Throughout my design career I’ve been part of many kitchen renovations and although much of it is scary and overwhelming for homeowners, there’s one area that always excites. If you guessed it was countertops you are correct. There’s something really enjoyable for most people about viewing slabs and selecting countertops. The colour is usually obvious to everyone as the design evolves, as well as the design or pattern. The difficulty normally comes in the form of material selection. This is where the questions begin – should I buy quartz, granite, or porcelain? Just like with most things, there’s no answer that will satisfy everyone’s needs. Let’s dig into the considerations of each and see which one’s best for your renovation.
QUARTZ VS GRANITE VS PORCELAIN
Quartz is somewhat difficult to understand because it’s a combination of a natural and man-made product. It’s mined not as slabs but as stone, ground up and mixed with polymer resins to create slabs of quartz.
Granite is easier to understand as it’s a natural material that is mined in stone quarries. Once the rock has been extracted it’s cut into slabs and is ready for the finishing process.
Porcelain is made from a unique type of clay called China clay. It’s mixed with a mineral called kalonite and together with silica and mineral oxides the combination creates an extremely strong and durable countertop material.
One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of quartz countertops is the fact that it’s possible to finally have the light-coloured countertop that so many homeowners want without the maintenance of marble. Quartz tends towards white or light grey although it is available in black and some other more saturated colours as well. The amount of veining is also entirely up to you since it’s a man-made product. Every slab will look the same so there will be no surprises once it’s installed.
Quartz on the other hand, tends toward the darker side of the colour spectrum. If you love blacks and browns or deeply saturated colours, then quartz is perfect for you. The most important part of shopping for quartz is to be sure to view the slab versus the small samples when it comes to quartz. It’s impossible to understand the veining and movement of natural stone and every slab will be different.
Porcelain is the outlier among stone countertops when it comes to colour and pattern. It comes in a variety of colours and patterns including some nice imitations of concrete, marble, metallic and wood grain.
The pattern is printed on top of the porcelain and doesn’t penetrate through all the layers. This is something to be aware of because if you do end up with a chip it will be harder to conceal.
All three of these options are quite durable. Quartz is the strongest and can withstand the most abuse. Since it’s composed of a polymer resin its ability to withstand pressure is superior to quartz and porcelain. If you happen to get a red wine or coffee stain on a quartz countertop you have a fighting chance of removing it with regular kitchen cleaners. For tougher stains, it’s possible to have the stain sanded out by a quartz professional. Overall, quartz offers the most maintenance free option for countertops.
Granite was always considered the leader in durability but because it’s a natural stone, it is porous so it’s not impervious to staining. It does require an annual application of a natural stone sealer to keep it at its best. To keep it looking great you should wipe up liquids and don’t let them pool on the surface for long. Granite is considered low maintenance.
Porcelain is extremely strong and durable once installed but it does pose some issues during the fabrication process. It’s important to work with a reputable fabricator to ensure your countertops arrive in and are installed perfectly. The only caution is using a ceramic knife as this is the one product that will cause scratching on the surface.
All of these are an investment in your kitchen and are relatively equal in their cost. Some of the factors that affect pricing are the pattern, the edge finish, and the difficulty of installation.
Quartz ranges from $80-$140 sq.ft. including installation. Granite starts off at the same $80 range but can go as high as $175 sq.ft installed. Porcelain is the least expensive and can cost between $60 and $120 sq.ft.
Quartz countertops are the easiest to repair if you were to crack or chip your countertop. A colour matched resin is used to repair the damage. This is not a DIY project, and your repairs should be left to the quartz professional that installed the countertops.
Granite is very strong and is unlikely to crack or chip. If it should happen, the repair method is like quartz and must be performed by a professional. With granite you’re more likely to end up with a stain than a crack. There are lots of granite cleaners on the market that are designed to remove stains. As with anything, the faster you address the issue, the better the resolution.
For porcelain chips and cracks there are porcelain repair kits that you can buy and use yourself although your first stop should be to your installer to see if they can assist you. Since porcelain is not porous you won’t need to be too concerned with staining. Just like with quartz, porcelain is not prone to staining but if you do get a surface stain you can use a chemical cleaner to remove it.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re getting ready to purchase countertops. You’re hopefully going to have them for a very long time so do your research. In the end, any of these 3 options will bring you joy for a very long time.
Thanks for being here,