Are Quartz Countertops Heat Resistant?

People don't ask much from their kitchen countertops. They need to hold things up, not break, and not melt. Pretty simple list. Sadly, there's no such thing as an indestructible countertop (we've checked). The good news: most stone countertops are pretty sturdy. Quartz, granite, marble -- they'll all do the job and hold up well under most circumstances. But like anything else, countertops have limits. Quartz tends to burn sooner than granite will (technically it's the resin that holds the quartz together that burns, but that's splitting hairs). If you really want to see one burn, VI Granite & Repairs up in Canada were kind enough to take a blowtorch to a slab. Despite what you see in the video, you'll probably never have to worry about your quartz countertop catching fire or getting burned. Blow torches can get as hot as 3500 degree Fahrenheit, just a little bit toastier than the average stovetop. So unless you're planning on doing some welding on your kitchen counter, it's not something you really have to worry about. ​

Are Granite Countertops Worth the Money?

If you're looking to upgrade your home with new countertops, you've probably already had more than a few people suggest getting granite ones. This is not bad advice. Granite has been pretty popular for the last several years, and it likely won't go out of style any time soon. But hopefully you're doing your homework (like reading this post) before you commit your money to anything. Just because granite is a popular material and stylish doesn't automatically make it the best choice for you. There are a few things you'll want to think about before writing a check:

  • How long will you live there
  • Where you live
  • Your budget
How long will you live there Why are you looking at granite countertops in the first place? Are you looking to remodel your kitchen or bathroom to increase your home's value so you can sell it in a few years? Thinking about renting out your condo and wondering if granite countertops will help you charge a bit more each month? Or are you just looking to update your kitchen because you hate the way it looks? If the game plan is to increase your property's value to sell or rent it out, you should really take a good look at your neighborhood first. We go more into this in the next section, but the basic rule is to be on the same level as everybody else. If yours is the nicest house on the block, that shiny new granite addition to the kitchen won't bump up the price as much as it could. If just hate the way your kitchen looks and you're planning on staying put for a while (10+ years), then don't count on a return on your investment to justify the cost. Put it down as a project you wanted for yourself. If it happens to bump up the value of your house? Congrats! You lucked out. Where you live The Wall Street Journal ran a great story a few years back about what home renovations were worthwhile, and they summed up the goal of any home improvement in one sentence: "The trick is to bring your home up to neighborhood standards, but no higher." "Location, location, location," is the mantra of real estate. This is what decides whether you get a McDonald's or a Cheesecake Factory in town. The more the homes in the neighborhood are similar, the more similar prices will be for them. Outliers can help or hurt home prices in the area, but if you're on the high end of homes in the area, you can only improve the price so much by remodeling your home. Eventually, everybody else in the area has to step up their game, or you get stuck in how much more value you can add. If adding granite countertops to your kitchen or bathroom helps bring you in line with the rest of the area, then go for it. If you'll be the only one with them, don't do it as an investment. Do it as something nice you'd like to have for yourself, but don't expect a return on it. Your budget Be realistic about what you can afford. If the housing bubble taught us anything, it's that going overboard on your house is not a good idea. Set aside at least 10% of your budget for extra costs, if not 20%. The cost of granite can escalate very, very quickly. If the cost is looking too high, don't be afraid to check out other options. ​

Are Granite Countertops Safe?

If you've talked to some of your friends or family about getting a granite countertop, some of them may have told you that granite can be radioactive. And you know what? They're absolutely right. Granite naturally has some level of radiation. It's a rock literally cut straight out of the earth, which is the biggest source of radiation around. So when your crazy conspiracy-loving aunt starts going off about your granite countertop giving you cancer, don't hyperventilate. Concerns about granite and radiation crop every few years. What usually happens is someone with too much time on their hands tests a random batch of granite countertops and finds that one has a little more radiation than it ought to. Unfortunately, these people don't have enough time or money to do a comprehensive test to cover granite from all over the world. This tends to skew the data and lead to panic attacks that aren't really justified. WebMD did a great write up about it a few years back during the last scare. In it, they interviewed David J. Brenner, director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, who said, "The biggest source of radiation within the home in indeed. But it is not radon from countertops, it's radon from the ground." The other reason radiation from granite shouldn't concern you: surface area. Most kitchens and bathrooms just don't have that much counter space. Even with some radiation being emitted from them, granite countertops just aren't large enough to do any harm. Bottom line: yes, granite does emit some radiation. Is it enough to be worth worrying about? Not at all. ​

Maintaining Your Granite Countertops

Granite has a lot of things going for it when it comes to being used for countertops: great resistance to heat damage, natural look, no manufactured seams. But when it comes to maintenance, you have to put in a little more work to take care of it than you would with a quartz countertop. Why? That wonderful natural look. Granite countertops come from giant slabs of granite cut straight from the ground, no artificial materials added. With quartz, about 7% of the material is actually resin. This is what gives quartz countertops their consistent design. I'm not saying you'll be slaving for hours and hours to maintain your granite countertop. Far from it. Spraying a sealant on it once or twice a year is all you really need to keep it in good shape. That's not going to be much protection if an anvil falls on it, but there really isn't much you can do about that. The good folks over at Marble.com actually put together a nice instructional video about how to do it: When it comes to cleaning your countertop, there's really nothing special to it. Some soap, warm water, and a sponge are about all you really need. Again, Marble.com went through the trouble to put together an instructional video on how to properly clean your granite countertop: If anybody tells you granite countertops are a pain to take care of, they really don't know what they're talking about. Keeping them clean and in good shape doesn't take much effort. You just have to stay on top of things.