Congratulations! By choosing to incorporate a stylish and elegant natural countertop such as quartz or granite into your kitchen workspace, you have already made a smart decision. Both products will provide years of high-quality performance and timeless beauty for your home. This guide will give you a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each to make the right decision for your own personal needs.
While both granite and quartz countertops
are comprised of natural stone, each has very different properties.
Granite, as most of us recall from Science class, is igneous rock and is quarried in large blocks. Granite is made up of naturally-occurring minerals such as quartz, feldspar and mica that combine to make up the predominantly white, black, brown, gray or pink hues. Countertops are created by polishing slabs of granite that are cut to a custom size.
Quartz is actually a mineral that forms stone and is the second most plentiful on Earth. Crushed pieces are mined from the ground, blended with polymer resins and pigments, and formed into a variety of colourful and patterned work surfaces.
The Natural Aesthetics
A solid surface countertop made from quartz or granite is generally the key design element of a room's decor. The dramatic patterns and similar characteristics of the two products often lead to mistaken identity at first glance.
Granite, a 100-percent natural substance, comes in an endless assortment of patterns and shades. Each slab section is unique and can be wildly bold with deep veins of vibrant colour or display muted tones with more subtle variations. Finished to a smooth, high-gloss shine, expert installations should match patterns and level so seams are virtually invisible. Intricate edge profiles can be cut and polished to enhance the natural beauty. Some styles include standard Straight, simple Beveled, rounded Bullnose, ornate Ogee or custom-designed edges. Backsplashes, drop-in or under-mount sinks and tiered workspaces can all be added to create the perfect complements to your granite countertop.
Quartz is an engineered product that incorporates 93-percent quartz aggregates, colour pigments and binding agents called polymer resins. Hundreds of styles, patterns, hues and sizes are available - from bright blues and reds, to subdued earth tones, to marbled designs; the possibilities are endless. Smooth, high-gloss or matte finishes are available to match your personal preference. As quartz countertops are manufactured, each design can be custom sized for a seamless installation. Varying thicknesses and edge profiles are also available including a Chiseled hand-cut edge for a natural, rustic look.
The Hard Facts
When you think of quartz and granite, you likely assume they are "hard as rock." While it is true these weighty materials are exceptionally durable, they are not indestructible.
Many are drawn to the stunning textures and striations of granite. This adds to its unique appearance but can also make it vulnerable to breakage or chipping under severe misuse. Most granite is naturally porous and may require a sealer to provide the most stain resistance. A simple test to determine if sealing is necessary involves placing a wet, ink-free paper towel on the surface. If after five minutes the area under the towel has darkened, the water has permeated the surface and a sealer should be applied. Applying the seal coat annually is simple and will ensure your countertop maintains its dazzling appearance for years to come. Granite countertops
are extremely dense and very heavy. A specialist is recommended for a safe and professional installation.
Quartz surfaces are equally strong due to their high stone content. The resin component binds the quartz pieces together for a solid, impermeable work area. The material is maintenance-free and never requires sealing. Known for its resilience and scratch-resistance, with proper care a quartz counter can provide the same elegant appearance year-after-year. While it is possible to install it yourself, large slab sizes are actually heavier than granite. The project is quite labour-intensive and requires meticulous measurements and proficiency. An expert fabrication and installation utilizing the proper tools and equipment will ensure your investment is both beautiful and secure.
The Process and Expectations
Assuming you will be hiring a contractor to fabricate and install your new countertops, there are still many things you must do to achieve the look and functionality you want. Due to the custom nature of each selection, your involvement is an essential component to the process.
The course of action for including granite countertops in your remodeled kitchen requires a commitment of time and some decision-making skills:
- Quotes are generally based on preliminary measurements you provide. You will need to supply dimensions from your existing countertop before you start the process. A field measurement will be done later to confirm accuracy.
- Next, you must visit the showroom or warehouse to select the specific granite slab you would like to use. Most classic and exotic granite is imported from Brazil, China and Africa. By the time it reaches the warehouse, it has been inspected for flaws, cut to manageable sizes and is now ready for your selection. Each spectacular block is unique in mineral composition, design, colouring and imperfections. Your personal selection will reflect your tastes and become a one-of-a-kind creation.
- Most contractors will prepare a final proposal, draw up a contract, collect a deposit and schedule a field measure at this time.
- Existing countertops, backsplashes and sinks must be removed at field measure to provide easy access to base cabinets. Cabinets must be level, plumb and properly fastened to accept the heavy granite counter. Your contractor may provide this service for an additional cost if you are unfamiliar with the process. In addition, sinks, faucets and accessories must be available for proper sizing and layout.
- A second visit will be required to arrange the project on the granite you chose. Most contractors utilize digital technology to assist in determining seams, pattern layout and sink placement. You will also choose an edge detail at this stage.
- Fabrication is ready to begin and can take several weeks to complete.
- Depending on the size and intricacy of the job, installation can take one day or several days. Check with your contractor to determine if a plumber is required to connect the sink or accessories. A sealer is usually applied before sinks and appliances are placed, especially in hard-to-reach places.
- Enjoy your spectacular granite kitchen!
The process for adding quartz to your kitchen design is more streamlined than granite. However, several manufacturers produce the chic stone/resin blend. Caesarstone
are two well-known, high-quality fabricators that offer attractive and durable quartz countertops. Extra time may be needed to research the many custom choices they offer.
- As with granite, preliminary measurements are helpful when planning your project and obtaining a cost estimate.
- The combination of nature and technology allow for custom fabrication. Therefore, you can choose colors, patterns, thicknesses, finishes and edge profiles in one visit to the warehouse, display showroom or from tile samples. Caesarstone and Cambria offer two slab thicknesses plus gloss or matte finishes for creative design concepts.
- Remove/disconnect plumbing, existing countertops and backsplashes so field measurements can be taken. Sink and accessory dimensions should be available so a template can be created prior to fabrication. Appliances and sinks will be installed with the countertop but plumbing connections must be made by a licensed professional.
- A digital fabrication process is used to produce the perfect fit and can take several weeks to complete.
- Installation times vary by project but generally can be completed in one or two days. Most manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties on quartz products. By registering your completed project, you will have the benefit of worry-free performance for years to come.
- Enjoy your stunning quartz creation!
The Last Word
Both quartz and granite are excellent choices for stunning, hygienic and durable countertops. They both provide resistance to scratches, stains, heat, mold and mildew.
Granite is completely natural and offers unique patterns, colours and an exotic, earthy appearance unmatched by any other material. It requires annual sealer protection but is otherwise very low maintenance. Granite can crack or chip if subjected to misuse but is considered to be one of the strongest products available. Granite kitchen projects are more involved and time-consuming but the finished product adds value and prestige to any home.
Quartz blends crushed nature-made minerals with man-made pigments and binders to create a solid surface, a rainbow of vibrant or subdued hues, and a multitude of aesthetically-pleasing patterns. It boasts a maintenance-free finish but can discolor when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. With a choice of multiple manufacturers, extra research may be needed to achieve the desired look. While quartz is extremely strong, it is still susceptible to damage. Fortunately, an available lifetime warranty will provide peace of mind for years to come.
Deciding which product is best is truly a personal preference. Whether you choose quartz or granite for your new designer countertop, you can be assured that it will reflect your personality with style and stand the test of time.