Granite has been the countertop of choice in mid-range to high-end homes for nearly three decades. And let me go out on a limb and say its popularity is just now beginning to affect its status as a luxury item.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still some beautiful and unique granite finishes, but since it has become a more common feature in homes, homeowners who want to make a more unique statement are looking at and choosing other options. Quartz has risen quickly in popularity the last few years. So let’s compare granite, quartz and concrete countertops. (We took a look at how soapstone countertops compare to quartz and granite last year.)
The natural variations in the colors and design of granite make it a very attractive choice that always demonstrates individuality. No two pieces of granite are alike. Since granite is a natural stone product, it’s porous, which means it needs to be maintained regularly . It is recommended that granite be sealed on a regular schedule to keep it protected. However, many people quickly forget those recommendations. I have it in my home and have not maintained it according to the “recommended rules”. In spite of the ‘abuse’, my granite still looks great and has stood up to the wear and tear of normal family living.
Quartz countertops, on the other hand, are created from natural quartz crystals that are glued using a resin and then formed into appropriate shapes and slabs. Although quartz does not have the amount heat resistance that granite does, it is extremely durable and easy to maintain. Designers also like the fact that you can choose a color for your quartz countertop and know what you are getting, which is not the case with granite.
If ‘original’ and ‘unique’ are two of your favorite words, then a concrete countertop might be your choice for a kitchen, bath or bar area. It can be created in standard sizes, shapes and colors, but its ability to be shaped into any form, colored to most any color and decorated with textured edges and embedded objects makes it a favorite with contemporary designers.
Concrete countertop finishes can range from earthy to sleek and modern, and anything in between. Understated matt earth tones blend in perfectly in a rustic Northwest mountain home, while a high-gloss contemporary design fits perfect in an upscale Portland condo. Both are equally achievable with concrete countertops.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the three different countertop materials.
|General Cost (not including installation)||$70-$100 per sq. ft.||$70-$100 per sq. ft.||$70-$100 per sq. ft.|
|Choices||Wide variety of random natural patterns, colors, and styles.||Many colors, fewer “natural” patterns than granite.||Almost limitless choice of colors and styles and shapes.|
|Installation||Slabs require professional installation because they can be brittle. Tiles are much easier to install but not as nice.||Easier to install, but standardized slab sizes can mean more seams in installation.||Pre-cast concrete tops can be heavy for shipping, but is the common process for creating these tops.
Cast-in-place installation of concrete tops is preferred for tops that are unique in form or have long lengths.
|Care||Reseal twice a year and use only soap and water only. Abrasives can dull the surface.||You don’t need to seal it and you can use soap and water or glass cleaner.||Seal the finished product and then wax monthly. Mild soap and water, no abrasives.|
|Durability/use||Granite is very hard, scratch resistant, but can chip or stain. It’s porous and can harbor bacteria. It’s very heat resistant so hot pans can be placed directly on the surface.||Quartz is not as heat resistent as granite, so consider using a trivet for pots and pans. It’s not easily scratched or stained, but can be extremely hard to repair.||The concrete itself is extremely durable, however, the sealer used is not. It can be scratched and compromised by direct heat. Since concrete is porous, it can stain and harbor bacteria if the sealer is compromised or not properly maintained.|
|Longevity*||I think granite tiles and solid-colored styles are already dating some homes. Some of the more natural slabs will stand the test of time. Easy care still make it a good choice.||I like the versatility of Quartz, but think its engineered nature leaves it in the same category as other engineered tops such as Corian©. If you’re looking for a natural look but are concerned about exact colors and styles it’s a good bet.||The ability to create custom shapes, edges and embedded designs will likely continue to draw in those wanting a unique look. Concrete is still working to overcome its utilitarian reputation.; whether it can gain and maintain a significant spot in the countertop market remains to be seen.|
* Remember, this is just my opinion.
Making the choice.
Any one of these three options can be a great choice for a countertop. The price ranges are similar, and they each have their own positive and negative properties. Granite and concrete countertops will require more maintenance than the quartz, but all three are extremely durable. Concrete will always be the clear winner in versatility of shape and design, but the natural beauty of granite has stood the test of time, and will certainly remain a favorite for years to come.