When choosing a stone material for your home's kitchen countertops, you should consider what you want from your countertops, as well as the décor of your kitchen as a whole.


Granite, or natural stone, is mined out of the earth and cut into 'blocks' or slabs. Engineered stone, or quartz, is man-made in origin but comprised of up to 97% natural minerals (quartz crystals). Quartz contains resins, binding agents and colors to alter the color and consistency. One of the benefits of quartz is that, like other engineered stone, it is far more versatile than natural stone. Because it is artificial, it is available in a range of colors and types: tones such as yellow, red, brown, black, grey, pink and white can be varied in a countertop. However, granite has remained popular as a material for kitchen countertops because of the quality of the stone, which is enhanced by its natural flaws, making it a more 'rugged' and interesting choice. Quartz is far more uniform in its appearance and quality.


Granite is porous; quartz is not. A non-porous material is, of course, preferable for kitchen countertops on the grounds that it is more sanitary: a non-porous material is impermeable to bacteria and viruses. Some quartz countertops now feature in-built Microbans which prevent the growth of bacteria on the countertop, and these are popular in large commercial and industrial kitchens. Granite countertops need to be periodically sealed to inhibit this porousness and prevent substances being absorbed. In addition, engineered stone such as quartz is stronger than granite, and more resistant to forces and heat. Granite is usually more brittle because of variations in density within the stone, and therefore more subject to breakages. Its natural flaws also act as 'faultlines' within the stone which may crack over time if subjected to heat or moisture.


One of the most significant downsides to having a quartz countertop is that while the stone is incredibly durable and hard-wearing, if it is somehow scratched or defaced the mark is nearly impossible to remove, conceal or repair, due to the covering surface that is usually applied to quartz countertops to give it a high-gloss finish. With granite countertops, repairing chips and scratches is possible, and surface polishing the stone countertop will remove most signs of wear, so that repairs are often unnoticeable.


As for price, there is not a huge difference between the two materials. The most expensive granite is far more expensive than top-quality quartz; but quartz can also be purchased for less than granite, and is usually less expensive. Over time, granite will need to be maintained, which adds to the overall expense.