Quartz vs. Granite Countertops: Major Differences, Pros And Cons
Quartz countertops, also called engineered stone countertops, are man-made products. They are made of 93% to 95% ground-up natural quartz stone and a small number of other minerals and colorants. The rest is a durable resin that holds it all together.
Granite countertops are 100% natural rock that is taken out of the ground, cut to fit and installed.
Maintenance of quartz countertops is almost non-existent. The resin creates a non-porous surface that needs no sealing or attention of any kind. On very rare occasions, the caulking where the countertop meets the wall may need to be refreshed.
Granite, on the other hand, must be sealed annually to protect its somewhat porous surface against staining and scratching. Keeping it clean is important as well for the same reasons. Avoid harsh all-purpose cleaners for granite. Granite is considered low (but not, no) maintenance.
The choices regarding design are many for quartz countertops. Everything from prefabricated slabs in a wide range of colors and patterns to custom designed, purpose-built masterpieces are available at any time. In general, they are uniformly designed. Complex patterned tops are available as well. Any edge style can be cut into a quartz countertop.
Granite design is chosen rather than created. A wide range of colors and patterns are available thanks to granite’s abundance on the planet. There are limits though. Every granite countertop is one-of-a-kind. You may have to shop around, or even compromise a little, to match your desired look. Almost any edge style can be applied to granite countertops.
Which Countertop Material Is Best?
From deep, rich color to modern, light patterns, quartz can match or compliment any kitchen Being a man-made product, limitations are few. Combining different elements of quartz, minerals, colors, glass and resin, it can be made to resemble granite or marble, or it can be unique to your tastes.
Employing Mother Nature as the artist, granite countertops have a look that’s all their own. Being a 100% natural product, what you see is what you get. Every piece of granite has different veining patterns and inconsistencies which lend to its beauty. Patterns and colors may be simple or complex depending on volcanic events that took place millions of years ago.
Maintenance and Care
For all practical purposes, quartz is maintenance-free. Its non-porous surface repels dirt and moisture to resist staining damage. The hardness of the resins resists scratching and chipping well. Standard all-purpose cleaners work well for cleaning.
Granite is a low-maintenance product. To avoid staining it must be sealed every year with a readily available granite sealer. Its naturally strong surface resists scratching and chipping. Wiping often with mild soap and water is usually enough to maintain its beauty between sealings. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners on the off chance that they damage the stone’s porous surface.
Virtually all quartz countertop manufacturers offer limited warranties for durations anywhere from 10 years to life. This is a testament to their confidence that the product will outlive the home it’s installed in.
The generally accepted estimate for the lifespan of granite countertops is 100 years. The question comes down to care and maintenance. Granite lasts for millions or billions of years in its natural form. However, once it’s cut up and subjected to the rigors of kitchen use, it may run out of practical usability someday. It’s more than likely to last much longer than you own your home, especially if it’s well maintained.
The manufacturing methods used to make quartz countertops ensure that the product is uniform and solid all the way through. Nothing is perfect though. In the rare event that quartz becomes chipped, scratched or cracked, there are ways to fix it. Professionals can buff out scratches. Chips are repaired using color-matching resins. Even some minor cracks can be repaired using special epoxy. DIY repair is not recommended.
Granite is tough to damage. It’s porous nature, though, makes it susceptible to stains. These can usually be removed with special granite countertop cleansers. In the event of chips, scratches or cracks, repair methods are similar to those of quartz and should be performed by professionals.
The price of quartz countertops can seriously drive up the cost of your kitchen remodel. Starting around $80 per square foot installed, the average cost can reach $110 per foot. Custom-built, high-end tops with elaborate designs can reach $150 per square foot Installed.
Break out the checkbook. Averaging $130 per square foot installed, granite countertops are considered a high-end luxury item. Prices vary widely and are affected by a number of factors that can fluctuate without much notice. The difficulty of quarrying the stone, shipping expenses from the quarry to you, availability, demand and even political environments all determine pricing. At any given time the range can be from $80 to $180 per foot.
Quartz and Granite
Both of these countertop materials require professional installation for all but the smallest and simplest projects. Quartz and granite are heavy and bulky. They require difficult and precise cuts that cannot be achieved without special equipment. Comprehensive training is required to create invisible lines if multiple sections must be seamed together on-site.
Water and Heat
The resins in quartz countertops don’t allow moisture to penetrate beyond its surface. The same resin, though, can be damaged by high heat. Use hot pads when setting hot pans down on the surface.
A properly sealed granite countertop will have no trouble keeping moisture from causing damage. Heat is no problem for granite. However, some sealers may be adversely affected. Use caution when setting hot items on the surface.
Environmental impacts often come up in the granite vs. quartz debates. There are no easy answers. On one hand, quartz may be better for the environment due to the ability to be locally sourced. Granite must be sourced at the location it is found in, which is often in another part of the world. Granite has no manufactured resins added, so it, on the other hand, may be better for the environment. Quartz uses chemical resins in the product.
The verdict is still undetermined. Is it better to use carbon-based fuel to mine and transport granite from an unsightly quarry? Or is it better to use carbon-based fuel and unnatural resin chemicals in the manufacturing of quartz?
Quartz is the current underdog when it comes to resale value. That sentiment is changing, however. The convenience of a no-maintenance material and the ever-improving quality and available styles is closing the already small resale value gap between the two.
Current estimates rate granite countertops resale value at about 25% of their retail value. That’s to say, the dollar value of the countertops themselves, not including the cost to install them. That’s still a good percentage for resale value but it won’t make you wealthy.