One of the hottest trends in home design is stone kitchen countertops. These luxurious, durable and heat resistant countertops are a beautiful and practical addition to any home. But with all the different types of natural and artificial stone out there, selecting the right one for your home can seem overwhelming. It may take a little time to research, but each of these countertop materials has benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to evaluate which one is right for your needs.
Granite is a common type of igneous (volcanic) rock that forms beautiful crystalline textures. A type of hard rock, granite is well suited for use as a countertop in kitchens and bathrooms because it is resistant to heat and scratches. Granite is formed by heat and pressure over hundreds of years, so no two pieces of this natural stone are exactly alike. This unique feature is particularly attractive to homeowners who want a truly unique space. Granite countertops are available in a wide range of natural colors and patterns, from neutrals to striking blues and greens. Natural stone countertops like granite generally increase the value of your home more than engineered stones like quartz, as buyers tend to lean towards natural materials.
However, despite its prestigious reputation, granite countertops have several disadvantages. First of all, granite is a relatively porous stone, which means that it must be chemically sealed to resist staining. The sealing process is simple, but must be repeated occasionally; some people view this need for routine maintenance as negative. Second, granite tends to be an expensive material. While granite tiles can be used in place of granite slabs to lower the price of countertop, not everyone can afford a granite countertop.
Many homeowners are drawn to the luxurious appearance of marble countertops. The distinctive appearance of marble can dramatically increase the value of your home, as it is generally considered a prestigious and sophisticated material. Additionally, marble countertops are the preferred surface for serious bakers, as cold stone is ideal for pie, pastry, and other baked goods. Marble countertops are also available in a wide range of colors, from delicate blushes to vibrant blacks, each uniquely shaped by nature.
Marble has a few distinct drawbacks as a countertop material. For starters, marble is a much softer stone than granite, so it has a greater tendency to scratch and spoil than granite countertops. Furthermore, polished marble is vulnerable to etching when acidic liquids are invariably spilled on it. These stains and marks can destroy your countertop finish; You can avoid this problem by choosing a polished finish over a polished finish, but most homeowners prefer the look of polished marble. Finally, marble is a porous and absorbent stone, which means it tends to stain. While some homeowners like the patina their marble countertops develop over the years, many find it inconvenient.
You are probably familiar with soapstone from your high school chemistry lab; those black tables were made of soapstone. Today soapstone is becoming popular on kitchen countertops due to its extreme stain resistance. It is also heat resistant and does not etch.
One downside to soapstone countertops is that they are only available in a limited number of dark colors. Soapstone is generally grayish in nature, although it is generally oiled to a black finish for commercial and residential use. Soapstone counters are also vulnerable to scratches. However, soapstone countertops can be sanded to remove nicks and marks, so this susceptibility to scratching is not always considered a major deficiency.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock with qualities similar to marble. Available in a wide range of neutral and white colors, limestone countertops have a smooth appearance, unlike granite. Formed from the sand and shells of aquatic life, limestone often includes small fossils and shells; Some homeowners particularly value this unique aspect of limestone countertops.
However, like marble, limestone is a soft rock: it tends to stain and scratch easily and is susceptible to attack. Your limestone countertop can be sealed to help prevent staining and etching, but limestone is not recommended for heavy-use areas like kitchens.
Quartz countertops are constructed of an engineered stone made of 93% quartz, pigment, and resin. This stone countertop material has many of the same qualities as granite, but without the maintenance issues. Quartz countertops are heat and scratch resistant and will not stain. And, unlike granite, quartz never needs to be sealed. As a man-made material, quartz countertops are uniform in color and pattern. Some homeowners prefer this uniform look to the unique aspects of natural stone. It also means that if a segment of your quartz countertop is damaged, an identical replacement section can be obtained from the manufacturer without worrying about a match.
While quartz countertops may appear to be inherently superior, they do have a number of drawbacks. The main problem is that despite a similar cost, engineered quartz countertops do not add to the value of your home as much as granite countertops do. Home buyers prefer natural material over man-made countertops, so you’ll want to keep this in mind if you’re remodeling your kitchen as an investment. Also, although quartz countertops are designed to mimic the natural look of granite, some people believe that quartz lacks the depth and beauty of granite. To be sure which look you prefer, be sure to see samples of natural and engineered stone. Finally, with quartz, your color and pattern options are more limited than with natural stone. There are a host of colors available, but especially if you’re trying to exactly match your existing color scheme, you may prefer the limitless rainbow of natural stone.
Corian is another type of engineered stone similar to quartz. This type of solid surface stone countertop offers most of the advantages of granite and quartz, as well as several unique benefits. Like granite and quartz countertops, Corian countertops are resistant to heat, stains, and scratches. In addition, it is not porous, so it will never be necessary to seal it. Plus, Corian has the added benefit of being certified kosher. Unlike granite, Corian countertops can also be fully integrated with Corian backsplashes and sinks to create a visually perfect surface.
However, Corian also has disadvantages. It is heat resistant, but only to 212ºF. Higher temperatures will damage your countertop, so you will almost always need to protect your Corian countertop from hot objects. Also, as with quartz, some people prefer the natural look of granite to the uniform and consistent look of Corian. Corian countertops are also only available in limited colors and patterns, which some people don’t like.
With these advantages and disadvantages in mind, you are now armed with the information you need to choose the perfect kitchen countertop material for your home. Visit your local stone countertop installer or showroom to view samples and learn more about how to make your dream of beautiful stone countertops come true.