Which is better for kitchen worktops: granite or quartz?
Granite has long been a preferred material for kitchen worktops, thanks to its exceptionally hard-wearing, durable, and unique aesthetic qualities. In recent years however, specially modified quartz materials have also begun to find favour, in part because of claims by granite’s detractors that the latter is difficult to maintain and keep clean. Examining the relative merits of each material in detail however, reveals that both granite and quartz have their own particular strengths as worktop materials; and that, contrary to what some have been led to believe, granite can in fact be easy to clean and maintain, provided some simple guidelines are followed.
The granite used to make kitchen worktops is essentially the same natural product as that found in classic building structures and monuments. Formed by the cooling of lava or magma, it is available in a range of beautiful, naturally occurring colours, from pink and grey, through to brown and black.
Although coarse in its natural state, the surface of granite can be polished to a smooth and shiny finish. Granite usage has increased over the centuries owing to the intrinsic strengths it has over other types of stone such as marble. Firstly, granite is highly resistant to weathering. Secondly, it is extremely heat resistant. Thirdly, it is very hard and durable, and does not scratch easily.
Although these qualities render granite ideal for the cut and thrust of kitchen life, it is important to remember that this is a natural product and that certain basic steps should be taken in maintaining granite worktops thus ensuring they remain in pristine condition.
Firstly, if a granite worktop has not been sealed this should be carried out as soon as possible. There are several proprietary sealing liquids that can be simply brushed on to the surface of the worktop, thereby ensuring it is fully impervious to liquids.
Secondly, a granite worktop, like any other worktop, should be cleaned regularly. The best way to clean granite worktops is with soap and water.
Thirdly, although granite is very unlikely to crack when exposed to high temperatures, it is still advisable to eliminate any possibility of marks and blemishes from hot pans and dishes by always placing a protective mat underneath hot items.
Also, when using sharp or heavy objects it is better to err on the side of caution and use a chopping board rather than the worktop itself; although granite is tough, like any natural substance it can contain weak spots that may chip or crack.
Finally, any spills should always be cleaned up as soon as possible with soapy water, particularly acidic liquids such as wine and orange juice, since acid easily stains granite worktops.
In instances where the granite has become stained there is no need to despair since, aside from the availability in shops of proprietary granite stain removers, there are also a number of DIY remedies that can be applied, such as the use of soda crystals, diluted white vinegar, or diluted bleach. Very stubborn stains and even light scratches can be erased through the careful application of very fine wire wool. The affected area should then be dried and buffed back into its polished state using a fibre cloth. This sort of work is best left to the professionals.
Exponents of quartz as a worktop material on the other hand point out that quartz is the hardest mineral next to precious stones. In fact, the quartz that is used to produce quartz worktops (or quartz countertops to use the industry term) is actually far superior to natural quartz; just as the steel industry is able to benefit the consumer by transforming raw iron into various grades of quality stainless steel, so has the quartz industry learnt that by combining quartz with a small percentage of resin, it can have greater control over both product consistency and colour.
The outcome for the consumer are products such as Cimstone Quartz and Quartz Compac which are not only cheaper than granite but are also: highly heat resistant; impervious to liquid contamination without the need for sealing; and far less likely to stain or chip than granite. Quartz worktops are also neater to edge and join than granite worktops.
At Set in Stone we will be happy to explain in more detail the relative benefits of granite and quartz worktops.
which is better for kitchen worktops? Granite or Quartz
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7 May 2010
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