Ask the Contractor: Should you install granite, or quartz countertops?

There is a lot to consider when choosing which type of material you want to use for your countertops. It’s best to take samples home and see them before making a final decision. (Metro Creative Services)

There is a lot to consider when choosing which type of material you want to use for your countertops. It’s best to take samples home and see them before making a final decision. (Metro Creative Services)

We are contemplating new countertops and everywhere we go, there is a different opinion on quartz vs. granite. Help, my husband and I are so dizzy with the colors, textures and patterns vs. versatility and durability. We need your opinion.

— Carolyn and Jack, Prescott

Countertop trends and materials and personal desire and palette are confusing to say the least and don’t forget value.

While granite, quartz, solid surface and laminate are still hot, consumers are enjoying the ability to personalize their spaces using a wealth of choices that range from concrete, marble and stainless steel to glass, ceramic and paper.

Countertops are showing more texture, with designs ranging from subtle tone-on-tone choices that mirror the earthy tones of nature and designs with metallic flecks to exotic, heavy-veined looks that add drama to the kitchen.

Color, too, is on the rise, with the countertop frequently being used as a visual focal point for the space.

Consumers still seem to like the natural stone look, though this may be played out with granite or quartz, or laminate that mimics large scale exotic stone patterns. Edge treatments, too, often have a stone-like appearance.

Recycled materials remain a hot choice, and the industry is increasingly becoming more aware not only of the percent of recycled content in a surfacing choice, but also of how green the manufacturing processes are in the creation of that product. Value is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean inexpensive; rather that means providing clients with the countertop solution that delivers the style they’re looking to achieve while staying within their budget. To that end, a product’s quality, performance and reliability are every bit as important as price in achieving value.

It sounds like your desire to install a countertop in your kitchen, you have narrowed it down to two materials: quartz (engineered stone) vs. granite (natural stone). Believe me, this is not an easy decision, because the distinction between the two countertop materials isn’t apparent. After all, quartz and granite are each loudly touted by their respective manufacturers as being purely natural, straight from the Earth, hard as stone. How different can they be? Here’s a comparison of the two:

A. Natural or not?

Both countertop materials are made of natural products, however granite is 100 percent natural. Granite slabs are cut directly from quarries and then honed down until the slabs are smooth. Quartz is about 95 percent natural. Natural quartz aggregates are mixed with color pigments and polymer resins and the resins bind the particles together. Quartz is referred to as natural, however it is actually an engineered product. It’s largely composed of quartzite (hence the name).

B. Cost. Both products are pricey, and granite has various grades and design/color levels that raise the price and then the installation factor needs to be added.

C. Maintenance. Both of these countertop materials require maintenance, with granite requiring a little more than quartz because granite should be sealed upon installation, and then again on a regular basis.

D. Durability. Quartz counters are less prone to staining and keep in mind granite because being 100 percent natural can have flaws and imperfections that the homeowner should love and accept. Quartz is strong. The bonds between the quartz and resins make the surface hard to penetrate. As a result, it’s highly scratch and stain-resistant, which is every homeowner’s dream. It isn’t brittle, either. It can usually withstand anything from red wine to cutting knives.

Quartz does have its kryptonite, though. Oddly enough, it can’t withstand extreme heat. A hot pan or exposure to sunlight can cause the surface to warp, split or discolor over time.

I personally installed quartz countertops in my kitchen and love, love, love them. I can be pretty rigorous in the kitchen and after doing lots of research and comparison I was hooked on the quartz craze. Low maintenance and the color selection sold me and it is a cinch to clean. Water and the dish cloth and a wipe with a towel keep the beauty in place.

Both products have a clean look. Quartz has solid coloring and is not as dramatic as granite, especially with the veining. Quartz in my opinion has more simple yet stylish choices for homeowners. Both products offer relatively low environmental impact and will add value to your home for years to come. It is all about personal style, design, color and energy that you want to have in your kitchen. You cannot go wrong with either product as countertop material.

It is also important to remember to take samples home and look at the in the kitchen during daylight hours, evening hours, with the window shades open and closed — you need to get a feel and look of the material during all conditions. This will help make a decision if you are selecting the right color.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM/95.5 FM or the web Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners. It is fun, it is entertaining and enlightening.

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. Email your questions to her at or call 928-778-0040.