Today’s top two upscale countertop options, granite, and quartz, are competitively priced with one another. Granite and quartz are quite different materials, one being a natural stone and another being an engineered composite made to resemble the natural stone.
This guide covers unique properties, pros and cons, looks, maintenance requirements, durability aspects, and pricing considerations for each option.
Granite countertops cost between $75 and $150 per square foot installed. The cost is largely based on whether you choose tiles or slabs. When going with a full-sized granite slab, its thickness, size (length and width), color pattern and degree of flawlessness or lack of imperfections will affect the overall price on a per sq. ft. basis.
Quartz countertop costs range from about $95 to $160 per square foot installed and engineered stone slabs are used.
|Low Cost:||$75 to $95 per s.f.||$90 to $110 per s.f.|
|Average Cost:||$95 to $125 per s.f.||$110 to $135 per s.f.|
|High Cost:||$125 to $150 per s.f.||$135 to $160 per s.f.|
|Avg. Total Cost: (64 s.f. of material installed)||$7,040 or $110/s.f.||$7,840 or $122.5/s.f.|
Did you know? A decade ago, quartz was much more expensive than granite. With higher demand came an increase in production and with it, more cost-effective manufacturing process. That’s why you’ll find outrageous prices for quartz from many pricing sites. The days of $200+ per square foot quartz are gone, but many sites haven’t updated the information in years! 😉
The cost range for quartz, also known as engineered stone, is narrower than costs for granite. This is because there are fewer variables in quartz. It is a manufactured material, so quality tends to be consistent, and there are no rare colors or types.
The costs above are divided into low, average, and high. The more of these factors apply to your project, the higher your cost will be on the spectrum.
Tile vs. Slab: Quartz is made only in slabs. Granite tile costs are 40% to 70% less than slabs.
Thickness: For both materials, counters range from about ¾” (2cm) to about 1 ¼” (3cm). Thicker materials cost more. While 2cm counters are used in bathrooms, 3cm materials are preferred for the kitchen, utility areas and anywhere heavy objects will be placed.
Color: Some colors of granite cost more because they are considered especially desirable or are in short supply. Since quartz is engineered, some “premium” and “designer” colors with richer pigmentation cost more. If you have a custom color blended for your project, cost will be considerably higher.
Imported or domestic: Silestone quartz, as one example, is made in Spain.
Cambria is manufactured in the US, so shipping cost is less of a factor in total cost.
Granite is mined in many US locations and around the world, so shipping costs can be a major factor in price.
Countertop complexity: A galley kitchen countertop with one long run is easy to install. L-shaped and U-shaped countertops increase in difficulty and add seams. Atypical cuts, such as on a breakfast bar peninsula increase cost.
Extra cutting: A second cutout for a prep sink can cost $755-$200 extra.
Designer edges: Routing a specialty edge onto a granite countertop is an upcharge. Such designs are created more easily with engineered stone since liquid materials are poured into a mold to cure.
Condition of the cabinets: Repairs made to support, or level new countertops raise the installation estimate.
Who installs the countertops: We recommend pro installation to ensure the counters looks fantastic given your investment in materials. But even there you have options.
Pro Tip: You’ll get the lowest estimates if you work directly with countertop specialists such as a kitchen and bath shop.
If you hire an interior designer or general contractor for kitchen or bathroom remodeling, they will add 15% to 20% to all costs to pay for their services.
Quartz countertops are fabricated material made from about 93% crushed quartz that is held together with a resin binder. In some blends, glass chips or metallic flakes are added for visual interest.
The mix is tinted during processing to give the slabs the desired look. Quartz is produced in standard and custom colors. Man compare the look of engineered stone to marble.
Multiple finishes are available including polished quartz and texturing to look and feel more like granite. Some brands make a limestone-like line with a matte finish.
That’s the thing about quartz – versatility of appearance and design. The blend of materials is mixed and poured into a mold. This means that large slab sizes are easier to achieve compared with granite, and a variety of edges can be created in the process without having to cut the material.
Granite is pure stone, with its natural beauty and inherent flaws. It is mined from large igneous stone deposits located the world over, so there is a rich variety of granite available.
The base stone in the mix is granite, of course. But it was once molten, and in that form accumulated minerals of many kinds. It is colorful mineral inclusions such as mica (brown and black), quartz (pink, black and white) and feldspar (rose) that give each type of granite its unique tone, veining and overall aesthetic.
Pros and Cons: Granite vs Quartz
This section provides a head-to-head comparison in the essentials:
Consistency: Quartz from the same production run is uniform in color because the process is carefully controlled. Many will like the evenness of the look and tone, while others will prefer a bit more diversity.
That is granite’s strength – Each countertop is one of a kind. That’s can be a problem too. Every slab is unique, so slabs placed side by side, even those cut from the same larger block of granite, might have a slightly different look.
Whether you’ll love or hate the consistency of quartz or the surprises granite offers is what personal preference and choice are all about.
Flaws and grades: If a quartz slab is flawed, that’s a defect in the manufacturing of the product.
Granite, by contrast, has natural fissures, pits, pores, and pockets in the stone. They appear when the slab is cut from the larger stone and are filled with clear epoxy or covered with a shiny wax spray as part of the fabrication process.
This is one of the reasons for the broader price range for granite. There are grades of stone. The more flaws it has and the more filler is used, the lower the grade of the stone, and the less it will cost.
Seams: As you would expect, seams don’t show heavily in quartz countertops because the adjoining slabs are identical in makeup. This is impossible with granite, but don’t let this be a deal breaker. When granite slab countertops are properly installed, seams are not conspicuous. They’re more visible with granite tiles due to the sheer number of them.
Strength: Both materials are very strong, though quartz is tougher. Granite is chipped more easily than quartz, as the resin in engineered stone counters is a tremendous binder.
Sealing and staining: Quartz wins this category. It does not need to be sealed, as granite does, and since it is not porous like granite, it resists staining.
Granite requires sealing on a schedule determined by what type factory seal it has and how hard you are on it. Consult the granite countertop manufacturer literature or sales agent for details. Clean up spills quickly including dish or hand soap. Of course, stains are more visible in lighter granite than darker tones.
Daily maintenance: Quartz can be cleaned with a damp cloth and warm water for stuck-on food. Granite too is easy to clean when properly sealed. Some homeowners use a stone cleaner like Lustro Italiano on it too, so that’s one potential extra step granite requires once per week to once per month.
Heat resistance: Here’s one for granite. It stands up to hot pots and pans and hot hair tools better than the resin in quartz countertops.
Sunshine: Granite loves the sun because it brings out many of its highlight tones. The resin in quartz counters will fade over time in sunlight. Since blocking out the sun is a dreary prospect, you might think twice about using quartz in a kitchen with windows facing west or south.
Green advantage: More energy is used to produce quartz countertops than to cut and polish granite, though the difference isn’t significant when spread over the 40 to 70 years these materials can be expected to last.
That’s not all on this point, though. Quartz is made with resin, as noted, a byproduct of oil production.
Some resins contain alumina trihydrate from bauxite, and bauxite mining creates hazardous conditions for miners. Consider brands like Cambria Quartz that contains only materials safely mined in the US.
When considering quartz, brand name is important.
Your installer will measure for your counters, order them, and install the countertops when they arrive.
For granite, the countertop fabricator is the vital link. There are no granite brands, and the names of the companies that mine the stone are never part of the discussion. Instead, fabricators buy raw granite or can work with the granite slab you’ve acquired on your own. They measure for your counters, discuss edge options, and then turn raw stone into gorgeous custom countertops.