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Granite vs. Quartz

Granite and quartz countertops are both derived from natural materials, although quartz countertops will contain manmade elements, and they’re both very popular choices. Maintaining quite a similar appearance and providing homes with the rich, timeless beauty that comes with any stone countertop, it isn’t hard to see why these materials are so widely utilized, but they do have their own separate benefits and drawbacks.

Quartz

Though referred to simply as quartz, quartz countertops will actually be made using a mixture of 93% crushed quartz and 7% resin. The fact that quartz countertops aren’t completely natural turns many buyers away from them, but it is their artificial nature that presents the most compelling benefits.

Because quartz countertops can be manufactured with different colours of resin, you enjoy much greater flexibility when it comes to colouration. Additionally, there will be no imperfections to deal with. Quartz is also completely non-porous, will never require sealing, and is incredibly durable and stain-resistant.

However, quartz is a lot heavier than granite, so expect to pay more for professional installation. It also discolours over time when exposed to direct sunlight, which can be a real problem if only one section of your countertop will be regularly hit by sunlight. Furthermore, the seams between slabs are sometimes easier to see. However, this problem can be greatly mitigated by choosing slabs that are dark and very similar in colour and shading.

Granite

Granite, on the other hand, is a completely natural product that is taken directly from the ground in large chunks before being shaped into slabs. The expense associated with this quarrying and shaping process tends to push the price of granite slabs up compared to quartz, so granite countertops don’t often play well with tighter budgets.

That said, many people prefer the more natural appearance that granite countertops can provide. The stone itself is not quite as hard as quartz, and it will require resealing every two years or so, but it is certainly still durable enough to stand up to everyday use without any breaks or chips unless subjected to particularly heavy abuse.

However, one thing to remember is that it’s almost impossible to hide the seams between stones, although this simply reinforces the natural appearance of granite for many homeowners.

Curious About Quartz? The New Kitchen Countertop Trend

Homeowners often decide on either granite or marble for their countertops, and then they find out about the disadvantages each material carries.

 

Marble, for example, is prized for the sense of luxury and warmth that it evokes, but it is also porous, meaning that it requires frequent sealing and can stain and scratch easily. Not many people know that one of the reasons marble is so often seen in the bathroom is that it will only be stepped on by bare feet; it just isn’t tough enough for other applications, especially countertops.

Granite is a slightly better choice since it is a little bit tougher. Of course, it does come with weaknesses of its own. Granite can be scratched easily, needs to be sealed at installation and then resealed regularly, and can chip and crack more easily than engineered stone.

With these facts in mind, it isn’t hard to see why well-informed homeowners tend to reconsider their original choices in favour of an engineered stone, and quartz is the perfect option. When we refer to it as ‘engineered’, we mean that it has been made in a factory; quartz countertops are actually made from a mixture of mined quartz and special resin.

This process means that manufacturers are able to work around the flaws that develop in natural stones, such as granite and marble. This used to mean that the slabs produced looked slightly artificial, but advances have ensured that modern quartz can be made to look almost any way you want it; in fact, you can replicate the appearance of both granite and marble.

While you enjoy the look that originally attracted you to marble or granite, you’ll also benefit from a number of important advantages over both materials. For starters, quartz is less expensive than granite, and it’s usually less expensive than marble. Countertop costs can really add up if you don’t watch out, so there’s no reason to spend more than you need to when it comes to materials.

Quartz countertops are also going to stay looking their best for longer, and without any need for routine maintenance work. Stronger than either granite or marble, quartz is also non-porous, meaning that it never requires sealing and cannot be stained by spilled drinks and food. Bacteria won’t be able to gain a foothold, and all you’re going to need to clean up your countertops is some soapy water.

Boasting the looks of marble or granite without the problems of either, it should come as no surprise to learn that quartz is the new kitchen countertop trend.

 

Why You Should Think Twice About Granite Countertops

Granite and marble have long been viewed as the unrivalled options when you’re looking for high-end countertop materials. However, this has begun to change recently due to renewed interest in quartz.

The quartz renaissance has come about due to the natural benefits of this material, but recent advances in the manufacturing process have also played their part.
In fact, some sources are now naming quartz the leading countertop material. Just take a look at its advantages over materials like granite and you’re sure to appreciate why this shift has taken place all over the world.

Durability

Countertops, particularly those in the kitchen, tend to be some of the most hardworking surfaces in the home. Even high-traffic areas of flooring won’t have to put up with hot pans and slipped knives.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that consumers value durability, and quartz is one of the best choices in this regard. Naturally stain-repellent and completely invulnerable when faced with acidic foods, it also resists scratches and chips. In contrast, granite and marble both develop wear rather easily; they’re beautiful, yet fragile. Additionally, granite and marble require regular sealing, which quartz never needs.

Style

Conventional opinion would have you believe that marble and granite are the most attractive countertop surfaces around, and, just a few short years ago, they probably would have been right.

Unlike quartz, marble and granite are mined directly from the ground before being reshaped. Quartz countertops are made from at least 90% quartz stone mixed with resin and colourant. That process used to produce slabs that were overly flecked and oddly uniform, but these shortcomings have been overcome. Nowadays, quartz countertops appear completely natural, and you can have them in any shade or colour you desire.

Affordability

When it comes down to it, budget represents a bottom line that the vast majority of homeowners simply cannot afford to ignore. Quartz currently commands a respectable price point between granite and marble, and its reduced maintenance needs allow buyers to save over the life of their countertops.

Granite and marble countertops once firmly ruled the roost, but those days appear to be well and truly over. If you’ve already dismissed quartz, it might be time to reconsider; you’ll receive a strong, durable material that won’t break the bank.

Spruce Up Your Kitchen This Summer with Quartz Worktops

The warm sunshine and long days that come along with summer make it everyone’s favourite time of year, and it also represents the perfect time to take care of some renovation work.

You’ll be able to have tradesmen come and go without tramping rainwater into your home, and there will be no unpleasant breezes coming in as the transformation takes place. Best of all, you’ll be all sorted by the time winter rolls around.

Kitchens are usually the focus of such renovations, and worktops often represent the bulk of the work. When you choose new worktops, one of the first things you’re going to have to decide upon is what kind of material you’d like to use. There are plenty available, from bamboo to granite, but quartz is one of the best.

Here are just a few reasons why quartz has become the go-to material for kitchen worktops all over the country.

Reduced Cost

Keeping to your budget is always going to be important, and quartz can help make that happen. Of course, stone will usually be pricier than other options, but you’ll find the costs associated with quartz far more manageable than those associated with granite and marble.

Styling

One of the most appealing things about quartz is that it isn’t actually a natural product; rather, it is manmade in factories. This means that you can control the colour, texture, and pattern that you’re after, and you don’t have to worry about flaws.

Durability

Quartz counters are made of at least 90% natural quartz mixed with resin binder and colourant. The result is an extremely tough stone that is stronger than either marble or granite. Durable and scratch-resistant, it can take dropped dishes and slipped knives without enduring a dent or a scratch.

Non-Porous

Not all stones are non-porous – many contain small capillary channels between minerals, and this can cause problems. To start with, spilled substances sink into these channels and stain the stone. Furthermore, bacteria can invade and start to make your stone countertop less hygienic. To help prevent this, other stone countertops require regular sealing; quartz countertops do not.

Heat Resistant

You shouldn’t go leaving hot pots and pans directly on the surface of a quartz countertop, but this material does boast an impressive resistance to heat. If you place those pots and pans on a wooden or plastic surface, you’d probably be faced with either a large black scorch mark or a ring of melted plastic.

Get to Know Your Stone

Stone is perfect for floors, counter-tops, and other such applications due to its intense durability and ability to last for decades without ever needing to be replaced.

Of course, stone is not indestructible and will need to be properly maintained if it is to stay looking its best. For homeowners, that means knowing what type of stone you’ve used and how best to care for it.
Luckily, natural stone can be broadly categorized into basic geological classifications: either calcareous or siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium, and tends to be paler than other stones. Examples of calcareous stones include marble, limestone, and travertine. Calcium carbonate is sensitive to acidic cleaning solutions, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for milder cleaners. Anything containing lemon or vinegar should be avoided.

Examples of siliceous stones include sandstone, slate, granite, and quartzite. As the name implies, siliceous stone is primarily made up of silicates, such as quartz, mica, and feldspar. These compounds are able to resist most of the acids that cause issues with calcareous stone, but they may still contain trace levels of such substances, so acidic cleaners are still best avoided. You should also refrain from using rust removers; they contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid, which attacks silicates.

No matter the type of stone in your house, you can keep everything clean and in good order by following the quick and easy tips provided below:

  • All you need to clean stone surfaces is a neutral cleaner, some special stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Mix with warm water and then clean away.
  • Though no damage can occur when you use the products listed above, you will still find that a high concentration of cleaning agent or soap leaves a film and causes streaks, so remember to use plenty of water.
  • If you’re cleaning stone floors, a clean rag mop is best. For other surfaces, just use a soft cloth. Scouring pads may damage your stone over time.
  • Once you’re finished, make sure you rinse the surface and then dry it with another soft cloth. Change your rinsing water frequently if you need to clean a large area.
  • In outdoor areas, flush with clean water and then use a mild bleach solution to eradicate algae or moss.

Stone might be a tough material, but you still need to be careful. If you have any doubts, just contact your supplier for some detailed cleaning advice.

 

Are Quartz and Quartzite the Same Thing?

Despite the similarities in their names, quartz and quartzite are not the same material.

In fact, they possess a number of differences in appearance and durability, so knowing how they differ from each other is crucial.

To start with, what we refer to as quartz is a manmade product that is actually composed of at least 90% quartz, also known as silicon dioxide, mixed with resin and colouring. It is manufactured by humans, then fabricated to look like natural stone. Quartzite is a completely natural material that is found within the earth. Like other natural stones, it is quarried and then reshaped into slabs.

Of course, you’ll need to know about the practical advantages and disadvantages of each option more than their physical makeup.

Here’s a quick guide to help you make the right decision to meet your needs.

Styling

It’s impossible to say that either quartz or quartzite is more visually appealing than the other; beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder.

Quartz provides a clean and consistent appearance thanks to the fact that it has been manufactured. If you scratch or chip it, you’ll find that the colour beneath is identical to the colour on the surface. Additionally, the manufacturing process allows for a huge variety of colours that just won’t show up in nature.

Quartzite slabs are one of a kind since the material is made in the ground over hundreds of thousands of years. Veining and coloration varies from slab to slab.

Maintenance

Quartz is a real winner when it comes to ease of use. It’s resistant to scratching and chipping; even if damage does occur, it will be hard to notice due to the consistency of colour throughout each slab. It’s also non-porous, so liquids and acids won’t be able to stain the surface. If you spill red wine on quartz, you don’t need to worry.

Quartzite requires a little more caution since substances can seep into mineral channels in the surface. This means you’ll need to have it re-sealed one or two times each year. However, it is still easy to clean and lasts for an extremely long time before it needs to be replaced. It’s also harder than quartz, standing up better to knocks, scrapes, and excessive heat.

There’s really no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between quartz and quartzite – you simply need to take your own needs into account, then figure out which option will suit them best.

Best Material for Countertops

The countertop you select for your kitchen will set the tone for the whole room, so choosing the right material is crucial. Not only will the style of your kitchen be affected, you’ll need to take into account the unique properties of every option that you have before you.

Marble remains one of the most popular options thanks to its elegant beauty. It can also be worked much more easily than materials such as granite, so there are more design options to choose from. If you’d like fancy edges or intricate designs, marble will be your go-to kitchen countertop material. It’s also naturally cool, heat resistant, and easy to find in a variety of styles and colours.

However, though quite durable for a softer stone, marble is also quite porous. This means that scratches and stains will be easier to make. Marble reacts particularly poorly to acidic foods; sealing can make a difference, but it won’t stop staining completely. Furthermore, you’ll need to seal on a regular basis, and repairs can be difficult if any cracks occur. Perhaps most importantly, especially considering these drawbacks, marble tends to be one of the more expensive options when you’re considering the best material for kitchen countertops.

Ultimately, marble is best used by people who are prepared to make the added effort needed for maintenance in order to enjoy the material to its fullest. For people who don’t quite think it’s worth the hassle, granite and quartz are available as effective alternatives.

Granite is extremely durable as well as elegant, and it works well with modern, minimalist designs. Not only heat-resistant, it is also remarkably stain-resistant; if you install a granite countertop today, it should look just as good in ten years’ time. Quartz is another great alternative since it doesn’t need to be sealed in order to attain that level of durability. This is widely considered to be the most durable of countertop materials that are currently available, so it should last a lifetime if you deign to treat it properly. Quartz is even a little safer than other options since it takes a long time for bacteria to take hold and thrive upon its service.

Marble, quartz, and granite are all excellent materials to use for kitchen countertops, and adopting them is likely to improve both the style of your kitchen and the value of your home. It only remains up to you to decide which option best fits your needs.

Caring for a stone worktop

If you have invested in a natural stone worktop then you owe it to yourself to take care of it. A stone worktop is a serious investment and you want it to look as good in years to come as it does right now. For that to happen, you need to treat it well, so here is a simple guide to taking care of your worktop.

Caring for quartz

Quartz is the easiest stone to take care of, thanks to its low-absorbent surface material, but like any form of stone it has its own requirements. First of all, don’t put hot pans on it for any length of time and you should really use a heat resistant pad or a trivet to keep pans off the surface. That’s because the resin can melt and pans can easily leave an impression on the surface.

Quartz can also be damaged by strong solvents such as chlorides, triclorethane, paint, permanent inks, nail polish removers and even bleach can damage a quartz worktop. So don’t get too aggressive with the cleaning products.

In fact to clean quartz, a damp cloth will usually do the job and for serious sticky spots you can use a general cleaning solvent. Washing up liquid is normally sufficient, but for extremely stubborn spots you can opt for a non-metallic scouring pad or a steam cleaner.

You can use a blade or putty knife to remove dried on stains, but it’s better to simply deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from leaving serious marks.

Try to avoid serious impacts on the surface, too, as quartz is essentially a powder held together by resin and it can chip or fracture.

Caring for Granite and Marble

Granite and marble are, naturally, exceptionally hard and resilient surfaces that will withstand a good deal of mistreatment. Considering the investment you have made in your worktop, though, it is better not to mistreat it at all.

To clean general marks you can simply use a sponge and washing up liquid, but the trick to maintaining the shine is to dry it properly and to treat it like glass. That does not mean you should clean it with vinegar, though, as the acid can attack the surface and dull your surface. The same goes for lemon juice, wine and even the likes of nail polish remover. Keep them away from your surfaces.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, either. That goes for the cleaning fluids themselves and the pads you might use to clean a worktop. These can leave a permanent impression on the sealant that is used on most granite worktops and kill the shine altogether.

If you encounter a strong dried on stain then you can use fine, 000-grade steel wool, but there are better options. Soapy water and a little elbow grease will break down most dried on strains and a steam mop is another option that will remove almost any stain without opting for the abrasive extensions.

While a granite and marble worktop is resilient to hot pans, it’s still not a good idea to repetitively put hot pans on the same spot. This is the way it works in a kitchen, though, so you would be well-advised to use a heat resistant plate or trivet in any case.

Do not chop food on the granite worktop, too. Technically it works, but the granite can scratch and you will blunt your knives. Even china can scratch the granite if you drag plates across the surface, so be careful.

Choosing a high end worktop. Decisions, Decisions…

If you’ve opted for a high end kitchen then you can find yourself agonising over the little things, because this kitchen could be with you for many years and it is important to get it right. The worktop, too, is not a little thing. So what do you go for? Granite? Marble? Quartz? They are all stunning in their own right and they are all very different, so if you’re unsure then read on.

Granite

This natural stone has become the default choice for high end kitchens in recent years, thanks to its organic look, ease of maintenance and the fact that it is so durable. When you opt for granite you know that you’re choosing a substance that resulted from a volcanic explosion, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years ago. It will probably survive if you drop a plate on it.

There are all sorts of granite and all manner of different colourations that can give your kitchen an organic and natural character to go with all the clean, white surfaces. You can find granite with great swirls of colour or glitter-like specks of metal running through it that elegantly reflect your downlighters. There are often imperfections in a granite worktop, but they form part of the charm.

Granite is perfectly resistant to hot and cold, so it’s a great option for a worktop, but it can stain. It’s a porous rock, so light granite especially should be treated and there is still a chance that it can absorb the colours of the kitchen’s daily life. Some people like this, others rigorously clean their surfaces to keep them looking pristine.

With darker granite, you shouldn’t have to do anything more taxing than wiping them down with a cloth.

Quartz

Some people prefer the man-made alternative to granite. Quartz contains 93% natural minerals as a rule, bound with resin and colorants to create a more uniform structure that is free from all imperfections, unless they’re engineered in.

Unlike granite, quartz offers a near infinite choice of colours that allows you to totally personalise your kitchen and you can even get it in pure white, while there is no absolutely pure white natural stone.

This man-made alternative is also kinder to the environment, as the carbon footprint associated with a granite worktop is substantially higher in terms of mining the granite, transporting it and cutting it to shape.

As far as daily use goes, there are very few differences. Quartz is exceptionally strong and advances in technology mean it is durable. It is not 100% heat resistant, though, and there is a risk of cracking, however slight, and it can mark if you leave a searing hot pan on it for any length of time thanks to the resin melting. On the plus side it is non-porous and so is more hygienic than granite.

Maintain it and keep hot pans away from it, though, and quartz will maintain its perfect look for decades.

Marble

The other natural stone in this selection, marble is well loved and has been used in kitchens and bathrooms for hundreds of years. Ask any baker and they’ll tell you that marble is the only surface they’ll work on, but it comes with caveats.

Natural marble is a wondrous thing to look at, thanks to its deep veins and vibrant colours that range from pink to green. MichaelAngelo used marble to sculpt with for a reason, it is just that elegant.

It is also soft, though, as rock goes, and much more porous than granite. That means a marble worktop will show signs of abuse much more readily. If your kitchen earns its keep, then you might want to think about granite instead as marble does scratch and will stain, even when you spill red wine, fruit juice or oil on it.

Marble must be lovingly maintained and cared for, to the extent that you use coasters and protective mats when preparing food. For some it’s a price worth paying, others choose to opt for a more forgiving surface.

So that’s an introduction to the high end worktops you can choose from and some helpful pointers that might swing your decision.