GRANITE vs QUARTZ: what are the BIG differences?
When it comes to updates that add value to your home, granite and quartz countertops are the top contenders. And while there are some FABULOUS high-end laminate countertops, nothing beats the quality and popularity of granite and quartz.
Of course, there are other countertop options, such as soapstone, marble and concrete, but these aren’t on today’s menu.
Because HANDS-DOWN, granite and quartz countertops are the most popular choices for style and DURABILITY. But when it comes to these two, it isn’t always about STYLE; there are a few other important considerations. This is why today, you’re getting the answers to the most COMMON questions related to these two competing surfaces.
Countertop – MSI Calacatta Botanica / Cabinet colour – Benjamin Moore White Dove
But first, for those of you who are NEW to my blog – welcome to the club, a club where we talk about paint colours, decorating, wine and Ryan Reynolds ALL DAY LONG!
Seriously though, let me say that while paint colours are my JAM, I’ve spent two decades in the decorating and design industry, helping over 7500 homeowners create their dream homes – INCLUDING paint colours, countertops, home update ideas and MORE! I’m an industrious lil Ginger…
Now, let’s get this party started…
1. WHICH COUNTERTOP IS THE MOST HEAT-RESISTANT, GRANITE OR QUARTZ?
Granite is DEFINITELY the most heat-resistant, but quartz has a ‘reasonable’ heat resistance.
GRANITE & HEAT-RESISTANCE
Granite countertops are REMARKABLY resistant to heat. However, place the same hot pot on the same spot time and time again, and you risk losing a bit of colour in your granite countertop. But aside from this, granite countertops are GENERALLY heat-proof. Still worried? Use a trivet.
Black granite countertops in a budget-friendly update with Sherwin Williams Alabaster cabinets
QUARTZ & HEAT-RESISTANCE
While quartz countertop does a GREAT job of withstanding heat (not including the less expensive/lower quality brands), even high-quality brands can be damaged by excess heat.
Remember, these countertops are VERY hardy and heat-resistant; they’re just not fool-proof.
That said, I’m a HUGE fool in the kitchen and am hard-pressed even to wear an apron or bib, never mind putting a trivet under my hot pot of Kraft Dinner. And guess what? So far, so good, and that’s in 10 years of homes with quality quartz countertops.
Cambria Statuario Nuvo with Revere Pewter cabinets
See the above Tudor Kitchen Remodel HERE
I summarise that while quartz isn’t as heat resistant as granite, it’s better than laminate, butcher block or marble and is pretty darn hardy overall – I would NEVER hesitate to put it in my own home.
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2. DO GRANITE & QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS NEED TO BE SEALED?
Granite? HECK YES. Quartz? NEVER!
GRANITE & SEALANT
Because granite is a natural surface (like marble or soapstone), it will absorb liquids. Keep in mind; it’s harder than marble and soapstone and FAR more resistant to staining, etching and loss of sheen. HOWEVER, suppose you don’t seal and maintain your granite (depending on how often your particular sealant needs reapplied). In this case, you risk not only staining and discolouration but MOULD and bacteria build-up.
Granite countertop similar to Sienna Beige with Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze on the island
I was talking to my fave installer, and he told me a story of going to a home to install new countertops. The OLD granite countertops were unsealed (or maybe were originally and were never done again). Underneath the countertop in the lazy Susan corner, what was festering there? MOULD. Wooooof. Please, seal your granite.
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QUARTZ & SEALANT
While quartz countertops are approx 90-95% natural, the 5-10% *resin/filler in them makes them pretty darn bullet-proof as it relates to staining (they’re also EXCEPTIONALLY hard to scratch – trust me, cutting boards are against my religion and my countertops are in perfect condition).
*They can also have some pigments added for design/colour.
But are the stain-PROOF? No, nothing is 100% safe. This being said, the high-end quartz brands stand behind their products and most times, can pull stains out of their product IF something manages to get through.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S AN EXCEPTION!
With the price point of quartz and granite, it can be tempting to save money – don’t. Cheap quartz countertops are often made with a lower quality resin, making them less resistant to heat, staining and SCRATCHING – ask my neighbour who has a lovely red wine stain on her newer, inexpensive quartz countertop (white wine’s better anyway). Again, nothing is totally bullet-proof, but the cheaper the quartz is, the more risk you’re assuming.
Although, if you’re looking at one of these products for your bathroom, a more affordable lower-end quartz works if you don’t have to worry about heat tools or use abrasive cleaners. We have older granite countertops in our ensuite, and they have absorbed a few hair products and whatnot, leaving a few spots (we’re replacing them soon – don’t tell Tim).
MSI White Macaubus with Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray cabinets, tile backsplash TBA
3. ARE GRANITE & QUARTZ NATURAL PRODUCTS?
Granite? YES. Quartz? Almost.
GRANITE IS 100% NATURAL
While granite has to go through a manufacturing process, it’s 100% natural, which is why you’ll see WILD and unpredictable variations in patterns.
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QUARTZ IS 90-95% NATURAL
Whereas granite countertops are just like me – alllll natural baby, quartz countertops are like the ‘botox’ versions of the countertop world.
What does this mean?
They’ve been injected with resins and/or fillers to improve their look and performance.
What are these improvements?
1. These resins help to prevent bacteria and mold from forming as the countertops don’t ABSORB anything (kind of like when Tim talks to me). This is also why granite DOES get sealed, as it doesn’t have these resins.
2. The use of resins in the creation of quartz countertops allows for altered colors and patterns.
Cambria Summerhill quartz with Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray paint colour
However, it’s this same resin that can cause discoloration when exposed to HIGH heat, which is why using a trivet is important.
Cambria Brittanica Warm – see more of this home HERE
By the way, if you live on Vancouver Island, it’s HARD to beat the service and quality at VI Granite. They’re the only ones I trust with my countertops!
4. WHICH IS HARDER- GRANITE OR QUARTZ?
Both countertops are pretty darn hard based on the MOH’S scale (which measures the hardness of minerals). However, quartz is a weee tiny bit harder, coming in with a score of 7 to granite’s 6 (but this can vary slightly). At the end of the day, they’re pretty comparable.
And personally, unless I’m dealing with a LEGIT soft product like soapstone or butcher block, hardness isn’t a huge consideration for me when choosing between quartz or granite. As for muscles, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
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Caesarstone Bianco Drift with Benjamin Moore Metropolis vanity
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Want to learn more? READ THIS from MARBLE.COM Is Quartz Harder Than Granite
5. WHICH COUNTERTOP IS THE MOST SCRATCH-RESISTANT – GRANITE OR QUARTZ?
This is where the HARDNESS of a surface comes in handy, especially if you’re considering a countertop OTHER than quartz or granite. The higher its rating on the MOH’S scale, the more resistant a surface will be to scratching and etching.
COUNTERTOPS – SOFTEST TO HARDEST
While there’s a bit of variation depending on the source, this is a good GENERAL guide for hardness (I’m doing my best not to include any innuendos…it’s hard…that’s what she said).
BTW, butcher block/wood and laminate countertops can’t be rated as they don’t fall under this scale/system. If I put myself on the same scale, I’d say I’m a solid 8 – wink wink.
WHICH IS CHEAPER – QUARTZ OR GRANITE?
Regarding affordability, the word ‘cheap’ can passively suggest a low price AND low quality – such is the case with cheap quartz (which WILL stain/etch). Aside from the low-quality brands, granite, and quartz are often comparable in price, depending on which brand/line you invest in.
SHOULD I REPLACE MY GRANITE WITH QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS?
If you have one of the more traditional granite countertops from the early 2000s, there’s a good chance you’ll add value to your home by investing in a more modern-looking quartz countertop. While a lot is based on personal perception and target market, more people prefer quartz to granite.
The above granite is DEFINITELY one of the more popular ones and will hold its value reasonably well (with Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray on the cabinets).
Kylie, what do YOU think is better – quartz or granite?
THESE DAYS, whether you want to hear it or not, quartz is the more MODERN choice. With granite countertops, you’ll never know whether they were installed in the early 2000s or yesterday #truthbomb.
Because granite is 100% natural, there are rarely any great BREAKTHROUGHS in pattern or color combos – if Mother Nature doesn’t make it, you ain’t gettin’ it.
Many of the granites installed today are the SAME ONES that were used 20-30 years ago.
The above granite countertop is one of the more MODERN looking versions – Bianco Antico
A well-chosen black granite can be a timeless, more flexible choice than many other granite countertops
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This doesn’t make granite a BAD CHOICE, but it isn’t always the most MODERN choice.
Because quartz (in a small part) is man-made, we can make new varieties – ones that shift with the trends. This flexibility allows us to choose a WIDE variety of colors, patterns, veining, flecks, and finishes.
Cambria Brittanica Warm with Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter / AMES tile backsplash
Viatara Minuet with Sherwin Williams Pure White
And this isn’t to say granite isn’t gorgeous; IT IS – some of my favorite countertops are granite (I LOOOVE the versatility of black granite). However, if you’re looking to update your home, especially with the potential of resale, quartz is HANDS-DOWN the most popular choice.
SUMMARY OF THE PROS & CONS OF QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS
- PRO: reasonably heat-resistant, but a trivet is recommended
- PRO: low maintenance – no sealant required
- PRO: super hard, making it very challenging to crack/scratch
- PRO: more popular/trendy than granite in most target markets
- PRO: very stain-resistant
- PRO: consistent appearance
- CONS: not totally heat-resistant
- CONS: seams can be noticeable depending on the pattern chosen
SUMMARY OF THE PROS & CONS OF GRANITE COUNTERTOPS
- PRO: super heat-resistant
- PRO: very hard and chip/scratch-resistant
- CON: must be sealed regularly to prevent staining – even then, wipe up spills quickly
- CON: unpredictable appearance (some would see this as a PRO)
- CONS: seams can be noticeable depending on the pattern chosen
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
The 8 Best Quartz Countertops for Coming Trends
How to Update Your Older Granite Countertops
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Wouldn’t quartz looking “modern” now, mean it will look “dated” or “out-dated” in 10-15 years? If the colors and veining in quartz is constantly tweaked to follow trends, it would seem that it would follow that it would, in the future, become a very constant clue as to when the home was built or remodeled.
I guess I see granite more like wood floors in being a classic choice. The reason you still see the same granites 20-30 years later is because they work. People will have preference in which pattern, just like they might prefer oak or pine, but in general, they can work. Not that there isn’t the occasional granite where you wonder why they didn’t just leave that at the quarry, but generally, you can figure something out.
Full disclaimer, we just redid our kitchen choosing granite over quartz. The current trends in quartz absolutely did not go with our cabinetry (back to my point about quartz following trends and going to look dated in 10-15 years). And quartz was about 3 times the price over an more unique (non-builder grade) granite. So I could change my mind 3 times on granite for the price of quartz.
Hey Marissa, these are very fair points! A lot of it comes down to RESALE. If you plan on living in your home for a long time, you’ve got to do what YOU love best. However, if you’re thinking resale, it’s better to stick with what’s trendy at the time or at least a bit more timeless. I deal with sooooo many granite countertops in my work from the early 2000s that are dated looking and don’t go with more modern approaches to finishes and paint colours – they’re a HUGE talent. This being said, I’m a BIG fan of black granite – it’s DEFINITELY timeless!
I pondered this for a long time — well, actually I was choosing between quartz and marble because I wanted light counters and didn’t like any of the light granites — and ended up with a lovely Fantasy Macaubus quartzite for my kitchen. I’ve been told it has similar durability to granite, while being a 100% natural material. We’ll see how it holds up (and yes, I’ll seal it).
For all the other countertops (laundry and bathrooms) I went with an inexpensive plain white quartz. The cost for Cambria quartz from my local distributor — not in a big market though — was MORE than US-sourced marble or the quartzite that I ended up picking. I’m hard on my kitchen counters, but bathrooms get much less wear-and-tear, especially as I don’t use heat tools on my hair.
Hey! I LOOOOOOOVE Fantasy Macaubus, it’s stunning – a great choice! And yes, in bathrooms, wear and tear are definitely less of an issue, unless you use abrasive cleaners or heat tools – in which case a more cost-effective quartz can be great. I should bring that up in the blog post – thank you!
We’re in the process of starting a kitchen redo and I’m pretty sure we’re going with black granite for the main kitchen countertops. But I love some of the quartz patterns too, so I may consider using that for the island since it won’t be the main cooking/prep area. Best of both worlds!
I definitely prefer the look of quartz. Is the quartz you get from big box stores lower quality than say Cambria or Ceasarstone? Any brands that you would stay away from?
Thanks. I love all the helpful info you post.
We love the look of quartzite because it looks less busy than most granite and there are many beautiful examples of the stone. We had a nice Taj Mahal selected but were just told in time that there is a problem with quartzite that is cropping up all over the world and it has to do with water staining. It does not happen right away but after several months. My fabricator says they think it is some process that is different from the past practices in the quarrying of the stone. Something in the cleaning process or use of some acid or something that is somehow affecting the stone. So some fabricators are choosing not to use quartzite or requiring customers to sign a waiver similar to that used for marble. So we are now going to choose something other than quartzite. I hope quartzite users don’t have this problem with theirs but be they should be extra careful around water sources such as a sink!