It wasn’t too long ago when prospective home buyers would set up smartphone alerts for MLS descriptions that mentioned granite countertops. These days, “quartz” is just as likely to be the term they plug into their real estate searches.
This trend has resulted in a debate centered on the merits of quartz versus granite. Though one isn’t necessarily better than the other (it’s ultimately up to personal tastes and needs), here are some of the key differences between granite and quartz:
Quartz is fabricated (sometimes it is called engineered or manmade) with more than 90 percent crushed natural quartz and resin. The appearance of quartz can be very similar to marble, granite, travertine and other natural stone, and that’s highly attractive to home buyers. Granite and other natural stone are made by Mother Nature. Many consumers like the idea of the earth naturally producing what will become the unique centerpiece of their kitchens, as opposed to a mass-produced slab.
Both quartz and granite are great options for countertops, but quartz requires slightly less maintenance because it doesn’t need to be sealed. There is some misinformation, however, on the general care and maintenance of quartz. Because it is fabricated with more than 90 percent natural stone particles, it is susceptible to the harsh chemicals found in common household cleaners. They’ll dull the surface over time and wear away the professional finish, leaving the home owner faced with the option of having the manufacturer repair or replace the counter at a hefty price tag.
A common fallback recommendation is to just clean with dish soap and water; realistically, it’s not the best recommendation. That combination is prone to leaving streaks, which home owners loathe, and it’s not really formulated to clean the surface any more than it’s formulated to clean anything but dishes. Due to the growth in popularity of quartz countertops and the need for a pH balanced solution that’s safe on quartz, we developed and launched the first combination cleaner and polish for these surfaces, Granite Gold Quartz Brite®.)
Granite and other natural stone require just slightly more maintenance than quartz. The key difference is porosity. Quartz is a nonporous surface, eliminating the need to seal the surface to protect against stains or etches. Natural stone varies in porosity; the lighter the color of the stone, the more porous it is and the more frequently it needs resealing.
This begs the question of how often granite and other natural stone should be resealed. If your customers ask you this question, tell them that you can never over-seal natural stone, and we recommend testing it regularly to determine if it’s time to reseal.
Here’s a test you can share with your home buyers: Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface and let it sit for 30 minutes. Be sure to do this in several locations, since the integrity of the seal could vary from one area to another. If the water beads, then the stone remains sealed. However, if the stone is penetrated (look for a dark mark or ring created by the water), it is time to reseal. Check for etching and stains as well before sealing your stone surfaces. You’ll want to fix these issues before the sealant is applied.
As with quartz, granite and other natural stone should not be cleaned with common household cleaners. The harsh components will not only dull the professional finish, but they’ll also wear away the protective seal, leaving the surface susceptible to stains and etches — and the ensuing costly repair or replacement.
So, the skinny on care and maintenance for both surface types is to only use pH- balanced solutions specifically formulated for granite and other natural stone or quartz.
Other common tips we share with consumers include:
• Polish granite or quartz countertops to enhance color and sheen, and to provide added protection against water spotting and soap scum buildup.
• Immediately wipe away liquid spills.
• Don’t cut food directly on the surface; use cutting boards instead. Granite is extremely hard; you’ll dull your knives before harming the stone. But it can be scratched; so can quartz.
• For granite and other natural stone, follow a simple three-step routine for cleaning, sealing, and polishing.
Share this process with your home owners to help them protect their investment and enjoy their countertops for years to come.