Many homeowners involved in remodeling their kitchen or bathroom can attest, choosing the perfect countertops and other finishing materials can be tough. While the look and feel of the product is an important consideration, it is also essential to know the benefits and drawbacks of the surface, in order to make an informed decision.
What is Granite and what is Quartz?
Granite is a very hard type of stone found which is mined from deep within the earth. It is found in many places throughout the world, including here in the United States. The color and pattern of the stone is determined by the surrounding minerals found. Granite is composed of approximately 50% quartz; the remaining elements found within granite include softer minerals and impurities.
Quartz is one of the hardest minerals found on earth, second only to the diamond. Quartz countertops & surface slabs made by Caesarstone, Cambria, Zodiac and Silestone, are also comprised primarily of quartz. Unlike granite, quartz products are made of 93% quartz crystals, with resins and pigments making up the remaining composition.
Granite slabs create a very durable countertop, however since the materials are comprised of some softer minerals, there are some important things to keep in mind. Most granite countertops are scratch resistant, but not scratch proof. It will look good for years to come, considering the proper care is administered. It is recommended, nay, insisted that granite countertops are sealed once a year to deter bacteria growth, and as well as keep the surface relatively safe from scratches, burns, or stains. Using granite for countertops, especially on a kitchen island or peninsula, homeowners must take care in keeping countertop overhangs to a minimum. Most granite countertop installers will recommend that overhangs be no deeper than 12” from the edge of the cabinet. Support brackets should be installed about every 36” in width for best results.
Quartz countertops, are nearly twice as strong as natural granite. Quartz products are very dense, meaning the quartz crystals are very tightly packed. Because of the manufacturing process, they are also free of the invisible fissures (tiny cracks) that can be found in granite. Because of this extra strength, countertop overhangs can be deeper, and require fewer support brackets.
Both granite and quartz are resistant to both heat and scratching. However, any type of thermal shock, whether from extreme heat or cold, can cause damage to both granite and quartz. Although these products can resist heat from hot pans, it is always recommended that homeowners use trivets when setting a pot on the surface. Homeowners should also always use cutting boards when preparing food, as their knives will be dulled by the hard stone surfaces.
Food Safety and Staining
As mentioned before, since granite is a natural stone, it is porous. These microscopic holes in the surface of the stone allow liquids to penetrate it. This can lead to staining, as well as the growth of bacteria. Keeping the granite sealed is the best way to avoid stains, and keep the stone looking new. Sealers do not keep out bacteria; for this reason, granite is not allowed for use in commercial kitchens and restaurant countertops.
Quartz products are nonporous so they do not need to be sealed and are resistant to mostly all types of stains. The nonporous composition of these products also keeps them from harboring bacteria, making them suitable for commercial use. Homeowners like the low-maintenance benefits of quartz countertops.
Colors and Patterns
Quartz countertop materials have a drastically different look than granite, which comes in patterns ranging from the very consistent to the extremely wild. With veins, blotches and iridescent flecks, each slab of granite is unique. Granite colors range from white to blue and from red to black.
Quartz products, because they are manufactured, have a more regular pattern. Quartz products lack the depth of light that natural granite possesses, and can tend to look flat. Although newer quartz products include veins and inconsistencies, they still do not rival the unique look of natural granite.On the other hand, quartz products do come in color combinations not found in nature. From bright red to warm tones of chocolate brown and green, quartz countertops offer colors that are impossible to find in natural granite. Although granite and quartz are similar in look and composition, they are very different products. In most areas of the country, even the pricing is similar. Knowing the maintenance and benefits of each type of countertop material is vital to making the best choice for each space.