Granite and quartz are two of the most popular materials for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Though they have some visual similarities, there are several key differences between the two that impact appearance, maintenance, durability, and cost. Understanding these differences can help you decide which material is the better choice for your space and lifestyle.
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. The minerals within granite give it its signature speckled appearance and unique coloring. No two granite slabs are exactly alike due to the natural variations. Granite can be found in a wide range of colors from grays, tans, browns, pinks, blues, greens, and vivid patterns. The natural patterning gives each granite slab a one-of-a-kind look.
Quartz countertops are engineered from crushed quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The resins allow the material to be molded into countertops. The pigments introduce color. Since quartz slabs are engineered, the patterning and colors are more uniform from slab to slab. The look tends to be more consistent. Quartz has less dramatic veining and speckling than natural granite. Instead, tiny flecks of color are distributed evenly throughout the material, creating a look that’s modern and streamlined. Quartz comes in a diverse palette of colors from soft creams and grays to bold blues and glossy blacks.
Many people are drawn to granite for its natural beauty and one-of-a-kind look. For those wanting more consistency and cleaner lines, quartz is an excellent option. Both materials make an impactful statement in kitchens and baths.
One of the biggest differences between granite and quartz is maintenance. Granite is very porous and can absorb liquids if spills are not cleaned promptly. Sealing is recommended periodically to prevent stains. Quartz is non-porous, so it resists staining much better and does not require regular sealing.
With granite, you’ll need to wipe up spills right away, especially acidic foods like wine, coffee, and fruit juices which can etch the surface. Quartz is more stain-resistant against these types of spills. You’ll still want to wipe up messes, but quartz provides more flexibility if life gets busy.
Over time, the sealant on granite wears away. Expect to re-seal granite every 1-2 years to keep it water-resistant. Quartz never needs re-sealing.
Granite requires a bit more maintenance day-to-day and long-term. Quartz’s low maintenance routine keeps it looking like new for years.
Granite and quartz are both extremely durable materials that can handle years of wear and tear. However, quartz is harder than granite due to its engineered nature. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, granite rates 6-8 while quartz rates around 7. This higher rating means quartz has better scratch resistance.
In a kitchen environment, both materials stand up well to knives, pans, glasses, and more. Neither material needs to be treated delicately. However, quartz provides extra protection against scratches, especially important for busy kitchens prone to silverware scuffs around the sink.
Heat is not an issue for granite or quartz. Both can withstand hot pots and pans. The main difference comes if the material chips or cracks. The natural composition of granite makes it more prone to small cracks and fissures forming over time. Quartz’s smoother uniform surface makes it more crack-resistant.
Overall, both deliver outstanding durability. But quartz’s enhanced engineering results in slightly better scratch and crack resistance long-term.
In terms of price, natural granite tends to cost less than quartz overall. Here is a typical price breakdown:
- Granite: $40-$70 per square foot installed
- Quartz: $80-$120 per square foot installed
However, granite pricing depends heavily on the specific stone. Rarer granites from distant quarries or exotic imported stones can be in the $80-$150 range. Domestic granites in whites, grays, and tans tend to occupy the lower price points.
Quartz has far less variation in price from color to color. The process of making quartz slabs is essentially the same, so cost differences come down mostly to looks. Simple solid-colored quartz can start around $80 with higher-end designer styles reaching $140 or more.
No matter which material you choose, the total cost depends on the overall size of your project, complexity of installation, and other design choices in your kitchen or bath. Due to the heavy weight of full slabs, professional installation is strongly recommended for both granite and quartz.
FAQs About Granite and Quartz Countertops
What are the pros and cons of granite countertops?
Pros: Unique natural beauty, wide variety of colors/patterns, heat resistance, lower cost
Cons: Requires periodic sealing, somewhat porous, can chip or crack, needs prompt cleaning of spills
What are the pros and cons of quartz countertops?
Pros: Consistent color/pattern, non-porous, extremely durable, scratch resistance, low maintenance
Cons: Less natural look than granite, higher cost than granite
Does quartz need to be sealed like granite?
No. Because quartz is non-porous, it never requires sealing or re-sealing over time. One of its major advantages over natural stone is being maintenance-free.
Is quartz more durable than granite?
Quartz rates slightly higher on hardness tests and is more resistant to scratches. However, both materials are extremely durable for countertops. With proper care, they can both last for many years of daily use.
Can you set hot pans on quartz?
Yes. Quartz is engineered to be heat-resistant against typical cooking tasks. You can safely put hot pans, baking sheets, casserole dishes, etc. right on the surface.
Which material is better for kitchen countertops?
It depends on your priorities. Granite offers a one-of-a-kind natural look at a lower cost. Quartz is virtually maintenance-free with a neater, more uniform appearance. Both work beautifully in kitchens.
Does quartz stain more easily than granite?
No. Quartz is less prone to staining from spills and daily use. Its non-porous surface resists damage more easily than natural stone.
Deciding Between Quartz and Granite Countertops
When choosing a material for countertops, it helps to consider your lifestyle, budget, and decorating style. Here are some final tips:
- Opt for granite if you prefer natural stone aesthetics with unique veining. It offers the best value but requires more maintenance.
- Choose quartz for minimal upkeep. Its consistent color and pattern work well in modern or minimalist kitchens.
- Weigh the convenience of a low-maintenance quartz surface against the natural beauty of granite that will require more care.
- Look at cost since granite is typically cheaper per square foot than engineered quartz.
- Consider hiring a professional to install either material. This ensures proper seam placement and prevents cracking.
Quartz and granite each have their advantages that make them desirable options for home upgrades. By understanding the key differences between the two popular countertop materials, you can make the perfect choice for your next remodeling project. With either of these beautiful, functional surfaces, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your space for many years to come.