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Granite vs Quartz

Two materials that seem to permeate the kitchen countertop industry are granite and quartz. Although these materials are both used for countertops, they are very different from one another. That is not to say that these materials do no have things in common. They have similarities and they have differences. In this article, we will take a look each material and compare them to one another. Then, we will note the properties that each material possesses. We will also look at working with these materials and how to care for them.

About Natural Granite

Granite is a natural stone that forms in the earth and is composed of feldspar, quartz, dark colored minerals, sand, and mica. This is what geological quartz is made of but you may find that some commercial granite surfaces will have technical differences from that description.

Note what geologist Karin Kirk says regarding the distinctions between geological l granite and commercial granite in an article she wrote for usenaturalstone.org

In the natural stone industry, "granite" often means any hard stone that is not marble. Different dealers use the term granite slightly differently.

So, keep in mind that a "granite" countertop might not technically meet the requirements to qualify as actual geological or scientific granite.

Chunks of natural stone are cut out of the earth and sliced into slabs of rock. They are then processes and fabricated into countertops.

About Engineered Quartz

Engineered quartz, as you might have concluded, is related to natural quartz. But it might not be related in the way you might be thinking. Engineered quartz is a man made material that is composed of three main ingredients. They are:

  • Crushed Quartz (the mineral)
  • Resin (bonding material)
  • Coloring Pigment (color)

These ingredients are mixed together and formed into a sheet, or slab and made into countertops.

So in a sense, both granite and engineered quartz are related to the mineral quartz. It's just that they are formed differently. They have similarities and differences when compared.

Comparing Properties

Comparing the properties of natural granite and engineered quartz yields some striking commonalities and contrasts as well. In this comparison we will look at three basic properties. They are:

  • Color
  • Hardness
  • Porosity

Let's take a look at comparing these materials now.

Properties of Granite

Granite's hardness, color variations, and porosity are fairly consistent and are a key to its usability. Let's consider each of those three properties now.

Hardness

Granite is a hard natural stone. In fact, it resides on the upper end of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Granite varies in hardness but most of it ranges from 5 to 6.

Color

Since it is composed of a variety of minerals, natural granite varies widely in color. Some of the colors in which granite naturally forms are:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Pink
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red
  • Gray
  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Orange

Additionally, dye for natural stone is also used to change the color of granite slabs. And even if the colors are perfect for your taste, stone color enhancers are also available. These products do not change the color of the granite. Rather, they simply deepen the color of the stone.

Porosity

Like the hardness we mentioned earlier, the porosity of natural granite is also variable. From one stone to the next, the porosity of the stone will be different. A stone's porosity is directly related to the rate at which it absorbs liquids. The more porous, the faster the rate of absorption. To lower the absorption rate of a particular stone, natural stone sealer is periodically applied. This product reduces the absorption rate of oil based and water based liquids.

Quartz Traits

As we did with the granite, we will look at the same three traits of quartz. You will find that these materials are similar in a couple of areas and different in the other.

Hardness

Engineered quartz is made up the ingredients we mentioned earlier. Two of those three ingredients affect the hardness of the material. As a result, the hardness of engineered quartz is about 6 on the Mohs scale. So it is about as hard as natural granite. However, unlike granite, engineered quartz has little to no variation in its hardness from one surface to the next since it is man made.

Color

Engineered quartz also shares another commonality with natural granite. That is the wide color range in which the material is available. Again, this trait is a direct product of the fact that engineered quartz is manufactured. Thus, it can be made in any color. In fact, some quartz slabs are made to mimic natural stone. And since it can be made to be any color, there is really no need for stone dye. although, there is quartz color enhancer available.

Porosity

Engineered quartz is very different from natural granite in our final area. Unlike natural granite, engineered quartz is non-porous. Therefore, it does not absorb liquids and does not need to be sealed like natural granite. Any spills that occur stay on the surface and are cleaned up at that level and not in the pores of the material.

Working With Granite

When it comes to working with natural granite, knowing what tools to use is an important factor. Fabricators usually work with multiple materials and one of the things they do well to find is a diamond blade designed for hard stone. Having a granite blade is important because if you cut this material with a blade not made for it, the blade will not cut as cleanly and the life of the blade will be shortened.

Working With Quartz

Working with engineered quartz is very similar to working with natural granite. They are both hard materials and the same blades are usually listed as working for both granite and quartz. In addition to diamond blades, there are also core bits for hard stone that are for cutting the holes used for the faucets, soap dispenser, and sprayer to be placed.

Caring for Granite

Caring for natural granite is a matter of doing three basic things regularly. These tasks are:

  1. Daily cleaning using the proper cleaner.
  2. Periodic sealer application using an impregnating sealer.
  3. Removing stains inside the stone using a poultice powder or other stain remover.

Performing these three facets of stone care will give you a care routine that will keep your natural granite in the best condition.

Caring for Quartz

Caring for natural quartz is somewhat similar to caring for natural granite. Since quartz is non-porous, it needs no sealing treatment. And the fact that the stains occur on the surface means that it is not treated using poultice powders like granite is. Instead, stain removal is performed using the appropriate product designed to remove the stain. For example, mineral deposits can build up on the surface of engineered quartz surfaces and these are difficult to remove using cleaners. Therefore using a limescale remover is recommended.

As for the daily cleaning of quartz, it can be done using a streak-free quartz cleaner to clean the surface. Soap and water is also a good cleaner for quartz surfaces. However, using a non-streak cleaner afterward is an effective option that gets results.

As we have seen in this article, there are similarities between natural granite and engineered quartz and there are differences as well. These materials are different in composition but they are similar in how they are used and cared for. Being familiar with the commonalities and contrasts between them is good for fabricators and consumers alike.