Granite and quartz countertops share so many traits that choosing between the two comes down to atomic differences. Granite is natural stone; quartz is engineered stone. While some opinionated homeowners voice a definite preference, either material will serve you well for years. If you're wrestling over which one to buy, opt for the countertop that captures your heart and complements your kitchen's overall vibe.
Fabricators will install granite and quartz for roughly the same price, but rare granite slabs can go for considerably more because of their unusual coloring and depth. Expect to pay $50 to $100 per square foot to buy and install a quartz countertop as of April 2011. The cost to purchase and install granite runs between $45 and $200 per square foot.
Sealed granite countertops withstood abuse better than any other stone material in experiments performed by Consumer Reports. From scalding pots of oil to stains left overnight, granite surfaces endured heat, scratches and stains in the test lab. Quartz manufacturers point out that quartz also resists scratches, stains and heat, but the material is not 100 percent scratch-proof or heat-proof under severe conditions. All stone tops can break under excessive force.
Naturally nonporous, quartz requires no special sealing or maintenance while granite requires annual sealing. Applying the sealer takes 10 to 15 minutes, and the job can be performed by anyone. If not sealed properly, granite is susceptible to stains and discoloration. Both long-term impregnators and short-term topical sealers block stains effectively.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so only you can determine which material wins in the looks department. Because it's a natural stone product, granite exhibits unusual veins and patterns. This variation may not be desirable if you require a more uniform material for your kitchen. No two slabs are alike, so you must head to the stone yard to find the right one. With quartz, the stone displays a much more consistent pattern. Some designers prefer the predictability of quartz samples while others prefer the random streaks in granite.
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