Granite vs. Quartz

Comparing Granite and Quartz

Each is an option for various surfaces in homes and businesses. Both materials offer stunning looks in a variety of colors and popular visual textures. Furthermore, both of these surface choices are used in a number of projects and have a very strong customer base. Yet, the two materials are very different in many respects. In this granite vs. quartz post, we will explore some of the similarities and differences as we compare natural granite with engineered quartz.

Foundation for Granite vs. Quartz Comparison

Before we begin the granite vs. quartz comparison, it is good to clarify what we mean by some of the terminology that we will use throughout the rest of the post. This is necessary because both of the terms “granite” and “quartz” are used to describe various products. However, in this post we will be referencing very specific materials.

Natural Granite

In the world of marketing, words are often times used to describe an objects appearance. Additionally, particular products are given names or model descriptors as “labels”. These labels may or may not be representative of the actual material of which the product is made. Such is the case with the term “granite”. It is sometimes used to label household items that have a very durable appearance or resemble natural granite. However, for the purpose of our discussion, we will be using the term to refer to a very specific material.

In this post, the term granite will be used to describe natural granite; the igneous rock that is carved from the Earth and cut into slabs which are then processed for use as surfaces in design projects. These slabs are often times made into countertops, table tops, and worktops.

Engineered Quartz

Like the terminology we mentioned above regarding granite, the word “quartz” is also used to describe a range of materials. Quartz is the name of a natural mineral. Because people are aware of this, when they see a slab of material that is referred to as “quartz” they may conclude that it is a slab of quartz that was cut. Again, marketing terms are used to convey various kinds of thoughts. In the case of countertops, the term is used because the material contains a relatively high amount of the mineral. However, there is more to engineered quartz than just quartz.

Engineered quartz countertops are just the phrase implies, they are engineered. Engineered quartz is a combination of a binding agent (often times, resins), ground up quartz, and coloring pigments. The mixture is formed into a slab and processed for use as a countertop surface or perhaps tiles or panels.

Now the stage is set for our comparison between natural granite and engineered quartz. As we mentioned at the outset, these materials share some characteristics. Yet they are also different in some ways.

Similarities Between Engineered Quartz & Natural Granite

To start off our granite vs. quartz discussion, we will look at some properties that are common to both granite and quartz. Some of these traits we have already mentioned briefly in the introduction to this post. But let’s look a bit closer at how granite compares to quartz in hardness, color selection, design compatibility.

Comparing Hardness

Engineered quartz and natural granite are both hard materials. In fact, many of the fabrication tools, including the diamond blades on this website are described as being blades for cutting quartz and granite.

Natural granite ranges in hardness from 5.5 to around 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. By the same token, engineered quartz weighs in at about the same. That means these materials are both very hard materials. Just to give some context, natural marble and limestone measures about 3 or 4 on the same scale.

So if you are wondering which material is harder, they are pretty much the same. However hardness is not the only factor to consider when it comes to durability, as we will discuss later. For now though, granite and quartz are pretty equal as far as hardness goes.

Common Color Choices

If a material is durable and available, but only comes in one or two colors, it can really limit its uses. And there are some natural materials that seem to only come in a handful of colors. However, natural granite is not one of them. Natural granite slabs can be found in practically any color needed. And even though granite is formed through a natural process, it is very diverse and thus can be matched with various other colors.

Engineered quartz too is available in a plethora of color options. Since it is an engineered product in which pigments are used, the possibilities of color options are very broad.

Even though quartz slabs are not formed in nature, that does not mean that they are limited to solid colors without visual texture. In fact, many quartz manufacturers produce slabs that look very much like natural stone but without some of the drawbacks as we will see later on in the discussion.

Similar In Design Compatibility

The last area of similarity that we will consider in our comparison of granite and quartz is how well they work with various design styles. This is an important aspect to consider when selecting a surface material because often times the focal point of a design is made in whole or in part from one of these materials.

How Quartz and Granite Differ

Even though these materials share important features, they are by no means the same. They have properties that distinguish them not only from one another, but also from other materials as well. As we mentioned earlier, the hardness of a material is just one factor to consider when examining the durability of a surface. Other aspects come into play as well. namely, Stain resistance, heat resistance, and care and maintenance.

Stain Resistance

One of the areas that people are interested in when considering a material for a countertop surface is its stain resistance. Engineered quartz is a non-porous material. Because of this, it does not absorb liquids. The result? Liquids remain on the surface of the material where they can be treated. That does not mean that engineered quartz is stain proof, it simply means that the stains stay on the surface.

“Stains” occur in a number of ways. For example, a liquid could be spilled on the surface of the stone, the water could evaporate from the liquid and leave behind the other components of the substance. Depending on what that residue is, it can be very difficult clean up. For instance, plain old tap water for example, often times contains minerals such as lime or calcium. If water is left to dry on a quartz surface, it can leave lime scale after the water evaporates. These “stains” can be challenging to clean up without the proper cleaners for removing lime scale from quartz.

Natural Stone’s Porosity

Conversely, all natural stone is porous to one degree or another. That includes natural granite. Porous stone becomes stained in a different way than quartz does. In the case of natural granite and other porous materials, water and oil based liquids are absorbed by the material and when the water leaves, the residue is left in the pores of the stone. These kinds of stains also can be a challenge to remove if you do not have the correct cleaning product.

For natural stone, one commonly recommended method for combating oil based and water based stains on natural stone is to periodically treat the surface with an impregnating sealer. Sealers cause liquids to stay on the surface of a treated stone longer than they do on non-sealed materials. This allows more time for cleaning up spills. Impregnating sealers are most effective though when used in conjunction with a pH neutral cleaner. Using the wrong cleaner breaks down the sealer and nullifies the benefits that come from sealing the stone.

Heat Resistance

Heat resistance is another area in which engineered quartz and natural granite differ. Granite surfaces are naturally heat resistant. After all, the material is formed under intense heat in the first place. That is not to say that exposing natural granite to a tremendous heat source will not do anything. Some granite slabs have treatments applied to them (as previously mentioned) that can be affected by heat. Yet the granite is very resilient and can take just about any normal household heat that it experiences. As mentioned though, surface treatments are not as resilient as the stone itself, so maintenance is key in keeping granite looking its best.

On the other hand, quartz is composed of various materials; one of which is a binding agent commonly made from resins. Resins are not as heat resistant as natural stone. That being said, quartz surfaces do have benefits that make using a trivet or a hot pad a small matter for many.

Care & Maintenance

The last area in which granite and quartz differ in comparison is the care and maintenance. The direction may vary from one brand to another but along the way you will most likely find some very similar instruction. Although we have already touched on some of this information earlier in our granite vs. quartz post, we will restate it again here. Let’s first look at granite.

Being a natural stone, granite is porous and will need to be sealed to slow the rate of absorption. Additionally, using a pH neutral cleaner for everyday clean up will ensure that the sealer remains in tact for as long as possible. And if a stain does occur, using the proper stain remover can be beneficial.

Quartz surfaces do not require sealers. However, there are some important things to note. For example, many quartz care and maintenance manuals specifically state that all water should be dried from the surface. As mentioned previously, mineral deposits can discolor engineered quartz. Use a lime scale remover to treat those surface stains.

Although, not all quartz requires pH neutral cleaner for everyday cleaning, it doesn’t hurt. Acidic cleaners are okay to use on many quartz surfaces as long as it is the correct type of acidic cleaner. However, steer clear from cleaners that are alkaline. These kinds of cleaners are detrimental to say the least.

So there it is! A comparison of natural granite and engineered quartz. As we mentioned, there are a number of similarities between the two materials. Yet there are differences as well. No matter which material you are working with or treating, knowing a bit about what it requires will help you as you work with either of these surface materials.

Natural Granite

Natural Granite Surfaces

Natural Granite Surfaces

Natural granite surfaces are one of the tried and true staples of a new kitchen. In fact, granite seems to be the standard by which other surface materials (particularly countertop materials) are compared. You can find articles all over the Internet that compare a specific material to natural granite. This is because natural granite has a long, stable record of reliability and quality when used as a surface material for kitchen countertops. In this article, we will take a look at this natural stone and consider its characteristics. Along the way we will briefly consider some information on installing granite and how to care for and maintain it.

How Granite Is Formed

Since granite is a natural stone, it is formed through a process that requires no assistance from humans. It is an igneous rock that develops through the cooling of magma or lava. The following quote was taken from Wikipedia:

Igneous rock (derived from the Latin word ignis meaning fire), or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. The magma can be derived from partial melts of existing rocks in either a planet’s mantle or crust. Typically, the melting is caused by one or more of three processes: an increase in temperature, a decrease in pressure, or a change in composition. Solidification into rock occurs either below the surface as intrusive rocks or on the surface as extrusive rocks. Igneous rock may form with crystallization to form granular, crystalline rocks, or without crystallization to form natural glasses. Igneous rocks occur in a wide range of geological settings: shields, platforms, orogens, basins, large igneous provinces, extended crust and oceanic crust.

Granite comes in a range of colors and textures. Some of the common colors of natural granite include:

  • White
  • Pink
  • Beige
  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Black
  • Red
  • Multi-colored Variations of the Above

Uses for Granite

Granite has been used for many years for several different purposes. Indoors and outdoors, for business, public, and residential uses; all of these applications benefit ferom the use of natural granite.

Outdoor Granite Use

Outdoor landscape and hardscaping projects make use of natural granite. Public benches, sidewalks and other walking surfaces as well as statues, monuments, and even furniture is constructed of natural granite.

Commercial Application

Commercial buildings make of use of granite as well. In addition to the uses listed above, interior flooring, walls, work surfaces and even boardroom & conference tables utilize this reliable, proven material.

Granite Kitchen Countertops

If you have ever watched a home renovation program, home buying show, or a do-it-yourself series on television you have probably heard someone say, “it’s gotta have all granite countertops” or “all natural granite throughout”. These phrases permeate the airwaves in these settings because of its solid reputation and performance. It often times is the preferred material for use as a countertop material; not ony in the kitchen but also in other areas of the home.

Characteristics

Each type of natural stone (and engineered stone for that matter) has very specific characteristics that distinguish one stone from all the others. Some of the properties that make this distinction include hardness, texture, mineral content and the manner in which the stone was formed. Let’s look briefly at some of granite’s characteristics.

Granite is a hard stone compared to other natural stone materials. in fact, it registers at 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Like all natural stone, is porous to varying degrees. The porosity of natural granite plays a large role in how quickly a given stone will absorb liquids.

Since natural granite forms from volcanic lava, it is a heat resistant material. Other surface materials are not as resistant to heat as granite is. The color availability makes natural granite easy to incorporate into a variety of design styles.

Working With & Using Granite

As mentioned above, natural granite is a hard, porous, and diversely colored natural stone. Because of these traits, there are some specific things that fabricators & owners of this material need to be aware of when using or working it.

Cutting Granite

Cutting a hard natural stone like granite requires the proper tools and a diamond blade that is made for that purpose. Using the wrong blade to cut natural granite can cause the cutting to be slow and/or cause the material to chip during the cut. However, selecting the proper blade for natural granite will not only give you a fast, clean cut, but it will also give you more use from each blade. So what are some good granite blades?

Care & Maintenance

Caring for granite is a straight forward process. In fact, simple, basic practices implemented well are enough. First, home owners periodically seal the granite surface using an impregnating sealer. Hence, this helps make the surface less absorbent porous natural stone absorbs liquids that can cause staining if they penetrate the pores of the material.

The second part of the care and maintenance process is also fairly simple. It is the regular cleaning of the surface using a pH neutral natural stone cleaner. These specially formulated cleaners allow the seal to remain on the surface for the longest time period. Improperly formulated cleaners destroy sealers immediately; undoing all the effort required to seal the surface in the first place.

By combining the cleaning and sealing steps, granite owners are more likely to get the best results for cleaning and protecting countertops and other granite surfaces.

Granite’s Benefits

Granite has a number of benefits, some of which we have already mentioned; although not in the context of being beneficial. One benefit of granite is that it’s a natural material. Some home owners prefer all natural materials for their surfaces. For those individuals, granite is a good choice.

Another benefit of granite, particularly for countertops is that it is a hard material that does not easily scratch.

Finally, granite countertops are very durable as far as heat resistance. As we mentioned previously, granite is the product of volcanic magma. As a result, normal household temperatures would hardly present a problem as far as overheating is concerned.

Drawbacks of Granite

Perhaps the most noticeable disadvantage to choosing granite for your countertop surfaces is that it a porous material. This means it will absorb liquids. There are various porosities of granite. So be sure to look into which level of absorption the granite you are considering has.

Another potential drawback to granite is that it can be a costlier option when compared with other countertop surface materials. However, keep in mind the old saying, “you get what you pay for.” Cheaper is almost never a higher quality product.

In the end, granite is a tried and true hard surface material that is complimentary to multiple design styles. Granite is a very durable choice for use as a kitchen countertop and it easy to maintain. no wonder it has and continues to be the material to which nearly all others are compared.