The Argument Continues Granite vs. Quartz

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The enduring debate between granite and quartz for countertops continues to evolve. While, as with many decorating ideas, choices often come down to particular preference, there is a difference between the two that necessitates some exploration.

While countertops bear the burden of setting the tone of a space to taking a beating, choosing the right countertop for a particular space is a reflection of a homeowners’ style and relationship with their space.

Granite as a countertop material has been around since the 1920s, though it didn’t become mainstream until the 1970s. Granite is a hard stone that is 100% natural and comes in a wide range of patterns and colors, all with natural inflections. Mined from quarries around the world, granite is cut to specifics and polished to a fine finish. Due to its natural nature, granite is preferred by many. Darrell Miller of USA Stone and Marble prefers granite due to that unique natural quality that can’t be duplicated synthetically, “I would select granite over quartz personally due to its unique character, wide range of color selections, heat resistance and overall durability.” While granite has become a standard in countertop design, quartz and risen exponentially in popularity in the last few years.

Quartz is a composite of ground natural quartz and polymer resins. While the percentage leans toward the natural: 95% quartz and 5% resin – the addition of resin means the main difference between granite and quartz is natural materials. Experts point out that quartz, for most homeowners, offers more options. Anna Stark of Anna Stark homes points out, “If your kitchen is all white, for instance, you can choose a quartz or even a natural quartzite that offers more veining and interest. On the other hand, if you’re wanting to showcase something other than countertops, a solid quartz can take a graceful nod to the background, while of course, providing you with a durable surface that you can confidently use!” For Rachel Whorton of Beth Haley Designs, quartz soars above granite in more ways than one, “Quartz is my preferred option because of the color consistency, variety of pigment striations and styles, durability, and cleanability.”

Homeowners appreciate the variety and adaptability of choices with quartz. When it comes to appearance, quartz has become popular because it has the look of stone but allows homeowners to customize the design with color, marbling pattern, and edge style. Granite offers an array of looks from color to pattern and subtle to bold making the selection almost limitless and unique. However, the search for the perfect slab of granite can leave some homeowners baffled and frustrated.

Because the look of quartz can be customized, the selection process is often much easier. Customizing is the fun part for most homeowners. When surveyed for finish, edge style and color, our experts all had stories to tell. For finish, 57% of those surveyed stated a honed finish was the most popular. A honed finish is a satiny finish with low sheen and a natural, less formal aesthetic. Smooth to the touch, yet soft on the eye, a honed finish is the perfect harmony between classic and modern design approaches.

Edge styles come in a myriad of varieties much like patterns and marbling patterns. Traditional edge styles such as the full bullnose remain popular for their clean-cut edges and ability to work into most design plans. However, our survey found that the waterfall edge is becoming more popular. The waterfall is a seamless edge finish that continues the countertop surface and down the side of the cabinetry to the floor. It breaks away from the typical, expected horizontal countertop creating a connected feeling between the countertop, the cabinetry and the flooring. The beauty of waterfall edges is that they combine contemporary and traditional styles to create a clean look.

In the realm of color, preference for soft neutral tones is a common theme running throughout the home in upcoming décor trends. The bright bold hues of Art Deco and mid-century styles are gradually losing place in the kitchen in favor of more laid-back tones. While black and dark grey are still showing some popularity, white is pulling ahead with 57% of our experts surveyed agreeing that white countertops are gaining major ground as they allow for veining and marbling patterns to show. There is more focus on highlighting individual components using neutral backgrounds.

Something else homeowners should consider is installation costs. Both quartz and granite require professional installation as they are custom designed for the space and require fabrication prior to installation. Homeowners can do a lot of the preliminary work themselves from choosing the slab or finish to the style of edging which can save money. While the price range for quartz installation has more room than granite, homeowners should note that quartz is heavier than most other countertops and will require professional installation to verify the space is structurally sound.

Homeowners want to consider all components involved in their decision making sure that their choice is the most a clear combination of style and functionality. A big concern for a lot of homeowners is maintenance. While the look may be exactly what you want, the maintenance may not be worth the expenditure.

Cleaning for both granite and quartz is fairly simple, soap and water or a mild household cleaner. Some oils and acids, however, can stain granite and professional say it’s a good idea to consider having granite countertops re-sealed once a year. Quartz, on the other hand, doesn’t require re-sealing because it’s a solid surface. In this space quartz is the clear winner, however, those that are willing to go through the extra step with granite can easily highlight it’s natural, unique beauty.

As far as durability both granite and quartz have something going for them. Granite is hard and resistant to heat which is a bonus for cooks with hot pans. However, due to granite’s porous nature, it’s not recommended to leave liquid sitting on the surface as it can cause staining. Granite can also crack with high impact.

Quartz is actually harder than granite and nearly indestructible. Its non-porous nature makes it easy to clean and maintain. However, quartz can be damaged by excessive heat and is recommended that a hot pad or trivet is used with any hot container or pot.

While quartz appears to be a clear winner in this race – it’s easier to maintain, longer-lasting, more environmentally friendly and easy to customize – it can be pricey depending on chosen options. Many will argue that because quartz is manufactured it has less natural beauty than granite. Natural beauty and the uniqueness inherent in granite are often the big draw for many homeowners when considering new counters.

The main deciding factor, as with any design decision, is both budget and specific need. Regardless of what is chosen, granite and quartz are likely to do their job impeccably.

There are a number of sources for countertop materials including:

Anna Stark Homes Memphis, TN 901/422-1812

Bison Countertops Ashland City 615/ 792-8812

Bella Tucker Franklin 615/500-1517

Belligiao Gallatin 615/452-4886

Beth Haley Designs Nashville, TN 256/529-3537

California Closets Kurt Schusterman 615/ 367-1030

Cambria Nashville 615/ 268-9741

Coldwell Banker, Wallace & Wallace Knoxille 865/368-9207

Creative Countertop Solutions Nashville 615/915-0718

Crossville, Inc. Crossville 615/429-8492

Crye-Leike Bartlett 901/372- 3690

Dawn D Totty Interior Designs Jasper, TN 615/339-9919

Decorating Den Nashville 615/ 469-7334

Doug C Davis & Associates Birmingham 205/612-7418

EatGatherLove Thompson Station 615-512-1877

Elite Installation Hendersonville 615/ 264-9370

Ellen|Sherwood Design Brentwood 615/ 376-6122

Focus Builders Nashville 615/ 517-5685

French’s Cabinet Gallery Franklin 615/ 371-8385

Front Porch Living Life Franklin 615/293-3427

Gascay Investment LLC Hixon, TN 423/443-0304

H&C Investment Trust Mt. Juliet, TN 615-589-0777

Hermitage Nashville 615/ 843-3310

Jonathan Miller Architects Knoxville, TN 615/ 602-2435

Just Design This Auburntown, TN 615/606-8450

Keller Williams Realty Franklin 615/829-3428

Klazmer/Sklar Homes Germantown 901/755-7979

Markraft Cabinets Nashville 615/ 360-2118

Modern Surfaces Raleigh, NC 919/ 348-6679

PARKS Franklin 615/604-2590

PARKS Murfreesboro 615/753-6298

Prestige Marble & Granite Columbia 931/ 381-7294

ProCraft Cabinetry Nashville 615/ 528.-0399

Southeastern Salvage Nashville 615/ 244-1001

Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium Chattanooga 423- 385-1841

USA Stone and Marble Nashville, TN 615/383-7585

Willow Branch Partners Franklin 615/306-7520

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