Granite and quartz are popular choices for countertops and flooring. Granite is a very durable natural stone with a high aesthetic value. It is heat and scratch resistant but also porous and therefore possible to stain; it requires periodic maintenance. The quartz used in countertops and flooring is a man-made combination of resins and crushed quartz. The resulting surface is non-porous, meaning it is more stain resistant than granite and requires less maintenance overall. Quartz is also very heat and scratch resistant. Most granite will be more expensive than quartz.
Silestone is one popular brand of engineered quartz that is imported from Spain.
Granite surfaces come from naturally-occurring granite rock which is mined and cut into large but manageable slabs for surface construction. Quartz surfaces, however, are engineered. They almost entirely consist of natural materials, but the combining of those materials is completely manufactured.
Over 90% of quartz surfaces consist of ground up quartz minerals, while resins — the two most common being polyester and epoxy — make up about another 7% of the materials. These resins bind the crushed quartz into a single form and to any additional color pigments or fillers, such as crushed mirrors, colored glasses, metals, and even shells.
Though it is possible to purchase solid-color quartz surfaces, many choose the quartz surface designs that mimic natural stone. As such, granite and many quartz surfaces often have very similar aesthetic qualities — speckled, neutral tones — and can sometimes be difficult to tell apart from a distance. This is somewhat unsurprising, as every piece of granite naturally contains quartz minerals, meaning there is often some overlap in appearance.
Close inspection of quartz surfaces that are designed to mimic natural material reveals quartz has more uniform patterns and colors. Its man-made appearance is simply not as random as what is found in a natural stone like granite or marble, but this is improving with time and technology.
Either surface is sufficiently strong for general use in kitchens or bathrooms. With proper care, granite can last a lifetime in good condition, and many quartz manufacturers offer lifetime guarantees on their surfaces. Where the two types of surface differ most is when it comes to their ability to resist damage.
While granite is a very durable rock, it is not without natural flaws that have the potential to make it weak in certain places over time. These weaknesses, though rare, can make certain parts of the stone susceptible to cracking or chipping. In contrast, such flaws are essentially engineered out of quartz surfaces, making them harder and more durable than granite. The quartz mineral itself is one of the hardest in the world — harder, even, than diamonds. Even so, the man-made aspect of quartz can, on very rare occasion, also mean there are manufacturing mistakes which could cause some of the same problems for quartz that granite’s natural flaws can cause it to have. Purchasing granite or quartz from a reputable seller with good guarantees is a must.
Though quartz is often touted to be more heat and scratch resistant than granite, neither surface will be easy to scratch or damage with heat during general use. Quartz, however, is much more resistant to spills and subsequent staining than granite is. Natural stone like granite is porous, meaning it absorbs liquids that are not cleaned up quickly enough; these liquids can noticeably and permanently stain the stone, especially if the spills are highly acidic. Granite is not exactly easy to stain — in fact, it is the most stain resistant of the natural stone surfaces — but quartz, as a non-porous surface, is nearly impossible to stain. To make granite more stain resistant, it is important to maintain a sealant on its surface.
Granite and quartz are good in kitchens and bathrooms, where hard surfaces are often desired. They can be used for countertops, flooring, and even backsplashes and walls. Neither surface should be used outdoors: As a slightly porous surface, granite will be vulnerable to the elements or to water in bathrooms. Depending on a quartz surface’s makeup, it can fade in direct sunlight.
On a day-to-day basis, both granite and quartz are easy to maintain. Cleaning either surface is as simple as using water and dish soap with a cloth or sponge. Unlike quartz, though, granite requires additional periodic maintenance. A surface sealant plays a vital role in protecting granite from stains, and resealing is required annually or at least once every two years. Because quartz is non-porous, it does not need a sealant to protect it from stains.
Quartz is usually cheaper than granite. Granite prices range from $40 to $150 per square foot, including the cost of installation, with price variances often connected to colors and general aesthetics. Quartz surfaces generally cost $50 to $100 per square foot, including installation costs. Both surfaces are extremely heavy and require professional installation.
When deciding between granite and quartz, it is also important to take into consideration the long-term costs of granite, which periodically requires professional resealing. Quartz has few if any expenses after its installation.