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Question: We want to replace our kitchen counter top. At first we thought we’d use granite but ...

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

now my wife is looking at quartz. There are so many quartz options and now we are confused. Do you recommend granite or quartz and could you shed some light on quartz?

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)

Let’s start with quartz. You’ve probably seen names like Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, Zodiac, and Pental just to name a few. These are quartz manufacturers. Their quartz is virtually the same and is comprise of at least 90% quartz aggregate with the rest being pigment and resin polymers. These manufacturers are located in different parts of the world – which may be the reason for their slight price differences. Their slab sizes also differ a bit. But, bottom line for you when looking at quartz is to choose based on the various colors each manufacturer offers.

Granite, as you probably know, is an igneous rock mostly made of quartz, mica, and feldspar. For many years, it was the go-to surface material in kitchens due to its durability. The downside, in some cases, is that the colors naturally found in granite do not coordinate well with the rest of the home’s style. And, some homeowners consider the patterns too busy especially when the decorative tile industry has exploded with hundreds of options.

Which material should you choose? Here are the pros and cons. Quartz edges slightly ahead of granite when it comes to scratch and stain resistibility. But granite edges ahead as far as heat resistance. Quartz is not porous and, therefore, does not have to be sealed. Granite does have to be sealed about once a year. Once you select a quartz color, chances are that each slab will be consistent. (But it’s good to see any new stock before you purchase). Granite will never be consistent as it’s a natural stone. The exception to this is “Galaxy Black” and “Absolute Black” and a few others with tight veining and patterns.

The cost of the two materials is roughly the same although quartz tends to be a little higher unless you’re choosing an exotic granite. Both require a specialized fabricator and installer. Neither is a “green” product but quartz is cleaner as granite may, or may not, have a little radon emission that may, or may not, affect your health.

If, after reading all these pros and cons, you still don’t have a compelling reason to choose one over the other, then the answer lies in the style of your kitchen. There’s a quartz color and pattern for every style under the sun. Granite is also flexible but more limiting. I have overwhelmingly used quartz more than granite these past years but sometimes nothing beats a beautiful, span of “Dynamic Blue” granite, a deep, jewel-like sapphire blue that cannot be duplicated by a man-made product.

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