If you watch home improvement shows, granite probably feels like the end-all, be-all kitchen countertop option — but that is doing some serious erasure of the huge variety of other stone countertop options out there! One of the options that offers a splendid array of similar colors to granite is quartz, but many people overlook this versatile option because they just don’t know the differences and benefits. So let’s break it down:
As you probably know, granite is a natural stone. More specifically, it’s a subset of igneous rock, meaning it’s made from magma that pushes up, cools, and hardens. Granite in particular is generally rich in quartz and feldspar; specifically, granite is often 20-60% quartz as well as other minerals that joined with the magma and were compacted together over years and years. This is why granite is most often grey, pink, or white, but there will always be variation in color and pattern from one granite slab to the next.
Quartz on its own is actually a mineral, not a rock composed of multiple minerals the way granite is. It’s a combination of silicon and oxygen that is compressed with the right amount of pressure and heat over time to create the transparent crystal structure. When you see chunks of minimally polished crystals in a souvenir shop, odds are good that some of them are quartz. However, when you think about quartz countertops, they aren’t transparent like those crystals, so what’s the difference?
The quartz used for countertops is not pure quartz. It’s actually an engineered stone that is almost entirely quarts with a bit of other materials, including a durable resin, to bind everything together. Modern processes can produce slabs that are mostly quartz (generally 95% quartz), but with the appearance and strength of other stone slabs that get turned into countertops.
Granite vs Quartz
Overall, granite and engineered quartz slabs are similar in many ways. Both stone countertop options are generally quite hard and heat resistant. The differences are subtle, but they can make a difference when choosing the stone kitchen countertops that best fit your needs.
First is appearance. Since granite is natural, your aesthetic choices are limited to what nature produces. Of course you can pick your granite slab, but you still have to choose between colors and patterns that are already there. Engineered quartz, on the other hand, offers a bit more flexibility. Depending on your budget, there is a great deal more potential for customization.
And speaking of budget, quartz also offers greater flexibility there. Granite tends to be more expensive as a rule, largely because it is more difficult to cut and often breaks. Quartz can be easier to cut and install, so you can find quartz kitchen worktops for less than the price of granite. However, it can also be more expensive if you want a more customized appearance/makeup.
Durability and cleaning are always big questions with an investment like stone kitchen countertops. Quartz is actually harder than granite, which provides some truly impressive longevity. On top of that, quartz is nonporous, so it doesn’t need to be sealed every year the way granite should be. The other big difference in porousness is the fact that, since it is porous, you will have to be more careful about the cleaners you use on granite countertops. Quartz offers more flexibility and is generally easier to clean since it’s nonporous. However, you’ll want to check with the quartz supplier; it is not as heat-tolerant as granite and may be damaged by excessive heat. Basically, use hot pads, but occasional heat on a quartz countertop shouldn’t damage it.
Another concern for many is how environmentally friendly both options are. Granite, as a natural stone, has to be hewn out of mines. Since quartz countertops are engineered, there is far less waste. It’s also possible to find local fabricators, which goes further to help quartz remain a more environmentally friendly option.
The value and use of quartz really speaks for itself. Explore the many options available from engineered quartz and learn more about this beautiful, durable stone kitchen countertop option. Connect with NuStone Quartz today to find an engineered quartz supplier near you, or head over to our sister provider Dorado Soapstone to learn more about other granite alternatives.