Consumers are faced with many choices when selecting countertop materials. Natural stone choices such as granite and marble are still very popular, but quartz also has its place in the market. How do you decide if it’s right for you? Here are some points to consider before making your selection.
First, let’s clarify exactly what quartz is. Quartz (sometimes also called engineered stone) is a man-made material manufactured from crushed stone and resin. You may be familiar with prominent quartz countertop manufacturers such as Caesarstone and Compac. Quartz is not to be confused with quartzite, which is a natural stone originating from the sandstone family. Natural stone comes from various different suppliers; one of the most prominent in the market is Antolini, based in Italy.
Natural or processed?
Granite is a naturally occurring material, with the stone being quarried directly from the mountainside. Blocks are cut and sliced into slabs before being honed until smooth. Quartz slabs are manufactured from crushed quartz (and sometimes other stone) which usually make up about 93% of the slab’s content, with the remaining 7% comprising resin or other binding materials. In short, granite is a natural product while quartz is man-made.
The appearance of granite and quartz has pros and cons depending on what you are looking for. Granite is naturally occurring, so the pattern and color appearance won’t necessarily be uniform. It can have natural flaws and each slab is unique. The range of color choices goes from earth tones through to blues, greens and reds. The manufactured nature of quartz means that almost any color can be achieved through pigmentation, so there is a wider array of choices. Coloration in the quartz is usually more consistent, meaning that if the consumer wants a uniform look, quartz will deliver this more consistently than natural stone. Both quartz and granite will have visible seams when installed.
Granite should always be sealed by your fabricator during installation. This helps protect the granite and reduces the chance of staining. Granite needs to be re-sealed on a regular basis, usually once every 1-2 years, depending on use. Quartz does not need initial or continued sealing, because it’s non-porous.
There’s no clear winner in this category. Consumers sometimes believe that quartz slabs will be cheaper than granite, but this is not the case, with granite and quartz usually costing roughly the same as each other. Quartz can sometimes be more expensive, depending on the brand.
Granite and quartz are both very strong, durable materials, but should not be considered indestructible. Both are fairly heat-resistant, but you should still use trivets and avoid placing hot pots directly on the surfaces. Granite can also have natural flaws, since the material is not manufactured. Quartz is not subject to flaws due to the manufacturing process.
The bottom line
The choice between granite and quartz is a personal one. Granite is relatively low maintenance, but be sure to have it sealed and to clean up spills quickly to keep the beautiful look of your natural stone.
Quartz requires less maintenance and offers different color options, making it an attractive option for those who aren’t set on natural stone. Both options are a great investment and should last a lifetime if cared for properly.
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