Granite and quartz are two of the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of appearance, durability, maintenance, and cost. This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between quartz and granite to help you decide which is better for your home renovation or new construction project.
Granite is a natural stone that is mined from quarries around the world. It is an igneous rock formed from magma and made up of quartz, feldspar, and mica. Granite comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns depending on its mineral makeup.
The appearance of granite can range dramatically – from solid colors to vibrant patterns with speckles, veins, and movement. Each granite slab is completely unique with distinct veining and movement in the stone. This gives granite a one-of-a-kind, high-end look that is unmatched by other countertop materials.
Some of the most popular granite colors include:
- Black granite – pure black with little to no veining or movement
- White granite – bright white stone with grey & black speckles
- Beige granite – warm tan/brown tone with minimal veining
- Gray granite – range of dark to light grays, sometimes with black & white flecks
- Green granite – earthy green tones, often with black spotting
- Red granite – vibrant red, burgundy, or reddish-brown colors
Granite’s natural patterning gives each slab an artistic, organic look. The movement and veining make every granite countertop unique.
Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from roughly 90% ground quartz particles combined with pigments for color and resin as a binder. The manufacturing process allows quartz to be molded into consistent slabs.
The appearance of quartz is more uniform than natural granite. Quartz has less dramatic patterning, with a smoother, more consistent look. While less flashy than some granites, quartz offers a modern, streamlined aesthetic.
Quartz comes in a wide array of colors from solid bright whites to deep blacks and bold blues. Patterns can range from solid colors to subtle veining or speckling. Some of the most popular quartz color options include:
- Whites – bright, crisp solid whites like Carrara or Statuario marble
- Grays – range from pale to charcoal
- Blacks – inky solid black or with grey veining
- Beiges – soft taupes and creamy neutrals
- Blues – cool tones like atlantis or midnight blue
The controlled manufacturing process of quartz results in a very uniform appearance. This can be desirable for a clean, contemporary look, but quartz lacks the artistry and uniqueness present in natural granite.
As one of the hardest natural stones on earth, granite is extremely durable and able to withstand significant wear and tear. Its superior hardness rating of 7 on the Mohs scale makes it difficult to scratch or chip.
Granite stands up well to knives and cutting, so it won’t easily damage in a kitchen environment. It’s also heat resistant and can withstand hot pots and pans. The natural stone is impervious to most stains.
However, granite can be prone to cracking or chipping if subjected to sudden impacts or drops. Its natural composition includes tiny fissures that could spread over time with repeated stress. Proper sealing is required to prevent damage from acidic liquids.
Overall, granite is one of the most durable options for countertops due to its hardness and scratch resistance. With proper care and sealing, it can last for decades in a kitchen or bathroom.
Quartz rates just below granite on the hardness scale, coming in at 6-7 on the Mohs scale. While not quite as hard as granite, it’s still significantly more scratch resistant than most other countertop materials.
The resin binders make quartz less prone to cracking or chipping compared to natural stone. Seams are less noticeable, and the material is non-porous, making it impervious to staining.
Quartz stands up very well to heavy daily use. The engineered stone is designed to be extra tough and durable to handle everything from cutting to hot pans in busy kitchen environments. With routine cleaning, quartz countertops can maintain their good looks for years of use.
The biggest advantage of quartz over granite is that the color and pattern goes throughout the whole slab. Any chips or scratches can be sanded and refinished with no sign of damage.
Since granite is a natural porous stone, proper sealing and care is essential to prevent staining or etching. Sealing should be done upon installation and reapplied at least once per year to protect the surface.
For cleaning, mild soap and water or specially formulated stone cleaners work best. Acidic cleaners like vinegar or lemon should be avoided as they can dull and etch granite finishes. Quick cleanup of spills helps prevent possible stains on the porous stone.
Avoid putting hot pots directly on granite counters. The extreme heat can damage and crack the surface over time. Using trivets or hot pads is recommended to prevent this.
Granite requires resealing over time, more cleaning care for spills, and avoiding harsh cleaners and acidic foods. When properly maintained, granite countertops can stay looking like new for years. But a bit more care and maintenance is needed relative to quartz.
One of the biggest advantages of quartz countertops is that they require virtually no maintenance. Since the material is non-porous, it does not need regular sealing like natural stone.
Quartz resists staining, etching, and scratching better than granite. This also means it is less prone to damage from accidental spills.
For cleaning, simple mild soap and water or a basic household cleaner is all that is required. Quartz can be cleaned with harsher chemicals if needed without concern for etching or discoloration.
The biggest maintenance advantage of quartz is that it never needs sealing. This eliminates the annual need to reapply sealant required for granite. The engineered stone is designed to be virtually hassle-free once installed.
In general, quartz countertops tend to cost slightly less than granite. Here is a typical price breakdown:
- Granite: $60-$100 per square foot installed
- Quartz: $50-$80 per square foot installed
However, both granite and quartz offer a wide range of quality levels and design options. Unique granite patterns or premium quartz brands can overlap in pricing.
Factors that impact cost include:
- Stone quality – Premium or exotic granite can be more expensive
- Pattern variation – More complex patterns and color variation increase cost
- Edge options – Decorative edges like ogee or bullnose cost more
- Thickness – 3 cm granite is standard, 2 cm is less expensive
- Brand – Premium designer brands are priced higher
- Color and pattern – Unusual colors cost more than basic whites/grays
- Thickness – 3 cm is standard, 2 cm is more budget-friendly
- Edge details – Decorative edges increase cost
Both materials offer affordable options in the $50 per square foot range, along with high-end designer versions costing over $100 per square foot.
The bottom line is that for a typical kitchen or bathroom, granite and quartz are comparable in cost. Quartz usually has a slight price advantage but granite can be very competitively priced as well. Your design choices ultimately determine the overall budget.
Pros and Cons
- One-of-a-kind natural beauty and variation
- Extremely durable and scratch/heat resistant
- Timeless, luxury appeal
- High resale value
- Can be repaired and re-polished
- Requires regular sealing
- More prone to staining/etching than quartz
- Can chip if subject to impact
- Needs frequent cleaning and care
- Porous so can harbor bacteria if not sealed
- Seamless appearance with less obvious seaming
- Resists scratches, stains, and heat damage
- Easy no-maintenance material
- Mold/mildew resistant
- More consistent coloring throughout slab
- Lacks natural variation of granite
- Less dazzling or unique aesthetics
- Not fully heat or scratch proof
- Limited ability to repair damage
- Can scorch at extremely high temperatures
Which is Better – Granite or Quartz?
There is no definitive “winner” in the quartz vs. granite battle. The right choice comes down to your priorities:
Granite is the best option when you want:
- A one-of-a-kind natural stone look
- Maximum durability against scratches
- Vibrant colors and exotic patterns
- An heirloom quality investment
Quartz is preferable when you want:
- Little to no maintenance required
- Resistance to staining and etching
- Consistent colors and minimal seams
- A contemporary hi-tech aesthetic
Granite brings natural artistry, while quartz offers carefree practicality. Your kitchen or bathroom goals – form vs function, traditional vs modern – determine whether granite or quartz best fits your home.
If your top priority is natural uniqueness with heavy durability, granite provides an unparalleled look and feel. For those who want a low-maintenance, fresh contemporary aesthetic, quartz is a wonderful manmade alternative.
Cost and specific color/pattern considerations are also important factors. Visit showrooms to view slabs in person when deciding between granite vs quartz countertops for your next remodel or new build.
Is granite or quartz more durable?
Granite is slightly more durable than quartz in terms of hardness and scratch resistance. It rates 7 on the Mohs scale compared to 6-7 for quartz. However, quartz is less prone to chipping or cracking. Both materials are extremely durable for countertops.
Is quartz cheaper than granite?
In most cases, yes. On average, quartz runs $50-80 per square foot installed, compared to $60-100 per square foot for granite. However, prices can overlap depending on the specific materials chosen.
Is quartz better than real stone?
This depends on your priorities. Quartz requires less maintenance than granite. Quartz resists scratching and staining better. But real granite offers unmatched natural beauty and longevity. For a maintenance-free stone look, quartz is a great option.
Is quartz too contemporary for a traditional home?
Not necessarily. Many modern quartz styles mimic natural stone with convincing veining and movement. Beige, white, and gray quartz options can suit traditional aesthetics. Warm wood accents can give cool-toned quartz a timeless feel.
Will quartz countertops go out of style?
Quartz provides a streamlined, contemporary look aligned with current trends. While tastes change over time, neutral quartz colors should have long-lasting appeal. Bold unique granite may fall in and out of vogue, but quartz offers safe style unlikely to look dated.
When choosing between quartz vs granite countertops, key considerations include:
- Appearance – Granite provides one-of-a-kind natural designs. Quartz offers uniform colors and patterns.
- Durability – Granite is harder and more scratch resistant. Quartz is engineered to be extra tough and crack/chip resistant.
- Maintenance – Granite requires regular sealing. Quartz needs no sealing and is stain/etch resistant.
- Cost – Quartz is often slightly more budget-friendly but prices overlap.
- Longevity – Granite may last longer, but quartz easily lasts decades with less upkeep.
Your personal priorities determine which material is better suited for your space. If carefree maintenance and contemporary style are important, quartz makes an exceptional choice. For those who favor natural stone beauty and durability, granite provides unmatched richness.
By weighing the pros and cons, performance factors, and costs, you can decide whether hardworking quartz or timeless granite is the winner for your countertop needs.