Granite vs. Quartz: Which one is really better?
There’s a heated debate that has raged through the design world for well over a decade now, and you need only watch an episode or two of any HGTV renovation show to know just how divided the camps truly are. The question up for debate?
Which is better: granite or quartz?
If you’re reading this post, you’re most likely hoping to be enlightened because you’ve probably heard the back and forth debate or at least have been around the design block enough to know that there is one.
To help shine some light on this countertop quarrel, we decided it would be helpful to break down the benefits and performance of each option into a few notable categories. But before we do, let’s take a quick trip down education lane to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what exactly granite and quartz are.
Granite is a natural stone that’s formed from lava (Pretty cool, huh?). Because of the nature of its formation, every piece of granite has a different composition of various minerals and crystals, which is why there are so many different colors and variations to choose from. Granite is harvested from the earth, cut into slabs, and polished to a fine finish.
Quartz is also a natural stone as it exists in the world, but quartz countertops are constructed differently than granite. They’re engineered. Instead of cutting large pieces out of the earth for slabs, quartz is harvested and then broken down into small pieces, ground into a powder, mixed with a polymer, and then extruded and pressurized into slabs.
So now that we know what granite and quartz are in a practical sense, let’s take a look at how they measure up against one another.
One of the biggest factors that draws most granite and quartz enthusiasts alike is durability. Both granite and quartz are much more durable than a lot of other materials out there, making them great choices for people who don’t want to have to fuss over what’s being done on the counter. Let’s take a look at durability in more specific areas:
Scratching, Chipping, & Breaking
Granite is extremely hard, which means it holds up pretty well to everyday use, and if you don’t abuse your counters, you’ll most likely be able to enjoy them for a lifetime without having to worry about scratching, chipping, or breaking. Keep in mind, though, that granite by nature is porous, meaning it has natural fault lines that could lead to cracks and breaks if experiencing a major blow from a heavy impact. This is most common around edges and sinks. Handling heavy objects with care when working over your counters, can prevent you from the woes of a broken top.
Quartz is an extremely hard and durable stone. On Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, quartz weighs in at a whopping 7 (for comparison, diamonds weigh in at 10)! Combine that with the fact that quartz counters are engineered to be non-porous (meaning no natural fissures or weak points), and quartz is a total winner in this category.
While Quartz tends to be the clear front-runner for durability when it comes to scratching, chipping, and breaking, granite has an edge on quartz when it comes to heat resistance. That’s because granite itself can withstand temperatures of 1200˚. Just be sure to check the temperature grade of your sealer, as they tend to not be as heat resistant, especially if they’re wax-based.
Quartz in its natural form is highly heat resistant, but remember that quartz counters utilize a resin to create their non-porous quality, and for that reason, it’s not recommended that you put anything hot directly on them, According to Ceasarstone, their counters are graded to handle heat up to 300˚, but other quartz brands recommend not putting anything over 150˚ on their tops. This is because high temperatures can melt the polymers used to bind the tops together, resulting in a big, unattractive scorch mark.
When it comes to staining, there’s one factor that determines whether or not this is an issue: porosity. That means, the more porous an object, the more susceptible it is to staining. As we’ve already covered, granite is porous by nature and requires sealing. If tops aren’t maintained, something as harmless as water can seep into your counter and leave a stain. If this happens, though, there are several methods that can usually be used to remove the stain.
Because staining is caused by liquids seeping into the pores of a countertop, quartz tops are the clear winner in the “say no to stains” category. Again, they’re engineered to be non-porous, which means that even if spilled liquids are left for a long period of time, you typically don’t have anything to worry about. Keep in mind, however, that because they’re permanently sealed with a resin, you do have to be careful about spilling highly acidic liquids and also using harsh cleaners.
Appearance is typically the first factor that draws people to consider upgrading their spaces with stone counters. While taste is a matter of personal preference, there are definitely some design choices to be considered when deciding between the two.
Because granite is 100% natural and taken as-is from the earth, it tends to lend an organic feel to a space, and there are a ton of choices in color. A visit to the stone yard shows that your options are vast. Do you want something fairly uniform with color and movement? Or do you want something more exotic that makes a bold statement? Whatever your choice, you are likely to be able to find an option that fits your taste and design goals.
So one thing that we haven’t covered so far is the fact that quartz counters get their coloring not from the natural stone in them (quartz is clear), but from dyes added during the manufacturing process. What that means is that quartz countertops can be made in an almost limitless array of color options. In the past, quartz was more uniform in pattern but thanks to advances in their manufacturing process over the last several years, many quartz brands offer options that do a fair job of mimicking their natural stone counterparts. Ceasarstone offers options that mimic softer and less durable stones like Calacatta Marble, giving homeowners the ability to have the beauty of marble with the durability of quartz.
This category is fairly straight forward, so we won’t break it down with a lengthy discussion about each option. Suffice it to say, both are easy to care for. They both require minimal effort with cleaning (soap and water will suffice) and can be disinfected with a simple 50:50 mix of vinegar and water. The biggest differentiator comes down again to the fact that granite is porous and quartz is not, meaning granite will require a routine sealing and quartz won’t.
For some, choosing materials that are environmentally-friendly is an important part of their decision. As with the Maintenance category above, we don’t really need to take a lot of time laying out the argument for both options here because one is a clear winner in this category. Granite has a substantially more invasive impact on the planet by the very nature of how granite countertops are created: a granite top has to be quarried which takes a considerable amount of effort and then the slabs typically have to be transported across long distances (think Italy to your kitchen).
Quartz, on the other hand, can be regionally manufactured and then locally fabricated, cutting down on transportation energy and pollution. Caesarstone, as a company goal, has committed to protect the environment with sustainable manufacturing practices. You can read their statement here.
According to HomeAdviser.com, the average cost to purchase granite and have it installed is between $2,000 and $4,000. This range, of course, varies based on the color chosen, the number of slabs needed to cover your countertop layout, and the structural integrity of your cabinets. Because of the composition and weight of granite, actual fabrication and installation of the countertops should always be left to a professional.
Depending on the quality of quartz and style of edging, HomeAdvisor.com places the average cost to install quartz countertops between $1,500 and $5,500. You can do some of the preliminary work (like demo and structural reinforcement of cabinetry) to save money, but because engineered quartz is heavier than other stone surfaces, a professional installer needs to approve the structural integrity of the space and do the actual installing.
So there you have it. The arguments have been made and the evidence supplied! As you can see there’s really no universal right or wrong answer as it all comes down to personal preference on how you want your space to look and function (and maybe what you’re willing to pay for it).
If you want to take a closer look at either option in your space, we’re here for you! Simply schedule a FREE In-Home Discovery session, and we’ll help you explore your design options and find the right fit for your remodeling goals.