The Great Quartz vs. Granite Countertop Debate

quartz countertop kitchen remodel highcraft builders

There’s no question about it – the two most popular countertop materials on the market are quartz (above) and granite (below). The real question is which is better? HighCraft first wrote about quartz vs. granite pros and cons back in 2017, and granite squeaked out a victory as the top pick.

granite countertop kitchen remodel sink closeup

Now we’re back, two years later, to talk about why quartz is the most popular countertop choice for kitchen and bathroom remodeling in Northern Colorado and across the country.

hammered copper sink island transitional kitchen
It may look like marble, but it’s quartz.

Quartz vs. Quartzite

Before we dive into quartz vs. granite, let’s clarify the difference between quartz vs. quartzite. Quartzite, often called “natural quartz,” is a metamorphic rock that is quarried and cut into slabs. A quartz countertop (like the one above), often called “engineered quartz,” is a fabricated stone surface formed by compressing ground quartz (a natural mineral) with synthetic bonding agents and pigments.

Quartz tends to be more popular than quartzite because engineered quartz countertops are extremely durable, maintenance-free, and they come in more patterns and colors than quartzite. Quartz can also be fabricated into virtually any shape. Quartzite, on the other hand, can be more expensive to cut and install for complex projects, and it must be resealed over time.

quartz kitchen granite kitchen countertops
Quartz kitchen countertop (left) and granite (right).

Quartz vs. Granite

Both quartz and granite win high marks for durability and heat resistance, but according to Consumer Reports, quartz beats granite in stain resistance.

Consumer Reports also advises that when it comes time to sell your home, choosing quartz or granite could be a factor. The watchdog group cites a National Kitchen and Bath Association survey that shows “the vast majority of folks installing counters these days choose quartz. So quartz may appeal to house hunters. Granite is a distant second, according to the same industry survey.”

highcraft builders design studio quartz countertop island
Quartz island countertop in the HighCraft Design Studio.

What HighCraft Clients are Choosing

Kira Koldeway, HighCraft’s General Manager of Design and Business Development, agrees with the findings. “When it comes to selection, quartz has taken the lead over granite and is by far our most popular countertop material.”

She says that of HighCraft’s home remodels and new construction projects in 2018, 80% of the kitchen and bathroom countertops installed were quartz, and the remaining 20% were other materials, primarily granite, butcher block, marble and concrete.

Quartz has taken the lead over granite and is by far our most popular countertop material. – Kira Koldeway

mountain rustic granite countertops highcraft builders
Granite works well in mountain-rustic designs.

Although it may have taken a bit of a back seat on our more contemporary projects, Kira says granite is gorgeous and has staying power, especially in Northern Colorado where mountain-rustic is a style that makes sense. “We still get requests for granite and incorporate it into our designs in places like statement islands, basement bars and other spaces to create a dramatic or rustic focal point.”

Weaver Stone Weighs In

We asked local experts at Weaver Stone Company to share their thoughts about quartz and granite. At the end of the day, the company agrees that both products are high performers, so it really boils down to personal taste.

“In the last few years, quartz design options have grown by leaps and bounds,” says Natalie Howard of Weaver Stone. “These engineered materials mimic natural stone so well that if I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t be able to tell if they were natural or manmade!” She goes on to say that many people have the perception that quartz looks like it did when it first came out on the market – where the aggregate quartz crystals were large and looked manufactured. “People are amazed at how beautiful the designs are today.”

The largest change over the past few years, she says, “… is that many quartz manufacturers are making designs in more offerings than the polished finish. If you don’t like that shiny look, or want a concrete-like matte gray countertop, there are options to look at in quartz.”

powder bathroom quartz countertop
Quartz countertop in the bathroom.

Your individual style, she says, will be the largest indicator of the material you choose for your project. Although there are exceptions, she says that quartz is your best option if you want to achieve a very sleek, clean and “less busy” contemporary look. And if you’re looking for something mountain-rustic, then granite with a chiseled edge is a great choice.

“Although it’s hard to beat what Mother Nature offers in the beautiful color variations that happen in natural stone, people are more and more interested in what quartz has to offer,” Natalie says.

Quartz also has the advantage of consistency. “You know what you are getting,” she says, referring to the uniform color, pattern and texture when ordering from quartz product samples. “When you hand-pick granite, the colors and patterns vary so much from slab to slab. That can be the difficulty but also a wonderful benefit to working with a natural stone.” Meaning the pattern in your stone will be unique, making your countertop one of a kind.

granite kitchen countertop highcraft builders
Unique granite countertop.

She says each material has its advantages in application. “Natural stones are better suited to outdoor countertops for grill areas and fire pits,” Natalie says, explaining that quartz reacts poorly to UV-ray exposure. But when it comes to the kitchen, “The strength of quartz gives confidence when used for large cantilevers beyond the cabinets to create island seating areas,” she says.

Which countertop option is Natalie’s favorite? For her, it’s like picking a favorite child.

“Even though I work in the industry, I don’t have a bias to either material. I like so many different quartz options and granites, I would be the worst if the time comes for me to select countertops for myself.”

More Benefits of Quartz

“I agree with Natalie that engineered quartz design palettes have advanced significantly in recent years,” Kira says. “Manufacturers are now offering design options that are often hard to decipher from their natural counterparts, featuring just as much variety, veining and movement within the slabs.”

Quartz countertops are also NSF-51 certified, meaning they are safe to use as a food preparation surface. And because quartz counters are nonporous, they don’t absorb moisture from raw food, beverages, or other fluids that can harbor and breed bacteria.

modern blue kitchen quartz L-shaped island
White quartz kitchen countertop.

Final Thoughts from Consumer Reports

It’s important to note that Consumer Reports named quartz the top countertop material after putting both granite and quartz through a battery of tests. Their final thoughts on why quartz came out the winner:

It’s easier to trim to size and a fighter when it comes to color and stains, it looks good … and it garners a slightly higher score overall in CR’s tests. Rock on. – Consumer Reports

If you’re thinking about updating the countertop in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry or bar, contact HighCraft Builders for a free consultation.

Fort Collins-based Weaver Stone Company fabricates custom countertops and other interior surfaces from natural and engineered stone. Since 2008, Weaver Stone surfaces have added beauty and value to interior spaces throughout Northern Colorado.