Granite Countertops Vs. Concrete Vs. Quartz

Date: April 25, 2021
Author: Jon Smith
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When homeowners choose countertops, they consider many factors such as color, texture, heft, and general appearance. Considerations of longevity, maintenance requirements, and cost inevitably crop up as well.

When considering solid heft, three of the popular materials happen to be granite, quartz, and concrete. We will consider their respective attributes below.

Each of the materials has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, the choice between them depends on what you are looking for specifically.

The Basic Material

Before considering their properties, let’s understand the basic materials we are discussing.

Quartz is an engineered stone. Typically, 90-93% of it is made from natural stone, but the rest can be from crushed stone and/or strengthened with polyresin. Quartz can be produced to certain specifications including color and appearance.

Granite is a natural stone, whose slabs are hewed in quarries and shaped into countertops. Materials included within granite will include quartz and feldspar. Since it’s a natural stone, every slab of granite is different.

Concrete is a material mixed and cast from cement, it's all around us in the form of building material. The good thing about concrete is that it is poured – which means that it can be cast in shapes and colors that normal stones may or may not be able to achieve. Many varieties of concrete mixes are available on the market, some of which are suitable for countertops.

Let’s now look at some comparisons across the three materials.

Cost Comparisons

Either the first or the last, consideration when buying an expensive countertop is the cost. The table below shows ranges for each type of material.

MaterialAvg. Cost per Square FeetAvg. Cost for a 30 Square Foot Slab
Quartz$117-$129 installed$3,500-$3,760 installed
Granite$100-$117 installed$3,000-$3,500 installed
Concrete$73-$80 installed$2.100-$2.400 installed

The costs shown above can vary between +/- 20% based on localized costs, including labor, taxes and the like.

In a broader range, the higher-end prices for granite countertops can go as high as $175 depending on the quality and finish. The higher-end prices for quartz tend to stay below $150.

Appearance And Color Options

The texture and range of colors vary with the type of material.

MaterialAppearance and Color
QuartzSince quartz is made from natural stone, ground in other stone chips but also polymers and resins, it tends to be consistent in appearance and texture with less appearance of seams. Also, pigments to be mixed in are chosen so the color is uniform. What you order is what you will get. Standard colors include shades of white, gray, gold, brown, tan, and black.
GraniteGranite is natural stone – as such, both the color and the texture will tend to vary from slab to slab. One of the problems with granite countertops is that the specimen you see in the store while ordering may not match either the texture or the color of what gets installed at home eventually. Granite has a wider range of colors, including shades of white, gray, beige, brown, and black like quartz, but additionally burgundy, red, green, yellow, and even blue.
ConcreteConcrete can be as smooth or rough in texture as you want to make it and there is an almost infinite range of colors and appearances.

There are variations within the above parameters, but the general principles hold for each.

Strength Durability And Maintenance

Quartz, granite, and concrete are all tough materials. However, there are differences between them in terms of certain aspects of strength, durability, and maintenance requirements.

MaterialStrength, Durability, and Maintenance
QuartzRequires the least amount of maintenance and is most durable when sealed – the resins mixed in make quartz strong and scratch-resistant.
GraniteStrong and scratch-resistant, but requires more maintenance, and is more prone to chipping, breaking, and stains than quartz due to the porosity of granite and the seams. It tends to be more durable than concrete in these regards. Small chips in granite can be repaired with epoxy.
ConcreteConcrete is even more porous than granite and needs to be resealed more frequently. It has the tendency to develop small cracks (which can be repaired) and also bacteria/mold. Waxing on a monthly basis will extend the life of a concrete countertop.

Installation

Granite and Quartz are both heavy materials. Plus, you would need to be adept at creating slabs and/or sculpting. The chances of an accident or a poor finish are way too much to risk when dealing with such expensive stones – be they natural or engineered. So, it is best to get a professional installation done.

While DIY concrete countertops are likely not going to come out as well finished as one installed by a pro, it is theoretically possible to pour the concrete and get a countertop made that can pass muster. DIY mixes such as Quickreet 5000, or Cheng Concrete Mix (see below), can be used as a suitable medium for countertops:

Cheng Concrete Countertop Pro-Formula Mix - Platinum
  • Cheng concrete countertop pro formula is designed for precast concrete countertops
  • No guesswork, just add sacked concrete mix and water
  • High quality pigments provide vibrant, stable, long lasting colors

The following video shows a DIY method to make concrete countertops.

Visibility of Seams

The table below captures the possibility of each material showing visible seams.

MaterialVisible Seams?
QuartzBeing engineered, quartz does not have seams.
GraniteGranite is porous and has seams.
ConcreteConcrete countertops are smooth and do not have seams except at large interfaces, which are close to invisible.

Sealing

The more porous a material is, or prone to crack or pick up stains or discolor on the surface, the better the seal on top must be. The frequency of resealing is also driven by this characteristic.

Among the three materials, quartz is the most stain-resistant, least porous, and devoid of seams due to the way the material is created. As such, it stays for the longest time without resealing.

Both granite and concrete are porous and need more frequent care, including the necessity to reseal and wax. Otherwise, not only will stains (etchings) and discolorations tend to appear, mold and bacterial growth are possible beneath the surface.

Granite should be resealed every six months to one year.

Concrete needs to be resealed every six months to one year also, sometimes less. It should also be waxed every month to maintain the surface. Some professionals think that sealing concrete every 1 to 3 years is sufficient however I think the more you seal your countertops the better off you are in terms of stain resistance and build-up of mold and other bacteria.

Stain Resistance

The stain resistance of each surface is directly related to the porousness of the material and how the seal is holding up.

MaterialStain Resistance
QuartzQuartz is the most stain resistance material, being the least porous. Most common everyday spills are easily handled, though paint removers, nail polish remover, bleach, oily soaps, permanent markers, and materials containing trichloroethane or methylene chloride are big no-no’s.
GraniteGranite is also stain-resistant, but non pH balanced substances (organic, oils, paint-based, rust, etc.) can seep in past the sealant, sit in the pores and cause not only stains but mildew and bacteria.
ConcreteConcrete is the most vulnerable material in terms of stains due to its porous nature. Not only can it stain and develop mildew/bacteria, but concrete also tends to get stains or patinas over time, which require frequent resealing and waxing to maintain the surface.

Heat Resistance

The heat resistance of a countertop depends both on the material and whether it is sealed. In general, granite and concrete are both more heat resistant than quartz if the seal is equal.

A sealed granite countertop will be more heat resistant than a sealed concrete countertop.

In all cases, however, exposing the countertop to direct heat continuously is not a good idea. Trivets and other protections should be used.

Suitability for Outdoor Use

Concrete has increasingly gained popularity for outdoor use, followed by granite and trailed at a distance by quartz.

MaterialCost per Square Feet
QuartzNot a good material for outdoor use. Quartz is not very heat resistant and its colors tend to fade in sunlight.
GraniteThe best material for outdoor use, being heat resistant, strong, durable, and stain-resistant. Granite holds colors well in outdoor settings.
ConcreteThough concrete may be less heat resistant than granite, its overall flexibility of design, strength and relative ease of maintenance (needs to be maintained more often, but does not appear as off-color as certain stones) has made it the most preferred material for outdoor countertops.

Environmental Impacts

The table below shows ranges for each type of material.

MaterialEnvironmental Impact
QuartzManufactured from mostly natural resources – some, but not significant, energy expended. Not quarried. Resins mixed in. No radon emissions.
GraniteMade from natural resources but quarried. No radon emissions.
ConcreteManufacturing consumes a lot of energy and cement production creates major pollution. However, the use of fly ash and glass, which would otherwise add to pollution, is a plus with certain types of concrete.

Some FAQs

Given some of the answers above, the typical homeowner who is not predisposed towards one material over the others may have some common questions:

  1. Everything being said, is concrete better than granite?

This is a question that can only be answered subjectively to a certain extent. Granite is a natural stone and concrete is a man-made mixture. As such, the appearance of granite will always be more majestic.

However, there are limits to ranges of colors, edge patterns, and inlays that can be done on granite. Concrete, on the other hand, can be textured, colored, and finished with an almost unlimited number of options.

They can both be used outdoors.

Granite is definitely costlier than concrete and must be installed by pros. If you like a wide range of colors and textures, do not care about the natural stone appearance, and wish to stay on a budget, concrete is a good option – but granite is a premium stone.

  1. Do granite countertops create more problems than concrete, or vice versa?

Maintenance on granite is easier compared to concrete. Though both are porous materials, sealed granite tops will be more resistant to stains, discolorations, mold, and mildew, especially when sealed properly. Though granite could chip, those could be repaired easily with epoxy.

Concrete will need more regular care. It tends to stain and develop mold and mildew faster. If the surface is sealed and waxed, that will hold for longer – but it still remains porous. Resealing on an annual basis may be necessary along with waxing every month. Concrete also tends to develop a sheen or patina.

Granite thus requires less attention than concrete.

Pros and Cons

The table below shows the pros and cons of each type of material. Some of the characteristics (e.g. heat resistance and maintenance) are graded among the three options.

Quartz

ProsCons
Heat resistant – but least among the three Does not need heavy sealing Low maintenance – least among three Stain Resistant – most among three No seams More flexible than granite – uniform color and texture Appearance tends to degrade with age Environmental impact limited Adds to home resale valueNot good for outdoor use More expensive on the average Not suitable for self-installation Color fades in direct sunlight Slabs tend to be heavier and narrower

Granite

ProsCons
Heat resistant – most among three Stain-resistant when well-sealed Natural stone appearance/texture Wider range of colors Best stone for outdoor use Color holds in heat and sunlight Least environmental impact Appearance tends to degrade with age Adds to home resale valuePorous and needs care, including reseal More maintenance reqd. than quartz Relatively more brittle Costly on the average May develop mold and bacteria Not suitable for self-installation Varied color and texture of natural stone

Concrete

ProsCons
Heat resistant, unless sealed/waxed Needs heavy sealing No seams Widest range of colors and textures among the three – most flexible among 3 Good for outdoor use Wide range of patterns of edges, inlays, etc. can be put in Appearance is maintained with age (provided some maintenance is done)Least costly Porous and needs resealing and regular waxing – most maintenance among 3 Prone to picking up stains/patina Tendency to develop mildew/mold Can be poured and installed DIY Most environmental impact among 3 Does not do much for home resale value

FINAL THOUGHTS

The choice of countertop material can depend on the color, texture, heft you prefer, the uses you subject it to and even the types of edges that work. Finally, there is the cost.

Consider the discussion above and the final list of pros and cons to decide on what works for you. There are great selections under each type.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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