Granite and quartz are two of the most popular materials for kitchen countertops. But which one is the better choice? There are pros and cons to both options that you’ll need to consider. This in-depth guide compares granite vs quartz countertops to help you decide which is better for your kitchen remodeling or new construction project.
An Introduction to Granite Countertops
Granite is a naturally occurring stone that is mined from quarries around the world. It is an igneous rock that forms when magma cools and solidifies. Granite contains quartz, mica, and feldspar minerals which give it its unique coloring and veining.
Granite countertops have been used in kitchens for many years and remain a top choice today. Here are some of the key benefits of granite kitchen countertops:
- Beauty and Variety – Granite comes in a wide range of natural colors and patterns. No two granite slabs are the same, giving each countertop a unique look. Granite can be polished to a glossy shine or left with a honed or leathered finish.
- Durability – Granite is very hard and resistant to scratches, heat, and stains. While no stone is completely stain-proof, granite is less prone to staining than many other countertop materials. It can withstand hot pots and pans without damage.
- Easy Maintenance – Granite is non-porous so it won’t absorb spills and liquids. It just needs occasional cleaning with mild soap and water. Re-sealing may be needed every 1-2 years to refresh water repellency.
- Excellent Resale Value – Granite countertops will add value and appeal to your home for resale. It’s a sought-after material that buyers expect in higher-end kitchens.
While granite has many positive attributes, there are some potential downsides to consider:
- Higher Cost – Natural granite is one of the more expensive countertop materials. Material and installation costs will be higher than options like laminate.
- Seams – Granite slabs are limited in size so seams will be necessary, especially for larger countertops. The seams may be slightly visible.
- Possible Fragility – While durable, granite can potentially chip or crack if subjected to significant impact. Edges may need extra reinforcement.
- Weight – Granite is very heavy, which requires extra structural support. Appliances and sinks will need to be installed before the granite.
Overall, granite remains an excellent choice for kitchen countertops if you appreciate its natural beauty and are willing to invest in this classic and durable stone. It’s a material that can last for decades.
What Are Quartz Countertops?
Quartz countertops are engineered stone slabs made from quarry stone mix. Slabs are made by blending approximately 90% ground natural quartz with 10% polymer resins and pigments. The mixture is compacted under heat and pressure to create a solid, resilient slab.
The resins allow the quartz to be molded into consistent slabs with uniform coloring and patterning. Here are some key benefits of quartz:
- Appealing Aesthetic – Quartz comes in a wide array of colors and patterns to suit any design style. Options range from solid colors to granitelooking slabs with veining. There is lots of variety without looking obviously “man-made”.
- Low Maintenance – Quartz resists stains, scratches, and heat very well. It never needs to be sealed and usually just requires occasional wiping with a damp cloth to keep clean.
- Durability – Quartz is extremely hard and durable. In fact, it’s even harder than natural granite. Quartz won’t chip or crack under normal use.
- Seamless Appearance – Large quartz slabs allow for fewer or no seams on countertops compared to natural stone. This gives a very seamless, smooth appearance.
- Consistent Quality – As an engineered product, the color and composition of every quartz slab will be very consistent. There are no natural variations as with granite.
Potential drawbacks of quartz kitchen countertops include:
- Higher Cost – Quartz is pricier than laminate or tile, but may be competitive with some natural stones. The cost is comparable to many granite prices.
- Limited Heat Tolerance – While durable overall, intense direct heat can damage quartz. Trivets or hot pads should be used for hot pans.
- Not Entirely Natural – Some homeowners prefer the uniqueness of natural granite over engineered quartz. But quartz offers plenty of realistic stone-like options.
- Possible Resin Smell – Some quartz varieties may off-gas a mild resin smell at first, though this dissipates over time. Proper ventilation during installation is important.
With its stylish appearance and low maintenance nature, quartz definitely offers strong competition to granite for kitchen countertops. It solves some of the downsides of natural stone while offering a comparable aesthetic.
Comparing Granite vs Quartz Countertops
Now that we’ve introduced both materials, let’s directly compare some of the most important factors in choosing granite vs quartz countertops. This will help clarify the pros and cons of each option.
Both granite and quartz can offer very attractive countertops. Granite will provide natural, unique patterns and speckles. Quartz gives you consistent, vivid coloring in patterns inspired by natural stone.
With granite, appearances between slabs will vary widely. Quartz slabs will have a uniform look. If having an exotic, unique look is important, granite may be the better choice.
Both materials come in a range of colors – lighter whites and creams to darker blacks and grays, with plenty of options in between. Quartz usually has more bold color options.
Many quartz patterns are designed to closely emulate granite and other natural stones. Side-by-side, most quartz options look quite realistic as stone countertops. But up-close, tiny speckles will appear more uniform.
If you want an integrated sink, quartz is the better option as sinks can be seamlessly molded into the slabs. Overall, both materials offer broad aesthetic appeal. It comes down to your preference of natural stone vs engineered stone appearance.
Granite and quartz are both very durable choices that can handle years of use and abuse. But quartz is generally regarded as having even better durability.
Being a natural stone, granite is still prone to cracks and chips if excessive force or impact is applied. Quartz is engineered to be more flexibly resistant to cracks and chips.
Over time, granite can develop small cracks or pits from exposure. Acidic foods like wine or lemon juice could potentially etch polished granite surfaces if left for prolonged contact. Quartz has better acid resistance.
Both materials are considered very scratch resistant for daily kitchen use. But quartz rates higher on standardized hardness tests, making it more scratch proof.
With routine care, both granite and quartz will resist staining well. Neither material is very porous. One advantage of quartz is never needing to seal or re-seal the surface.
Overall, quartz is generally regarded as having slightly better durability. But both materials will resist common wear-and-tear in a kitchen environment exceptionally well.
In terms of care and maintenance, quartz also rates a bit higher than granite.
Basic maintenance is similar – both materials just need occasional cleaning with mild soap and water. But quartz will never require periodic re-sealing, making its maintenance needs extremely minimal.
Quartz also resists staining and etching better than natural granite. While sealing granite will help protect its surface, quartz is non-porous and never absorbs spills or liquids.
Using trivets, cutting boards, and avoiding abrasive cleaners is recommended with both materials. But quartz can better withstand accidental direct heat exposure or speedy clean-up of spills.
Over time, granite may develop rough patches that need professional smoothing and polishing. Quartz will retain its flawless sheen with less intervention.
For busy homeowners who want a low maintenance countertop, quartz is the clear winner over granite. It better resists damage from everyday use and keeps its pristine shine.
In terms of upfront costs for material and professional installation, granite and quartz are competitive:
- Granite countertops installed typically range from $80 – $120 per square foot. More exotic granite varieties can be higher.
- Quartz countertops often range from $70 – $100 per square foot installed. Some premium designer brands run higher.
Quartz was once notably more expensive than granite, but manufacturing improvements have brought its costs down considerably. For an average sized kitchen, expect total costs between $3,000 – $7,000 for either material.
Granite vs quartz prices can vary depending on your region and chosen supplier. Get free estimates to compare exact costs for your project.
Many homeowners find the total price is similar for granite versus quartz countertops. Cost differences are usually negligible. Factors like edge profiles, backsplashes, and appliance cutouts will affect the final price more than material alone.
Appearance Over Time
While quartz maintains its flawless sheen with less maintenance, some homeowners appreciate how granite countertops develop a unique patina.
The polished surface of granite may acquire slight pits and etchings that give it character and a vintage look as it ages. Quartz will look like new for decades.
If you don’t want the aged, lived-in look, quartz is the better choice. For those who appreciate vintage character, granite offers more natural weathering and patina over time.
With both materials, darker colors will hide signs of use better than light colors. But quartz will look pristine for substantially longer than granite with the same use and upkeep.
Either material is an excellent choice for boosting resale value. Granite or quartz countertops will help attract buyers and add desirability compared to lower-end surfaces.
In general, granite remains more recognized and favored by buyers. But quartz has become so popular in recent years, it likely has nearly comparable appeal for resale.
The condition of your countertops will matter more than the specific material. Well-maintained quartz or granite surfaces in a style that buyers like will be advantageous when selling a home.
Overall, either granite or quartz is sure to be a selling point rather than a detriment. Unless quartz patterns appear dated later, either material brings premium value.
How to Decide: Granite or Quartz Countertops?
With their similarities and differences compared, how do you decide which is ultimately better for your home – granite or quartz?
Think about which qualities matter most to you from these perspectives:
- Visual Style – Natural patterns vs consistent speckles; unified slab vs unique movement
- Initial Cost – Similar price points on average
- Longevity – Quartz higher durability but granite ages appealingly
- Maintenance – Quartz is lower maintenance; granite needs periodic sealing
- Resale Value – Both offer premium appeal; granite is more renowned
- Use Considerations – Quartz withstands direct heat better
If a natural stone look is important, granite is ideal. If low maintenance and heat resistance are priorities, quartz excels. Both offer durability, beauty, and value.
Consult a professional fabricator for advice based on your kitchen design and lifestyle needs. Be sure to view full slabs in person before finalizing your choices.
FAQs About Granite vs Quartz Countertops
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about choosing between granite vs quartz kitchen countertops:
Which is better for the kitchen, granite or quartz?
There is no universally “better” option since individual factors will weigh differently for each homeowner. Granite and quartz both make excellent kitchen countertops in different ways. If forced to choose, quartz often rates slightly higher overall thanks to its easier care, heat resistance, and contemporary styles.
Is quartz or granite more durable?
Quartz is generally regarded as slightly more durable and damage resistant thanks to its engineered composition. It rates higher on hardness tests and resists scratches, chips, cracks, and heat better than natural stone. But granite remains very durable for countertops when properly sealed and maintained.
Which is better value, quartz or granite?
Granite and quartz have very comparable costs on average. Pricing comes down to the specific slabs and patterns chosen. Unless you select rare exotic granite, you can expect reasonably similar total installed costs between the two surfaces.
Does quartz stain as easily as granite?
No, quartz is less prone to staining than granite since it never needs sealing. The resins make quartz non-porous and highly stain resistant. Granite can absorb some spills if not properly sealed. But diligent sealing minimizes granite’s staining potential to low levels.
Is quartz cheaper than granite?
In the past, quartz was pricier than granite but costs have come down significantly in recent years. Now granite vs quartz have roughly similar average costs per square foot installed. More premium designer quartz may still cost more than mid-range granite.
Does quartz hold its value like granite?
Quartz and granite both add considerable value to kitchens for home sales. Granite likely still has a slight edge for resale appeal with buyers, but quartz has become so popular that it holds its value nearly as well. Well-kept surfaces in either material will satisfy most buyers.
Is quartz better than granite?
There is no definitive “better” option since they each excel in different areas. If forced to choose, quartz often wins out due to lower maintenance needs, better heat and scratch resistance, and contemporary color choices. But classic granite still appeals to many homeowners. Granite vs quartz comes down to personal priorities.
The Bottom Line
While preferences will vary, quartz makes an excellent case against granite as the top contender for kitchen countertops. Lower maintenance needs give it the advantage for busy households.
But traditional granite still holds great appeal for those who appreciate natural stone and don’t mind the extra sealing. Both offer attractive, durable surfaces that enhance kitchens and homes.
Carefully compare available styles and colors of slabs to choose the best fit for your space. Granite or quartz will likely outlast your kitchen remodeling by decades. While the investment is significant, it truly lasts and adds daily enjoyment.
Granite and quartz offer two great choices for upgrading your kitchen with high-end countertops. Key deciding factors include how much maintenance you want to take on, whether you prefer natural or engineered stone, and if heat resistance is important to you. Weigh their respective pros and cons against your priorities.
With some research and expert input, you’re sure to end up with beautiful, functional countertops in either material that become the focal point of your kitchen. Both granite and quartz can transform the space into a refined showpiece you’ll admire and entertain in for years to come. Whichever you select, enjoy the process of choosing a counter surface that matches your unique style.