When choosing a material for your kitchen or bathroom countertops, two of the most popular options are quartz and porcelain. Both offer a range of benefits, but which one is the better choice for your home? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare quartz vs porcelain countertops to help you decide which material is right for your needs and style.
Overview of Quartz Countertops
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, have risen in popularity over the past couple decades as an alternative to natural stone surfaces like granite and marble. Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz which is combined with resins, polymers, and pigments and molded into slabs.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the key features and benefits of quartz countertops:
- Durable – Quartz is an extremely hard, non-porous material that stands up well to scratches, stains, and heat. It doesn’t need to be sealed.
- Low Maintenance – Because it resists stains and etching, quartz requires very little maintenance compared to many other countertop materials.
- Variety of Colors and Patterns – Manufacturers can add various pigments and particles during production to create unique colors and patterns. There are many options from solid colors to granites.
- Non-Porous – Unlike granite and marble which are naturally porous, quartz does not need to be sealed as it won’t absorb spills and stains.
- Seamless Appearance – Large quartz slabs allow for a seamless appearance on your counters.
- Hygienic – The nonporous surface inhibits bacterial growth, making quartz a hygienic choice.
Potential downsides of quartz countertops include:
- Higher cost than alternatives like laminate
- Can chip or crack if subjected to significant impact
- Requires professional installation
Overview of Porcelain Countertops
Porcelain countertops provide another option that is growing in popularity. Porcelain is an extremely hard, non-porous material made from clay that is molded and fired at high temperatures.
Here are some key features of porcelain countertops:
- Extremely Durable – Porcelain has high flexural strength and density, making it highly resistant to scratches, chips, cracks, heat, and stains.
- Stain-Resistant – The nonporous quality makes porcelain very stain resistant and easy to clean. Spills can often be wiped right off.
- Heat-Resistant – Porcelain can withstand heat up to 800°F, allowing hot pots and pans to be placed right on the surface.
- Water-Resistant – Porcelain repels water exceptionally well and won’t absorb moisture.
- Unique Patterns and Finishes – From glossy to matte, there are many finish options. Porcelain can mimic patterns of natural stone, concrete, wood, and more.
- Eco-Friendly – Porcelain is considered an environmentally friendly material since it can be recycled.
- Affordable – Porcelain slabs tend to cost less than many other countertop materials.
Potential disadvantages of porcelain countertops include:
- Prone to cracking or chipping if subjected to hard impacts
- Can appear more “fake” than natural stone
- Seams may be more visible than quartz
Now that we’ve provided an overview of the pros and cons of each material, let’s do a detailed comparison of quartz versus porcelain countertops.
Quartz vs Porcelain Countertops Comparison
Both quartz and porcelain rate extremely well when it comes to durability. They are far superior to materials like marble, granite, laminate, concrete, or wood when it comes to standing up to daily wear and tear.
However, porcelain edges out quartz in terms of sheer toughness and strength. The dense composition makes porcelain resistant to scratches, impacts, heat up to 800°F, and more. Quartz is also extremely durable for everyday use but porcelain is less prone to chipping from hard impacts.
In terms of appearance, porcelain and quartz are both available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes. Porcelain can realistically mimic patterns found in materials like wood, stone, and concrete. Quartz also comes in lovely natural-looking patterns.
Which material looks more attractive really comes down to personal preference. Some prefer the glossy shine that porcelain can provide while others like the matte look of some quartz finishes.
An advantage of quartz is that the pigments run through the entire slab, so if the surface is scratched or damaged, the look remains consistent. Porcelain patterns are printed on the surface and can potentially wear over time.
Porcelain countertops tend to have a price advantage over quartz. Material and installation costs are often 15-30% lower than quartz. This makes porcelain an appealing option if you’re on a tight budget but still want the look and performance of a high-end countertop material.
However, quartz remains competitively priced with many other premium countertop options like granite and marble. The pricing difference between the two is not extreme.
In terms of cleaning and maintenance, porcelain and quartz are nearly equal in their low maintenance needs. Both resist stains exceptionally well and can be maintained simply by wiping with a damp cloth to remove most spills and messes. They are far easier to care for than high-maintenance natural stone.
One advantage of porcelain is that it can be cleaned with harsh chemicals or abrasives without damage to the finish. Quartz can be damaged by exposure to strong chemicals. For everyday cleaning, a mild soap and water is all that is needed for both materials.
Installation and Seams
Porcelain and quartz countertops should always be installed by professionals. Quartz typically requires more seams than porcelain. The dense composition of porcelain allows for very large slabs and fewer seams. With porcelain, thinner grout lines are possible for a near seamless look. Quartz seams will be more noticeable.
For DIYers, porcelain may be a better choice since the seams are more forgiving. But for professional installation, either option can provide excellent results.
If heat resistance is important to you, porcelain has a clear advantage. It can withstand temperatures up to 800°F allowing hot cookware to be placed directly on the surface without worry. Quartz is prone to damage from excessive heat and requires the use of trivets and hot pads.
Both materials are considered very hygienic options since they resist the growth of mold and bacteria. Neither material is porous so spills won’t seep in and cause issues.
Quartz likely has a slight edge when it comes to hygiene. Some porcelain finishes more closely mimic a natural stone-like appearance which can make the surface a bit less smooth at the microscopic level. The ultra smooth finish of quartz makes it the more hygienic choice but either material is far superior to granite or marble for kitchen hygiene.
For environmental sustainability, porcelain has an advantage. It is made from natural clay materials and can also be recycled. Quartz contains resins and polymers that make it more difficult to recycle. Porcelain is considered one of the most eco-friendly countertop materials.
Which is Better for Kitchen Counters?
For kitchen countertops, both porcelain and quartz are excellent choices that will provide many years of beauty and durability. If cooking and food prep take place directly on the counters, porcelain has an advantage due to its superior heat resistance. Quartz requires using trivets and hot pads.
Both clean up equally well in the kitchen and resist stains from coffee, wine, oil, and other kitchen mishaps. Porcelain costs a bit less making it potentially more budget-friendly. But the appearance and seamless look of quartz is hard to beat. It’s also a bit more hygienic.
Overall, either material makes an outstanding option for kitchen counters. Much comes down to personal priorities and which aesthetic you prefer. You really can’t go wrong with either quartz or porcelain.
Which is Better for Bathroom Counters?
For bathrooms, quartz likely has a slight edge but porcelain remains an excellent choice. The reason quartz is preferred for bathrooms is primarily the superior seamless appearance it provides. With quartz, the seams between slabs are less noticeable. Porcelain seams are harder to disguise.
The moisture level in bathrooms is also a consideration. Quartz has a smoother finish that makes it a bit less prone to moisture buildup around seams. The ultra-hygienic properties of quartz are also well-suited to bathroom environments.
However, porcelain remains a great option. Its water-resistant properties prevent moisture damage and the durability is perfect for withstanding daily wear and tear around sinks. The lower cost can also be appealing when budgeting for bathroom remodeling projects.
Here is an overview of average installed costs for porcelain and quartz countertops:
- Porcelain countertops – $40-$100 per square foot installed
- Quartz countertops – $80-$150 per square foot installed
As you can see, porcelain comes at a lower cost on average while still providing a durable, stylish countertop. Quartz costs more but remains competitively priced compared to other premium materials.
The specifics of your project like slab sizes, edge profiles, and more will also impact the final price. Be sure to get detailed quotes from countertop installation professionals to compare exact costs for your kitchen or bath.
FAQs about Quartz vs Porcelain Countertops
Is porcelain more durable than quartz?
Porcelain edges out quartz in sheer durability and toughness. It ranks a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, making it suitable for heavy-use commercial environments. Quartz is also extremely durable for residential use but not quite as damage and scratch resistant as porcelain.
Does porcelain stain more than quartz?
Neither material stains easily. Liquids and spills wipe right off the nonporous surface of porcelain and quartz. However, porcelain tends to be slightly more stain resistant due to its denser, less porous composition. Any stains that may occur only affect the surface color, not the material itself.
Does porcelain get hot like quartz does?
No, porcelain has superior heat resistance. Pots and pans straight from the stove or oven can be placed directly on porcelain without risk of damage. Quartz requires the use of hot pads and trivets to prevent damage from excessive heat exposure.
Is porcelain cheaper than quartz?
Yes, porcelain does tend to cost less than quartz for both materials and installation. The difference is around 15-30% lower for a complete porcelain countertop project compared to quartz. The pricing gap has narrowed in recent years but porcelain remains the more budget-friendly option.
Is porcelain eco-friendly like quartz?
Porcelain is considered one of the most environmentally friendly countertop materials. It’s primarily made from naturally occurring clay and can also be recycled. Quartz contains resins and polymers that cannot be readily recycled. Porcelain has a notable advantage when it comes to sustainability.
Does porcelain chip like quartz?
Both materials are resistant to chips and cracks in normal use but may show damage if subjected to significant impacts. Porcelain is slightly more prone to chipping if the edge or corners are hit forcefully. Quartz is also resistant to chips but may crack easier under pressure. With proper care, either material can remain damage-free.
When choosing between quartz and porcelain, there’s no one perfect option. Both of these top-tier countertop materials have unique benefits. Porcelain excels in sheer durability and heat resistance. Quartz offers a brighter, more seamless appearance. Cost also favors porcelain tiles while quartz promotes better hygiene.
Your own priorities will determine whether quartz or porcelain is better for your next kitchen or bath remodel. If cooking directly on the surface, porcelain may be the smarter choice. For an ultra-low maintenance and smooth appearance, quartz counters shine. Weigh the pros and cons carefully and you’ll end up with beautiful, durable countertops you’ll enjoy for decades.