Quartz vs Granite Worktops: What’s the difference?
Quartz and granite are two of the most enduringly popular choices for robust, stylish kitchen worktops. As kitchen worktop specialists, we see them both as excellent options for kitchens that look fantastic while being immensely practical.
So how do you choose between them? This guide takes you through the similarities and the differences. Ultimately the choice is down to personal preferences. Given that these worktops will last for a long, long time, it’s well worth taking time to make the right call for you. The good news is that whichever you choose, you’ll have a worktop that will enhance your home for years and years.
A Bit of Background about Granite and Quartz
Granite has been in use for thousands of years, and features in ancient, iconic structures such as the pyramids of Egypt, the Parthenon in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome. The stone remains highly favoured by contemporary architects and designers. Now, as in the distant past, granite is quarried from the sides of hills and mountains, then cut, carved and polished.
Quartz is, relatively speaking, the new kid on the block. It was first created in Italy in 1963, and was readily taken up by the building industry and interior designers. It is manufactured by crushing quartz crystals and blending them with a small amount of resin so that everything sticks together in a solid slab. Additional pigments give the stone colours and patterns. The material is made up of around 93% quartz crystals and 7% resin, and is produced in large scale industrial facilities.
Natural vs manmade worktops
The fundamental difference between granite and quartz is that one is totally natural and the other is manmade. That’s an important distinction for plenty of homeowners, especially for those who enjoy living among natural fabrics and features. Because it is a product straight from nature, every piece of granite is unique. No one else will have a worktop exactly like yours.
However, being 100% natural means that granite doesn’t do various things that man-made quartz does.
11 Differences Between Granite and Quartz
For many of us, choosing a kitchen worktop comes down to just one thing – which one looks best? However, while you don’t need to understand the intricacies of the material used for your worktop, having a basic understanding of the stone available can give you a real advantage in understanding which is the best for you. To help you understand the differences between the two we’ve summed up some of the key points below:
1. The Look
When you order granite, you can’t be 100% certain about how it will look when it arrives. While at County Stone we carry a stock of stones which you can choose from, we also have strong relationships with our suppliers allowing us to specify stones which match our clients’ requirements.
Quartz on the other hand is made in a huge variety of different styles and colours. The options are available to see in samples, printed pages and online. With quartz, you know exactly what you are getting.
In appearance, the two stones share plenty of similarities. The granular glints of quartz crystals look much alike, as do the veins and swirls. So, in terms of appearance there is in principal not too much to choose between them.
That’s unless, that is, a particular shade, and a particular pattern is your top priority – or something with dramatic looks. If that’s the case, you’re likely to head for quartz.
Both types of worktop are immensely durable. Granite will last for a century if reasonably cared for, and the quartz we supply comes with warranties of up to 25 years, as long as the worktop is installed by accredited professionals such as County Stone.
Both are also hard as anything. The only issues are chipping and cracking, but both can withstand most of what get thrown at them in normal kitchen life. If they do get chipped it’s possible to do repairs, preferably by an experienced worktop team, with colour-matched resin. The same applies for cracks.
3. Stains, marks and maintenance
When it comes to stains, granite needs protection from a sealant. We prepare granite worktops with a one-time application of a highly effective seal which stops the slightly porous stone from absorbing colour from spills of red wine, vinegar, cooking liquids and other strongly coloured food and drink.
Quartz does not need sealing, but even so both surfaces benefit from wiped down immediately after spillages, and a daily wipe with a soft damp cloth, preferably microfibre or e-cloth. For more thorough cleaning, we recommend STAIN-PROOF Daily Countertop Cleaner. In terms of potential for harbouring bacteria, non-porous quartz edges ahead of sealed granite.
You might come across the adage that granite is low maintenance and quartz is no maintenance. That’s not 100% true, but it does make the point that quartz is very easy to live with. So too is granite, but a little less so.
4. Heat tolerance
Heat from a hob next to either granite or quartz won’t be a problem, but always take care with putting down hot pans directly onto the surface. Granite itself is unlikely to mark, but the sealant can. For quartz, the resin competent can also potentially bear scars from a pan straight off the burner or a tray straight out of the oven. The answer is simply to always use a trivet or heat mat.
From the point of view of design flexibility, engineered stone wins as you’d expect. Quartz in principal can be created in a wide range of sizes, and that can mean less wastage when it comes to fitting the stone to your kitchen. Granite slabs come in a more limited choice of dimensions. Both stones can be supplied with a range of different edges, but you are likely to find more choice in quartz. Quartz suppliers seem to be moving to only supply Jumbo sheets these days. Granite slabs can come huge (3300×1900) or not so big – this depends on the block it is cut from and varies from job to job. Also at County Stone put the edge detail on so you can have any edge on any material.
Accurate preparation and installation is a hugely important factor in granite and quartz worktops. In both cases, the slabs need to be cut exactly to a very accurate template which is measured up according to the actual area the worktop needs to fit. The template needs to include nooks and recesses, as well as the main straight run of worktop.
Worktops are heavy, bulky items, so when it comes to handling and transport you need the right approach, based squarely on a fair bit of muscle and protecting pads. The ready-to-fit worktop has to make the journey from workshop to customer’s kitchen, and can’t be damaged on the way.
It then needs lifting into position and stabilising so that there is no rocking. This is not a DIY job, nor is it work for unskilled contractors. At County Stone, our highly experienced team fits stone worktops to the highest standards, and we never leave a customer’s home without them being delighted with our work.
7. Granite worktop prices vs quartz worktop prices
There is no simple answer to the question of which type of stone is more expensive. While the lowest cost granite in our range is less than the lowest cost quartz, a lot of quartz choices come in at a lower price than many granite stones. Prices for both types of stone are largely based on the quantities produced, so colours and patterns which are widely available tend to be less than rarer options. It’s unusual for price being the key reason for choosing quartz over granite or vice versa. The key thing is which stone do you like most for your budget.
Granite and quartz worktops both look great. As part of an investment in a kitchen project, they may help to increase the headline value of your home. What they will certainly do is add a lot of appeal to a lot of potential buyers. More importantly for most of our clients, your stone countertop will make your kitchen a lovelier place to enjoy cooking, eating and chatting in the heart of your home.
8. Where it comes from
As a 100% natural material that comes directly from the earth, the patterns, texture and colours within your granite countertop will be unique to your slab. Granite is formed from molten magma and consists of granite, feldspar and mica. At County Stone we only use the very best granite slabs and our qualified Stonemasons ensure that the measurements and cut is just right.
In a quartz countertop, quartz is a component coupled with another material to produce the required look. At County Stone we provide three different types of quartz. These are:
- Silestone – comprising of 94% natural quartz making it tough and resilient. This manufactured worktop provides antibacterial protection.
- Caesarstone – containing 93% natural quartz combined with numerous polymers and pigments.
- Compac – a mixture of natural quartz, pigments and resins producing a surface which retains the beauty of the natural stone but with additional enhancements to make it scratch resistant and non-abrasive.
While granite is considered to be the strongest of all materials, providing you with a robust countertop for years to come, quartz has been manufactured to ensure that not only is it a strong material, it is actually more flexible. During installation, this makes it easier to achieve a good fit. Interestingly, quartz is the heavier of the two materials.
Granite is a porous material so to keep your granite countertop looking as good as new, we use a sealing agent called Drytreat upon installation. This comes with a fifteen-year guarantee and will need to be re-treated after that time has passed. Furthermore, to ensure your sealant remains working efficiently, you need to be careful how you clean your granite surface, above all not using cleaning products which might contain abrasive materials.
In comparison, quartz worktops are virtually maintenance free. Quartz is a non-porous material so doesn’t need to be sealed to protect it from stains in the same way that granite worktops do. They are also extremely hygienic as there is nowhere for bacteria to adhere to and grow.
As we’ve already touched upon, granite provides you with a really natural look which means you might get some imperfections coming through – something that people either love for the uniqueness or hate for the lack of consistency. If uniformity is what you are after quartz is your better bet, as any imperfections are manufactured out.
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