Counter Intuitive – Quartz vs Granite Countertops

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granite vs quartz

When deciding on the perfect countertop for a kitchen or bathroom, most homeowners will quickly narrow it down to one of two choices: quartz vs granite. On the surface, these two appear to be very similar. But what is the difference between the two? And which one is the best material for a countertop? If you are currently evaluating kitchen or bathroom countertop options, or if you plan to in the future, read on for all the details!

When it comes to home improvements, a kitchen or bathroom remodel can have the biggest splash. And choosing the right countertop can be the most impactful to the look and feel of the new space. But choosing the right counter space is no small task. After all, there are many options in the lower price range that work fine. But most homeowners are looking for an upgrade.

And in the mid-range, so-called “solid surface” countertops like Corian have a better look than laminate. But they can have durability issues. They are easy to scratch and are prone to heat damage.

Concrete countertops are also an option, but are actually quite expensive to have installed. If you don’t want to tackle the building concrete countertops yourself, you’ll want to consider other alternatives.

marble countertop
Beautiful, but with a higher maintenance rep – marble are countertops get a runner up status when compared with granite and quartz.

So if the budget allows for a little leeway, most homeowners are choosing to upgrade to natural stone. However, marble is pretty high maintenance and tends to stain and scratch worse than solid surface countertops.

When shopping for a durable, natural-looking countertop, most homeowners can narrow it down to either granite or quartz.

But choosing between the two is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Granite is a strong, durable, and attractive countertop. Quartz, on the other hand, is lower maintenance than granite. At least, according to their Tinder profiles.

With granite’s chiseled good looks and quartz’s easy-going nature, it’s no wonder this debate rages on. The truth is, there are some great upside to either one of these. But when we compare the two, there really is a simple winner.

Let’s pit these two heavyweights against each other and see which one is an actual solid surface for your kitchen or bathroom…Even though neither is considered a “solid surface countertop”.

Comparing Countertops: Quartz Vs Granite

kitchen granite countertop island
If you were trapped on an island. . .

When shopping for countertops, these two choices may seem like a toss-up. Admittedly, they do have some very similar characteristics. Namely, they both have quartz in them.

If there was a category for which one has more quartz, one would be a clear winner. Granite has around 10%, while quartz is made up of about 90%, well, quartz.

quartz crystal
Quartz crystal is crushed into sand for the base ingredient in quartz countertops.

In short, granite is made of a variety of minerals, including some quartz. But quartz, according to granite, is full of itself.

So what is the benefit of one over the other? Let’s start with what separates these two materials.

What’s the Difference Between Granite and Quartz?

granite quarry
Chip off the old block. A granite quarry in action.

The main difference is in the way the two are manufactured. Granite is just quarried straight out of the ground. Or cut directly out of a mountain.

Quartz, on the other hand, is technically a manufactured product. As we mentioned quartz countertops are a mix of ground-up quartz along with some resins that bond them together and a little bit of colorant.

So, let’s get right into the deciding factors between these two seemingly similar countertops.
We’ll compare the following:

  • Budget
    Return on investment
    Environmental impact
  • Let’s start with the big one: overall cost.

    Budget – Granite vs Quartz: Which Costs More?

    We would have started with aesthetics, but let’s be honest. Choosing an attractive countertop isn’t difficult. Both materials are going to be an improvement to your current installation.

    But there’s a reason you are reading a home improvement blog and not just hiring a decorator.

    Sure, for your own dignity you will pretend to consider the option with gold nuggets and veins of platinum. But you know it’s just a formality to impress the salesperson. Who totally buys it.

    The reality for both homeowners and contractors is that we are working within a specified budget. Especially if you are just trying to spruce up the house to sell. We’ll get into the impact on resale in a moment.

    For now, the question is which one is more affordable?

    On the low end, they are comparable. They both start around $60 per square foot installed. Quartz maxes out around $120 psf. Although I’m sure you can find a contractor willing to charge more.

    Granite has a much higher ceiling, though. Factors such as the veining, coloring, and even the presence of precious stones can jack the cost up to $270 per square foot.

    To give a ballpark estimate, the average counter space in a 10’ x 10’ kitchen is 30 square feet.

    So the range for Quartz countertops is $1,800 to $3,600. And the same granite countertop will cost between $1,800 and $2 billion. (if you would like a $2 billion countertop, give me a call!)

    Winner on Budget: Quartz

    Return on Investment: Is Granite or Quartz Better For Resale?

    granite countertop
    It can be hard to beat the look of natural granite and its unique, organic variations.

    As an extension of the budget category, you may want to consider the ROI of your countertop. Especially if you are considering selling your home.

    When it comes to the biggest impact on home improvement, the kitchen and the master bathroom are the two big players here. Coincidentally, both are places one might find a stone countertop.

    So, which of these two surfaces recuperate more money?

    The truth is a bit convoluted since there are several factors. Homeowners rarely replace a countertop by itself. Generally, it would be part of at least a light kitchen remodel, which averages around a 90% return on investment. For remodeling ROI, that’s actually a good number. But it’s rare to get all of your investment back out of a countertop.

    That said, resale is also about attracting the right buyer. Upgrading your kitchen counters can be the difference in potential buyers choosing your house over a comparable house in the neighborhood.

    So, which one attracts more homebuyers? Granite, by a slight margin. Bear with me on the reasoning.

    Typically, quartz is lower maintenance. We’ll get into more detail in a minute, but granite requires regular sealing. Quartz doesn’t.

    On the other hand, granite tends to have a greater aesthetic appeal. There is something about the natural veining and the random patterns that really pop to potential home buyers.

    So it generally comes down to the value of beauty over maintenance. Home sales are largely influenced by the decor, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. While practicality will almost always win out in major maintenance decisions like the mechanical and structural parts of the home, regular sealing of granite is not too big of a barrier. It’s generally deemed a small price to pay for the appeal it offers.

    Winner on ROI: Granite

    Aesthetics – Which Countertop is More Attractive?

    Comparing Granite to quartz countertops
    Granite on the left; quartz on the right. Granite tends to look more natural. And is more photogenic.

    Realistically, to compare which one looks better would seem subjective. And for the most part, it is. But there are some common traits to what people find attractive. At least in countertops.

    Manufacturers of quartz have come a long way in mimicking granite. But it is difficult to get the same veining and random patterns found in natural stone. Each mineral and irregularity creates a counter space unique to each installation.

    In the end, most people prefer the look and warmth of feel of natural elements in the home.

    Winner in Aesthetics: Granite

    Comparing Countertop Maintenance – Is Granite More Work Than Quartz?

    granite countertop maintenance
    When comparing granite vs quartz Tinder profiles – who truly is higher maintenance?

    So, let’s get into the higher maintenance issue. Which one is easier to maintain, granite or quartz?

    As we mentioned above, granite does require regular sealing. Since it is a natural stone, it absorbs liquids more quickly. And while it doesn’t stain as easily as other softer stones like marble, it will stain over time if not regularly resealed.

    Quartz likes to point out how low maintenance and easy going it is. Because of its high resin content, it requires no regular sealing. They are nonporous and better at everything…I’m paraphrasing. What you see when it is new is how it will stay for years to come. Sort of. (See the durability issues next).

    In granite’s defense, sealing granite isn’t that difficult to do. It is little more than wiping on, letting it dry, and wiping off the excess. But it does require a regularly scheduled routine about every one to three years.

    But, even with the low maintenance of granite, we have to declare quartz the winner in that category.

    Winner on Maintenance: Quartz

    Granite Vs Quartz Durability

    So, maintenance isn’t the only issue. You also want to know which is a more durable surface over time. After all, your kitchen and bathroom countertops are your workspaces and are prone to a lot of abuse.

    So, which of these are tougher?

    On the surface, it would seem that quartz has an advantage. After all, there aren’t very many elements harder than quartz. And the resins that hold it together ensure less chipping and cracking than natural stone. As we covered above, it also has better stain resistance.

    However, there are more factors to consider when comparing a countertop’s resilience. Three of the most important are heat tolerance, chemical resistance, and discoloration.

    In all three categories, granite is streets ahead. Because it’s just pure stone, it is impervious to heat. After all, it formed in a volcano. So even a hot pot directly on it will not cause it to bubble, blister, or warp. Quartz, on the other hand, can’t take the heat. Should it even be in the kitchen? (edit: granite’s question, not ours.)

    Additionally, quartz cannot be cleaned with certain cleaners. Chemicals like citric acid and higher ph compounds found in common household cleaners can easily stain or discolor a quartz countertop. In fact, it will void the warranty in most cases. On the other hand, granite is impervious to chemicals.

    And quartz is prone to discoloration in direct sunlight as well. So if you have an outside kitchen or any natural light, a quartz countertop will not deal well with the UV rays. Unless you feel like applying sunscreen every 2 hours.

    quartz bathroom countertop
    Granite is more durable with heat, uv rays, and chemical cleaners. A typical quartz countertop with undermount sinks shown here.

    Factor that in with quartz only being slightly tougher than granite. On a Moh’s scale (how toughness is measured when arm wrestling is out of the question), quartz measures 7 while granite is rated between 6 to 7.

    All things considered, granite is the obvious leader in durability.

    Winner in Durability: Granite

    Which Countertop is More Eco Friendly?

    Oftentimes, salespeople and even delusional quartz claim that it’s a natural stone. But that’s just clever advertising. It may be true that it’s made with natural stone. But the end product is a manufactured countertop.

    It’s like saying high fructose corn syrup, Schwarzenegger’s biceps, or a platypus are natural. Obviously, they are made from natural elements. But those are things you just don’t find in nature, right?

    The truth is, because of the manufacturing process quartz is prone to the same VOC (volatile organic compound) levels as anything with resins in it. These volatile compounds can off-gas for months or even years beyond the manufacturing.

    To protect yourself from the environmental impact, you would need to carefully choose one that is Greenguard certified.

    Relatively uniform looking quartz countertops are a popular choice for many.

    Granite, on the other hand, is a natural stone. Since it is nothing more than a polished rock, there are no artificial ingredients in it. It’s the shredded wheat of countertops.

    That being the case, it is better for your health. At least, as long as you choose a natural sealer for your regular maintenance. Put another way, granite is less gassy than quartz.

    I’m not sure that we could go as far as saying it’s good for the environment. It has to be quarried out of mountains, which technically, are part of the environment. And although abundant, mountains aren’t considered a renewable resource.

    Then again, neither is quartz.

    So, the slight edge between the two would have to go to granite as being better for the environment. With the obvious caveat that it is destroying the environment.

    Winner in the Eco Friendly Realm: Granite

    For a true eco friendly countertop, see our bamboo countertop article.

    Conclusion – Quartz Vs Granite Final Comparison

    So, which material is the top choice for countertops? When we add all of the scores for each of the categories, granite comes out on top.

    Despite the regular maintenance coating, granite beats out quartz in durability, aesthetics, and return on investment. And since they both have the same starting costs, the pricing can be mitigated between the two.

    All things considered, you can’t go wrong with either of these two countertops. Knowing the imperfections of each will help you to make an informed decision.

    And if you are looking for someone to install for you, we are happy to assist. Installation packages start at $2 billion.

    Photo of author

    About Steve W

    Steve Warren is a painter, drywaller, and remodeler. As in, home and light commercial remodeling. Not like a real model or anything. Because, you know, how many people would want to see a 45 year-old guy that started working in construction 30 years ago? Do you know what that work does to your body? Steve has worked as a painter, drywaller, tile installer, trim carpenter, rough carpenter, and general contractor, just to name a few. Either he can’t hold a job, or he has experience across a vast array of disciplines.

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    1 thought on “Counter Intuitive – Quartz vs Granite Countertops”

    1. We would never recommend putting hot pans on granite; fillers(often used to correct defects), air pockets, and/or veining can cause failure. Soapstone is softer and but is much more impervious when it comes to heat and chemicals.


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