Quartz or Granite?

If you are remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, the tasks might seem daunting. One of the big ticket items you'd be purchasing is the counter tops. How do you know which material is right for you? With so many options in so many price ranges, it is important to understand the differences. Here, we will examine two popular options: granite and quartz.

Granite

I put granite on the top of the list since it is the most specified counter top material for updated kitchens and bathrooms. Granite is a natural stone that is usually "speckled" in appearance. Some slabs might appear more even grained and some might have more movement. Generally, the more movement and the more you see speckles that reflect a rainbow of colors, the more expensive it will be. Pricing for granite slabs is not so much based on durability since it is all the same kind of stone but on appearance and availability. 

Granite with a more swirly, movement appearance

Granite with a more swirly, movement appearance

Some granite has "speckles" that reflect a rainbow of color.

Some granite has "speckles" that reflect a rainbow of color.

Granite is extremely durable and does not chip or scratch easily. Since it is a natural stone, it does need to be sealed about once a year or so but that can vary from slab to slab and there even products out there that can keep your granite sealed forever! Sealing granite is not very difficult and really shouldn't dissuade you from selecting granite, contrary to what many Quartz manufacturers will say. That said, Quartz is also a very popular choice for counter tops.

The variation inherent in some slabs of granite can make a strong design statement, especially if you can display a large area of the slab such as on a kitchen island. It is important to remember that vanities and kitchen counter tops will only be 20-26" deep or so. If your slab has a particular area of interest that you want to be displayed, you must work with your fabricator to ensure it does not get cut out or apart.

The larger, darker area of this granite has very beautiful reflective features that you would want to make sure stand out!

The larger, darker area of this granite has very beautiful reflective features that you would want to make sure stand out!


Quartz

Quartz has become very popular in the last few years due to its durability, low maintenance and wide range of color selections. Despite the way the name sounds, Quartz is not 100% natural stone. A Quartzite slab is a natural stone whereas Quartz counter tops are made of a polymer resin that bonds together quartz aggregates.  

A resin bonds together quartz aggregates. Photo of Silestone Stellar Snow, courtesy of Home Depot.

A resin bonds together quartz aggregates. Photo of Silestone Stellar Snow, courtesy of Home Depot.

They use pigments to color the resin and that is why Quartz counter tops have the ability to come in more vibrant, even color than granite. They can even put mirror or other aggregates in quartz to add a unique visual interest.

Quartz can come in vibrant colors since pigment can be added to the resin. Additional aggregates such as mirror can add interest also. Photo courtesy of sabbini.com

Quartz can come in vibrant colors since pigment can be added to the resin. Additional aggregates such as mirror can add interest also. Photo courtesy of sabbini.com

Quartz is generally more expensive than granite but there is such a variation in the different slabs of each, there are often exceptions to this. Quartz does not typically have the "movement" that natural stone has and depending on your design intent, this can be a positive or a negative attribute. Visually, I tend to prefer quartz in more contemporary settings. Silestone and Cambria are two popular brands of quartz. Cambria does a better job of mimicking natural stone while Silestone has a wide selection of fantastic color and texture choices. Even though Quartz is man-made, it is still formed into slabs and is usually purchased by slab.