Quartz vs Granite: What’s the difference?

Stones have always been used in construction and decoration. In ancient times, they were used to build castles, walls, and temples. Today, they are still widely used in both residential and commercial construction.

However, today we have a much wider variety of stones to choose from. We have learned to use better stones for different purposes.

And, we now can even create stones that never existed before. That’s right, man-made stones such as quartz are now commonly used in construction and decoration.

In this post, we will compare quartz and granite, two of the most popular stones used today.

We will discuss their similarities and differences so that you can make a more informed decision about which stone to use for your next project.

What is Granite?

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. It is a light-colored rock that is composed mainly of feldspar and quartz.

colors of granite

The word “granite” is derived from the Latin granum, a grain, which refers to the holocrystalline rock’s distinctive coarse-grained structure.

As a plutonic rock, granite forms with high temperatures and pressures beneath the surface of the earth. Because of these conditions, magma can slowly cool and solidify, explaining why granite is so coarse-grained.

Granite can be found all over the continental crust. It is, however, more commonly found in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, Andes, and the Rocky Mountains.

Granite reserves can span large areas and are frequently found near quartz monzonite, granodiorite, diorite, and gabbro.

Content

Granite is composed primarily of coarse quartz grains (10-50%), potassium feldspar, and sodium feldspar. These minerals make up more than 80% of the rock’s composition.

Other common minerals found in granite include mica, amphiboles, and zircon. These minerals typically make up less than 5% of the rock’s composition.

Granite’s chemical content if it is further broken down is:

  • %70-77 silica,
  • %11-13 alumina
  • %3-5 potassium oxide,
  • %3-5 soda,
  • %1 lime,
  • %2-3 iron,
  • Less than 1% magnesia and titania.

Formation

Scientists have debated whether granite is metamorphic, igneous, or a mixture of both.

It was once thought to have evolved primarily through metamorphic processes. However, most scientists now agree that granite is formed by igneous processes, with metamorphism playing a minor role.

The vast majority of granite appears to be the result of melting, partial melting, or metamorphism of pre-existing rocks.

Granitic dikes are obvious signs of intrusion into surrounding rocks, and granite that is deposited in the first few kilometers of the Earth’s crust often shows strong signs of intrusion.

However, certain granites that formed deeper within the crust appear to have been less affected by their environment and resemble metamorphic rocks.

That said, when neither a magma chamber nor fluidity can be clearly demonstrated, it is necessary to consider the possibility that the granite is the result of anatexis or the partial melting of preexisting rocks.

Hardness

Granite is a fairly hard rock, rating a 6-7 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes it difficult to scratch or chip. Since it is a durable rock, it is often used in high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms as well as on floors, countertops, and backsplashes.

kitchen with Island with granite countertops

A knife blade will not scratch granite, but it can still dull the finish. If a rock is harder than granite, it can scratch it. For example, a diamond will scratch granite since it has a hardness of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Similarly, if granite is tried to be scratched with a piece of marble, it will not leave a mark since marble has a lower hardness of 3-4.

Granite is much harder than most other countertop materials such as soapstone, slate, marble, limestone, and travertine. This makes it ideal for areas that see a lot of wear and tear.

Color

Granite is typically a light-colored rock with a speckled or flecked appearance. The most common colors are white, pink, or gray. However, granite can also be black, green, blue, or brown.

The wide range of colors is due to the different minerals that are found in granite.

For example, pink granite typically contains more potassium feldspar, while gray granite contains more quartz.

Uses

Granite is a popular choice for countertops, flooring, and other architectural applications. It is also used in the construction of buildings, bridges, and monuments.

Granite is hard to scratch and is heat resistant, making it a popular choice for kitchen countertops. It is also available in a wide range of colors, which makes it a popular choice for floors and other architectural applications.

Granite is a natural stone, so it is subject to staining and scratching. It also needs to be sealed regularly to protect it from water damage and staining.

Granite is a fairly expensive countertop option, so it may not be the best choice for those on a tight budget.

What is Quartz?

Quartz is a silica-based mineral that is hard and crystalline (silicon dioxide). The atoms are connected in a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon-oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen shared by two tetrahedra, resulting in an overall chemical formula of SiO2.

samples of quartz agglomerate for kitchen countertops
samples of quartz agglomerate for kitchen countertops

Behind feldspar, quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s continental crust.

Quartz exists in two chiral forms, normal quartz, and high-temperature quartz. The difference is in the way the SiO4 tetrahedra are arranged.

In normal quartz, these tetrahedra are arranged in a trigonal crystal system, while in high-temperature quartz they are arranged in a hexagonal crystal system. High-temperature quartz is only found in metamorphic rocks.

Chemically, quartz is very similar to the other silica-based minerals such as feldspar and mica.

The difference is in the structure of the SiO4 tetrahedra. In quartz, these tetrahedra are arranged in a continuous framework, while in feldspar and mica they are arranged in sheets.

Quartz can be brought into existence either through the process of synthesis or by natural means. Natural quartz is found in a variety of geographical locations, including Brazil, India, Russia, and the United States. 

The vast majority of quartz that is used commercially is synthetic. Synthetic quartz can be made in a laboratory using the hydrothermal method or the melting method. 

The hydrothermal method involves combining water and silica under high pressure and temperature. The melting method involves melting pure silica sand at a very high temperature (about 2,000 degrees Celsius). 

Once the quartz is melted, it can be formed into a variety of shapes, including plates, rods, tubes, and fibers.

Hardness

Quartz is a very hard mineral with a Mohs hardness rating of 7. As a result, it is difficult to scratch or chip.

Because it is a hard rock, it is frequently used in high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms similar to granite.

Color

Quartz can be any color since it is a man-made material. By adding different minerals, pigments, and resins, quartz can be made in any color imaginable.

Still, the most common colors of quartz are white, gray, and black. However, it can also be yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, or red as well as a range of other colors.

Varieties

Pure quartz, also known as rock crystal or clear quartz, is colorless, transparent, or translucent, and has frequently been used for hardstone sculptures such as the Lothair Crystal.

Citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and other colored variants are common.

These color distinctions result from the existence of impurities, which modify the molecular orbitals, causing some electronic transitions in the visible spectrum to occur, resulting in colors.

The primary contrast between quartz varieties is between macrocrystalline (individual crystals visible to the naked eye) and microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline variants (aggregates of crystals visible only under high magnification).

Cryptocrystalline kinds are either translucent or relatively opaque, whereas transparent varieties are typically macrocrystalline.

Chalcedony is a silica cryptocrystalline structure composed of fine intergrowths of quartz and its monoclinic counterpart moganite.

Agate, carnelian or sard, onyx, heliotrope, and jasper are examples of opaque quartz gemstones or quartz-containing mixed rocks with contrasting bands or patterns of color.

Amethyst

Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz that ranges from pale lilac to deep violet. It is the most valuable form of quartz and is used in jewelry and other ornamental applications.

The name “amethyst” comes from the Greek word “amethustos”, which means “not drunk”. This is in reference to the belief that amethyst would prevent intoxication.

Citrine

Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz that ranges from pale lemon to golden yellow.

citrine mineral

It is named after the citrus fruit lemon, due to its color. Citrine is often used in jewelry and other ornamental applications.

Smoky Quartz

Smoky quartz is a gray or brown variety of quartz that ranges from pale to dark brown. It gets its name from the Latin word “fumus”, which means “smoke”.

Smoky Quartz

This is in reference to the smoky color of the stone. Smoky quartz is often used in jewelry and other ornamental applications.

Rose Quartz

Rose quartz is a pink variety of quartz that ranges from pale to deep pink. It gets its name from the Latin word “rosa”, which means “rose”.

Rose Quartz Crystals

This is in reference to the rose-like color of the stone. Rose quartz is also often used in jewelry and other ornamental applications.

Milky Quartz

Milky quartz is a white or translucent variety of quartz that has a cloudy or milky appearance. It gets its name from the Latin word “lac”, which means “milk”. This is in reference to the milky white color of the stone.

Milky quartz

The white color of milky quartz is caused by minute fluid inclusions of gas, liquid, or both trapped during crystal formation, making it of minimal use for optical and quality gemstone purposes.

Prasiolite

Prasiolite is a green variety of quartz that ranges from pale to deep green. It gets its name from the Greek word “prason”, which means “leek”.

prasiolite

This is in reference to the leek-green color of the stone. Rare in nature, most green quartz is actually heat-treated amethyst.

Aventurine

Aventurine is a green variety of quartz that ranges from pale to deep green. It gets its name from the Italian word “aventura”, which means “chance”.

rough green aventurine stone

This is in reference to the fact that aventurine is often found as a small, pebble-sized stone.

Although green is the most prevalent color of aventurine, it can also be orange, brown, yellow, blue, or grey. The classic green shade is a result of fuschite mica inclusions.

That said, orange and brown aventurine are due to hematite or goethite inclusions.

Carnelian

Carnelian is a red or orange variety of quartz that ranges from pale to deep red or orange. It gets its name from the Latin word “carnalis”, which means “flesh”. This is in reference to the flesh-like color of the stone.

Red Carnelian

The terms carnelian and sard are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they can also refer to separate subvarieties.

Carnelian is typically orange or red, while sard is brownish-red to black. Also, the carnelian is a softer stone than the sard. As a result, it is usually cut into cabochons or beads instead of being used as a faceted gemstone.

Agate

Agate is a variety of quartz that ranges in color from white to black. It gets its name from the Greek word “achates”, which was the name of a river in Sicily where agates were first found.

Natural Agate

Agate is one of the most common materials used in the art of hardstone carving and has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world.

For example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete includes agate beads, pendants, and rings.

Onyx

Onyx is a black variety of quartz that is multi-colored. It gets its name from the Greek word “onyx”, which means “claw” or “fingernail”.

Onyx

This is in reference to the fact that onyx is often found in shades of white and black, which resemble a fingernail.

Onyx is the name given to a parallel banded variation of chalcedony, a silicate mineral. Agate and onyx are both layered chalcedony variants that differ mainly in the shape of the bands: agate has curved bands, while onyx has parallel bands.

Its bands fluctuate in color from black to practically every color. Onyx specimens frequently have black and/or white bands.

Onyx has also been used to describe parallel banded forms of alabaster, marble, calcite, obsidian, and opal, as well as materials with distorted bandings, such as “Cave Onyx” and “Mexican Onyx”.

Jasper

Jasper is an opaque variety of quartz that ranges in color from white to black. It gets its name from the Greek word “iaspis”, which means “spotted stone”. This is in reference to the fact that jasper is often found with spots or stripes of color.

jasper

Jasper is a microcrystalline variety of silica, which means that it consists of small crystals.

The colors of jasper are due to impurities in the silica. For example, iron oxides can cause red or brown colors, while manganese oxides can cause black or purple colors.

Jasper has a smooth surface and is used for decoration or as a gemstone. It may be finely polished and is used to make vases, seals, and snuff boxes.

Tiger’s eye

Tiger’s eye is a yellow to red variety of quartz that is multi-colored. It gets its name from the fact that it resembles the eye of a tiger. Tiger’s eye is a type of chatoyant gemstone that is made up of parallel fibers of silicon dioxide.

Tiger Eye Stones

The colors of the tiger’s eye are due to the refractive properties of the fibers. For example, when light hits the surface of the gemstone, the fibers reflect the light and cause a “cat’s eye” effect.

Tiger’s eye is used in a variety of jewelry, as well as in sculptures and other decorative items.

Rutilated quartz

Rutilated quartz is a type of quartz that has acicular (needle-like) rutile inclusions. It gets its name from the Latin word “rutilus”, which means “red”. This is in reference to the reddish-brown color of the rutile inclusions.

Natural rutile quartz

Rutilated quartz is can be in a variety of colors including gold, silver, copper-red, or deep black. The rutile inclusions can be straight, curved, or spiral. Rutilated quartz is used in a variety of jewelry and as a gemstone.

Dumortierite quartz

Dumortierite quartz is a type of quartz that has blue, violet, or purple dumortierite inclusions. It gets its name from the French word “dumortier”, which means “of Mortier”.

Polished dumortierite quartz

This is in reference to the fact that dumortierite was first found in the town of Mortier, Belgium.

Dumortierite is a silicate mineral that contains aluminum and boron. The color of dumortierite quartz is due to the presence of these two elements. Dumortierite quartz can be cut and polished and is used in a variety of jewelry.

Uses

Quartz is in demand by many different industries because it can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common uses for quartz:

Glass Making

Quartz sand is the primary ingredient in glassmaking.

Ceramics and Refractories

Quartz can be used as a filler in ceramics and refractories.

Construction

Quartz is a common ingredient in concrete, mortar, and grout. It can also be used to make countertops, floors, and other architectural features.

Abrasives

Quartz sand is used as an abrasive in sandblasting and waterjet cutting.

Filters

Quartz is used to filter drinking water and wastewater.

Optics

Most optical instruments contain quartz either in the form of lenses or as a major component of the body. Quartz is also used in optical fiber cables.

Electronics

Quartz is a key ingredient in electronics such as computers, cell phones, and televisions. It can be used to make oscillators, resonators, and filters.

Jewelry

Quartz is used to make a variety of jewelry, including rings, bracelets, and necklaces. The most common type of quartz used in jewelry is amethyst.

Timekeeping

Quartz is used to make watches, clocks, and other timekeeping devices. The quartz crystal oscillates at a very precise frequency and is used to keep time.

Scientific Instruments

Quartz is used to make a variety of scientific instruments, including microscopes, telescopes, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometers. The reason quartz is used in these instruments is because it has good optical and electrical properties.

Since quartz can be precisely cut and polished, it is ideal for use in these types of devices.

Petroleum industry

Quartz is used in the petroleum industry as a proppant (a material used to prop open fractures in rocks). With the increasing demand for shale gas, the use of quartz as a proppant is expected to increase.

Another petroleum industry uses quartz as a source of silicon dioxide for the production of aluminum silicate (zeolites), which are used as catalysts in the refining of crude oil.

With this process, the aluminum silicate is able to remove impurities from the crude oil, resulting in a higher quality product.

Synthetic crystals

Synthetic crystals are created in laboratories artificially by dissolving raw silicon diode (SiO2) in an alkali water solution at a high temperature.

Although the procedure is long, the end result is high purity and generally high-quality crystals that are practically as good as naturally occurring quartz crystals.

When exposed to a wide range of chemicals and environmental conditions (including high temperatures), synthetic quartz crystals hold their shape and are virtually impermeable. There are several uses for synthetic crystals, including electronics, semiconductors, solar energy, and photomasks.

Other

Quartz can also be used in making solar panels, semiconductors, and fiber optics. In addition, it is used in the production of Portland cement and as foundry sand.

Precautions of quartz

While quartz has a variety of uses, it is also important to note that it can be dangerous if inhaled. Quartz dust can cause serious respiratory problems if inhaled, so it is important to use caution when working with this material.

If you are working with quartz, be sure to wear a respirator and avoid breathing in the dust. In addition, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling quartz.

What are the differences between quartz and granite?

Although both quartz and granite are popular countertop materials, and they find common use in many places there are some key differences between the two.

Formation

Granite is a natural stone that is quarried from the earth, while quartz is an engineered material made from natural quartz crystals. 

Granite quarry
Granite quarry, mining machine cutting granite blocks

Granite forms when magma cools deep in the earth by involving various minerals such as feldspar, mica, and quartz. The final product is a very hard stone with a wide range of colors and patterns.

Quartz is made from natural quartz crystals that are pulverized and mixed with resin. The mixture is then placed into a mold and formed into counter slabs.

Therefore, when we say “quartz countertops”, we are really referring to countertops made from quartz crystals, epoxy, and pigments.

Content

Quartz is an engineered stone composed of about 93% natural quartz and 7% resin.

So quartz countertops are actually manmade. On the other hand, granite is a 100% natural stone composed of various minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica.

Since quartz is an engineered material, it offers a more consistent color and pattern than granite.

Quartz is available in a wide range of colors, including those that are not found in nature. Granite, on the other hand, is unique in that no two pieces are exactly alike. Each piece of granite has its own distinct colors and patterns.

Durability

Both quartz and granite are very durable materials. However, quartz is slightly more durable than granite. Quartz is non-porous and does not require sealing, while granite must be sealed periodically to prevent staining.

Quartz is resistant to scratches but not scratch-proof. Quartz is normally not harmed by cutlery, although silica or other abrasive elements may scrape the resin. Depending on the severity of the problem, quartz can be difficult to repair.

While granite is scratch-resistant, certain minerals inside it can be softer and more prone to scratches. Granite is often easier to fix and conceals flaws well, particularly in lighter colors.

Heat Resistance

Quartz can only withstand brief periods of heat exposure. We recommend that you protect your quartz to avoid burns, particularly if a pot/pan has been on the stove for a long time.

Granite is a natural stone that is extremely resistant to heat. However, joints and seams are more susceptible to heat damage and may require special care. If subjected to excessive heat, granite may crack or shatter.

Porosity

Quartz is non-porous due to its resin binders, making it resistant to staining. However, it isn’t completely impervious to be stain-proof.

Granite is more porous than quartz and must be sealed periodically to prevent staining. Even after sealing, granite is still more susceptible to staining than quartz.

Granite’s porosity depends on the type of granite. Dense dark-colored granites are less porous and therefore more resistant to staining, while lighter-colored granites are typically more porous and susceptible to staining.

Antibacterial properties

Quartz is antibacterial and antifungal due to its nonporous nature. It doesn’t allow bacteria or mold to grow, making it a good choice for food preparation areas. However, surface cleaning is still necessary.

Granite also does well in terms of antibacterial properties. However, because it is a natural stone, it is more porous than quartz and may require more frequent sealing to maintain its resistance to bacteria and mold.

Pattern

Quartz is produced in a controlled setting, which ensures that the pattern and color are consistent.

Quartz has whites that are crisp and pure. The color of quartz varies from dye lot to dye lot with little variation, making it a good choice if you’re looking for a specific color.

Granite’s inherent characteristics can cause significant variation from dye-lot to dye-lot or even slab to slab.

The pattern is frequently inconsistent with large swaths of a single color. If you’re looking for more consistent patterns, quartz may be a better choice.

Finishes

Quartz is manufactured with a less shiny polished surface than granite. Some quartz is available in honed or brushed finishes. Non-polished finishes necessitate greater daily upkeep.

Granite comes equipped with a high-gloss polished surface. Certain hues are only available in honed or textured finishes. Non-polished finishes demand additional upkeep on a daily basis and are difficult/near impossible to fix.

Appearance

With quartz, the buyer has complete control over the final appearance of the countertop. Quartz, in contrast to granite, is made up of 93% crushed natural stone and 7% resin binder, whereas granite, is a solid piece of natural stone.

Quartz’s composition allows for a wide range of color, texture, and pattern options. Although granite countertops may contain a dye that gives them their color, they will eventually fade.

The thickness, shape, cut, and finish of quartz countertops can all be customized. Additionally, samples of quartz in a showroom are much more accurate, since the product is manufactured.

Small samples of granite will not show the color variations, occlusions, and veins in the slab that will be installed in your new home because the material is natural.

Countertops often need to be seamed because a single solid surface cannot be used for all applications.

Granite’s natural veins and colors make it more difficult to conceal the seams. When working with a dark or solid color, the seams in quartz countertops are much easier to conceal.

Indoor/Outdoor Use

Quartz is not suggested for usage outside. Direct sunlight, as well as exposure to severe temperatures and the elements, can cause fading, cracking, and other harm.

On the other hand, granite is a natural stone that comes from the vast outdoors, so you can utilize it outside.

Almost all hues can withstand both high and low temperatures, so it’s no surprise that it’s used to being exposed to the weather.

Maintenance

Quartz is more durable than both granite and marble because of the resin binder. Unlike granite and marble, which have channels that must be sealed, quartz has none, making it scratch and stain-resistant.

Even though quartz is a heavier material, fabricators have an easier time working with it during installation.

Cost

Cost is always a factor in the decision-making process. Granite is an exotic natural stone, which tends to be more expensive than quartz. The price will also depend on the quality, rarity, and availability of the granite you choose.

Quartz is an engineered product, so the price will depend on the quality of the materials used and the complexity of the design. Generally, quartz is less expensive than granite.

If you need to work with larger surfaces or want a more seamless look, granite may require fewer slabs than quartz. Depending on the size and complexity of your project, this could affect the overall cost.

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