I finally wanted to do my own comparison of quartz agglomerate and natural granite – two materials for making kitchen countertops. What to choose for practicality, appearance and price? Ideally, the kitchen countertop should not absorb, change color, scratch, should withstand temperature changes.
We have been making marble and granite countertops and window sills for many years. But we also have a long experience in the production of agglomerate in the past. We share our observations, experiments to confirm or challenge the common statements on the Internet about the question “What is better – granite or agglomerate?”
Manufacturers of quartz agglomerate claim that it is impossible for the agglomerate to scratch unlike granite. It is possible!
Quartz agglomerate is just harder to scratch.
Its hardness depends on manufacturing quality and “varies” from manufacturer to manufacturer. We also noticed that the agglomerate with an unremarkable grainy pattern is much harder to scratch than the agglomerate that imitates a natural stone. This is probably due to its denser structure.
We have samples of expensive, high-quality agglomerate in our showroom at Novomostova street, which we scratched with a knife and keys. Some samples have only metal traces, no scratches, while others have fine scratches.
But exactly the same thin scratches remain on granite.
Scratches may as well form on both materials if you scratch in one place for a long time. When used mercilessly, knife or dish marks will sooner or later appear on both granite and agglomerate. We assume that on the first one, it may happen a little earlier. In both cases, the duration is measured in years.
Our advice: do not test your countertop for nothing and use a cutting board regardless of the material.
Which one is the best to drink liquid?
The statement “Granite absorbs, quartz agglomerate does not” is only partially true.
The small porosity of vibro-pressed agglomerate provides excellent resistance to liquids. If you spill something on it, in most cases you don’t have to worry. Nevertheless, it has pores and has a small (about 0.02%) water absorption coefficient.
This means that, for example, a snow-white surface may have a barely noticeable stain from red wine or carrot juice spilled on it and not immediately wiped off. On a dark surface you are unlikely to be able to see it. Therefore, it is better to remove strong staining liquids from the surface as soon as possible.
The resistance of granite to liquid depends on the thickness of the polish layer, its granularity and structure. The water absorption coefficient is higher than that of agglomerate. We can confidently say: to stain granite, you have to persistently stain the same place for months. But, as in the case above, it is better not to leave strong substances on the surface for a long time.
Better yet, both materials should be coated with water-repellent impregnation immediately after installation. Impregnations prevent liquids from being absorbed into the surface for 2-3 years – the period depends on the time and degree of exposure to spilled coffee, tea, wine, vinegar, etc.
Natural granite is not afraid of water, coffee, tea and vinegar.
Can mold appear?
We have seen this hilarious argument in favor of rejecting the natural material: “Granite can get moldy because of the accumulation of liquid and solid food residue in its cracks.
First of all, granite for countertops is healed, it has no cracks. Secondly, its entire surface is polished. Third, to bring granite to the coating of mold, you have to be a pig We have not even met mold on dirty and wet granite fronts.
Quality agglomerate from a well-known company used to cost more than natural granite. Now the prices have equalized. The statement that good agglomerate is always cheaper than granite is unequivocally false.
The pattern of granite and algomerite
Most often agglomerate has a uniform grainy pattern, because of which it looks like plastic.
Though more expensive variants copy drawing of a natural stone. It turns out beautiful, but not always looks natural because of the binding polyester resin.
It is clear that full identity with granite is not achieved. If you put them side by side, it is noticeable.
The statement that the size of slabs (blanks) in agglomerate allows you to make longer products with fewer joints, is absolutely true.
The length of slabs in agglomerate is consistently at least 3 meters, and usually reaches 4 meters. The length of slabs at a natural stone is usually 2,0-2,9 meters, and often does not exceed 2,7 meters.
The presence of joints in the case of granite countertops is more likely than in the case of agglomerate. But the joints will be in both cases.
If installed incorrectly, you can “screw up” with the joint on granite and agglomerate: granite will be different from the main background seam; agglomerate – the seam will be incorrectly tightened (they have their own technology).
The most common comparison is this:
– agglomerate is a “solid” material with no cracks or pores; it is 95% quartz, which is why it is so strong;
– granite has pores and likely cracks, so it is much less durable.
Those who studied physics and chemistry in school know that the strength of a single crystal of quartz is not the strength of the entire material.
The strength of a material depends on its “weakest link,” in this case the binder-polyether resin-which holds quartz together.
By the way, granite is 30% quartz, 60% feldspar. The hardness of the former is 6 on the Mohs scale, while the latter is 5. Not to say that the difference is very big.
If we consider the bending load, the fracture of the material itself, it is likely that agglomerate will win. However, after laying on the base, if there are stiffeners, you can dance on both granite countertop and agglomerate. Both are resistant to mechanical impact. But strong blows can damage both granite and agglomerate. Up to chipping.
Someone else writes that granite can break over time because of hidden cracks. Granite can break under direct strong mechanical action. And no more than that.
Have you heard of granite countertops breaking?
To be fair, look online for information on quartz agglomerate repair. There is a demand for repairs. And below are pictures of chips on agglomerate. The same can be on granite.
Chips on quartz agglomerate. The same happens on natural granite.
By the way, both materials for repair should be taken to a workshop. At home it is difficult to restore the original appearance.
A lot of controversy on the web regarding heat resistance. From ourselves we note that all the world manufacturers of quartz agglomerate in the recommendations for use indicate the use of racks for hot food.
In fact, the agglomerate can be used without a pan without any consequences.
Granite is definitely used without coasters. You can fry an egg on it at least by preheating the surface with a flame. That is, in absolute terms, granite is undoubtedly the winner.
Quartz agglomerate has a disadvantage that natural stone does not. Agglomerate over time fades in the sun. The reason is due to burnout under ultraviolet light of the pigments that are added during production.
Only in the case of natural stone can we talk about the status and nobility of the countertop. The status of the owner, which is expressed by the possibility to purchase countertops made of expensive, piecemeal natural materials. Natural granite or marble nature has been creating for millions of years. Just think that your countertop could be made from a material that witnessed the dinosaurs, the Ice Age, the birth of mankind…
Can you imagine that the owner of the house proudly shows off his new kitchen, bragging about the countertops made of agglomerate?! And granite? That’s it!
Buy quartz agglomerate if:
You like predictability, a stable color palette, and practicality.
You need a material that you can cut with a knife without regretting to “kill” the surface.
You need a long material to keep the number of seams to a minimum.
Buy natural granite if:
You are closer to nature, variety of colors, uniqueness, practicality.
You are ready to take care of the material a little bit.
You are no stranger to the notion of expensive, status things.
The price is not much different.