Natural or Not? A Guide to Granite vs. Quartz
You have spent months maybe even years planning out your kitchen or bathroom renovation project and it is finally time to finalize the countertops. Everything you read, everything you hear keeps mentioning two key products: Quartz and Granite. What is the big difference? What material is better? What are these materials made of? Don’t get yourself hung up on selecting the best product on the market – instead focus on which countertop material is going to be best for you – budget, lifestyle, esthetics.
First, a brief rundown of how each product is “made”.
Granite countertops are quarried right from the earth and brought up in a huge single chunk. These chunks are cut into more manageable blocks and are 100% natural stone-created by good old mother nature. Most granite originated in far off lands such as India, Brazil, and Italy. Some are even quarried out of the ocean! From that point the blocks are sliced- almost like bread- using very large wet saws. Each slab is then assigned a number and kept in sequence ready to be fabricated and installed in your home! Colors can range from simple, fairly consistent, but not identical patterns- to slabs that have an incredible amount of movement and color variation. Pricing for granite typically depends on how exotic the stone is.
Quartz, alternatively, is an “engineered” stone which means a manufacturing facility takes a variety of quartz crystals in many different grades and sizes and combines them with color pigments and resin for stability. This mixture is then placed into large machines that essentially combine vibration, compression, and a vacuum to create slabs. These slabs can then be fabricated and installed. Quartz colors range from solid colors with a ‘particulated’ look, to colors that have consistent patterns and movement. The cost quartz tends to start a little higher, but can be pretty competitive to the exotic granite slabs.
Granite Pros and Cons
This product is one of a kind. Because it is being mined directly from the ground- no two pieces will be exactly alike. This give you the concept of exclusivity.
This product is a rock– incredibly durable and strong- but just not indestructible
There are a LARGE variety of colors patterns and shades. This will help this product fit into a multitude of projects and usually has a solution for everyone’s tastes.
Granite requires regular maintenance. Why is this? Because granite is a natural stone, which is part of the beauty and integrity of the material, it is porous. This means that is can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, or other unhealthy things that can build up in the pits and fissures (the almost unnoticeable surface texture). When you seal this product, it takes care of that issue.
Granite stains. And chips and cracks. Again, because this stone is all natural, it can be fragile along with porous, if you spill a glass of red wine on it, the likeliness of that liquid being absorbed into the granite is quite high. Not only will sealing the product keep the creepy crawlies out, it will also decrease the possibility of it acquiring stains. Newer granite companies guarantee their sealing for up to 15 years so you won’t need to re-seal them on a yearly basis.
Every piece is different. This can again be a positive and a negative. Because no two pieces are alike, it becomes incredibly difficult to accurately represent each color. Typically it is industry standard to view your slab prior to fabrication to ensure you are happy with your selection.
Quartz Pros and Cons
This product is one of the strongest materials on the planet. This product is a lot more flexible than 100% natural stone. This allows less installation errors, and opens the doors for different applications, like longer unsupported overhangs.
Durability. Again because of the strength of this material, it makes it incredibly durable. You will dull your knives before you hurt your countertop (although a cutting board is always recommended) Remember the product is durable, not indestructible.
Stain Resistant. Because this product is man-made, it is non porous making maintenance a thing of the past. You won’t have to worry about the possibility of staining, or bacteria growth because there aren’t any nooks and crannies.
Quartz has an incredible amount of uniformity. Samples can be a clear representation of what the product will look like when it is installed and that eliminates seeing a large slab and keeps things consistent.
Seam visibility tends to stand out on solid colors with simple patterns.
Each slab has a ‘particulated’ look. Some clients don’t enjoy the fact that you can see the different quartz crystals that are suspended in the resin binder.
So what stone is right for you?
Keep in mind the reviews you read online are from homeowners defending their own personal choice, mainly because they are so pleased with the choice they have made. Remember at the end of the day you can make a decision knowing that choosing granite or quartz will leave you loving your countertops. There really is no wrong selection, just personal preference in what is going to create the right mood and ambiance in your own home!