You know you want stone countertops, but how do you choose which is best for you? Trevor Nace, a geologist and adventurer, answered this question in a recent Forbes article.

In many ways a natural stone countertop can fuel interest in geology. What makes up the different colors of granite? What makes granite dark vs. light? What causes cracks within the stone?

Is quartz more durable than granite? Is granite a natural stone that is actually composed of quartz? Then, what exactly is a quartz countertop?

Granite is an igneous rock made up of primarily quartz, feldspar, micas, amphiboles and a mixture of additional trace minerals. These minerals and their variation in abundance and alteration give granite the numerous colors and textures we see in granite countertops.

Quartz countertops are actually manmade, and although they consist of 90 percent quartz, the rest of the countertop is composed of resins, polymers and various types of pigments. This creates a very durable artificial rock without pores or cracks.

Which one should you choose?

The debate breaks down into a few questions. There are really two variables that you should take into account.

One variable is whether you prefer a manmade stone or a natural stone. You might find much more variety and beauty in granite, and there is certainly an excitement involved in picking out stone with small imperfections, movement and color variations.

Each slab of granite is unique, and it will never disappoint when upgrading your kitchen countertop.

The other variable is ease of use in a number of different factors. Quartz countertops are sealed and therefore not porous. They are primarily made of quartz, which means they are more durable than granite.

You’ll find that quartz countertops are easier to clean, maintain and forget about. If your primary concern is having a countertop that you can ignore but use heavily, quartz composite is the way to go.

From a geologist’s perspective, you can’t go wrong with either choice. Most of all, make sure you have fun picking out your very own slab, and make it something that has meaning to you and your family.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.