When remodeling your kitchen, one of the most important and visible items to consider is your countertops. And one of the first considerations is what material the countertops will be made of. If you’ve decided on a hard, durable, elegant countertop, you have two main options – quartz or granite.
So, what’s the difference? Which is best? And which is right for you? In the end, that’s a personal choice, but let’s compare a few of the main characteristics of these two popular options.
IS IT NATURAL?
While both granite and quartz countertops are made from natural materials, there is a difference.
Granite is a natural stone, extracted from the earth in a huge chunk, then cut into individual slabs like a loaf of bread, ready to be cut, polished and installed in your kitchen as a countertop.
Quartz counters are slightly less natural, because they are engineered in a factory. They are composed primarily of naturally occurring quartz (nearly 94 percent) which is ground and combined with polyester resins to bind them into a solid form, roughly the same size as a granite slab.
LOOK & FEEL
Granite, being a natural stone, has inherent flaws and imperfections, giving your countertops a unique sense of depth, texture and movement. However, the colors of granite are limited to only those produced by nature. You may also see seams where your granite countertops were joined together during installation, but the quality of the cut and installation will make them appear less visible.
Quartz is artificially colored and nonporous. During the binding process, pigments and other materials may be added to create specific colors and textures, creating a look nearly indistinguishable from natural stone. While you will likely see seams with a quartz countertop, they will be less visible if you go with a darker color.
DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE
Both materials are very durable and hold up well against heat, chipping, scratching and staining. They are also both easily cleaned with warm water and a mild detergent.
Granite is a porous stone. In order to maintain its stain-resistance, it must be sealed upon installation, and then again on a regular basis throughout its lifetime.
Quartz is nonporous and never requires sealing. However, quartz countertops can discolor over time if exposed to direct sunlight. If part of your kitchen receives notably higher exposure to UV rays than another, you may eventually begin to see a color difference.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Sealing your granite not only protects against staining, it also helps prevent food and moisture from penetrating the surface. However, it is still a porous surface and requires ongoing maintenance to ensure the seal remains intact. Because quartz is nonporous, harmful bacteria will not grow on your countertops, making it much more food-safe.
Concerns have also been raised about the potential for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being present in quartz and granite countertops. In quartz, the concern is primarily with the epoxy binder and acrylics used in manufacturing. And while radon can occur naturally in both granite and quartz, it is in very low levels and both materials have been deemed safe for indoor use.
VALUE & COST
Granite or quartz countertops will certainly cost more than laminates, solid surface and other similar options. But unlike most other materials, stone or fabricated stone countertops will immediately enhance the value of your home and lose very little value over time.
Granite prices are based on the style and color you choose – the more common it is, the less it costs. Quartz is generally more expensive, usually around double the cost of common granite and is line with the more exotic granite styles. Be careful in basing you decision solely on cost as low-cost granite countertops are usually of poor quality and may also be accompanied by hidden costs that add up quickly.
The only way to get the best price is to do your homework and get multiple quotes – for the materials and the installation fees. The quality of the material and the workmanship in cutting and installing your new countertops will determine how they will look and perform in your home for years to come.
WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE
So which one is right for you? Simply put, the one you find most appealing, that fits into your budget and best matches your design needs. You really can’t go wrong with either choice. So, take your time, and make an informed decision.