Granite is a natural stone that is extracted from the earth, then cut into individual slabs for counters. Quartz is an engineered product made from about 93 percent natural quartz and 7 percent resin. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed according to your design preferences.

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Swirls and veining in granite is called "movement."

Overall Appearance

Since granite is a natural product, its color and veining varies, even between slabs cut from the same block. This feature is one reason some people prefer granite, as each piece has its own style and character. Quartz offers more consistent color and pattern than granite since it is a man-made material. Seams between slabs of either material will not disappear, but are typically less visible between pieces of quartz than pieces of granite. Sunlight can cause fading in quartz countertops. As a result, if one part of the counter is shaded while another is in sunlight, a noticeable color variation occurs over time.

Maintaining the Surface

As a natural stone, granite is porous. The material has small voids and imperfections that could host bacteria after food preparation. Granite also stains easily as a result of its porosity. Avoiding these issues means granite must be sealed annually. While granite sealants do not make the material impervious to stains and discoloration, they do slow down absorption allowing ample time for clean up. Quartz needs no special maintenance as it is already dense and is not porous. This makes quartz much less likely to stain, and it makes quartz resistant to mold and mildew.

Cost Comparison

Costs between granite and quartz are comparable. As of 2014, granite slabs start at about $60 per square foot, while quartz begins around $67 per square foot. Costs rise rapidly from the entry price point for granite as a result of color and individual slab characteristics. Some slabs can top $200 per square foot, while quartz typically tops out at about $100 per square foot. Both products are heavy, with quartz typically heavier than granite. Installation is best left to professionals, which contributes additional costs to either product. Installation costs vary by region of the country and proximity to countertop material sources.

Strength and Durability

Both quartz and granite are tough, but not indestructible. Granite resists scratches, and isn't bothered by heat or by water. Since it is a type of stone, it can chip if items are dropped on it, or if it is otherwise treated too roughly. Quartz resists stains well, even from substances such as fruit juice, wine or nail polish. However, exposure to high heat or exposure to a long duration of heat can damage quartz. Chipped granite and distressed quartz are difficult to repair.