When it comes to countertops, granite, marble and quartz all have their pros and cons. In fact, in many ways, they’re all pretty similar, which can make it difficult for homeowners to choose which material they’d like to use.
What are Granite, Marble and Quartz?
Let’s start with granite. It’s a natural stone composed of a variety of different materials, including quartz, mica and more. It comes in a variety of colors and every slab is unique because it’s mined, not manufactured.
Marble, like granite, is a natural stone (limestone) and every slab is unique. In general, the coloration is more consistent with a more visible pattern than granite.
Quartz counters aren’t technically pure natural stone. While most slabs are at least 92 percent quartz, the rest is made up pigment and the resin used to bind the crushed quartz together. That’s why quartz is usually referred to as engineered stone.
Granite vs. Marble vs. Quartz
All three material options are known for their durability. Granite, marble and quartz can last up to 20 years or more with proper care. They’re also all heat-resistant.
Scratch & Chip Resistance
Marble is the softest of all three materials, which means that it can be scratched or chipped the most easily. Granite is the second softest, making quartz the most resistant to lasting damage.
All three materials are “natural” in the sense that they’re stone. But only granite and marble qualify as “natural stone” because they don’t go through a manufacturing process - they’re mined as-is. Quartz is “engineered” because it’s crushed and mixed with pigment.
To some, this difference doesn’t matter much. To others, “natural” is the main point of differentiation. They wouldn’t choose laminate floors over hardwood, so why would they choose engineered stone over natural stone?
Stains & Hygiene
Granite and marble are porous materials, which means that spilled liquids can potentially seep into the counter and stain it. Marble especially is more vulnerable to acidic liquids like wine and juice. Those pores can also potentially harbor hard-to-reach bacteria and germs.
Quartz, on the other end, is non-porous. It doesn’t stain or harbor bacteria nearly as easily. That also makes it easier to clean.
One of the major downsides of marble and granite: maintenance. Since both are porous, both need to be sealed at installation. They’ll also need to be resealed every one or two years. Because it isn’t porous, quartz doesn’t need to be sealed like this.
Every single slab of marble and granite is unique because it is mined, not manufactured. That means you’ll never have to worry about someone else having the same counters as you do.
Quartz, on the other hand, is engineered in a certain way, which means that many slabs might look similar and won’t look quite as “natural” as granite or marble.
While every granite and marble slab is unique, they often have a similar feel because they’re formed in a certain way. And while there are many different colors and types of granite and marble available, the variety isn’t endless.
Quartz, on the other hand, can be mixed with a huge number of different pigments, which means there’s a larger variety of more consistent colors available.
If you want quality counters, then there’s no good “cheap” option. Neither granite nor marble nor quartz are cheap, though some slabs are less expensive than others.
The most affordable slabs of granite and quartz start at around the same price point (around $75 - $80 per square foot). Marble starts at around $100 per square foot.
On the higher end, quartz is the least expensivee (around $140 per square foot) followed by granite ($175 per square foot) and then marble ($200 per square foot).
So what’s the best material for counters? Granite, marble or quartz?
There’s no one “best” material. It depends on what your major concerns are.
Quartz is often the most affordable option. It’s also easiest to maintain and often more durable than marble and granite. But it doesn’t have the same high-end, natural look that marble and granite do.
Granite is usually more expensive than quartz but less expensive than marble. It’s also more durable than marble. But the coloration might not be as consistent, and it can’t match the luxurious look of a marble slab.
In the end, marble is marble, and if you’re set on the look of of marble, there’s no substitute. It might be a bit more expensive, but if you’re set on marble and it matches your kitchen or bathroom, it’s worth it for your countertop.
If you don’t have time for the TLC necessary to keep natural stone in tip-top shape, then quartz is a lower-maintenance option. Busy homeowners who have kids or who don’t want to worry about damaging their surface often gravitate toward quartz. It is a non-porous, germ-free product that doesn’t require sealing or waxing, and cleaning is a breeze with hot water, soap, and a sponge. Quartz also stands up extremely well against cuts, heat, and abrasions, and is virtually stain-resistant.
Marble also does a moderate job when it comes to resisting heat, but remember that it can stain if acidic materials are left on its surface. Marble also requires regular sealing, so you should factor that into the overall, long-term costs.
Overall, quartz is a more affordable alternative that can mimic the look of marble without the hefty price tag or required upkeep, but marble is…well, it’s marble!
Whether you want low-maintenance countertops or a one-of-a-kind instant classic, when you’re ready to upgrade your countertops, visit MSI for a large variety of quartz and natural stone products to choose from. In the meantime, check out our huge selection of Countertops and Slabs online, and see if anything catches your eye.