Choosing between using granite or ceramic tile isn’t a simple either/or decision. Where it’s being used, the ease of installation, cost, replacement and neighborhood trends all factor into making the right choice. Personal preference is also a consideration, with the dramatic and exclusive patterns found in granite competing with the elegant and intricate colors and designs baked into ceramic. Both are relatively natural materials, with one formed millions of years ago and the other fresh out of the kiln.
Granite is the hardest natural stone, resistant to staining and with excellent moisture-repellent qualities. It’s easy to clean and only needs sealing on a yearly basis. Hot pans or casseroles direct from the oven can be placed on a granite surface without damaging the stone. Staring into a slab of granite can be mystical, as it reveals millions of years of evolution. Some slabs contain fossils embedded in prehistoric times. A piece of granite is a piece of Earth’s history.
The variety of colors and designs, sizes and shapes found in ceramic tiles makes them a useful design tool. A field of square or rectangular tiles bordered in tile scrolling or medallions adds elegance to a kitchen or bathroom. Resistant to staining or etching, a ceramic tile that is glazed provides the best protection against kitchen elements. Glazed tile surfaces don't need to be sealed, but standard cement grout should be sealed to prevent staining.
Granite is the more expensive material to install, with prices ranging from $75 to $250 per square foot at the time of publication, depending on the slab chosen. A template must be created, cutouts for a sink and hardware done at a factory, and experienced professionals must install the slab. One mistake can ruin the entire slab of granite. Ceramic tile can be laid by a do-it-yourselfer. Mistakes are easily corrected, and the professional installation cost runs from $30 to $50 per square foot plus the cost of the tile, which may run about $5 per square foot.
Seamless countertops that are one continuous surface, such as those found with granite, avoid staining and seepage from food. Granite slabs used to be seamed on the horizontal edge to create a beveled or bullnose finish, but designers now prefer the solid slab of either a 3/4-inch or a 1 1/4-inch thickness. Ceramic tile is laid with grout between the tiles, picking up food deposits and discoloring over time and use. Epoxy grout lasts longer and is easier to clean than cement grout.
If adding value to your home is a goal, consider your neighborhood trend. If the majority of homes display granite countertops, your choice, if you want to get top dollar when you sell, is to go with granite. If your kitchen is older and hasn’t been upgraded, you can use ceramic tile to freshen the counters and make your kitchen appealing, knowing a buyer will look at the kitchen as one needing total replacement. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades, especially those made with granite, add the most value.