Granite or Quartz?
When deciding whether granite or quartz is best for your kitchen (or other project) it can be valuable to challenge the instincts that are steering you toward a particular preference. Granite, quartz and marble worktops are not inexpensive so you need to be completely happy with the worktops you will be using on a daily basis for the foreseeable years ahead. It’s an important decision similar to that of buying a car.
I use the term “instincts” deliberately because they can prove to be unreliable. To illustrate, we find that about 60-70% of our customers change their minds as to their choice of stone – and in 80% of those cases their change is from quartz to granite.
So let’s walk through what we consider to be the key factors to think about before choosing either quartz or granite.
But let me rein back a bit, I am not saying that granite is ‘better’ than quartz; absolutely not, all I am trying to suggest is that there are key factors that will be personal to your wishes that may not be apparent from the outset.
Let’s get this one out of the way first – or at least allow me to park it for now. Yes, when measured on a ‘per square foot/metre’ basis, granite is nearly always more expensive, and, sometimes considerably more so.
However, that’s far from the end of the ‘granite or quartz’ story because at Granite Concepts we often find a way of making it magically cheaper than quartz!
We do this by taking your plan and configuring the best usage of the material by sectioning the pieces that you will need. In doing so we often find a way of reducing the number of slabs needed. The cost saving against a quartz equivalent is achieved because granite slabs (and this is true across the industry) come in larger sizes than quartz. So whereas a project may require 2 slabs of quartz we can choreograph the cutting so that we get all the pieces from 1 single, but larger, slab of granite. It’s as simple as that.
So all I am saying for now is don’t immediately write-off granite based upon cost alone.
Natural or man-made?
We happily stock and sell a vast range of quality quartz: if it exists we stock it. But contrary to common belief “quartz” (as you would buy it as a worktop/countertop) is not stone and it is not a natural material. Yes it contains stone (ie quartz) but is bound together using a synthetic resin involving a polymer chemical process.
Therefore, by far the most important consideration when buying quartz is to ensure you get a warranty for what in the trade is called the ‘stone content’ (being the proportion of the worktop/slab material that’s actually made of quartz).
Believe it or not some quartz worktops do not come with any guarantee at all – in which case you will not know the quality you are buying – or worse, sold something passed off as a superior quality product. There’s no way of telling with the naked eye, or by its feel.
In recent years there has been a plethora of quartz being imported from China (and we use China only as an example) where the stone content can be low/poor grade. As the old adage goes: “beware of cheap imitations“.
The problem with low ‘stone content’ is mainly that it bends and warps! This becomes a headache when it comes to fabricating and fitting because not even our expert fitters can do much with a material that won’t sit perfectly flat. For you as the the customer the problem becomes even worse because there is no aesthetically pleasing way of milling and sealing the material that won’t either be visible with the naked eye, or noticeable by brushing one’s hand across the joints.
The really awful thing that can happen with a low stone content quartz is that even after what looks like the most perfectly fitted and sealed worktops, they can suddenly ‘ping’ out of position, causing ridges between the joints. (If you think of the hot/cold stresses on an average kitchen worktop goes through it is easily to imagine why this might happen.)
Overall, our advice would be to avoid any quartz with less than an 85% ‘stone content’.
The second most important consideration when buying quartz, which goes hand-in-hand with the above, is to ensure your worktops come with a guarantee – and we would recommend a guarantee of at least 5 years – which should be true whether it is granite or quartz you opt for. The highest ‘stone content’ quartz comes with a 25 year guarantee. For example, we stock market leaders like Silestone and CRL – for more information visit https://www.silestone.co.uk/ and https://www.crlquartz.co.uk/photo-gallery/ ).
This makes good business sense to us: we prefer to fit once with only quality materials – and not be ordered back to your home to rectify problems.
Granite, on the other hand, is a natural stone and can be 2 billion years old, and, unlike a good wine, it never changes with age. Another endearing characteristic of granite is that it is reassuringly cool to the touch, rather like, but not as pronounced as, marble (which incidentally we supply also).
I realise this all sounds like we are biased toward granite, which we are (!), but quartz has some attributes that granite simply cannot match – which we will get to next. We just want to be sure you are aware of what it is you are buying.
This is very probably your first consideration and is where quartz comes into its own. Being man-made, quartz is available in colours and styles that granite can never match.
That said, many quartz worktops come in identical (or look-alike) colours and styles as granite as a means of supplying the market with a material that purposely looks very similar to granite – as a sort of granite alternative. As far as granite is concerned and as a general buying guide, the more exotic a granite worktop looks, the more expensive it is. For example, “Marinace Black” and “Blue Bahia” are both at the exotic end of the spectrum. Be aware that these are product trade-names and we supply these (and many others) from the most reputable granite importers in the UK.
What always proves a winner is when we arrange for customers to have a private visit to our importers’ warehouse. This means you can choose your own slab(s) as it arrives in the UK in its rawest form. All slabs come in giant blocks and one is never identical to any other – even though you are buying the same trade-named stone. This is where a visit to the importers can be valuable – as well as exciting. For example, if its an abundance of of semi-precious stones you are looking for in your granite, a site visit can ensure you personally select the exact block that has the most. Either way there’s certainly something special in seeing and hand-picking your own stone. If that interests you please give us a call.
Durability & practicality
Whether it is granite or quartz you are considering, this is where we get to the business end of the debate. When deciding upon your chosen worktop the last thing you want once it is installed is to be fretting about damaging the surface in some way (eg, branding it with piping hot pans from the hob or oven, or staining it with wine or cleaning agents, etc).
What you want is your worktop to perform like …. a worktop. This means using your worktop in a care-free and relaxed manner no matter who is using it, what they are using it for, or what they are doing with it. We have a reasonably thorough information page on this subject on our website which we would encourage you to take a look at. We’ve tried our best to grade the different worktop materials according to their durability and day-to-day practicality – visit http://graniteconcepts.co.uk/buying-guide/.
We hope you have found this article interesting, but of course if you would like to speak with one of our worktop specialists please do call us on 01202 738438. Oh, and don’t forget to look at our Reviews if you get a chance and hear it from the horse’s mouth what our customers think of our workmanship. Given that we acquired more Google 5 Star Ratings in our first 9 months of trading (which was in 2018) we feel that what we do uniquely is already paying dividends – and that can only be good for our customers. (See also our Workmanship page at http://graniteconcepts.co.uk/workmanship/).
Thank you for taking the trouble to listen to me prattle on!
Karen Clark – Managing Director