When narrowing down a choice for bath or kitchen countertops, it usually comes down to two materials: quartz countertops vs. granite countertops. This is not an easy decision because the distinction between the two countertop materials isn't apparent. After all, quartz (engineered stone) and granite (natural stone) are each loudly touted by their respective manufacturers as being purely natural, straight from the earth, and hard as stone. How different are they and what's better—quartz or granite?
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Granite countertops are produced from purely natural stone that comes directly from stone quarries and is then cut into thin slabs, polished, and fabricated into countertops.
Quartz countertops are engineered stone products that may contain a large percentage of natural quartz but may also include other minerals. They are not slabs of quarried stone but are instead formed from stone byproducts that are ground up and formed into slabs for countertops and other products.
The one advantage that granite has over an engineered stone is that every granite slab is slightly different in mineral pattern and color, meaning that your countertop will be unique. Quartz countertops, as an engineered product, are more uniform in appearance, though many colors and unique patterns are available, including forms that do not resemble granite at all.
The choice here is a matter of personal preference. If you truly want the look of natural stone, then choose the truly natural product—granite. But many people find that quartz countertops offer looks that are different and better than natural stone.
No question about it: Both granite and quartz are premium, high-dollar countertop materials. If you are on a budget, these are not the countertop materials for you because neither one is much cheaper than the other.
Granite countertops cost $80 to $175 per square foot, installed. The price differences depend on the style chosen, as well as on the type of edging treatments requested. Quartz countertops range from about $80 to $140 per square foot, installed. As quartz has become more popular and more widely available, costs of basic countertops have fallen, with unique designer styles and colors commanding upper-end pricing.
Pricing for both types of countertops varies because both are sourced overseas. All of these products are container-shipped across oceans, and this is dependent on petroleum prices, all of which keep quartz and granite expensive. Tariffs and other factors can also affect pricing.
Both countertop materials are overwhelmingly made of natural materials, but granite countertops come out slightly ahead since they are made from 100 percent stone, while quartz, includes natural materials, color pigments, and polymer resins that bond the materials together.
On the other hand, granite countertops require quarrying out of the earth, while quartz countertops are effectively made from left-over stone byproducts, with no quarrying required.
For a time, beginning around 2008, there was some media-induced fear regarding radon emissions from granite countertops, but recent studies report that there is little or no radon coming from either granite or engineered stone countertops. In the words of the EPA: "It is extremely unlikely that radiation from granite countertops would increase annual radiation doses above normal, natural background levels."
These are not products that lend themselves to do-it-yourself installation, except for small bathroom vanity countertops. Granite and quartz are very heavy materials, and even a relatively small 36-inch countertop weighs close to 100 pounds. It is best to have a pro fabricate and install your countertop. If you do choose to do it yourself, granite and quartz countertops are installed in the same fashion. If you are spending the money on either costly material, it does not make sense to take risks on DIY installation.
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Maintenance and Durability
Though both materials are very durable, there is a decided advantage here to quartz over granite. However, there is one disadvantage of quartz countertops when it comes to heat resistance. Let's break down the maintenance and durability issues for each material.
- Sealing: Granite is a relatively porous stone that requires sealing upon installation, then periodic sealing on an ongoing basis. Quartz, on the other hand, does not require sealing, thanks to the resins used in the fabrication of the slabs.
- Cracking: Granite slabs may have inherent flaws that make them prone to cracking. Quartz material is uniform throughout, which means the material rarely cracks.
- Staining: The resins in quartz countertops make them considerably more resistant to staining than granite.
- Bacterial resistance: Quartz is also less susceptible to harboring bacteria, again thanks to the resins that make the surface less porous than granite.
- Heat resistance: Though both materials are considered heat-resistant, granite can withstand much higher temperatures than quartz. Granite is one of the most heat resistant materials available for countertops. You can place a hot pot or pan directly on granite and the material will not be immediately affected unlike quartz, which may become scorched (this also applies to bathrooms where there are hot hair styling appliances).
Real Estate Value
These are both superior building materials that will impress prospective buyers. When compared to laminate or ceramic tile countertops, both granite and quartz may slightly improve the real estate value of your home. There may be some buyers who give a slight advantage to granite since it is a more natural material.
Both granite and quartz are high-end countertop materials that add real estate value to a home. Granite appeals to people who like all-natural materials, while quartz offers easier maintenance and slightly better durability.
What's the difference between granite and quartz?
Granite is an all-natural solid stone, while quartz is an engineered stone that is made up of crushed quartz and other stone byproducts.
Which is easier to care for and maintain, granite or quartz?
Quartz and granite are both easy to maintain by cleaning with mild dish soap and water. Granite is porous and requires a sealant upon installation to protect it against stains. This sealant should be repeated every one to three years. Quartz does not require a sealant.
Do granite or quartz countertops help with the resale value of your home?
Absolutely! Both countertop types will add value to your home and up the resale price when selling the house.
Granite Countertops and Radiation. Environmental Protection Agency.