What's the Difference Between Quartz and Granite?

What's the Difference Between Quartz and Granite?

Tile Work
Interior Design
By Alex Mikayelyan December 02, 2021

For someone who is inexperienced in interior design, all countertops look the same. However, there is a lot to be said about these kitchen surfaces and plenty of choices to be made. One of the most popular points of comparison is whether to have quartz countertops or granite. Considering how both these materials are made to look like natural stone, it does make sense that there would be a little friendly rivalry between them.

But when you get into the finer details of quartz and granite, you understand that the two are wildly different and fulfill different criteria on homeowners’ checklists. Don’t be fooled by their exteriors: there is a lot to learn about these two countertop materials and knowledge about these intricacies could sway your decision in which one to go for in your kitchen remodeling project.

What Is Quartz

The Grainy Goodness of Quartz Countertops

The Grainy Goodness of Quartz Countertops

If granite is a completely natural material that is mined from deep below the crust and refined into a smooth surface, quartz stone is slightly similar to that but is produced in a different manner. For example, unlike granite which tends to be one solid slab of rock, quartz is a collection of ground-up crystals, which are stuck together via artificial adherents. Mostly made up of natural materials with a small part of resin binders, quartz is one of the most popular materials out there for countertops.

In 2020, engineered quartz was recorded as being the most popular material used for kitchen countertops. Quartz makes up 40% of all countertops in American households, towering over granite in second place with 28%. So, needless to say, that quartz is quite widespread all throughout the country and many homeowners choose it over other materials for countertops and other applications. This is all thanks to the many benefits of outfitting your kitchen with quartz countertops.

Durability

How and Why Quartz Is So Durable

How and Why Quartz Is So Durable

While there is no doubt that granite is quite strong, quartz does have the upper hand in this regard. Granite is a single slab of cooled magma that took millions of years to form. However, you’d think this would give it the edge over something that is manmade, but the opposite is true. Granite is much more porous than quartz, which is manufactured with resin binders that close off as many gaps as possible making it a much more durable option than granite.

Also, while granite requires constant resealing to maintain, quartz does not have this problem. It is manufactured with plenty of resin binders in place, making it durable and long-lasting. In terms of practicality, there is no doubt that quartz is the clear winner, as it tends to be stronger and much easier to maintain.

Cost

How Much You Can Expect to Pay for Quartz Countertops

How Much You Can Expect to Pay for Quartz Countertops

Depending on the retailer or manufacturer you’re purchasing the quartz slabs from, they will cost around the same price as granite countertops, if not slightly more. For a standard 25 inches wide countertop, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2,500 and upwards of $7,000.

But do keep in mind, that for a higher price, you’re getting a counter that is much easier to maintain and is more durable than granite.

Appearance

How Quartz Looks and How It Holds Up to Granite

How Quartz Looks and How It Holds Up to Granite

It’s in the appearance category that quartz starts to wain behind granite. At the end of the day, granite is a natural rock formation, whereas quartz is ground up and highly engineered. This may not seem that noticeable at first, but if you put them side by side, you’ll immediately notice which one is the artificial one.

Another very important factor to consider is manufacturing. Granite has no problems with this, as each granite slab that exists on the planet is going to be unique. It’s a natural rock formation and rarely are these identical in nature. Quartz, however, is manufactured and when something is manufactured, it tends to come out almost identical to other units.

This isn’t to say that quartz does not look attractive: it does and comes in many designs depending on what combination of crystals and other minerals are being ground up and in what conditions. Just know that you’re not getting those gorgeous natural veins and formations that granite countertops come with. 

What Is Quartz Good for?

Popular Alternative Uses for Quartz

Popular Alternative Uses for Quartz

As with any other stone material, there are more applications to quartz than just kitchen countertops. Many homeowners, looking to spice up their interiors create a feature or accent wall, as well as a stylish backsplash using quartz. The grainy colors of the material jolt the room with a bit of energy, especially if you have a minimalistic contemporary interior, that can use as additional visual contrast and flair.

Quartz is also used for furniture, such as tables, desks, and even entertainment center cabinets and stands. And many homeowners even prefer to have quartz bathtubs or shower units when the pasty white bathtubs may get a little boring. 

What Is Granite

What Is Quartz and How It Is Manufactured

What Is Quartz and How It Is Manufactured

Granite is a natural stone that is mined in all corners of the world, from Brazil to China, Italy, and right here in the US. 27% of all the stone that is mined in the US is granite, second only to limestone. Needless to say, there is a huge need for this stone and many applications that utilize the gorgeous exterior of granite stone.

Granite itself actually used to be magma, hot, molten rock pouring out from the deep layers of the Earth’s crust, anywhere from 20 to 140 miles below the surface. It took millions of years for the magma to cool off and harden into the granite that we know today.  

Durability

How Durable Are Granite Countertops?

How Durable Are Granite Countertops?

The strength of any material is typically measured using Moh's Scale of Mineral Hardness, with a minimum strength of 1 and a maximum of 10. Granite measures from 6 to an 8 on the Scale of Mineral Hardness making its durability above average. Now, we can put on our perfectionist hats and ask ourselves “Well then why shouldn’t I get something that’s 10?” Unless you can afford to have your countertops made of diamonds, there’s very little you can do to have a counter that is 10 on Moh's Scale of Mineral Hardness.

But then again: why would you? Most kitchen countertops rarely need to be slammed with a sledgehammer, so unless you do that, granite’s durability should be more than enough for your cooking and other kitchen tasks that you carry out on the countertops. Granite is not invulnerable, however, and it can get damaged. It is very easy to stain, especially if any corrosive liquid is left on the surface for too long. Also, despite it being quite strong, granite can crack as a result of a very strong impact. Fortunately, most kitchen equipment and appliances (maybe with the exception of those old metallic meat mallets) will most likely not cause any damage to the countertops unless you really put a lot of elbow grease into trying to crack it.

Cost

How Much a Granite Countertop Is Going to Cost for Your Kitchen Remodel

How Much a Granite Countertop Is Going to Cost for Your Kitchen Remodel

For the longest time, granite was considered to be a very luxurious material to work with, as it was somewhat difficult to mine and manufacture. As a result, most of the granite you’d find in homes would belong to the rich and upper class who could afford the privilege of owning something so lavish.

But with advancements in mining and refinement technology, harvesting and manufacturing granite countertops has become much easier. This means that availability is on the rise both in terms of stock and pricing. For an average 25-inch wide kitchen counter, expect to pay from $1,200 up to $2,000, with some prices going beyond the $4,000 depending on the retailer. So, while these are somewhat costly, they are still much more affordable than they were in the past and also come with a slew of benefits that make the price worth it for homeowners looking to have strong, durable, and lavish countertops. 

Appearance

What Makes Granite So Naturally Attractive

What Makes Granite So Naturally Attractive

Granite’s natural texture and grainy appearance are very iconic and quite difficult to replicate. So if there is one reason to get real granite countertops, it’s that they look and feel natural and that’s because they are. Other than a resin sealer coating which is applied to give the surface a glossy finish, that is water-resistant and smooth, granite is not engineered past its refinement.

The color of granite depends on how fast the magma cooled off and under what circumstances. We won’t go into the exact science of this process, but just know that there is a huge variety of colors to pick from. What also gives granite its unique natural appearance are the little seams, crevices, and veins of various colors running through the surface. It really looks like something that was dug up from deep beneath the earth. By contrast, quartz looks a lot more unnatural and less varied in color and detail since it is engineered and does contain more artificial features. 

What Is Granite Good for?

Fantastic Uses for Granite Outside the Kitchen

Fantastic Uses for Granite Outside the Kitchen

Aside from being used for countertops, granite is can also be used for a variety of other applications. Bathroom vanities are a very widespread application for the material. Plenty of luxury vanities make use of granite to give the bathroom more earthiness and thanks to the many colors granite comes in, it can fit in all manner of bathroom interiors. For a sleek, contemporary design, homeowners like using darker shades of granite. Whereas for brighter Mid Century Modern interiors, there are creamy white variants as well. Granite is also used for flooring, wall cladding, and making a medallion centerpiece. All-in-all, this is a very versatile construction material and you’ll have no trouble finding many uses for it.

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan