When it comes to home improvements, there are few decisions bigger than the countertop surface material you choose. You want your countertops to satisfy your aesthetic vision, mesh with your lifestyle, and add value to your home. Oh yeah— and you want them to fit within your budget!
If you’ve spent as little as five minutes doing research, you know there are tons of different materials and styles on the market. Queen City Kitchen & Bath wants to make the process easier for you! Below, we’ve provided some essential information about three of the most prominent countertop materials in the world: granite, quartz, and marble. We’ll show how each material fairs in a few key categories and discuss the most significant benefits and concerns for each one.
If you’re looking for a purely natural stone countertop, granite is perhaps the most practical option. The granite for your countertops will come from a stone quarry, and then they will be cut into slabs, polished, and shaped into a countertop form.
One of the biggest advantages of a natural stone like granite is that each slab is one of a kind. Each piece of granite contains a unique combination of characteristics and colors. Even if you come across slabs of similar color, chances are they have different patterns, veining, and/or shades.
Using granite countertops is perfect for making a bold statement in your kitchen. There are a plethora of different colors to choose from, which means that you won’t have a problem finding a slab that matches your aesthetic vision. Going with a more understated synthetic material could mean that you have to invest more money in expensive decorative elements such as light fixtures, dishes, and furniture.
Under normal conditions, granite countertops will resist chipping and scratching. Granite is the second hardest natural material, behind only diamonds. Nonetheless, the sharpest meat cleavers and knives can mark granite, so be sure to use caution with utensils like these.
Granite also resists heat, moisture, stains, and bacteria—as long as you apply sealant upon installation and once a year thereafter. Sealing is critical to protect your granite countertops from alkalis and acids because it’s porous. With correct installation and minimal maintenance, granite countertops will last for decades. They’re the perfect choice for families who want to remain in their homes for years to come. And if you decide to sell your house down the road, they will look as good as the day they were installed!
Granite countertops are relatively easy to maintain. As previously mentioned, you must apply the proper sealant once a year. This sealant blocks off the granite from absorbing substances that would otherwise leave stains. When Queen City Kitchen & Bath install your granite countertops, we will explain what type of sealant to use!
As far as cleaning goes, granite is as easy as they come. Some other types of countertops require specific cleaning solutions in order to avoid damaging the surface material. With granite, however, all you have to do is use warm water and (maybe) a soft detergent to pick up sticky spills. It’s even easy to clean old spills, provided the countertops are sealed.
Granite is considered to be a premium countertop material. Installed, they range from about $80 to $175 per square foot. The exact price will depend on the brand, style, thickness, and edging treatment you choose. Because granite is sourced overseas, pricing is also determined by current petroleum costs, as well as any tariffs and other conditions that may affect shipments. You can find a variety of beautiful slabs in the lower price bracket, but you’ll likely have to pay more for the highest-grade granite with rare colors and characteristics.
No matter what you pay for your granite countertops, chances are you will get your money’s worth when it comes to the appreciation value of your home. The kitchen is generally the most important room to home buyers, and most buyers want an up-to-date, modern kitchen that allows for a comfortable cooking and dining experience. If the home they’re considering buying already has what they want, they won’t have to undergo extensive renovations.
Kitchen renovations allow some sellers to increase their home prices by $18,000 or more. Since granite is a durable, natural stone, you don’t have to worry about them becoming out of date in five or even twenty years.
Unlike granite and marble, quartz countertops are engineered. Most of these products contain a large percentage of natural quartz along with various other minerals. The materials are crushed, bonded together by polymer resins, and then fabricated into countertops. Quartz has come a long way as a countertop material over the years, and it definitely offers its fair share of perks.
Options once were limited with quartz, but that’s not the case anymore. In fact, there isn’t another premium material on the market that offers more versatility. Quartz is available in a wide range of colors and patterns. It can also mimic the look of many other materials, including granite, marble, and concrete. Moreover, you can get quartz countertops in colors that are unobtainable on other surfaces, such as bright blue.
Quartz also comes in a variety of finishes, as many styles can be purchased in a polished or leathered texture. So, whether you’re looking for the timeless appearance of polished marble or something more industrial, like leathered concrete, quartz is a great choice.
Another factor worth noting is that natural stones like granite and marble are prone to imperfections in the slabs. While these imperfections can help make countertops unique, some homeowners prefer a more consistent and uniform appearance in their surfaces, and quartz provides that reliability.
It doesn’t get any more durable than quartz when it comes to a kitchen work surface. It’s harder than granite or marble, and it’s nearly indestructible. With normal use, you won’t have to worry about scratches. It also resists high-heat temperatures, so you can relax if you need to place a pot on the countertop for a moment as you tend to another task. However, you’ll still want to be mindful of scorching-hot pots and pans; if left on the counters too often or for too long, the heat can cause a reaction with the resins in the material and you may see it.
Similar to its durability, quartz is by far the easiest countertop surface to maintain. Granite and marble are porous, which means they absorb liquids and moisture, especially if they aren’t sealed. Quartz is non-porous and requires no sealant. You can spill wine, juice, oils, or any other kind of liquid on quartz countertops, and it won’t penetrate the surface or cause any damage. Most spills can be cleaned with nothing more than a wet paper towel and perhaps a soft detergent. Furthermore, quartz countertops are antimicrobial, so it’s easy to keep them sanitary.
The fact that you don’t have to apply sealer on quartz is a gamechanger for some homeowners. Maintaining a home requires a lot of work, and it’s one less thing to worry about each year.
Quartz typically falls within the same price brackets as granite and other premium countertop materials. For example, you can expect to pay between $80 and $140 per square foot, though you might find quartz countertops for slightly less or slightly more. Given its versatility, dependability, and other benefits, it’s an excellent all-around investment.
Quartz has steadily risen as a kitchen renovation trend, and most homebuyers are attracted to a kitchen with this material. There’s no significant difference in the impact on overall home appraisal value between quartz and granite countertops.
Similar to granite, marble is a natural stone often used for countertops, and the process of cutting it from a quarry and fabricating it into countertops is similar. Where granite offers exceptional practicality, however, marble offers timeless elegance. Its luxurious qualities are what have long kept it a favorite material for sculptors, architects, and designers.
Simply put, marble countertops are breathtakingly gorgeous. They provide an elegance that no other material can provide, and that includes brand new and aged countertops alike. Not only do these countertops make a bold statement in any kitchen (or any other room), but each slab is totally unique and will put off an unmistakable aura of luxury.
While certain quartz surfaces can mimic marble to a degree, there’s no substitute for the classic, opulent appearance of natural marble. The stone experts at Queen City Kitchen & Bath can tell you all about how this stone charms as it ages with your lifestyle.
In the right environment, marble countertops can last a really long time. But they age most gracefully in low-traffic areas with light-to-moderate use. If you have kids or plan on hosting occasional parties, you might want to go with a lower-maintenance material for your kitchen countertops and put the marble in your master bathroom or other low-traffic space. It’s all about what fits your lifestyle.
This category is perhaps where the most concerns for marble countertops lie. They’re not anywhere near as easy to maintain as quartz or granite. Marble is porous, so lemons, ketchup, red wine, nail polish remover, and other acidic substances will alter the appearance of your countertop.
There are cleaning, polishing, refinishing, and stain removal solutions that can mitigate your marble’s vulnerabilities. But over time, it’s unlikely you will prevent all stains from seeping into the stone, especially if your countertops are in a high-traffic area.
It’s difficult to put a price range on marble countertops. Most products are more expensive than granite or quartz. You can sometimes find quality run-of-the-mill marble at a decent price because the stone exists in so many varieties and so many parts of the world. However, if you want the most pristine material that sparkles and glistens, you’ll most likely have to pay top-dollar for it.
As with other premium countertop materials, having well-maintained marble countertops in your kitchen or bathroom can significantly increase the value of your home. But one factor sets marble apart from the others here: If a prospective buyer sees that you have taken care of your marble, they may see it as a sign that you’ve maintained the rest of your home. This can make a grand impression and boost your home’s saleability. Plus, real estate agents can use the general sense of luxury to enhance their marketing of the property.
The Bottom Line
Granite, quartz, and marble are all premium countertop materials with their own sets of benefits. Whichever material you choose, you’ll be adding some major value to your home. Granite is an excellent natural stone that will provide a unique character, color, durability, and maintenance. Quartz offers a reliable look, is the most durable, and is the easiest to maintain. Marble is pure luxury; it requires more effort to upkeep marble countertops, but they will produce an air of opulence like no other material.
If you’re interested in upgrading your countertops, look no further than Queen City Kitchen & Bath. We have hundreds of samples, and our experts would love to talk about inspiration and help you find the perfect material and slab for your home!