So, you want to upgrade your countertops. What to choose: granite or quartz? I find that clients tend to gravitate toward one product or the other - with few people willing to go either way! What are the differences between these products?
Granite, as most people are aware, is mined from the earth. Granite consists mostly of quartz, which is the second-hardest mineral on earth - second only to diamonds. The fact that granite is a “found” product means that no two pieces of granite are the same. It also means that you may find wild variations in color, grain, and pattern, depending on when your particular piece was pulled from the quarry. To someone who wants his/her home to be especially unique, these wild variations are what draws them to granite! They like knowing that no one else in the world has the exact same piece of stone that they have. They like the random swirls and dips that make up their particular granite color - some of them get pretty crazy!
Granite does require some maintenance, however. Because granite is a natural stone, it does have pores. These pores will suck in moisture - whether that moisture is in the form of water, red wine or electric blue soft drinks. Because of this feature, granite has the possibility to stain; stains can often be removed, but it does take some work to do so. If you have granite countertops and keep them wiped up on a regular basis, you will more than likely be fine; don’t leave spaghetti sauce sitting on the counter for three days, or you may have a staining problem! Granite can be sealed to prevent staining, and this sealer should be reapplied every year or so. Some granites are now even claiming to be “stain-free”, since they have been impregnated with a permanent sealer. I have no experience with these products, but I am always a little skeptical when someone claims stone is stain-free.
Quartz products, on the other hand, are very different from granite. Products such as Silestone, Cambria and Zodiac, are made from 93% quartz - the basic component of granite. However, because of the chemical make-up of the quartz products, they tend to be even stronger than granite. Granite has naturally-occuring fissures, which can be weak points in the stone.
The very best feature of the quartz countertops is that they are maintenance-free! They are non-porous, so they are impervious to staining. No sealing is required - just install and live with it! For this reason alone, we do install a lot of quartz countertops.
Style is another reason some clients prefer quartz over granite. Some clients are scared of what granite offers - that one-of-a-kind nature of natural stone brings with it the unknowns of exactly what their piece will look like. They like the control of knowing that the color sample they saw at the showroom will be very close to their actual countertop. Color can also be a significant selling point. Nature simply doesn’t produce every color combination in granite; if a client is looking for something in particular, quartz may have a better color option for them.
Quartz countertops have their benefits; however, they will never achieve the same look that nature provides with granite. My clients tend to have a clear inclination toward one choice over the other. The key is to educate yourself on the benefits and negatives of each product, so you can make the best choice for your home and lifestyle.
For more information on granite and other stone countertops, check out http://www.marble-institute.com/.
For more information on quartz products, visit http://www.silestoneusa.com or http://www.cambriausa.com.