When considering materials for kitchen countertops today, most homeowners and interior designers think of either granite or quartz. Either one of these stones have many things going for them, not the least of which is durability. The fact that they are also beautiful and versatile simply ups the ante. The real question is, which one is the best choice?
There is no easy answer. It really depends on the preference of the homeowners, and for that they consider several factors. Below is a chunk of information to help them decide.
Granite is a naturally occurring igneous stone, and there is nothing more available on earth. Even over many years of quarrying them has not made much of a dent on the supply. So, there is no fear of running out of it. They are found everywhere and each one is distinct. The granite stones you see in our showrooms are just a small part of the granite supplied for different uses, but the stone slabs you do see, usually 2cm or 3 cm thick, are known as dimension stones. They are processed from large block of stone for the very purpose of use in the home.
Quartz stone slabs, on the other hand, are not natural stones, although it is made mostly of quartz mineral and small quantities of pigments and resins. The raw materials undergo something called the Bretonstone process, and it can make the quartz stone look like any natural stone, such as granite. As such, it is great alternative to them.
Granite is one of the most durable of the natural stones. It is highly resistant to heat and surface scratches due to the way it was formed. Granite is slowly-cooled magma found deep in the Earth’s crust, so it is subjected to high heat as well as pressure. It can withstand direct contact with hot pans and pots, and you can cut food directly on it with a sharp knife without leaving any marks or causing any damage. As a kitchen countertop, it sounds the ideal material. It is also popular with commercial builders and memorial stone manufacturers.
From an esthetic point of view, nothing quite compares to the distinctive look of granite. The name comes from the Latin word “granum,” referring to the grain, crystals and minerals in the stone, large enough to be visible to the naked eye. Because of its varied mineral composition and formation conditions, granite has a unique look depending on the location and depth of the source. As such, it is favored by homeowners and interior designers for the kitchen, bathroom, and living room, and not just for countertops although that is the most popular application.
It can also be challenging to find slabs that are similar to complete a long kitchen countertop, for example, or find wall cladding that may be similar enough to be a match. This is because each granite slab is unique. No two slabs are identical, even if they come from the same block of stone. Additionally, choosing a slab based on a sample is not a good idea because samples do not necessarily represent the whole slab. You will have to visit our showroom and see the slab in its entirely to choose one.
Seams can also be a problem precisely because no two slabs are identical. It is possible to make the seams look less obvious with a skilled fabricator and expert installer. Typically, they cut the stone in such a way what the patterns of the two pieces align as closely as possible, and join them using colored adhesive. In most cases, the seams are almost impossible to see.
Lastly, granite can be porous. All natural stones are to some degree, so it is a good idea to seal it after installation to minimize staining. We include sealer application in all our countertop installations, so that is something you will not have to worry about. Even if you do get a stain on granite, it is usually easy enough to remove it.
As mentioned previously, quartz stone is made up mostly of quartz, at least 90% of the composition. Quartz is a natural mineral, registering 7 in the Mohs hardness scale. To put that in perspective, diamonds register a 10, so quartz is quite hard. Because quartz stone is mostly quartz, it is also very durable, more so than granite, which only has at most 60% quartz.
Despite its high quartz content, quartz stones are actually quite flexible, so they can stand up to handling. They are not likely to break of crack during transport and installation. Like granite, they are scratch-resistant, but they are not porous, making them stain-resistant as well. It is not necessary to seal it at all. In fact, sealing them would be a bad idea as the sealer would not be able to permeate into the stone and just sit on the surface, making it look dull.
The best thing about quartz stone is also perhaps the worst thing for homeowners looking for a unique look to their kitchen. Quartz stones are engineered, so they are made to order. They are easily available, on demand, over a wide range of colors and designs. They can be made to look like anything, and all slabs of a particular model will be identical. This is a great thing if you want uniformity in a design. It is also quite easy to make the seams invisible because they patterns and colors are consistent. In fact, you can easily select a slab from samples or even pictures because they will be the same for the whole slab.
However, quartz stones do have their limitations. For one thing, the pigments in the stone tend to fade with long exposure to direct sunlight, so it is not a good choice for outdoor use or anywhere that receives a lot of sunlight. For another, they are not resistant to direct heat, so it is important to use trivets or heat pads always.
The consistency of the stones also tends to draw criticism from some people because it does not have the unique look of natural stone. Quartz stones are also more expensive than standard granite stones, although the cost difference is not that much for small areas, such as the typical kitchen countertop. Quartz stones are also heavier than granite, so that is a consideration when it comes to proper support.
Overall, both granite and quartz countertops are good choices for kitchen countertops because neither encourages the growth of bacteria with regular cleaning. In other words, they are food safe, so that is a good thing they have in common.
There is no easy way to choose between these two types of countertop materials based on their characteristics. It really will depend on what the homeowner or designer prefers. In general, purists will choose granite simply because it is a natural stone, and practical people will go for quartz because they require less maintenance.
The more important choice actually lies with your selection of supplier. You need one that is reliable, and with the experience and skill necessary to fabricate and install your stones. KNC Granite is just the one for you.
We have a large array of granite slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland.
We are also experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities, and specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects. We deliver on time and on budget.
Aside from natural stones, we carry some of the top brands of engineered stone, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties. Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.