The Difference between Granite and Quartz:
Quartz is harder than granite and therefore more durable. Diamonds are one of the few minerals harder than quartz. The Mohs Mineral Scale of Hardness lists diamonds as number 10 and quartz as number 7. (Source: Wikipedia Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness)
Quartz countertops are man-made, and if choosing quartz, you should check out what your choices are comprised of. For instance, Caesarstone quartz is 93% quartz and 7% resin and filler. The resin and filler are what binds and holds the countertops together.
Another thing to look for is the technology that makes your quartz countertops. Cambria, Silestone and Caesarstone are all made using top-of-the-line Breton machinery. This machinery has a particular process in which it makes the slabs not only more durable, but also more consistent in regards to color pattern throughout the slabs. This is important when planning the layout of your kitchen, and when deciding how many slabs will be needed in order to make your kitchen layout come to life.
Think about your seams; because quartz is man-made, slabs are made in batches. Seams are necessary in kitchens to connect one slab to another. Batches are made the same every time, but just like making a cake from a box, every time you make a cake, the outcome is a little different. You need to make sure that if your kitchen needs multiple slabs, all slabs come from the same batch to ensure the same color pattern in every slab.
Quartz countertops do not ever need to be sealed as they are non-porous. This makes quartz the ideal countertop choice for those with food allergies. Cleaning quartz countertops is easy, as you only need soap and water. You will need to use trivets on quartz countertops, as a hot pan out of the oven or off the stovetop might cause a chemical reaction to crack your quartz countertop. This is only possible because quartz is man-made, and has filler and resin in 7% of your slab surface.
Quartz slabs come in a variety of colors, granite look-a-likes, marble look-a-likes, etc. When selecting a quartz slab, most fabrication shops have smaller quartz samples to choose from instead of large slabs. If your fabricator has a large showroom or a stone supplier that they purchase their slabs from, then you can view larger quartz slabs in person.
Granite countertops are unique and one-of-a-kind. It is cut in slabs that come straight out of the ground and is not man-made. Granite contains between 20% and 60% quartz by volume. (Source: Wikipedia Granite)
Granite is a porous material. Being porous is not necessarily a bad quality. If liquids are left on the surface for long periods of time, they will eventually be absorbed. But just like they absorb, they will also evaporate. Most granite countertops don’t need to be sealed; it does help the stone resist dirt and spills, which can cause etching and staining. (Source: Natural Stone Institute)
You should use soap and water, granite cleaner or a pH-balanced neutral cleaner to clean your granite countertops. Granite is resistant to heat/cold, abrasions, scratches, and almost all chemicals commonly found in the home. (Source: Architectural Surfaces)
Granite is easily resistant to heat up to temperatures of 480 degrees F, and can even likely withstand higher temps. To prevent possible damage, avoid extreme changes in temperature such as placing something cold on an area that just had something hot on it.
Granite slabs are generally selected at a slab stone yard. You will personally select what will be going into your home.
Due to color and complexity of make-up or availability, both granite and quartz vary in price. Granite tends to price lower than most quartz colors; however both options offer lower, mid-range and high-end options.
Granite or quartz? It is up to the individual homeowner as to what style they prefer; because just like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people even choose to use both in their home.
I had once fallen in love with a higher-end granite slab, but due to the high-end slab’s price I changed my plan. If I knew then what I know now, I might have gone with the beautiful, more expensive purchase for just my kitchen island and paired it with a more subtle quartz color for the perimeter of my kitchen. The end product was a beautiful kitchen regardless, by going with a granite that fit my builder’s budget, instead of going overboard on a higher priced granite. The same granite was used on my island as well as around the perimeter of my kitchen.
Be creative, listen to your designer; he/she designs kitchens daily. Tell your designer your style/vision and listen to their suggestions as they can help you narrow down your options to a much more manageable and less stressful decision. You might think that selecting a countertop material, color, pattern, or thickness won’t take long, until you see how many choices are out there. Oh and don’t forget, do you want a beveled edge or a pencil edge? What about a waterfall edge? Architectural Stone Works’ in-house designer is a great source of information. Your designer and their knowledge is key to making this a fun and less stressful process!