Quartz countertops are engineered stone surfaces that have risen in popularity in recent years as an alternative to natural stone countertops like granite. Many homeowners wonder if quartz contains granite since the two materials share some visual similarities. However, quartz and granite are very different materials compositionally.
What is Quartz?
Quartz surfaces are made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins, polymers, and pigments. The exact ratio varies by brand and product line, but high-quality quartz typically contains over 90% ground quartz aggregate. The resins and polymers bind the quartz particles together, while the pigments add color and pattern variation.
The ground quartz used in these engineered surfaces is not natural stone but rather crushed quartz crystals. Pure quartz crystals are abundant in nature but require processing to turn them into a usable material for countertops.
What is Granite?
Granite is a completely natural igneous rock formed from magma deep within the earth’s crust. It is composed primarily of interlocking mineral crystals like quartz, feldspar, and mica that give granite its speckled aesthetic.
Granite is mined in large slabs from quarries and cut into countertops. Since it is a natural material, granite surfaces feature unique veining, speckling, and color variations. No two granite slabs are exactly alike.
Key Differences Between Granite and Quartz
While granite and quartz can both offer high-end visual appeal, they have distinct differences:
- Granite is 100% natural stone formed by natural geologic processes.
- Quartz surfaces are engineered composites made from 90-95% ground quartz bound together by resins and polymers.
- Granite has a more complex, randomized aesthetic with natural veining and speckling.
- Quartz often appears more uniform since the aggregate is ground and color added. Some brands do mimic granite’s appearance.
- Quartz is harder and more resilient than natural granite. It resists scratches, heat, and stains.
- Granite is still very durable but can be prone to chipping or etching from acidic substances.
- Quartz requires very little maintenance other than occasional cleaning.
- Granite needs periodic sealing to prevent staining and may require more careful cleaning.
- Quartz is often cheaper due to being engineered rather than a rare natural stone. Specific grades of granite can be more expensive.
- Exotic granite varieties can cost more than premium-grade quartz. But ordinary granite is often the more economical choice.
Does Quartz Contain Granite?
With their visual and functional similarities, it’s understandable to think quartz might contain some granite in its composition. However, quartz countertops do not actually contain any granite or other natural stone.
The ground quartz used is simply quartz crystals mined and processed into a powder. It does not involve chunks or bits of natural granite. Any resemblance to granite is purely visual, not compositional.
The resins and polymers mixed with the ground quartz give it its granite-like appearance and workability. Natural granite is too fragile to be ground and processed in this way. Quartz and granite also have very different origins within the earth.
Can Quartz Replace Granite?
For many homeowners, quartz offers an appealing alternative to granite with some advantages:
- More consistent coloring and patterning
- Superior durability and scratch resistance
- Lower maintenance requirements
- Often a more affordable option
However, granite remains a prestigious material valued for its:
- Unique natural beauty and variation
- Timeless, classic aesthetic
- Excellent durability despite being softer than quartz
So quartz can potentially replace granite for some buyers. But granite continues to offer uniqueness and cachet that engineered quartz cannot fully duplicate. The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference, aesthetics, and budget.
Both granite and quartz make excellent choices for countertops. It is worth carefully comparing your options to determine which stone surface best fits your lifestyle and expectations. Consult stone suppliers to view slabs in person. And use a reputable installer experienced in both materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does quartz have a granite base?
No, quartz surfaces do not have a granite base or any natural stone in their composition. The aggregate used is crushed quartz crystals, not granite material.
Why does quartz look like granite?
Ground quartz particles give quartz countertops their stone-like look. Added pigments and resins mimic granite’s natural colors and patterns. The overall visual effect resembles granite but is engineered, not natural.
Is crushed granite used to make quartz?
No, quartz surfaces contain no granite material, crushed or otherwise. Only ground quartz crystals and polymers are used in manufacturing quartz slabs and countertops.
Can you add granite flakes to quartz?
It is possible to add granite aggregates like flakes to engineered quartz. However, most major quartz brands rely solely on ground quartz and do not incorporate actual granite.
Does quartz staining mean granite?
Not necessarily. Both quartz and granite can be prone to staining from highly pigmented liquids. But quartz is generally more stain resistant. Minor staining on quartz is from spills, not granite content.
While their visual similarities cause confusion, quartz and granite are distinct engineered and natural stone materials. Quartz contains no actual granite or natural stone. The ground quartz and polymers create the granite-like look. Both can make excellent countertop materials, but have important differences in composition, maintenance, and overall aesthetics. Carefully compare your material options to find the best fit.