Quartz and granite are two of the most popular materials for kitchen countertops. But which one is the better choice – quartz or granite? There are pros and cons to both options that must be carefully weighed. This comprehensive guide examines all factors including appearance, durability, maintenance, cost, and health and environmental impact to determine which material – quartz vs granite – makes the best countertops.
The look and aesthetic of your kitchen countertops is an important consideration as it impacts the overall design and feel of the space. Here is how quartz and granite compare aesthetically:
- Quartz countertops are engineered from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. This allows for an extremely broad range of colors and patterns not found naturally in stone.
- From solid colors to patterns mimicking natural stone and concrete, the design options for quartz are nearly endless. This makes it easy to find a style that coordinates well with your kitchen’s decor.
- The pattern and color of a quartz countertop will be uniform throughout the slab since the material is engineered. This gives it a very consistent, smooth appearance.
- Quartz has a more modern, sleek look compared to natural stone. The wide range of colors and consistent patterns create a stylish, contemporary vibe.
- Since quartz is non-porous, its surface is glossy and reflective when polished. This also enhances its modern appearance.
- Granite is a natural stone formed from cooled magma. It is mined in quarries, cut into slabs, and polished. The natural mineral composition results in a unique color pattern in every slab.
- Granite’s natural beauty comes from its random, organic patterning. It contains flecks and veins of various minerals that create distinctive visual interest. No two granite slabs are exactly alike.
- Colors range from solid black to pink, brown, gray, white, gold, green, and blue-green. Multi-color granite has dramatic veining and movement.
- The natural pitting and imperfections in the stone give granite a timeless, Old World look. Granite adds a classic elegance to kitchens.
- Since granite is porous, its surface has a matte finish that is not as reflective as polished quartz. This can help hide smudges and fingerprints.
Which is Better for Looks?
Both materials can be gorgeous, but quartz wins for its modern aesthetics and huge selection of colors and patterns not found in nature. For a trendy, contemporary kitchen, engineered quartz offers more stylish options. Granite is ideal for those desiring natural beauty and a classic, timeless look.
Durability and Longevity
You want your investment in new countertops to last many years. Here is how quartz and granite compare in durability:
- Quartz is composed of approximately 90% ground quartz aggregate which makes it extremely hard and durable.
- The resin binders make quartz resistant to cracks, scratches, and chips. It stands up well to heavy usage without damage.
- Quartz is non-porous so it won’t absorb stains from spills like wine, coffee, and juice. Simple wiping cleans the surface.
- Heat damage is not an issue for quartz either. You can place hot pans directly on it without worry.
- Quartz is unaffected by exposure to acids or chemicals. It won’t etch or corrode.
- Properly installed quartz countertops are unlikely to crack or warp. Seams stay tightly bonded.
- With proper care, a quartz countertop can look like new for 15-20 years or longer before needing replacement.
- Granite is a hard, natural stone but not quite as hard and resilient as engineered quartz.
- Being porous, granite can absorb liquids if spills are not cleaned promptly. Stains can occur over time.
- Granite is susceptible to etching and discoloration from acidic substances like citrus, wine, and tomato sauce.
- Prolonged heat exposure can cause burn marks on granite. Using trivets for hot pans is advised.
- Cracks and chips are possible if subjected to heavy impact or force. Granite can also crack during installation if not handled properly.
- Natural stone changes over time. Granite can lose its polish and start to show signs of wear after 5-15 years.
- Resealing granite every 1-2 years is needed to prevent stains and deterioration within the stone’s pores.
Which is More Durable?
Quartz is the clear winner for durability and longevity. Its non-porous, scratch-resistant surface better resists damage from daily wear and tear. Granite requires more maintenance to keep it looking pristine.
Maintenance and Cleaning
To keep countertops looking like new, proper care and cleaning are essential. Here is how quartz and granite compare in terms of maintenance needs:
- Quartz requires very little maintenance since it resists scratches, stains, etching, and heat damage so well.
- Simple wiping with a soft cloth and mild soap and water easily cleans up most spills and messes.
- Disinfecting cleaners are safe to use occasionally for a deeper clean. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads that could dull the surface.
- No sealing or polishing is required for quartz countertops. This saves time and hassle.
- Granite is more porous so sealing it every 1-2 years is vital to prevent stains from penetrating the surface.
- Frequent cleaning with a granite-safe cleaner or stone soap is needed to keep the pores free of debris.
- Acidic spills like wine, citrus, and tomatoes should be cleaned ASAP to avoid etching the surface.
- Avoid harsh cleaners, bleaches, or alkaline cleaners which can damage granite’s finish.
- Re-polishing granite may be needed periodically to restore its shine as it wears over time.
Easier to Maintain?
Quartz is the clear winner when it comes to ease of care. It simply needs wiping with a soft cloth and occasional cleaning with a gentle cleaner. High-maintenance sealing and polishing are not required like with natural granite.
Budget is often a primary factor when choosing new countertops. Here is how quartz and granite compare cost-wise:
- $80-120 per square foot installed on average. More expensive designer brands can be $140-200 per square foot.
- Higher-end quartz with extra features like anti-microbial properties or enhanced stain protection will be pricier.
- Quartz costs more than laminate but is competitive with many natural stones and solid surfaces.
- The total cost depends on the quality, complexity of installation, countertop size, and other factors like edging and backsplashes.
- $40-80 per square foot installed on average. Rare granites can cost over $100 per square foot.
- More colorful, patterned slabs typically cost more than solid, consistent granites.
- The total price is also affected by countertop size, edge options, installation challenges, and local granite supply.
- Granite needs resealing and eventual replacement which adds to long-term costs.
Which is More Affordable?
Granite is the more budget-friendly option on a straight per-square-foot price comparison. However, quartz often offers greater long-term value by lasting longer before replacement is needed. The initial investment in quartz pays off over time. But granite can work very well on a tight budget.
Health and Environmental Impact
Homeowners are becoming more concerned about the potential health and environmental impacts of their design choices. Here’s how quartz and granite compare:
- VOC off-gassing can occur with some quartz countertops. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can reduce indoor air quality.
- However, many leading manufacturers now offer low-VOC or VOC-free options that meet health standards for indoor air quality.
- If radon gas or radiation is a concern, quartz is a safer choice as it does not release these naturally occurring trace elements like some granite can.
- Quartz contains recycled materials, helping reduce its carbon footprint. And it can also be recycled.
- Granite is completely natural with no VOCs or chemical additives. This makes it ideal for homeowners wanting a countertop free of potentially harmful compounds.
- Trace amounts of radiation may be released from some granites. Testing slabs for radon/radiation is an option for peace of mind.
- New sealing products are water-based for less VOC off-gassing. Resealing can minimize chemical exposure.
- Granite is abundant and locally sourced in many areas, reducing environmental impacts of transportation.
Which is More Eco-Friendly?
Both materials have minor potential health/environmental drawbacks that can be mitigated or avoided. Talk to your countertop supplier about options for reducing any concerns, such as low-VOC quartz or granite proven to be radon/radiation-free. Overall, quartz may have a smaller carbon footprint.
Pros and Cons Comparison
| Pros of Quartz | Cons of Quartz |
| Extremely durable and scratch/stain-resistant | More expensive than granite |
| Easy maintenance with no sealing needed | Some off-gassing of VOCs possible |
| Heat and chemical resistant | Less natural look than real stone|
| Huge variety of colors and patterns | Needs occasional re-polishing over time |
| Consistent, uniform patterning | Not as hygienic as granite’s natural antibacterial properties |
| Modern, sleek aesthetic | Can develop slight patina or dulling over time |
| Pros of Granite | Cons of Granite |
|Natural elegance and timeless beauty| Requires diligent sealing and polishing |
|One-of-a-kind uniqueness| Porous so can stain if not sealed |
|Matches most design styles from modern to rustic| More likely to chip, crack, or etch |
|Naturally hygienic with antibacterial properties| Needs trivets used for hot items |
|Abundant supply makes it budget-friendly| Radon/radiation potential with some granites |
|Easily locally sourced| Regular cleaning required|
|Resale value| Finish can dull over decades|
Frequently Asked Questions
Is quartz or granite better for the kitchen?
Quartz is better for most kitchens because of its superior durability, stain resistance, low maintenance, and modern styles. Granite works well for those wanting a classic look and willing to provide regular care.
Is quartz healthier than granite?
Both materials can meet health standards. Quartz may release some VOCs initially but low-VOC options are now available. Granite can sometimes emit trace radon/radiation but can be tested. Overall, they are comparable in health impact.
Is quartz worth the extra cost over granite?
In most cases, yes. The added upfront investment in quartz pays off over decades of use with little to no maintenance required and improved durability. Saving on granite can cost more long-term when resealing, polishing, cleaning, and replacing worn slabs.
Can quartz or granite be recycled?
Both materials can be recycled, which is beneficial at the end of their lifespan. Quartz countertops are crushed and reused as aggregates in new engineered stone slabs. Old granite can be repurposed for landscaping or crushed to make new products.
Does quartz stain more than granite?
No, quartz is essentially non-porous and highly stain resistant. Granite can absorb stains over time if not properly sealed and cared for. Quartz simply requires wiping spills to keep it clean and free of stains.
In most cases, quartz edges out granite as the best option for kitchen countertops due to its superior durability, low maintenance, resistance to damage, and modern aesthetics. However, natural granite remains a stunning classic. It can make sense for homeowners who don’t mind providing granite’s specialized care and appreciate its timeless beauty and unique patterning.
With their respective pros and cons weighed, quartz is the practical choice for most, but granite still has its merits. Carefully consider your unique needs, style, and budget to decide between quartz vs granite countertops and achieve the ideal look for your kitchen.