If you’ve got kitchen renovations on your mind, or perhaps the addition of an outdoor cooking space, there’s likely a heavyweight battle going on between two world-class competitors: Quartz vs. Granite.
These two knockout choices boast many of the same qualities, like durability and easy clean up. To the untrained eye, they even look alike.
But looks can be deceiving.
Quartz and granite are not the same, meaning there are some key factors for you to understand before you pick the winner.
Let’s dig into the resumes of these two contenders before you determine the champion for your home.
Quartz vs. Granite: What Are They, Really?
Many think these two stones are created equal, but they aren’t, since granite is a natural stone and quartz is engineered. They are both natural, hard rock, but there are differences.
Granite is a natural stone that’s formed mainly of quartz but with feldspar, mica and other trace minerals. That means it has a flecked pattern that is one of its key characteristics, and it also means it’s available only in naturally occurring colors.
Granite comes to us from a stone quarry and is cut into slabs that are polished and made into the product we use on countertops and other spaces.
Quartz is an engineered stone that likely contains a large amount of naturally occurring quartz, but can also have other minerals. Quartz products are actually stone by-products, ground up and combined with resin to form the slabs that we use in kitchens and bathrooms.
In fact, when we get down to the nitty gritty of quartz, there are two materials formed from quartz, one of the most abundant materials in the earth’s crust:
1. Quartzite: is naturally occurring sandstone but undergoes intense heat and pressure to form the slab.
2. Engineered Quartz: is formed by crushing rocks that are then bound together with resins.
Granite may appear more natural looking, but quartz may actually be easier to maintain.
But it also means quartz is not completely natural. It usually contains more than 90% stone, but could contain up to 10% polymer resins and pigments. That may be a factor to folks who are concerned about products like resins, which have been known to contain chemicals that emit pollutants known as volatile organic compounds.
Applications: How Can You Use Quartz vs. Granite?
There are a variety of uses for quartz and granite in your home.
For instance, they can both be used for:
- Kitchen countertops
- Bathroom vanity countertops
- Backsplashes in the kitchen or bathroom
- Around a fireplace
- Outdoor kitchen or BBQ countertops
There is a slight difference in the two, however.
Quartz is slightly more resistant to stains, so that makes it more suitable in an area where spots may not be wiped up immediately, like bathrooms. Think about how your family uses the bathroom. If you have kids that splash water, soap and toothpaste on the counters and don’t bother wiping them (until you come around to clean), quartz is a better choice.
Similarly in the kitchen, quartz may be a better choice due to its non-porous surface. However, if your kitchen gets a lot of direct sunlight on the counters, or you like to set hot pots directly on the counter, heat can discolor quartz over time. Granite may be a better choice for your kitchen.
Colors: How Creative Can You Be?
The difference in the engineering of these stones also creates differences in their colors, patterns and overall appearances.
Granite, as a natural stone, will be as unique as snowflakes: No two slabs are alike. Patterns, colors, flecks and lines will be distinctive, meaning your countertop, floor or outdoor kitchen will be distinct. But it also means less uniformity.
If you opt for granite, here’s what you’ll get:
- A natural appearance, including natural imperfections, which some people like.
- A variety of color options, including off-white, blacks and greens. But only naturally occurring colors will be among those options.
- Seams that show more readily.
A quartz product, whether made from engineered quartz or quartzite, will be more uniform. But you do have a choice of many different colors and patterns. Some of the choices won’t look like granite, which may be exactly the appearance you’re trying to achieve.
If you opt for quartz, here’s what you’ll get:
- The choice of almost any color, since it’s produced with coloring from pigments that vary from marble to red; the more common options are white with highlights of beige or grey. You can even choose what’s called “marble veining,” a look that’s popular with many people.
- A consistent look throughout the slab, since it’s manufactured. Seams are not as a noticeable as with granite, but sunlight may eventually discolor the resin that is used to bind the product.
- A product that does not look as natural in the eyes of some people, due to that consistency.
In other words, granite will have more natural striations and swirls that will vary from one spot on the slab to another. Quartz doesn’t have that kind of look, being more consistent across the slab.
Granite also tends to be more “earthy” in texture, with crystals that produce microscopic fissures. These little raised lines have their own unique color, making granite seem slightly coarser than quartz.
Quartz has a smoother texture, and the more finely ground it is, the glossier and more polished it will be.
It really comes down to what you prefer.
If you’re looking for a natural stone appearance, granite is a natural stone. It will give your kitchen, for instance, a back to nature quality and will be its focal point over other accents that are simpler, like a basic backsplash.
But if your space already features patterns and textures that are its focal point, the more minimalist quartz, featuring its uniformity among the pieces, will be the winner.
Cost: How Hard Will These Heavyweights Hit Your Pocketbook?
If you’re on a budget, there’s a chance that neither of these choices will be for you. After all, these are high-quality choices composed of mostly natural rock, giving your home an elegant, long-lasting look.
Quartz can be slightly less expensive, particularly as it gets to be more popular and therefore more widely available. As you would expect, however, unique designer styles and colors will cost more.
In the world of granite, unique colors can also increase the price point, as well as the requirement for larger slabs. Small pieces and tiles will be less expensive.
There can be other variations in price for both products, depending on the style, and options like the edging treatment chosen. Don’t forget about installation, which can be impacted by factors like where you live.
Generally, quartz will run you about $300 – $400 per square meter (plus GST).
Granite will cost approximately $200 – $600 per square meter (plus GST).
Care and Cleaning: How Do You Keep The Stone Looking New?
Granite is somewhat porous and therefore requires sealing when it’s installed, followed by periodic re-sealing. Sealing helps it resist absorbing any stains, but it’s still important to clean spills up quickly and not let them sit. If a spill gets absorbed, it could stain or cause the growth of bacteria.
Quartz is not porous, so it’s more resistant to staining and bacteria, but spills should still be wiped up quickly. Any liquid or food that has a rich color or dye could stain any surface.
Any type of microfiber or other non-abrasive cloth, as well as a non-abrasive cleaner, can be used on either product.
Installation: What Does it Take?
You may consider yourself a bit of a do-it-yourself-er, or maybe you’re used to handling renovations and other work around the house. But these two products are not really meant for DIY installations.
For one, they are extremely heavy, with even a small countertop weighing upwards of 100 pounds. Cutting, fitting and doing the edge finishing all require special tools. A professional, then, should handle anything other than a very small installation.
First off, the slabs of both products are cut to fit the exact shape of your chosen layout, whether that’s a kitchen counter or a bathroom vanity. Even a small mistake could mean re-cutting the slab, or it could mean an entirely new slab has to be cut. Aligning to areas like sinks can be tricky.
In the case of quartz, if it’s necessary to put more than one piece together, a professional will finish the seams properly to ensure they are less noticeable.
The weight of the stone products means cabinets may need to be reinforced.
There’s also the consideration of transporting the stone, and putting it into place, as it’s vulnerable to cracking during transportation and installation.
Therefore, special equipment may be required for all aspects of handling stone: cutting, transportation, carrying, putting in place and installation. Hiring someone who knows what they’re doing means they can fabricate, cut and install the product.
Be sure to ask about warranties on their work, as that’s another protection to ensure you get quality installation.
For those reasons, the two products are relatively similar to install. But it’s just not worth the risks of trying to do it on your own.
Durability & Strength: How Much Abuse Can These Heavyweights Take?
Both quartz and granite are extremely durable. After all, they’re stone! As a result, they will both resist chipping, cracking, and scratching from things like kitchen tools.
However, it’s not recommended that you cut directly on your stone countertop. They are not completely scratch proof, and in the case of quartz, a scratch may be more visible because of the consistency of its colors and patterns.
Granite is relatively porous, so it should be sealed upon installation. It also requires ongoing sealing on a periodic basis. Granite’s natural flaws can make it more prone to cracking.
The resins used in the fabrication of quartz means it does not have to be sealed, and it also makes it less prone to staining than granite. That uniform material of quartz also means it’s less likely to crack.
It is believed that the porous nature of granite can make it more susceptible to bacteria, unlike quartz, but if you keep your counters clean, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Another factor with the natural composition of granite is that it can chip if struck with a hard object, particularly on the edges and corners. Be sure to talk to your installer about this, as rounded edges can significantly reduce this risk.
Heat and Moisture Resistance: Can They Take The Heat in The Kitchen?
These are both stone products, so they are both heat resistant. For instance, a hot pot can be placed on either a granite or quartz countertop.
However, in the case of granite, there is a chance that it will crack due to a thermal shock. In the case of quartz, the resin that binds the product can be discolored when exposed to heat. It’s recommended that you use a trivet on both products.
In terms of moisture, granite is fine as long as the sealant is in good condition, otherwise it can absorb moisture. It isn’t a good idea to leave water or other liquids sitting too long on granite or it could cause a stain.
Quartz is moisture resistant, but that doesn’t mean that water or other spills should be left for a period of time. It’s good to wipe up spills to prevent staining.
Repair And Maintenance: Keeping Them in Tip-Top Shape
Either product can be repaired with an epoxy kit, which can handle small chips or scratches. You may feel comfortable handling this on your own, but it’s probably best to hire a professional. For instance, a crack in quartz may be difficult to fix because of the consistent nature of the patterns.
In terms of maintenance, you have to be sure to keep up with the sealing of granite, performing this task every 1-2 years.
You may also want to call a professional to refinish or polish the surface if you have multiple areas where there are dull patches or several scratches.
Environmental Issues: What’s The Footprint of the Two Products?
As previously mentioned, there is some thought that the resins in quartz could emit pollutants known as volatile organic compounds. As well, there was once a concern that granite or quartz could emit radon. Recent studies indicate that’s extremely unlikely.
In terms of other environmental concerns, granite is a completely natural product, and therefore its production creates fewer carbon emissions than quartz, which is over 90% natural.
But granite does require quarrying, and quartz is usually produced from stone by-products.
With either product, it does take energy to transport, so you can minimize your carbon footprint by choosing locally sourced stone.
Resale Value: What Happens When I’m Done With Them?
People interested in purchasing your home will be impressed by either granite or quartz. They are high-end products that are superior to ceramic tile or laminate countertops.
Granite may get an edge over quartz due to the fact it’s 100% natural stone, and has been on the scene longer with its good reputation.
The decision on whether to choose granite or quartz is not necessarily an easy one. It will come down to a few factors, as well as individual preference for look and maintenance.
Both are premium building products that will add value to any space in which you install them.
Granite may be more appealing to those who like the look and concept of an all-natural material. Quartz is more consistent looking and is slightly easier to maintain.
In the end, either of these heavyweight contenders will be a winning addition to your home.