If you’ve been eyeballing stone slabs for countertops, you’ve probably noticed that two of the most popular choices are quartz and granite. It’s easy to see why–both are stunning, sturdy, and can transform a boring kitchen into a luxurious one. If money is an issue, you might be wondering which is cheaper. While it’s just one factor you should use to choose your materials, it can be an important one. Here’s how the two compare in price and in quality so you can make an informed choice.

If you look at cost alone, engineered stones can be more expensive. The average cost per square foot of quartz countertops is between $50 and $100 installed. Per square foot installed, granite is on average between $45 and $100. The difference isn’t always a large one–both are still pretty expensive, but the prices have been coming down in recent years.

Why quartz costs more (usually)

It’s allegedly the most durable kitchen work surface around and requires very little maintenance to keep it looking good. Because it’s made with a composite of around 93% crushed aggregate and 7% resin binder with colourant. This makes for an extremely strong stone that is stain and scratch resistant and that doesn’t need to be sealed. Since it’s literally ‘no maintenance,’ the long-term cost of engineered work surfaces can actually be less than that of natural stone.

Granite countertops are completely natural which means they are often slightly porous, so it needs to be sealed. It may need to be sealed as often as every year, though some companies say every three years is sufficient. Natural stone requires more effort to maintain it, but it’s popularity can be attributed to its beauty and uniqueness. While it’s still considered a ‘luxury’ material, it tends to be slightly less expensive than engineered options.

Of course, depending on the look that you want in your kitchen, you may be able to find quartz that is less expensive. You still have to factor in the cost of fabrication, and since both are seriously heavy, you’ll need to have them professionally installed, which can drive up the price even further depending on the local shop you choose. Maybe these pictures of kitchens with granite counters will convince you that one is better than the other.

Aesthetic differences

Aesthetically speaking, both countertops are beautiful. The major brands like Zodiaq and Silestone create a bit of man-made beauty, while igneous rock is simply all natural. However, the latter has a lot more visible seams once installed. It is also much more prone to stains if food and drinks aren’t wiped up immediately (even with a sealant).

Quartz has one drawback–it often fades in direct sunlight. This makes it a poor choice for outdoor kitchens or any that are awash in direct sunlight.

Cheaper alternatives

For a less expensive kitchen, you could always opt to cover your counter with stone tiles, which are less expensive but which have far more seams. For durable man made worktops, there is no cheaper alternative unless you are willing to get something like Pragel, which is a plastic laminate that can mimic the look of stone fairly accurately.

The bottom line with the price difference between quartz and granite is that it’s hard to compare the two. Their material pricing is similar, but fabrication and installation as well as maintenance costs can actually tip the scales in favor of one or another over the long term.