A Keen Comparison of Granite and Quartz Countertops
Engineered quartz countertops finally edged out granite countertops in 2018 as the fan favorite. The contest has been going on for a while, with granite holding its own as it has for many decades. However, the edge is thin, as there is not much to choose between these two kitchen countertop materials.
If you are a homeowner or designer struggling to choose one over the other, the task is not a simple one. It takes a keen look into the nitpicky differences between granite and quartz countertops to help you make the ultimate decision.
Granite is natural, while engineered quartz is manmade, as you may have guessed from the name. Granite slabs and tiles come from huge blocks of granite quarried from the ground in certain parts of the world, and undergo a long process to bring it from there to your kitchen.
Engineered quartz has at least 90% of quartz material, produced using the patented Bretonstone process. Quartz is near colorless, so it is to the other 10% or so comprised of resins and pigments to give it its color and patterns.
Some people believe that quarrying granite has a serious impact on the environment because it is a natural resource. However, there is no real danger of running out of granite as it is the most abundant rock on Earth. Centuries of quarrying granite have not even chipped the surface, so that is not a problem.
In terms of its carbon footprint, many factors will come into play. Generally, the closer the source is to the destination, the smaller the carbon footprint. Transportation has a big impact on the carbon footprint of granite, although that becomes much smaller when suppliers import them in large quantities.
With engineered quartz, one might argue that because it repurposes quartz dust and rocks, it is friendly to the environment and that may be so. However, the manufacturing process does require significant resources, so it may actually leave a larger carbon footprint than even imported granite.
Both granite and engineered quartz is highly durable as kitchen countertops. Both contain quartz, which is one of the hardest minerals in the world.
Granite contains from 20% to 40% quartz, while top brands of engineered quartz contain a minimum of 90% quartz. You might think that makes quartz countertops much more durable than granite. It would if not for the difference in the formation process.
As mentioned earlier, granite is a natural stone, and natural stones tend to form over long periods under extreme conditions. In the case of granite, it formed from slowly cooling magma under enormous amounts of pressure, consolidating the different minerals, including granite, into solid rock. In this case, the sum of its parts does not equal the whole. Granite is durable not only because of its quartz content, but because of how it came about.
That is not to say that engineered quartz is not durable. It is, but saying it is more so than granite may be an overstatement. Its composition and formation does leave it vulnerable to other weaknesses.
Simply put, granite is heat resistant, and engineered quartz is not. The pigment and resin in quartz countertops react quite badly to heat, and putting a hot pan directly on it can discolor it permanently. This is a big problem if you are considering engineered quartz for your kitchen.
Of course, you can always avoid problems by using a trivet or heat pad for your quartz countertops. However, if you would much rather not think about that, you might want to consider granite.
Engineered quartz shines quite well in this aspect. Quartz countertops are non-porous, so staining and water damage is not a problem. You will also have no need to seal quartz countertops, so maintenance is a breeze.
Granite, on the other hand, has some degree of porosity. All natural stones are porous, and granite is no exception. That said, granite tends to be much less porous than other natural stones, and can resist stains when sealed. You do have to make sure the seal remains intact, so resealing may be necessary from time to time.
A distinct advantage of granite over engineered quartz is its uniqueness. No two granite slabs will ever be exactly alike, not even when they are from the same block. Mineral formations in granite form in random ways, so there is no predictability to the look of any one slab. You may have a uniform slab in a neutral color then get an unexpected splash of dark hornblende. This lends a dramatic and distinctive look to your kitchen.
Of course, quartz countertop manufacturers can simulate this type of dramatic flair in some of their slabs. However, they often lack the depth and character of natural granite.
That said, this unpredictability is also the bane of many homeowners and designers that want consistency in the kitchen. Quartz countertops shine when a solid or easily matched look is the desired element.
Granite and quartz stone are head to head in many aspects that make them such great choices as kitchen countertops. The right choice comes down to personal preference and specific needs of the homeowner. If you find yourself scratching your head over making a decision, it may help to consult with a professional. Granite ASAP is your best bet in the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC.
We carry a wide range of natural stone slabs as well as top brands of engineered quartz in the country. Over 100 colors of granite and marble slabs are available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom. If you prefer engineered quartz, we can offer you products from the Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI brands, each one carrying the manufacturer’s warranty. You can choose what you want and we will deliver it ASAP!
Feel free to ask any questions over the phone, or get in touch using our contact form. We offer free estimates and quotes for any of your kitchen remodeling or bathroom remodeling needs.