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The differences between quartz and granite countertops, and why you might choose one over the other

Jenny McGrath   

The differences between quartz and granite countertops, and why you might choose one over the other
  • Granite is a natural substance taken from quarries, while quartz is manufactured.
  • Both are durable, but granite requires you to reapply sealant every few years.

Granite has long been a popular and somewhat pricey countertop material. Many people like the look of natural stone and its durability. Over the last few decades, quartz has become a common choice as well because it's low-maintenance and available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

"Quartz is a man-made material, and granite is a natural material," said architect Wayne Turrett of the Turett Collaborative. Because of that fundamental difference, quartz and granite have different properties that make them more appealing to certain people based on their preferences.

What is granite?

Granite is an igneous rock made of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals. It's a natural material that forms in the earth from magma or molten rock. It's mined from quarries and cut and polished to be made into countertops.

What is quartz?

Unlike granite, quartz countertops are engineered products, made up of over 90% ground-up quartz, usually a byproduct of mining or fabrication. Quartz is a mineral made of silicone dioxide. The rest of the mix may include other stones or minerals and colorants, along with polymer resin to bind everything together.

What are the pros and cons of quartz versus granite?

DurabilityMaintenanceEnvironmental impactPrice
GraniteSlightly less durable, more porousRequires regular sealant (6 months to 2 years); avoid acidic or gritty cleanersQuarried and shipped all over the world$40 to $100 per square foot
QuartzMore durable, not porousNo sealant required; avoid acidic or gritty cleanersMade of byproducts and can be locally sourced, but manufactured resin may not be eco-friendly and there are health concerns for workers$60 to $150 per square foot


"With a natural stone, over time, the wear and tear of it will make it look less new," said Turrett. Granite is fairly durable, but it's not as hard as quartz. You may get chips and scratches that require professional repair.

Because a quartz countertop is manufactured with a uniform mixture of minerals and resin, it lacks the fissures of natural stone. This makes engineered stone countertops very durable, though surface chips and scratches are still possible and need a professional to repair.

When it comes to heat, you shouldn't put very hot pots on either countertop. The heat may damage a granite countertop's sealant or the resin in a quartz one.


Both granite and quartz are easy to clean, said Leslie Reichert, of Green Cleaning Coach. For spills and crumbs, use a damp microfiber cloth and dish soap, no special cleaner needed. "It leaves it as clean and as shiny as your windows," she said.

To disinfect, Reichert sprays rubbing alcohol with one or two drops of essential oil added for fragrance. "Now it's clean and disinfected and it'll look like glass and smell nice, too," she said. Make sure you use a solution that's at least 70% alcohol in order to effectively kill germs. Never use rubbing alcohol with bleach, as it creates a toxic mix.

You shouldn't use bleach on your granite or quartz countertops, anyway, because t's too harsh for them. Vinegar, acidic cleaners, and abrasive products may also damage the surface of these countertops. While an olive-oil-based cleaner won't hurt the counters, it may leave smears, said Reichert.

For dried, stuck-on stains, Reichert suggests a plastic pot scraper and warns against using anything made of metal.


Because granite countertops are porous, you need to use a sealant to keep liquids from seeping in and creating stains. With a light-colored granite, you may need to seal it more frequently than a darker countertop. Granite countertops should be resealed between every six months and every two years.

Quartz countertops aren't porous and don't require sealant. "Quartz is kind of almost impervious to absorbing anything," said Turrett.

Quick tip: To tell if your granite countertop needs resealing, pour a few drops of water onto it and see how long it takes for them to absorb. If it happens right away, you should add a few coats of sealant. For between 5 and 15 minutes, you should add sealant but a single coat or two should do the trick. If it hasn't absorbed in 30 minutes, you don't need to seal yet.


"Quartz can be very clean and clear and consistent, and granites are natural stones, so they're not as consistent," said Turrett. With granite, you'll see variations in minerals that appear as veins, spots, or swirls. You can find black, white, gray, and brown granite, but it's also available in blues and pinks.

Quartz manufacturers can add pigments to their countertops, creating a rainbow of colors. While it's difficult to completely mimic the veins and waves of natural stone, you can find some that come close.

Environmental impact

Both quartz and granite have drawbacks in terms of their environmental impact. Granite is a finite resource that's quarried and shipped from mines, while quartz is made from leftover mineral products and resins.

Some resins are petroleum-based, which aren't biodegradable. In addition, cutting countertops containing quartz can release silica dust, which is harmful to workers, if performed improperly, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quick tip: Contacting a local salvage company about already-made countertops will be more eco-friendly than either a new granite or quartz option.

Is quartz or granite more expensive?

Whether you'll pay more for a granite or quartz countertop will depend on a variety of factors, from the style you want to availability. Granite can average between $40 and $100 per square foot according to Angi, while quartz can cost between $60 to $150 per square foot. You may find either for lower or higher prices, depending on what you're looking for.

Price differences between lower and higher grade granites are due to rarity of the pattern and colors. Higher-grade granite will be more unique or complex.

Since quartz countertops are engineered, you can find them in a wider variety of colors and styles than a natural stone. To get a more natural-looking pattern, you may have to pay more.

The bottom line

Granite and quartz are both popular choices for countertops, and there isn't a clear winner between the two. Their differences in appearance, price, and durability may appeal to different preferences.

The two countertop materials are often comparably priced. Granite has pattern variation and a natural look, while quartz comes in more colors and patterns. Both are fairly easy to maintain, but quartz is more durable and doesn't require you to reapply a sealant every year or so.


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