineered to resist cracks.
- Acidic substances like lemon juice and wine can stain or etch granite and erode the sealant if not wiped up quickly. Quartz resists etching.
- Granite countertops range from $40-$100 per square foot installed, based on stone quality and region.
- Quartz countertops range from $75-$150 per square foot installed. The higher end overlaps premium granite.
- Overall, quartz is pricier than basic granite but more affordable than exotic, rare granites.
- Quartz comes prefabricated so little fabrication is required, lowering labor costs. More cutting and shaping is needed for granite installs.
Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops
Pros of Quartz:
- Extremely durable and scratch resistant surface
- Resists stains, etching, heat, and water damage
- Non-porous so doesn’t require sealing
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Consistent color and patterns
- No two slabs are exactly alike
- Trendy, modern aesthetic available in many colors
- Long lifespan – can last several decades with proper care
- Pre-fabricated for fast installation
- Ideal for busy kitchens and baths due to durability and low maintenance
Cons of Quartz:
- Higher cost than basic level granite (but lower than premium granite)
- Limited number of patterns/colors compared to granite
- Can have visible seams in some installations
- Doesn’t offer “wow” factor of unique high-end granite slabs
- Not heat resistant enough for direct contact with extremely hot pans
- Needs to be installed properly to prevent cracks
- Some cheaper brands are more prone to damage than high-end quartz
Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops
Pros of Granite:
- Natural material available in one-of-a-kind exotic patterns, colors, and finishes
- Withstands heat from hot pans; ideal for avid cooks
- Can develop patina and characterize over time
- Matches with many styles from modern to traditional
- Makes a statement as high-end focal point
- Can be locally sourced from domestic quarries
- Relatively affordable compared to premium materials like marble
- Easy to sanitize and keep germ-free
- Adds value and allure to home for resale
Cons of Granite:
- Requires periodic sealing to prevent stains and damage
- More prone to chipping, cracking, and signs of wear over time
- Needs to be cleaned cautiously to maintain finish and sealant
- Acidic substances like wine or citrus can etch the finish
- Porous so liquids can potentially stain if not sealed properly
- Natural fissures and pits can collect dirt or harbor germs if not cleaned
- Matching patterns when replacing or adding on can be challenging
- Slightly higher installation costs due to increased fabrication
- Can have a dated look in some colors, finishes, and patterns
Which is Better for Kitchen Countertops?
For busy kitchen countertops that will see heavy daily use, quartz is generally the better choice. The superior durability, stain resistance, and low maintenance requirements make quartz an ideal surface for food prep areas. Quartz requires very little care – no sealing or special cleaners needed.
That said, granite is still a smart option for kitchens used mainly for meal prep versus constant snacking and food prep. The natural material offers unique styling and withstands hot items from the oven or stove. For low-maintenance granite, opt for a honed or leathered finish rather than a polished finish.
Those seeking a showstopping countertop that becomes a focal point may still favor granite over quartz for the wow factor. Ultimately, either material adds beauty and value to a kitchen. Much comes down to the homeowner’s style preferences and expectations for use and upkeep.
Which is Better for Bathroom Vanity Countertops?
For bathroom vanity tops that will have limited use and exposure to staining agents, granite and quartz are both suitable options that offer durability and style. However, quartz often ends up being the better performer in bathrooms due to moisture resistance.
Since bathrooms tend to have higher humidity than kitchens, quartz’s non-porous qualities give it an advantage in this setting. Liquids and condensation are less likely to penetrate the surface. Granite requires diligent sealing and cleaning to prevent water marks or deterioration in bathrooms.
For those seeking crisp, clean lines with little veining, quartz vanity tops can deliver a smooth, contemporary look for bathrooms. Overall, quartz requires less headache when installed in bathrooms, but granite can still perform well with proper care.
What are the Most Popular Colors and Styles?
Popular Granite Colors:
- Black/Charcoal – timeless and dramatic
- White/Light Grays – clean and contemporary
- Beiges – warm, natural earth tones
- Tans – traditional and versatile
Many also favor granites with striking multi-colored patterns or distinctive veining in shades like gold, copper, burgundy, and blue/green. Unique exotics from Brazil or Africa are always on trend.
Popular Quartz Colors:
- Whites – bright and fresh
- Grays – cool and modern
- Beiges – soothing and warm
- Blacks – bold and chic
Quartz offers more solid color options than granite in lighter palettes. However, technology improvements allow some modern quartz to mimic natural patterns and texture quite convincingly.
Contemporary: Quartz dominates here with clean lines and solid tones or fine speckles. A glossy or lightly textured finish keeps the look minimalist.
Transitional: Multi-toned quartz or granite with subtle swirls work well. Mix polished and honed finishes.
Traditional: Classic granite patterns in beiges, browns, or black suit traditional kitchens. Use extensive decorative edging.
Country: Warm granites in copper tones or multi-colored slab complement rural styling. Opt for a highly textured leathered finish.
How to Choose Between Granite vs. Quartz?
When deciding between quartz and granite, consider these tips:
- Focus on surfaces suited for your lifestyle and home style. Are you contemporary or traditional? Minimalist or ornate?
- Determine your budget upfront. Quartz costs more but doesn’t require lifetime sealing. Calculate total investment.
- Examine quartz and granite slabs in person to get a sense of colors, patterns, textures and finishes. Order samples if needed.
- Consider your top priorities. Do you want low maintenance or a showstopping look? Natural or engineered stone? Budget value or luxury material?
- Visualize each material in the space. Quartz can look more modern, while granite provides an organic, natural vibe.
- Look beyond the countertops to other elements like cabinetry, backsplashes, appliances and flooring. Which material best complements your overall vision?
- Prepare for some compromises. Granite offers a greater “wow” factor but needs more upkeep. Quartz is more practical yet lacks the bespoke quality of granite.
If you’re still undecided, quartz tends to have broader appeal thanks to its durability, neutral hues, and minimal care. For those seeking a material that stands out as a striking focal point, unique granite slabs may offer more excitement. Be sure to weigh the maintenance commitment required for natural stone.
How Durable Are They Really?
Both granite and quartz are highly durable and long lasting in the home when properly cared for. However, quartz does have the edge when it comes to resilience:
Quartz rates 7 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to granite’s rating of 6 to 7. This gives quartz a slight advantage in resistance to cutting and scratches over time.
Being engineered from ground quartz makes quartz more flexible and impact resistant than natural granite. It can better withstand the typical knocks, dings, and drops that countertops endure through daily use.
Quartz’s non-porous composition makes it essentially stain proof since liquids don’t penetrate the surface. Granite requires seals to achieve full stain resistance.
Granite is generally more heat tolerant than quartz. However, quartz can withstand normal cooking heat from pots and pans. Only extremely high direct heat may compromise quartz.
Chips and Cracks
Quartz once again has an advantage, as its manufacturing makes it highly crack and chip resistant. Granite, formed naturally, is prone to chips and hairline cracks over its lifespan.
Typical Pros and Cons of Granite vs Quartz:
|| Granite | Quartz |
| Pros | Unique aesthetic properties, prestige, heat resistance | Superior durability, easy maintenance, stain proof|
| Cons | Requires resealing and careful cleaning, cracks and chips | Less color/pattern options, higher cost, manmade material |
How to Care for and Clean Quartz and Granite Countertops
Caring properly for your countertops lets you enjoy their beauty and longevity. Follow these tips:
Caring for Quartz
- Clean with mild soap and water
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads that could dull the surface
- Blot up spills quickly to prevent staining
- Use cutting boards to avoid surface cuts and scratches
- Can use diluted white vinegar to clean if needed
- Reseal very infrequently, like every 10-15 years
Caring for Granite
- Seal granite every 1-2 years using a reputable sealing product
- Test sealant monthly by applying water droplets
- Use mild cleaners and avoid abrasive pads
- Immediately clean acidic spills like wine or fruit juice
- Avoid exposing granite to extreme heat from pots/pans
- Disinfect granite periodically with diluted bleach solution
Is Quartz or Granite the Better Choice for Countertops?
While granite offers a luxurious, heirloom quality unlike manmade materials, quartz makes a strong case as a practical yet beautiful alternative. For those who prize minimal upkeep and maximum resilience, quartz is tough to beat. Its smooth installation and unfussy maintenance help justify the higher initial investment. Still, traditionalists and designers seeking a natural showpiece will appreciate granite’s enduring popularity.
Granite vs. quartz countertops is truly a matter of lifestyle, design aesthetics, and budget. Keep in mind that either option adds value, beauty, and durable service to kitchens and baths. Consult a countertop specialist to determine whether low-maintenance quartz or patina-rich granite best suits your space.
FAQs About Granite vs. Quartz Countertops
Is quartz more durable than granite?
Yes, quartz is generally more durable than granite. Created under factory conditions, quartz has superior resistance to chips, scratches, cracks, and stains compared to natural granite. However, granite remains highly durable for countertops with proper sealing and care.
Does quartz need to be sealed?
No. One of the major advantages of quartz is that it never needs sealing due to its non-porous composition. Granite requires resealing every 1-2 years to prevent staining.
Is quartz cheaper than granite?
In most cases, no. Quartz countertops range from $75-$150 per square foot installed. Granite costs between $40-$100 per square foot. So quartz is pricier than basic, mid-range granite but more affordable than exotic, high-end granite slabs.
Is quartz better for bathrooms than granite?
Generally, yes. The moisture resistance of quartz makes it ideal for humid bathroom environments. Quartz rarely shows water marks or signs of deterioration in bathrooms. Granite requires diligent sealing and cleaning to perform well in bathrooms.
What are the best quartz brands?
Popular major quartz brands include Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone, MSI, Cosentino, and DuPont Zodiaq. High-end designers may opt for premium quartz from Viatera or Compac. Always buy from a reputable, established brand.
Does quartz have resale value?
Yes. High-quality quartz countertops from leading brands have excellent resale value, similar to granite. Quartz is likely to recoup over 50% of its original cost in a renovation or home sale for up to a decade after initial installation.
Will quartz go out of style?
Unlikely. Quartz has remained popular for many years due to its clean, contemporary aesthetic. Neutral solid colors and subtle patterns have versatile, long-lasting appeal. Improved texture and patterns also allow quartz to mimic natural stone quite realistically.
Does quartz stain or scratch easily?
No. Two of the biggest advantages of quartz are that it does not scratch easily, and it is highly resistant to staining from spills, etching, and moisture. This makes quartz an extremely low maintenance option in kitchens, baths, and other settings.
Is white quartz easy to keep clean?
Yes. One benefit of white quartz is it doesn’t require much effort to keep looking bright and clean. Its non-porous nature means spills can simply be wiped away without any staining. Annual cleaning with diluted hydrogen peroxide helps keep the white color vivid.
While both quartz and granite have advantages and disadvantages, quartz usually gets the edge when it comes to overall performance and practicality. The engineered stone offers superior durability, stain resistance, and easy maintenance – with a smoother installation to boot. Yet classic granite still captivates many with its luxurious veining, unique patinas, and heat tolerance.
Carefully weigh your own priorities of use, aesthetics, budget, and upkeep as you choose between these two excellent natural stone alternatives for kitchens and baths. Proper installation and care is vital to achieving longevity with either material. Consult a professional to determine if low-fuss quartz or regal granite best elevates your home’s style for the years ahead.