This question comes up quite often when we are working with clients on a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project as well as new construction interior design planning. There seems to be some misconceptions about these two different surfaces, so I thought I would share some general information about the features of each so that you can determine which is the best fit for your new home or remodeling project.
Granite is a natural stone material that requires very little processing. It is typically available from slabs which are initially cut from huge blocks of granite in the earth that have formed over millions of years. Although it is a very hard surface, it can break or chip if heavy objects are dropped on it (I recently chipped my own granite counter top when a coffee mug hit the edge around the sink!).
Because it is a natural product, you should not expect it to be uniform in appearance. It is also porous, so you will need to be prepared to seal it on a yearly basis. It seems to be the product that most people are familiar with, but there are other options that work.
Pricing for quality granite generally starts at $60 per square foot installed. Beware of pricing below this level as it is probably not including some of the total costs.
Quartz is one of the hardest materials on earth. It is just as strong as granite but more flexible. It is the most durable of the countertop selections and is available in a wide variety of colors and styles with a more uniform appearance. Unlike natural stone, quartz slabs are engineered. The primary ingredient (@93%) is ground quartz which is combined with polyester resin to bind it and pigments for coloring. It is stain, heat and scratch resistant. It is also non-porous, so no sealing/re-sealing is needed.
At one time it was only available in the same polished finish as quartz, but now you can find honed, sandblasted or embossed version that provide the look of matte limestone, the texture of slate or the glossy finish of granite. An example of this counter surface is featured above in a bathroom we completed in this Laurel Springs Country Club home located in John’s Creek.
When receiving a quote for your new countertops, whether they are granite, quartz or another material, you should make sure you are making a fair comparison. You should ask for the price of the slab, the cost of installation and be clear on what is included in the total cost. Items such as leveling, edge fabrication, faucet and sink fixture cut-outs should be included in the total cost of installation. Beware of extra add-ons!
There are many other different surface options that I will discuss at a later date. An experienced interior design professional or kitchen and bath designer can educate you on the different choices and help you decide which of these is the best fit for you!
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