In your eagerness to install a countertop in your kitchen or bath, you have narrowed it down to two materials: quartz (engineered stone) vs. granite (natural stone).
This is not an easy decision because the distinction between the two countertop materials isn't apparent. After all, quartz and granite are each loudly touted by their respective manufacturers as being purely natural, straight from the Earth, hard as stone.
How different can they be?
Here's a comparison of the two products on five key points, with a summary recommendation at the end.
1. Which One Is More "Natural"?
Both countertop materials are overwhelmingly made of a natural product, but one comes out slightly ahead:
- Granite: 100% natural. Slab granite counters are literally sliced from quarries, cut to size, and honed down until they are smooth.
- Quartz: 97% natural. Prominent quartz countertop maker Caesarstone notes that 93% natural quartz aggregates are mixed with the remaining 7% of color pigments and polymer resins. The resins bind the particles together.
No bargains with either product. If you want to save money, go elsewhere—laminate being your best bet. Prices of quartz and granite countertops continually shift because both are sourced overseas. All of these products are container shipped across oceans, and this is dependent on petroleum prices.
- Granite: Slab granite can start around $60 per square foot, but prices exponentially rise from there.
- Quartz: From $67 to $93 per square foot, installed. Cost of a typical quartz counter installation, comprised of 28 square feet of Zodiaq Abyss Black with 5 square feet of similar material bevel edged backsplash, and a cut-out made for a double-bowl sink, will be about $2,219 to $3,081.
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer. Radon can be found in granite and quartz. Radon in countertops is a contentious issue. Homeowners have little to fear about radon in counters, as it appears to have been an overwrought media scare that began around 2008.
- Granite: The magazine Consumer Reports indicates that a scientist found "almost no radon" coming from the granite.
- Quartz: The same publication found "very little" radon in engineered stones.
Stone, whether natural or engineered, seems like it should be maintenance-free. Not so. Both materials require maintenance, with granite requiring more than quartz:
- Quartz: Quartz does not need initial or continued sealing.
- Granite: Granite needs to be sealed upon installation, and then again on a regular basis.
- Quartz: Engineered stone has the flaws engineered out. You will not find invisible striations just waiting to crack open someday, as you will find with slab granite. Due to the presence of the resins, quartz counters are less prone to staining.
- Granite: Natural slab granite, for all its beauty, has flaws and imperfections that homeowners either love, accept, or hate. Granite stains if subjected to red wine.
Quartz. This material is designed especially for rigorous kitchen conditions. Also, it uses waste materials rather than quarrying new materials.