Quartz
Granite
Quartz or Granite Countertops: Which is Better & Why?


When choosing great looking, durable countertops, both quartz and granite are an excellent choice. However, there are some fundamental differences. Stone workers cut granite directly from large deposits into slabs. Manufacturers make quartz by combining crushed rock with resin to form slabs. Granite tends to be more natural looking while quartz requires overall lower maintenance.

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What is the Difference?

Granite

Granite is a natural stone formed during the cooling of magma. Although formed mostly of quartz and feldspar, it also holds mica and other trace minerals that give it its characteristic flecked pattern.

The different minerals found in it make it one of many colors. White and cream are common, but pink and red variations are also available, as well as darker colors including black.

Quartz

Silicon crystallizes to produce quartz. It is the second most abundant material in the earth’s crust.

  • Engineered Quartz is fabricated and typically used for countertops. Manufactures crush rocks and then bind them together with resins. White and cream are the most common colors although added pigment can give the slab color, which gives a natural look, or something more interesting. Caesarstone and Cambria are two major manufacturers.
  • Quartzite, as opposed to engineered, is a naturally occurring form of sandstone that has undergone intense heat and pressure. Countertop slabs are popular. Like other natural stone, this is porous and needs regular resealing.
Consult with a pro when choosing a countertop

Which is Better for Countertops or Tables?

Let’s compare the natural aesthetic, affordability, everyday care, durability, maintenance and more of granite and engineered quartz as counters and tables.

Appearance/Colors

Granite
Pros

  • Has a more natural appearance.
  • Found in many colors ranging from the more common off whites to more exotic blacks or greens.

Cons

  • Will show seams more readily.
  • Has naturally occurring imperfections, although some consider this a good thing.
  • Only naturally occurring colors are available.

Quartz
Pros

  • Colored with pigments, it can come in almost any color you can imagine, from a natural marble look to bright greens and reds, although whites with light grey or beige highlights are more common.
  • Slabs have a manufactured, consistent look throughout which helps reduce the noticeability of seams.

Cons

  • Over time, exposure to direct sunlight may discolor the resin that binds the slab together.
  • Because of the more uniform look and size of the crystals, many think it doesn’t look as ‘natural’ as other types of stone.

The Most Natural Looking: Granite

Cost

New modern faucet and kitchen room sink closeup with island and granite countertops in model house, home, apartment

Granite
  • Averages $60 per square foot. Unusual colors and larger slabs can push the price up. To reduce cost, smaller pieces or tiles cost less.

Quartz
  • Averages $75 per square foot. Special edges push the price up here.


Review our True Cost Guide for more on granite countertops, Caesarstone, and quartz countertop costs.

Most Affordable Granite

Care

Granite
Pros

  • Natural stone is resilient and can last a long time if properly cared for.

Cons

  • Wipe up spilled liquids quickly because if left, the porous stone will absorb them, and they could cause staining and bacterial growth.
  • It requires regular sealing to resist absorption.
  • You need to reapply sealant every 1 to 2 years. Doing this yourself is relatively easy.

Quartz
Pros

  • It is a non-porous material and therefore highly resistant to staining as it will not absorb liquids. This also means it is resistant to bacterial growth.

Cons

  • Liquids or foods with heavy dyes in them will still stain the surface of the counter so wipe them up quickly.

Easiest Upkeep: Quartz

Installation & DIY

Granite
Pros

  • The manufacturer cuts slabs to fit into the exact shape of your kitchen counter layout.

Cons

  • A knowledgeable professional should measure as a small mistake could require re-cutting or even replacing the slab.
  • Take care when transporting and moving the slab into place as this is when it is most vulnerable to cracking.

Quartz
Pros

  • Manufacturers shape the slab to fit for your requirements. When working with large areas with necessary seams, the seams will be less noticeable.

Cons

  • The installer needs to reinforce your cabinets because this is the heaviest stone. It needs specialized equipment for transporting, carrying and moving in to place.
  • They will measure carefully so they can cut the stone to account for imperfections in the wall or cabinets. Aligning the cutouts for sinks is difficult to get exactly right.

Professional Installation: Tie
Get a quote from a countertop pro

Durability, Hardness, & Strength

Granite
Pros

  • Resists chipping, cracking, and scratches from kitchen implements, although not recommended that you use your countertop as a cutting surface.

Cons

  • There is still the possibility of chipping if struck with hard objects.
  • Countertop edges and corners are especially vulnerable to chipping.
  • Rounded edges on counters can help alleviate this risk.

Quartz
Pros

  • Engineered to be durable and therefore highly resistant to chipping or cracking.
  • Due to the resins used it is a more flexible material than natural stone which makes it less prone to breaking on install.

Cons

  • Although highly scratch resistant, it is not scratch proof.
  • Scratches may even be more visible owing to the uniformity of the color.

The Tougher of the Two: Quartz

Heat Resistance

woman and child in kitchen over countertop

Granite
  • Formed through the cooling of molten rock, it’s very heat resistant. A hot pot placed on a countertop will not discolor the stone.
  • There is a possibility of thermal shock cracking it, so use a trivet.

Quartz
  • It can handle temperatures up to 150 degrees, so relatively hot water or warm plates will not cause a problem.
  • Although the stone in an engineered countertop is highly resistant to heat, the resin used to bind the stone together can become discolored when exposed to high temperatures. This leaves visible rings or marks that are difficult or impossible to repair. Therefore, protection such as a trivet or hot pad is highly recommended before placing a hot pan or utensil on the surface.


The Most Heat Resistant: Granite

Moisture Resistance

Granite
Pros

  • It is resistant to moisture and staining when polished well and sealed with a sealant compound.

Cons

  • The sealant can wear down over time making the stone more susceptible to moisture wicking.
  • Moisture absorbed by the stone can cause staining. Water left sitting too long may even cause some discoloration.
  • Wipe spills up quickly and wash the counter regularly with mild soap and water and reapply sealant every two years.

Quartz
Pros

  • It is non-porous and therefore will not absorb moisture. Wipe away spills quickly so they will not cause discoloration.

Cons

  • Liquids that are dark colored or have heavy dyes can stain the surface if left sitting for extended periods of time.

Most Resistant to Moisture and Staining: Quartz

Repair/Maintenance

Granite
  • Repair small chips or scratches with an epoxy kit that is available at most home improvement or flooring stores.
  • If there are larger areas of dullness or multiple scratches, refinish or polish the surface.
  • You can do this yourself, but hiring a professional to do it will ensure a consistent finish. A professional may also be able to repair larger cracks in the countertop.

Quartz
  • Use epoxy kits to fill in small nicks or scratches.
  • Cracks are more difficult to repair because the consistent coloring makes them more visible than in other natural stones.
  • Discoloration due to heat is permanent.
  • Interestingly, Caesarstone offers a quartz overlay that applies on top of an existing countertop and works for most types of surfaces.

Easier to Repair: Granite

Environmentally Friendly

Granite – It takes a lot of energy to mine and transport large pieces of natural stone. You can keep the carbon footprint smaller if you look for locally sourced stone rather than having it transported from overseas. Remnants are also a possibility if you are willing to flexible with size and color and help keep pieces of stone from ending up in the landfill.
Quartz – Made from crushed rock, the mining is a little bit easier as there is no need to carefully preserve large slabs. Also, in some cases, waste product from other uses is the raw material for engineered quartz slabs.

The Greener Choice: Quartz

Resale Value

Granite
  • These types of countertops are specifically sought out when buyers are looking for a home and therefore can add value equal to 100% or more of their original cost.
  • They can also be the tipping point when the buyer is making a choice between your house and one without the same feature.

Quartz
  • Since it is newer on the home renovation scene, it doesn’t quite have the same reputation as other stone finishes.
  • Expect to get close to your initial investment back on these countertops.

Which is More Likely to Pay for Itself: Granite
Talk to a Pro About Installing Your Countertop

Which is Best?

granite and quartz slabs

Best Countertop for Bathrooms

Bathrooms countertops are a place where water, toothpaste, and soap can sit for prolonged periods of time. So, unless you and your family are diligent about cleaning up spills right after they happen, the stain resistance of quartz wins.

Best Worktop for Kitchens

In kitchens, quartz is the better choice. Spills are no problem for the non-porous surface and its durability will keep it from chipping from heavy use. Watch out for hot pots and if you have a kitchen that gets a lot of direct sun. It can discolor the surface over time.

Quartz vs. Granite vs. Marble

Engineered to be stronger and have a more consistent look, quartz is different than the natural look of large slabs of solid stone like marble or granite. However, patterns and colors that look like more natural stones are available, giving quartz the best of both worlds.

Versus Solid Surface, Concrete, & Laminate

Solid surface is a little more affordable than quartz at $52 to $120 per square foot installed and because it is also non-porous, has a similar stain resistance. It wins out in the maintenance category because you can sand out scratches and stains, but it doesn’t have the same look as real, natural stone.

Concrete countertops are also similar in price to quartz but have the advantage of versatility in color and shape options. However, as it is porous, it will need regular sealing.

If you’re looking for a bargain, laminate is the way to go. Although it will never look like real stone, it is getting better at mimicking it closely.

Looking for a Countertop Installation Pro?

Dealers & Stone Fabricators

Take care when searching for a stone fabricator and installer for your project. Dealers having their own installers can help alleviate some of the finger pointing should there be any problems along the way.

Top Granite Suppliers Top Quartz Countertop Brands
Global Caesarstone
Mont Cambria
Helios Silestone
Granite Granite Inc. Pentalquartz
Hanstone


14 Comments

  1. Tara, September 27:

    Here is a good comparison of granite and Quartz

  2. Michael, January 18:

    We had a black polished granite countertop for the 12 years we lived in our last house. We never sealed it. During all of that time it never showed a scratch or stain and was very easy to maintain. It looked as good when we moved out as it did when we moved in. By contrast, we have friends with quartz countertops who complain about glass rings and staining. I don’t know how to reconcile this experience with some of the comments in this good article.

  3. Ted, February 1:

    Our granite counters are now 21 years old. They have never been sealed. The only maintenance has been a damp sponge and paper towels to keep it clean. Spills clean up perfectly and effortlessly. Hot pots have no effect. There is not a single scratch or ring. It looks like it was installed yesterday. Not sure where your writer is getting his data, but our experience with granite has been quite different.

    Is there any data on longer term deterioration of the plastic resin that binds the Quartz particles. If its like other polyester resins in my experience, it may need a lot of restoration to look new in a decade or two. Granite is already a few million years old, so I would be surprised if another millennium or two would matter.

  4. Lenora, April 24:

    Friends built a house in 2014, same year we did. Now 5 years later, our unique, one of a kind granite counters still look stunning and without a single blemish. Hot pots and frying pans right off the stove were never a problem. My friend, however, with quartz has had rings, uneven spots, and damaged areas. So very glad I chose granite!

  5. Steven Anschel, July 5:

    We have a dark blue speckled Silestone countertop in our kitchen that after 15 years looks like new even though we place hot pots on it regularly. It requires no maintenance other than dusting.

  6. Rob, July 5:

    We have engineered quartz in our kitchen, granite countertops in one bathroom and the laundry room. and marble in another bathroom. The marble is definitely the most susceptible to scratches and staining. The granite has been durable but is definitely susceptible to staining from liquids, which must be wiped up quickly (we should probably reseal soon). The engineered quartz is definitely the best choice for the kitchen, with no stains, scratches, or damage of any kind. Of course, we never use it as a cutting surface, and we always use trivets for anything hot. It looks great after two years — and we’re hoping it will continue to look great into the future.

  7. Jennifer Whitley, July 5:

    My husband is a custom builder of 30 years and I work for him. We are in the process of building our 5th and last personal home. I will be going with granite throughout–quartz was manufactured to look like granite, so why mess with the original? We’ve had granite in our last 3 homes and I love the one of a kind characteristics and durability. Most installers now apply a 10 year sealer and even if they didn’t, I believe the absorption properties of granite are misleading. We have never had a problem.

  8. Joanna, July 5:

    Our quartz countertops are rich looking in white with gray marking. I dropped coffee, wine, oil and never had a stain. After 11 years, they look like a million and never worry about bacteria hiding in holes like granite.

  9. Lyt4u, July 5:

    Having used both granite and quartz in the kitchen, I feel it’s important to compare heat resistance. For example, though quartz is tough it can only withstand 150 degrees F because of the resins in quartz. Where as you can use a blowtorch on granite and nothing will happen making granite’s heat resistance far superior for a cook’s kitchen. There is also the subject of etching from acids in vinegar, citrus and some soaps for example. Quartz can be prone to liquids like these etching the surface. Typically, polished granite is not as effected except by rust remover products with hydrofluoric acid. Left on granite, they can etch. I have found that acids used daily in food prep like, vinegar, lemon, lime or tomato juice do not etch polished granite. No matter what the trends may be, I feel granite is the superior investment in a truly working kitchen.

  10. Stan Sexton, July 5:

    My granite countertop around the sink is broken by moisture intrusion through the gap between the sink rim and the countertop. Three mistakes were made by the installer. First, too much gap between the sink rim and granite. Second, the use of cheap interior plywood under the granite. I’m using a 4×8 sheet of 3/4″ plastic in the next install because plywood with water “explodes”. Plastic is waterproof. Third, never use sanded grout between the granite and sink rim. Sanded grout is porous and will decay rapidly. Use clear silicone seal instead. Lather it on the sink rim so moisture will never intrude. All 3 of these demands will make your installer crazy but it’s your house. Buy the plastic sheet and silicone seal yourself.

  11. Wayne, July 5:

    During a kitchen remodel in 2006, we installed granite countertops to replace the original beveled-edge laminate countertops. The other options were available then, as now, with Silestone and Cambria as two of the big names in quartz, along with the solid surface suppliers. The selection of granite was actually quite easy: all of the competition were trying to mimic the real deal: that is, natural stone, but make it more homogeneous in appearance. Installation on any of the types greatly affects how they look and maintain: we had a good solid based even though it was on floor joists (vs concrete slab) that maintained the seams without movement or cracking. When we sold the house in 2019, the countertops looked as good as the day of installation: no scratches, marks, blemishes, cracks or gaps. We did regular cleaning after use and did seal occasionally because that’s what the instruction stated. We loved the look of natural stone with the swirls, twists, and sparkle, which is not available in the competing products; that stated, there are some cuts of granite that we did not like. It was more cost effective that quartz or solid surface products. Overall, we would choose granite again over any of the competing products.

  12. Fran, July 6:

    Our granite countertops were installed in both our kitchen and bathroom as part of a large house renovation six and a half years ago. The look is beautiful – swirling shades of gray, black and white which could never be achieved with quartz. We have never had it sealed. There is not one stain on the counters and it is scratch free, despite heavy and frequent cooking with high stain ingredients such as coffee and blueberries. My feeling is that the recommendation to refinish every couple of years is sales-hype.

  13. Herby lngrahnm, July 6:

    I was also all concerned about the resealing maintenance of granite, but mine do not show any indication of porosity and doesn’t stain. Haven’t bothered resealing as it doesn’t seem necessary. It all depends on the slab you get, most likely.

  14. Jaquidon, October 22:

    Experience with granite being porous varies because natural stone varies in porosity. Yes, it depends on the slab. Granite is not one thing, think of it like a mixture of all the different little pieces (these are minerals that make up the rock) There can be space between them. Proper sealing is crucial. The standard wipe on, wipe off that installers do is not sufficient if you get a porous slab. Wipe on the sealer enough to puddle, let it sit for 30 min to an hour, wipe off, wait an hour, repeat. My experience – after ruining a windowsill with bacon grease ring (very porous slab), we sealed it all properly and never had another problem. I lucked out on where that bacon grease went.

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