Confused Over Granite vs. Quartz? Here’s a Handy Guide

Confused Over Granite vs. Quartz? Here’s a Handy Guide
Kitchen countertops are notoriously confusing. At the end of the day, most of them kind of look the same, right? But if you’re looking to renovate, or just want to study up on your existing countertops, it’s helpful to truly understand the key differences between materials. Perhaps the most commonly researched surfaces are granite and quartz, especially as people start looking into kitchen upgrades. First, they usually want to know if granite is still a thing and according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, it isn’t… sort of. 

While it’s technically still a popular material, the association confirmed that the demand for quartz is surpassing granite in leaps and bounds: According to their 2024 kitchen trends report, 73 percent of industry professionals surveyed anticipate quartz will grow in popularity over the next three years, while only 32 percent can say the same for granite. Now quartz might be trending, but granite is somewhat of a classic and could still be a strong candidate for any potential kitchen makeovers. We asked professionals to explain the differences between the two so you can make an informed decision during the selection process. 

Composition of Granite and Quartz

What is Granite?

Once the default countertop for most builder-grade kitchens during the early 2000s, granite is now falling out of favor, making way for other materials like quartz and marble. But it was extremely popular for so long because it’s highly durable, heat-resistant, and is available in many colors. It’s stone that’s quarried directly from the earth, and each slab offers a unique design, according to Meredith Barclay, The Home Depot’s senior merchant of countertops. She says, “The beauty of the stone is preserved in the cutting and polishing process, making each countertop one-of-a-kind, with colors ranging from earthy tones to vibrant gem-like shades.” 

What is Quartz?

Quartz countertops are starting to take over kitchens across the country. Barclay explains that quartz is technically a readily available natural stone, but it’s transformed into “engineered stone" for countertops by combining crushed quartz crystals, in addition to other stone materials, with resin and synthetic additives like pigments. “This manufacturing process provides quartz countertops with advantages not found in natural stone,” she adds. Barclay notes that between 2015 and 2016, quartz countertops gained popularity as improved manufacturing technology produced colors mimicking white marble with veins without the demanding maintenance of marble, making it an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a marble look and a low-maintenance countertop.


Both quartz and granite are extremely durable against scratches, heat, staining, and daily wear and tear, says Corbin Clay, custom home builder and CEO of Wayhome, a service that offers virtual expert advice for home improvement, repair, and DIY projects. “The choice between the two often comes down to personal preferences and the specific characteristics that matter most to the homeowner,” he explains.  

Want something low-maintenance that’s available in a bunch of colors and patterns? Quartz might be for you. But Clay cautions that there’s been a boom in quartz manufacturing over the last five years, and he’s noticed an increase in low-quality quartz that’s far less durable and prone to staining, chipping, and heat damage. “Not all quartz is the same, and like most things, there are really good versions and really bad versions. If you’re considering quartz, be sure to ask about the manufacturer’s warranty,” he strongly recommends. 


Caring for Granite

Granite is a porous material and will need to be re-sealed every 12 months or so, Clay advises. This will help resist staining, but you should still aim to wipe up common kitchen messes like oil and wine ASAP just to be safe. Tidy up after each cook session with a spray bottle of water and a few drops of dish soap, and address countertop stains with a homemade paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. For sealing, Barclay recommends using a product like Miracle Sealants 511 Impregnator Penetrating Sealer. “I love it because it forms an invisible barrier and will not change the look of the treated surface,” she says. 


Caring for Quartz 

Quartz is a man-made, engineered material that does not need to be sealed or re-sealed since it is non-porous. “It's worth noting that quartz contains resin, which can fade in UV light, making it unsuitable for outdoor use,” warns Barclay. She adds that there are some manufacturers, like Caesarstone, that offer UV-resistant resin in select quartz colors for outdoor use. The other  upside to quartz: Many manufacturers add an antibacterial ingredient to further inhibit the growth of bacteria. That being said, you should still regularly clean your quartz countertops, using your manufacturer’s recommended product or the dish soap and water solution we suggested for granite. 


The cost of both granite and quartz can vary greatly based on a lot of factors: manufacturer (in the case of quartz), color, texture, pattern, availability, and scarcity (especially with the more exotic textures and patterns). 

Fabrication is another cost factor. Clay says, “Pricing can be confusing as some stone suppliers do their own fabrication and installation, while others don’t.” If you’re trying to stick to a budget, Clay recommends using stone remnants for smaller areas like bathroom vanities or fireplace surrounds. “Depending on the stone yard and how long they’ve had a certain style on hand, they may also be willing to negotiate if you take the last two slabs off their hands (allowing them to bring in, say, a much more popular Calacatta marble),” he explains. 

If you want ballpark figures though: According to Angi data estimates, you can expect to shell out between $40 to $60 per square for granite slabs, while the average cost for quartz slabs is about $70 to $100 per square foot. 

How to Choose Between Granite and Quartz

So, how should you choose between the two materials? Clay says that if you’re a purist looking for the unique beauty of natural stone, where no two pieces are the same, then granite is the way to go. He admits, “While the ‘natural’ veining in quartz colors available today are much more authentic-looking than years ago, a discerning eye may still see quartz as ‘fake-looking.’” But if zero-maintenance is a top priority, then you should definitely opt for quartz. 

If you’re wondering which might work better for your construction timeline, Clay says both take exactly the same time to fabricate and install, and the lead times are subject to local availability of the color and finish you’re looking for. 

Barclay also adds that you should prioritize value, instead of just looking at the number on the price tag—it’s an investment that will enhance the aesthetic appeal and practicality of your kitchen. Choose something that fits your lifestyle and in a color that completes your space. She says, “According to industry research, the most common element in the kitchen that the customer wishes they had spent more money on is the countertop.”


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