Beautiful countertops set your kitchen’s style in stone. While there are dozens of materials you can choose from—our countertop beginner's guide lays them all out—most mid- to high-end kitchens use either all-natural granite or manmade quartz. No pressure, but it’s a crucial decision. Think about it: You’ll have yards and yards of this material topping your kitchen cabinets, so you really want to love the way the stuff looks and feels. You also need to be sure the durability and maintenance meet your expectations. Read on, and we’ll answer your big questions about granite and quartz, so you know the differences and can choose the best countertops for you.
What is granite?
Granite is a natural stone quarried from mines and cut into slabs that then get polished and fabricated for countertops and backsplashes. In addition to its beauty—granite comes in a variety of colors and speckled veining—it’s also one of the most durable materials for countertops. If you cook often, have young children, or like to entertain, you’ll find it’s able to hold up to most daily wear and tear all while maintaining a luxurious finish.
What is quartz?
Unlike granite, quartz countertops are not 100 percent natural. They are engineered slabs made of a majority of natural ground quartz plus a small amount of binders such as resin and polymers. The end result is slabs that have the hardness and opulent look of natural stone, such as luxe marble, without the hassle.
Which is more stylish?
Both granite and quartz look luxurious in any kitchen layout, and come in a variety of color options. The difference is really in the consistency of the pattern. Because granite is a natural stone, it features variation, and no two slabs look exactly alike. Quartz, which goes by many brand names (Silestone, Caesarstone, ColorQuartz, Dekton, and more) is an engineered stone, so its veining and pattern are manipulated and more consistent from slab to slab. There may be some minor variations, but people like it because there's so little variation. The uniformity gives quartz a more modern, clean feel while granite tends to look more traditional and earthy. Quartz is what you often see on sleek waterfall-style kitchen islands. Another difference is the finish of the surface. Quartz and granite feel different to the touch: granite is warmer, quartz is cooler. They even sound different when you set down something like a coffee cup.
Winner: It depends on your personal style
Which is easier to install?
Neither quartz nor granite is a great candidate for a DIY project, because they're both so heavy. You’ll want to enlist a pro. However, granite slabs are smaller. That makes them easier to work with, but also means you’ll have more visible seams to fill in and maintain.
Which is more heat resistant?
Watch the hot pots and pans on quartz! The manmade material can get damaged when it comes into contact with temperatures higher than 150 degrees F. This is because extreme heat melts the resin used in the mixture. You don't have to worry as much around granite, which is one of the most heat-resistant options on the market. If you like to pull things off the stove set them on the counter, granite’s for you.
Which is more stain resistant?
Blame its porous makeup, but granite countertop can stain if spills are left unattended to. Wipe up messes immediately. Nonporous quartz is less subject to stains or bacteria, making quartz a go-to option for busy households with kids.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that you can use a very heat- and stain-resistant countertop material, such as black granite, near where you'll be cooking and something more delicate elsewhere.
Which is easier to clean and sanitize?
Quartz is a nonporous surface, which means that for the most part it’s stain and water resistant. To clean and disinfect it, you can use a mix of rubbing alcohol and water or good old soap and water. Cleaning granite isn’t much different. Yes, you can go with a speciality cleaner (there are tons of options out there), but a mix of warm water and mild soap with a rag or microfiber cloth will do the job just fine. Just make sure to wipe the surface dry after cleaning to avoid leaving any water spots. For both surfaces, steer clear of using vinegar or harsh cleaners.
Winner: Quartz has a slight edge, but honestly it’s a draw
Which is easier to maintain?
When it comes to upkeep, quartz definitely has an edge. Though both materials are very durable and long lasting, because of the resin used in its mix, quartz doesn’t require any annual sealing and rarely cracks. The resin also makes it more resistant to stains. Granite, however, is porous, so it needs to be sealed when it’s installed and then annually after that.
Which costs more?
Planning a kitchen remodel is a major, expensive endeavor, and both quartz and granite are premium materials. The overall cost of countertops depends on several factors: the design of the stone, the thickness of the slab, and the style of the edge (rounded, beveled, etc.), and the size of your kitchen. While these two materials are close in price, quartz tends to be slightly less expensive per square foot compared with granite. To add to the cost, granite needs more upkeep and will need to be sealed regularly.