Quartz v. Granite Showdown ‘11

The ol’ standby for marking the start of summer is Memorial Day, but a new June tradition can bring out the heat – the countertop ratings from Consumer Reports.

The famed test-and-report folks at Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumers Union began covering countertops a few years ago, and raised the ire of natural-stone advocates by giving quartz surfaces equal (if not con_nav_issue_cover-july-11better) ratings than granite. The group’s product testers also expanded its research to encompass concrete and other non-quarried material

It’s also worth noting, though, that Consumer Reports didn’t find sufficient evidence linking granite countertops and health worries concerning radiation, which helped deflate the radon-scare bubble a few years ago. And, it’s been fair about the need for sealing granite surfaces, using the words “some” and “periodic” instead of “all” and “annual.”

You can see the July 2011 issue’s coverage of countertops here, including videos – look for the “Buying Advice” tab on the webpage – detailing selection and testing. (The 4-lbs slasher is a hit here in the office.) You can also find out which surface failed the lab’s famed hot-pan test.

What you can’t see online, without a subscription, is the actual ratings of the 15 surfaces tested in 2011. The print edition went on sale this week at your local newsstand, but that brings up two problems; the first is that it’s a pricey $6.95 for the issue, and the second is actually finding a local newsstand.

I don’t give away the end of stories; the only time I’ve ever yelled “Shut Up!” is when a loud-voiced woman started to tell her friend the meaning of “Rosebud” while watching Citizen Kane in a theatre. I’m not going to reproduce the entire Consumer Reports countertops ratings chart, either.

At the risk of a visit from the Copyright Flying Squad, however, I’ll offer the highlights that fabricators really want to know:

• Quartz came in first, and granite second – but it’s a close one. On the 0-100 scale, quartz scored 84 and granite followed closely at 81, with test results running dead even. No other surface scored more than 70.

• Recycled glass made a large impression, coming in third with 69 points despite less-than-stellar stain and impact tests.

• Soapstone came in second among quarried stone, but seventh overall at 46 points. 

• Marble finished 12th with 14 points, as the surface performed miserably in tests.

• What finished dead last? Well, marble may be porous, but bamboo countertops just suck.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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