Granite vs Man-Made Stone

Baltic Brown Granite (left) - Cambria Canterbury (right)

Baltic Brown Granite (left) - Cambria Canterbury (right)

QUESTION:

We are remodeling our kitchen countertops and are getting answers all over the world... this one chips, $35 more per square foot for that one, this one stains, etc..

We like "BALTIC BROWN" granite for the counter top OR CAMBRIA "CANTERBURY".

Bottom line answer - which is better a granite counter top or man-made stone? And generally does granite cost more than man-made stone?

ANSWER:

When money is not an issue, people install granite more often. Luxury home builders install granite countertops far more than quartz countertops or man-made stone or "engineered" surfaces. So I suppose, there's one answer.

However, this tendency is shifting some and there's much more to the equation. Both materials are excellent choices for a kitchen countertop, still, it's important to consider all variables when deciding which is right for you.

I cover the key factors below and boil it down to the most important consideration.

You'll also want to read our quartz countertops vs. granite vs. Corian page for additional insight.

Cost of Granite Countertops vs. Man-Made Stone


Granite prices span a wider range because so many different varieties exist and it is a natural and unique product. It's all supply and demand. Some granite colors are plentiful and others not. Some are popular and others not, so prices follow accordingly.

Installed costs for granite can run from $40 up to $200 per square foot, but the vast majority are in the $50-$80 range.

Quality of everything can vary too. That's why you'll see signs for $25 sq ft. granite... avoid these. You'll get cut-rate granite, installation and service along with surprise "add-on" fees in most cases.

Man-made stone prices match granite. On average man-made stone countertop materials such as Cambria countertops and other similar quartz surfaces (Silestone, Caesarstone, Zodiac) are about as expensive as granite running $45 up to $120 with most around $60-$80/sq. ft.

Why is that you may ask since they can make as much or as little as demand dictates?

Consider that quartz and other man-made countertop manufacturers are wanting to lure customers away from choosing granite by trying to position themselves as equal or superior to granite in every way.

The debate is out on which is better, but they are leaving money on the table if they don't charge similar to granite.

And actually, man-made stone surfaces have some of the same costs as granite, such as transporting slabs to market and storage at local stone warehouses. Granite must be quarried, but quartz must be manufactured. Either way carries significant costs.

The final fabrication (cutting the material to fit your kitchen) is basically the same.

Still some particular colors and patterns of Cambria or Silestone or Caesarstone quartz countertops will be more or less expensive just like granite.

Installation variables like edge style, sink, and cook top cutouts, raised bar tops and slab thickness, will contribute to overall costs with both materials resulting in an average "range" of prices.

So, depending on the particular colors of granite and man-made stone you are comparing, you may get a big difference in price either way... granite more than quartz.... or quartz more than the granite.

Of course, you must always compare apples to apples when getting quotes meaning all variables other than the countertop material itself must be the same.

Quartz vs. Granite Maintenance


Ubatuba granite is a great stone. You may not need to seal it either, but you should perform the test for granite sealing on a sample to be sure.


Man-made quartz doesn't need sealing and is very stain-resistant. But then again many granite counter tops are also and don't need sealing either. But sealing granite is simple when needed.

For practical purposes, the sealing and stain question or comparison is not really an issue. That is... there isn't necessarily a clear advantage unless you compare a granite that is very porous and stains easy. There aren't many like this.

General cleaning is essentially the same. Using a quality stone cleaner is best for both granite and/or quartz countertops.

Granite will take the heat better than man-made stone. Quartz can take hot pans pretty well, but the risk of burning quartz is greater.

Neither surface will scratch. Both are resistant to chemical damage, however, granite will typically tolerate accidental harsh chemical exposure better.

Quartz countertops (lighter colors and especially whites) can be easily discolored by rather common chemicals like bleach.

The one kicker is that granite can almost always be repaired while man-made stone damage is often permanent, which gives a slight edge to granite in this department.

Style: Man-Made Stone vs. Granite Colors


For my tastes and many in the design world, quartz patterns tend to look very uniform and man-made. Man-made stone doesn't possess the allure and unique colors, depth, textures or patterns of granite.

To be fair, most quartz countertop makers have rather recently introduced many new colors and patterns that are a leap beyond their original stylings. Some are truly gorgeous.

So, a greater variety of choices using modern and attractive colors with more "natural" patterns has closed the style gap with granite quite a bit.

Of course, color and pattern preference is a matter of personal taste, so there is no real "winner" in this category except that granite still offers many more options.

Bottom Line... Which is Best?


Differences, pros, and cons do exist, but none is significant enough to definitively elevate one material over the other.

I know the desire is to crown a clear winner and some marketing messages make it seem as if there is one, but an objective evaluation reveals otherwise.

Practically speaking, it's an even match.

One thing for certain, though, is that both man-made stone and granite are at the top of the list when comparing all other countertop materials. These are clearly the two best choices. Both make excellent kitchen countertops.

When comparing all factors, man-made stone is slightly less durable/repairable than granite, so I always lean toward granite.

However, no surface is perfect and potential problems can occur with either material. Or you could go a lifetime without any issue.

The best choice boils down to your personal color and pattern preference. And that's a win for you.

It's the fun part! You can focus on colors and patterns and choose whichever one has the look you love the most for your kitchen design.

If you find that perfect granite color, then great... go for it.

But, if a Cambria or other quartz color catches your eye, then I wouldn't talk you out of it and you can rest easy with confidence that a quartz countertop will serve you just as well.

I would shy away from choosing a white quartz countertop since these tend to have the most problems with stains. Likewise with granite, choose wisely by performing the water / lemon juice test to ensure a durable, quality slab.

Comments for Granite vs Man-Made Stone

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Quartz countertops compared to granite
by: Robert

My opinion is that Granite is a product of the past. Yes, it is beautiful, but there is no comparison with superior product performance of Quartz tops, especially Silestone.

Low-to-no maintenance, 15-year warranties, anti-microbial protection, consistency in your color selection, and added strength are just a few of the things to look at when making the decision between granite and quartz.

Not to mention that Quartz is the fourth hardest stone on earth right next to diamonds, sapphire, and topaz, and this gives you scratch resistance that granite can't hold a candle to.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for your input! You are right that Silestone and engineered quartz countertops are an excellent product. However, your assessment is a bit biased and over exaggerates the differences and benefits of quartz.

Scratch resistance is equal. Engineered quartz is not harder or more scratch resistant than granite. For all intents and purposes, they are equal since neither will scratch. Quartz is found in granite, after all.

15-year warranty? Granite will last a lot longer than 15 years without any need for a warranty.

Low-to-no maintenance? Really? Then why is a warranty needed? This statement is common in quartz marketing, is very misleading and will have those customers with permanent stains on quartz scratching his or her head.

Quartz is generally very easy to clean and maintain (just like granite), however, such statements make people believe quartz is impervious to damage which is false. Precautions must be taken like with any surface.

Many several common household products will stain or discolor quartz countertops.

Anti-microbial qualities and cleanliness of quartz and granite are essentially equal according to independent studies on the matter. Both surfaces rate almost exactly the same and thus, second only to stainless steel for "cleanability".

And did you know that setting a hot pan on a quartz surface could damage (melt) the binding resin? Not so with granite.

Color and pattern consistency or repetition is a matter of taste. Some people like a uniform pattern others appreciate the entirely unique movement found in natural granite.

Bottom line... if you ask anyone in the industry (builders, designers, installers)... granite is still preferred.

As I've noted before, in luxury homes very few install quartz over granite. Given that the cost is essentially the same for either, that says something.

The odd thing is that people in the quartz camp like to argue that quartz countertops are night-and-day, no-contest, hands-down, far better than granite and that's just not the case.

Vice versa, granite can't claim any vast superiority over quartz either. As the article attempts to explain, when all details are objectively examined granite has a slight edge, but only slight and your verdict will depend on where you focus.

Silestone is recognized as a great, long-lasting surface for your home, but it doesn't surpass the performance of granite in any appreciable way, yet it does have some problems with color integrity and damage that granite does not have.

No countertop surface is without weaknesses, so if you like Silestone, install it. It isn't a contest.

My aim is to help readers wade through the actual facts so they don't make decisions based on the marketing hype that accompanies this debate and stretches the truth.

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