Countertops play a big role in both kitchens and bathrooms and not just for aesthetics or value, but also day-to-day function. In the world of countertop materials, granite vs quartz countertops are typically seen as the top two contenders. Both materials are durable, valuable, and visually appealing. How do you choose between them?
Comparing the two materials will help narrow down the best fit for your home, needs, and budget. But first, there are other factors to consider that will also make the process clearer and more manageable.
Factors to consider
Each type of countertop material from natural stone to engineered will offer its own unique appearances, benefits, and variations in price. That’s why knowing what makes a good countertop will ensure that you get the right match for your home with benefits that will last for years.
Function and lifestyle
Function should go hand-in-hand with your lifestyle, and both should be at the top of your list when choosing a new countertop. Do you enjoy hosting friends and family? Are you an avid chef or baker? Or do you enjoy spa days in a luxury designed bathroom? For example, quartz countertops vs granite are perfect for bakers because they are naturally cool to the touch, much like marble. That will make it easier to handle butter or pastries on the surface, without either melting or becoming tacky from the heat.
On the other hand, granite is a visually striking choice, making it perfect for an eye-catching and luxury addition. It is also very durable and isn’t easy to scratch or damage. A good countertop should always complement your lifestyle and not conflict with how you use your kitchen or bathroom.
Your budget will also play an important role, especially since natural stone often has a higher price tag. In addition to the cost of the actual material, factor in other expenses like professional installation or any custom work. Maintenance as well, like the cost to reseal a porous surface every few years, must also be factored in.
Prices for countertops tend to vary from low-end to high-end, but don’t always lean towards lower costs. Instead, it may be more worthwhile to pay extra for a higher-end material. Lower quality may not last as long or may be more prone to being easily damaged. Having a detailed budget for your entire renovation, including the countertop, will ensure there are no unexpected future costs or repairs after choosing a material.
Value or appearance?
Do you want a new countertop that will have a significant return on investment, or are you choosing based on appearances alone? It may even be a blend of the two, and there’s no wrong answer, but knowing either way will help. When it comes to resale, for example, granite vs quartz is still one of the more popular and desired choices. It has timeless beauty, a wide range of colours and is easy to customize. As a natural stone, no two pieces of granite will look alike either. If appearance is the main focus, however, then quartz is quickly becoming popular among homeowners. Since quartz is engineered, it is even easier to choose a colour that will complement any room’s décor and colour scheme.
Maintenance and durability
These two factors go hand-in-hand when considering a new countertop, but they also come down to personal choice. Some materials are incredibly durable but require higher maintenance to maintain that robust nature. Other materials are naturally robust, even with minimal maintenance. There is no wrong choice in what you choose, so just factor in your personal preference for any upkeep. Both natural stone and engineered stone tend to be very durable. Still, some types of natural stone need to be resealed every few years.
Granite is quarried as stone blocks that are then cut and sold in slabs or tiles of varying sizes. As a countertop, granite is often referred to as ‘the king of materials,’ despite recent competition with quartz countertops vs granite. It has been a top contender for many years and will continue to be, especially with the many benefits it continues to offer.
As far as customization and uniqueness go, granite is the best choice. Each slab looks different, so no two pieces of granite will ever be the same. The colour variation among granite is the result of the types of minerals within each slab. In general, granite is composed of quartz and feldspar, with smaller amounts of various other minerals such as mica. A slab with higher amounts of feldspar, for example, will have more reddish hues and highlights. In comparison, one with higher amounts of mica will vary towards thicker veins of black or brown.
Granite also comes in different forms, including slabs, modular, and tiles. Granite slabs are the most common choice; however, they are also the heaviest and require professional installation. Modular are smaller sized slabs that are installed side-by-side and have fewer seams than tiles. This type can be DIYed with the right skills and a second pair of hands if the weight is too much. Lastly, granite tiles are similar to floor tiles, both in appearance and installation. Each piece is smaller and much easier to handle, making it very DIY friendly, and grout is used to seal the seams. If you’re looking for the best value, appearance, and the least maintenance, choose granite slabs for your kitchen renovation.
Granite is a naturally hard stone, which also makes it highly durable. It is resistant to heat, stains, and scratches to the point where it can even dull knife blades if you cut directly on its surface. However, like any natural stone, granite has inherent flaws and it’s not perfect. A resin-based seal can help protect the countertop from scratches, chips, and staining.
Granite must be sealed once installed to protect it against stains or bacteria. Then, to maintain that stain-resistance, it must be resealed every three to five years. Sealing granite is not difficult and is easily something you can do yourself with products from a granite company. Aside from that, quartz vs granite countertops is similarly cleaned with a soap wash or mild cleanser. Spills should also be cleaned quickly to prevent any stains from settling in.
There are some downsides of granite to consider in addition to its many benefits. Poorly sealed granite will lose its effectiveness and protectiveness, which risks stains and bacteria settling into its porous surface. Because granite does need resealing every few years, it is a continuous cost in addition to the initial installation, though a small one. The weight of granite also makes it unsuited to DIYers, so professional help will need to be factored into the overall cost. Granite is usually installed with multiple slabs, which means there will be seams on the countertop. A skilled professional can make these less noticeable, but not all homeowners like this fact.
While granite is naturally quarried, quartz countertops are actually a type of engineered stone. There is some quartz in the material, but it is mostly a combination of other types of stone. The materials are crushed together and then combined with a binder. Quartz countertops themselves may be a combination of granite, marble, and other natural stones, with a mix of actual quartz as well. Because of this, it makes quartz an incredibly green choice of countertop. As far as competition goes, quartz is quickly becoming the new favourite, sometimes even over the age-old quartz vs granite countertops debate.
Since quartz is engineered, this means it is more readily able to mimic the look of other natural stones. Different pigments and amounts added to the quartz mixture will change its colour and look. Everything from marble, granite, limestone, or concrete can be imitated. Quartz can also come in solid colours that range from neutral whites and beiges to more striking blacks or bright yellows and blues. If you’re looking for something unique, you can make it happen with engineered stone.
Quartz countertops vs granite are not a porous material. It can easily resist stains and bacteria without the need to ever be sealed first. It is also less prone to cracks and damage in the way that natural stone tends to be. Still, quartz isn’t completely impervious to damage, particularly against heat. Placing hot pots and pans on the countertop does risk it cracking. Thermal shock, as in sudden changes in temperature on its surface, can likewise cause it to crack.
Thanks to quartz not being porous, it is easier to maintain than granite or other porous stones. Bacteria won’t be a risk either, but still, take care to wipe up any stains or spills quickly. While quartz vs granite is more stain-resistant, it’s not entirely safe against long-term exposure. An additional, daily, soapy wash will help keep it clean generally, and aside from that, it won’t need much else.
Like granite, quartz also has some downsides to factor in. Despite being engineered, quartz is just as heavy and expensive as granite and other natural stone. As a result, it is not suitable for DIY installation, especially without the right skills and tools. Long-term exposure to the UV in sunlight can also risk fading the exposed parts on a quartz countertop. Quartz will add value to your home, but keep in mind that some people prefer the appeal of natural stone. If you are planning to sell, then that resale appeal is another factor to consider.
The costs for both granite vs quartz will vary depending on quality, installation, and any added features like edge treatment. Granite slabs, modular, and tiles, will also all cost differently. These price figures were taken from HomeAdvisor reports for granite and quartz countertops.
Average cost of granite: $3,250
Low to high end granite cost: $2,000 – $4,500
Per square foot: $40 to $60
Granite slabs: $40-$60 per square foot
Modular granite: $25-$40 per square foot
Granite tiles: $5-$15 per square foot
Average cost of quartz: $3,750
Low to high end quartz: $1,000 – $5,000
Per square foot: $50 to $150
There are other cost factors for quartz countertops vs granite, like the size of the countertop, whether you are replacing old materials or DIYing vs hiring a professional. These will vary for each project, so for a full and accurate estimate, talk to a contractor first.
Return on investment
Both quartz vs granite are luxury materials with high price ranges to match. However, both materials also offer a great ROI and a guaranteed value boost. As far as investments go, both materials are well worthwhile. In general, granite can boost a home’s value by as much as 25%. As a natural stone as well, granite has a timeless appeal and aesthetic that many homeowners and buyers simply prefer. That said, with all the factors involved, quartz is just as high a contender. As an even more durable and resistant material, some buyers will prefer quartz countertops vs granite. Talk to a contractor or real estate agent to find out what is most popular in your area or with current buyers.
If resale if the main factor, then you want a countertop that will attract the most potential buyers. That said, ROI can also be about an investment towards your lifestyle. If one material suits your home and life better than the other, then you won’t go wrong with that choice.
With edge treatment, there are no quartz vs granite countertops differences as both can have the same edge treatment. The benefit of a treated edge is it will further customize the countertop’s overall look. There is a wide range of treatments available, ranging from standard choices to specific cuts that further accentuate each unique stone’s design. The most popular of these treatments include eased, bullnose, bevel, and waterfall. HomeAdvisor offers these price estimates on edge profile types.
Eased: is one of the standard choices of finishes that creates a smoother countertop edge. As a low-cost range, expect to pay $30+ per foot.
Bullnose: is the most classic finish that rounds the edges of the counter, making it popular in bathrooms and safer for children. As a medium-cost range, expect to pay $45+ per foot.
Bevel: cuts the countertop in a 45-degree angle before dropping straight down. That adds a more elegant touch to the final look—another medium-cost range of $45+ per foot.
Waterfall: This style curves the edge in one continuous flow straight to the floor. This is popular on particularly thicker slabs for a more dramatic edge. As a higher-end cost, expect to pay $60+ per foot.
More involved cuts will often cost more and aren’t always included in the initial price for the countertop. Other more standard treatments, like bevel, are sometimes included in the overall cost of a countertop. Before you choose a specific treatment, make sure to talk to your contractor about prices and any included edging.
Which is right for you?
Quartz vs granite countertops are both beautiful, high-end countertop materials that will benefit any home, kitchen, or bathroom. While individually, each one offers some benefits over the other, their overall value can’t be beaten. With that in mind, the final decision really is a matter of personal choice. If you want a low-maintenance, easy to customize countertop, then go for quartz. Otherwise, if the appeal of natural stone and unique qualities of granite appeal to you, that’ll be the perfect match. Above all, factor in your own budget, needs, and whether you are selling or just renovating. If the look and material are right for your unique needs, then you can’t go wrong.
One choice that is absolute for both materials is to leave the installation to the professionals. Quartz vs granite are equally heavy materials and need the right tools, skills, and care to install correctly. A professional can guarantee just that and save the stress and possible extra costs of making any mistakes.