At Julkowski, Inc., we get a lot of questions from our clients about granite countertops vs. quartz countertops (i.e. Cambria, Silestone, Zodiaq). People often want to know the advantages and disadvantages of each and what kind of maintenance is required. In this newsletter we will give you a quick overview of these two surfaces, then do a side-by-side comparison. We hope this will help you make better informed decisions about which product will look and perform best on your next project.
Granite (Natural Stone)
The main minerals in granite are quartz, feldspar, hornblende, and mica. These minerals are extremely hard, making granite one of the hardest materials found in nature, second only to diamond. Because granite is so hard, it resists scratching, chipping, and discoloration due to heat, making it ideally suited for countertops in your home. It can be used in virtually any application in your home, including kitchens, baths, bars, and fireplaces.
Because granite is a natural product, there are an almost endless array of colors and patterning available. Some display small crystals that are uniform and consistent throughout the slab, while others show elegantly flowing movement, or large random crystallization patterns.
Granite now comes in several different finishes, including, polished, honed, leathered, antiqued, flamed, and brushed
Quartz (Engineered Stone)
Engineered stone is 93% quartz material, with the remainder being a mix of resin, glass, dyes, etc.
It is a manufactured product that is very hard, and resists scratching, chipping, and staining.
It is well suited to the same type of applications as granite; however, it is not suitable for outdoor applications due to its susceptibility to UV light. There is a broad assortment of colors available, including colors that are not typically found in nature. Because the material is “man-made”, the patterning is uniform and consistent throughout the slab. However, there are some unique new color options available that simulate the irregularities of natural stone.
Engineered quartz comes in polished and honed finishes.
A Side-by-Side Comparison of Granite vs. Quartz
Other Commonly Used Natural Stone Surfaces in the Home
Unlike granite, marble is composed of calcite, making it relatively soft. Pure marble is almost entirely white though it can vary in color from white to black. Impurities such as silica, iron oxide and graphite give it its characteristic rich veining, clouding and color. Because marble forms under varying degrees of heat and pressure, it exhibits a broad range of denseness and hardness.
Marble is typically specified for use in baths and as fireplace surrounds due to its relative softness. Generally, marble is not suitable for kitchens because it does scratch and chip easier than granite or quartz. However, because marble develops a patina as it ages in the home, it can make beautiful “old world” looking kitchen countertops.
Marble can be polished to a brilliant shine, or honed for a satin look.
Soapstone is comprised of several minerals including talc, chlorite, dolomite and magnetite, giving it a soft feeling to the touch. It has a unique soft color with light flowing veins. When cut, soapstone will oxidize from a light color to a darker one.
Soapstone is a relatively soft, non-porous stone that is be susceptible to scratching. As with marble, soapstone is valued for its “old world” look and is suitable in this context for kitchens, baths, bars and fireplace surrounds.
Limestone, Travertine, Onyx
Limestone, travertine, and onyx are all quite soft materials making them generally unsuitable for kitchens countertops. The principal use of these materials is for vanities, fireplace surrounds, and various accent area applications.