Are granite countertops on their way out?

Quartz: An Up-and-comer

Engineered stone, or engineered quartz, is made by setting ground quartz into a resin, then polishing it to a fine sheen. Its best-known trade names are Silestone, CaesarStone, Cambria and Zodiaq. Quartz is a little more expensive than granite, with prices starting around $45 per square foot, but more and more people are favoring it because it's even more stain-resistant and durable than granite, comes in a much wider variety of colors, and has a uniform appearance lacking in natural stone [source: AZ Central]. In 2010, Consumer Reports rated quartz the top performer among countertop materials as far as resisting stains, heat and scratches. And a boon for time-pressed people everywhere -- it doesn't need to be sealed annually, like granite does.

While granite is still the number one choice for countertops, quartz is number two and gaining in popularity quickly [source: Captain]. A 2011 Freedonia Group Report on countertop industry trends shows quartz is the industry's fastest-growing market segment, with 13 percent growth compared to 5 percent for granite [source: Enid News & Eagle]. Its surging popularity appears to be based on the fact that quartz has all the advantages of granite, and then some. It's not only very durable -- actually more than twice as strong as granite -- it also isn't porous. So, in addition to not having to seal it against stains, as mentioned above, this also means the surface of quartz won't promote the growth of mold, mildew or bacteria -- an important benefit to some [source: Enid News & Eagle].

Other countertop materials gaining in popularity are marble and glass, but their overall share of the market is quite small. If granite eventually gets toppled as king of the countertops, quartz will likely be its successor.

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