By SUZETTE FOX
If you’ve recently shopped for new kitchen countertops, you know firsthand how many options there are today. Research says that for most people, the choices often boil down to granite or quartz. Two out of five homeowners choose one of these two surfaces. If you, too, have whittled it down to granite or quartz, here’s a quick way to learn all about their pros and cons.
Pro: It has longevity. Granite has had staying power. It is time-tested and has universal appeal. Sure, certain colors may look dated in a decade, but you generally can’t go wrong with granite as a long-term investment.
Pro: It’s available in wide slabs. Though granite comes in all shapes and sizes, it’s common to find slabs more than 70 inches wide. For comparison, quartz slabs are seldom larger than 65 inches wide and are most often about 56 inches. Wide slabs are a huge benefit for kitchens with sprawling angles since they usually mean fewer seams. Some kitchens may need only one slab, which can cut costs.
Pro and Con: It’s a natural beauty. Jaw-dropping granite countertops don’t come from a factory. Granite is natural, and with that comes all sorts of intangibles a man-made product like quartz can never have, namely one-of-a-kind patterns and textures that you won’t see anywhere else. Every slab is unique, which really lets you personalize your kitchen. However, it is taking from the earth so granite is not a green option.
Con: It’s porous. Like other stones, granite isn’t naturally resistant to moisture. It’s best not to let spills and water rings sit too long since they can stain your granite. An engineered product like quartz can better handle long-term exposure to moisture, and most spills won’t require immediate attention.
Con: It requires more maintenance. Granite isn’t necessarily a high-maintenance material — it just requires more care than quartz does. It’s important to be mindful of the detergents you use to clean it, as certain soaps can stain the stone. Because it’s porous, you also need to seal it regularly, a task that can become a nuisance for some homeowners. Depending on the product you use, it’s best to reseal your granite countertops every two to five years.
Con: There aren’t many “clean” styles. Granite has a lot of movement in it, from veins and swirls to spots and speckles. While this is definitely one of granite’s stronger assets, it’s also a drawback for homeowners who don’t want busy countertops. It’s almost impossible to find a clean, simple style without much patterning. If you’re looking for counters without much hoopla, quartz is likely the better option for you.
Con: It’s brittle. Granite is strong, no doubt. However, it breaks far more easily than quartz does. Breaks can occur in larger pieces with angles and turns during installation. Though most professionals offer to patch up the cracks or cover the costs of a new slab, it’s an extra headache that can set your remodeling project back several days to several weeks. Plus, no one wants to see an investment of several thousand dollars get split in half.
Pro: It’s low-maintenance. Quartz is well-equipped to handle most kinds of detergents, and all it takes is soap and water to remove most spills and stains. It doesn’t require sealing either.
Pro: It’s stronger than natural stone. Quartz isn’t totally immune to scuffs and stains, but it’s about as scratch and stain-resistant as countertops get.
As an engineered product, it’s nonporous, so coffee, citrus juice, cooking oil and other common kitchen ingredients won’t stain it. The resins and polymers used during the manufacturing process form strong bonds that aren’t easy to break. You won’t have to worry as much about it cracking during installation.
Pro: It’s in high demand. Whether it’s interior design’s shift toward clean lines or a desire for less daily upkeep, quartz is hot right now.
It’s a huge selling point for home buyers, so it’s worth taking a look at for house flippers and soon-to-be sellers. If the quartz’s price is right, you could net a larger return on investment in the near future.
Pro: It offers consistent, clean styles. Solid, consistent coloring is quartz’s claim to fame. This makes it a natural fit in modern and contemporary spaces that emphasize form and function instead of details.
Quartz also works well in traditional spaces that need a clean countertop style to mesh well with other detailed features, such as backsplashes, cabinetry, decor and light fixtures.
Con: It isn’t suitable for outdoor installations. This is one area where granite has the upper hand. While quartz is generally heat-resistant, it won’t perform well outdoors, whether it is on an accent wall or in an uncovered outdoor kitchen. Its surface can fade and discolor after long-term exposure to sunlight. On the flip side, a natural stone like granite was born to survive sunlight and other weather elements with ease.
Cost. The truth is granite and quartz cost about the same – from $40 – $100 per square foot.
Still scratching your head about a decision? Perhaps you would like an eco-friendly countertop made from recycled or sustainable material and utilize low toxicity binders. A good example of eco-friendly countertops are Vetrazzo countertops, which are made from 85 percent recycled glass. Cost is $60 – $120 per square foot.
There are also other alternatives for you to think about:
Butcher Block – Creates a warm, natural look in a country kitchen. It’s good for cutting produce and is easy to install and repair. However, butcher block will need periodic sealing or refinishing to remove cuts, dings and scratches.
Stainless Steel – repels stains and heat. It doesn’t rust or discolor. A countertop can be made with an integral sink for a seamless appearance. But is shows fingerprints and dents and scratches easily. Matte and grain finishes hide damage better.
Concrete – can be custom dyed or textured, making it ideal for personalizing. But it can crack. Durability depends on the fabricator’s skill and the sealers used. Topical sealers resist stains but not heat and aren’t ideal for kitchens. Penetrating sealers resist wear but not stains, and the sealers must be reapplied regularly to work.
More confused than ever? I feel your pain. I am in the middle of a kitchen and bath renovation. I must tell the truth, I am going with quartz. After looking at all the data I was convinced of its ease and durability in the kitchen.
The following information helped me make this decision. It is Consumer Reports ratings scored by price, stains, cutting, heat abrasion and impact.
- Quartz – Score 84
- Granite – Score 81
- Recycled Glass – Score 69
- Laminate – Score 68
- Tile – Score 67
- Dekton – Score 53
- Solid surface (Corian) – Score 53
- Soapstone – Score 46
- Concrete – Score 40
- Butcher block – Score 37
- Limestone – 27
- Marble – Score 14
- Bamboo – Score 10
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