Bathroom countertops need to have a unique combination of beauty and resilience. Natural stone answers both of those requirements, but there are numerous types on offer. For instance, granite is a very popular choice today, but so is quartz. Which one is right for your needs? Which one offers the longest life, the least maintenance and the most cost-effective solution to your countertop dilemma? Let’s compare each material to learn more.
Granite countertops have become ubiquitous today. This is the stone of choice for almost every application, from homeowners to hotels to high-end retailers. It’s hard, durable, requires little in the way of maintenance other than regular cleaning and sealing, and it’s available in a range of colors. It’s also 100% natural (which is an important point, as you’ll learn later). What’s more, you’ll find that many granite types also contain quartz (typically up to 40-60%).
However, while granite is a hard, natural stone, it’s not impervious. In fact, granite is porous, which is why it must be sealed regularly throughout ownership. Some liquids might still stain granite even when it’s been properly sealed. For instance, red wine can leave an indelible stain behind that mars the surface’s finish. Given its porous nature, granite can become home to bacteria if not properly cared for. Sealing should be done once per year, or you risk letting bacteria find a safe home deep inside the stone. This is particularly important in a bathroom setting.
When it comes to cracking and chipping, granite does offer decent resistance. However, natural flaws in the stone can make it more susceptible to cracks and even splitting over time. There are few ways to identify those flaws prior to failure.
While quartz is a natural stone, quartz countertops are not 100% natural. That’s because they have to be engineered by a manufacturer. Thus, they are only about 93% natural, with the remainder being made up of epoxies and binding agents (usually synthetic materials). Quartz is not as widely used as granite, but it is becoming more prevalent for a number of reasons, including several important advantages over granite.
Quartz has a higher hardness rating than granite, making it more resistant to chipping, flaking and cracking (because it’s a manmade substance, and not subjected to natural flaws like those found within naturally formed granite). Quartz is also impervious and is completely sealed, proof against bacteria, stains and other threats that might mar the surface of a granite countertop if regular sealing is not done. Because quartz requires no ongoing sealing, there are fewer maintenance worries and therefore a lower cost of ownership over time. Granite costs homeowners over the long term, but quartz does not.
Like granite, quartz is available in a range of different colors and color combinations, and because it’s manmade, you’ll find greater diversity here, including the ability to create your own custom color if you like. You can also buy quartz counters that offer the look of other stone types, including granite, marble and limestone.
A Side-By-Side Comparison
When it comes to cleaning, quartz is a breeze. A light mist of cleaning spray and a soft cloth is all that’s needed. Granite is also easy to clean, so long as it’s been properly maintained.
Quartz wins in the area of maintenance and maintenance costs. Most homeowners will incur no additional cleaning costs here. Granite, on the other hand, requires sealing every year and the cost will vary depending on the size of the installation.
Radon is a natural radioactive gas found in the earth. Granite has been found to have very low levels of radon, and quartz likewise produces virtually none. Both are safe for use in the home for those worried about radon emissions.
Cost to the Owner
When it comes to costs, granite wins. You’ll find it available for anywhere from $75 to $200 per linear foot. Quartz is a bit more expensive, coming in at $110 to $250 per linear foot. Neither material is what you’d call a bargain. It’s generally more cost effective to purchase bathroom vanities with tops, rather than have custom countertops installed.
This is where most buyers make their decision, and it’s pretty subjective. Both granite and quartz countertops offer plenty of beauty and style, both can be shaped to fit your needs, and both are available in a wide range of colors and color combinations. Quartz edges out granite in colors and patterns, thanks to the 130 different types available on the market and because it’s manmade and can therefore be customized. That doesn’t mean granite is without its benefits, though. Many homeowners prefer granite’s look and the fact that it is a 100% natural material.
In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. With either type of stone, your bathroom can be beautiful and elegant.
Written by: Julia Ritzenthaler