Countertop Materials-How to Choose What Material is Right for Your Home
Marble, Quartz, Quartzite, Granite… What’s best for your home and lifestyle?
This guide is here to help you decide which countertop material is best for your home and your lifestyle. While all the previously mentioned options are stone, they all behave differently and have different characteristics both visual and in how they are maintained.
Quartz countertops have become increasing popular in recent years. They are stunning! Quartz is a manufactured stone made of mostly natural quartz rock and resins. Since quartz is man made the manufacturers have the ability to control the patterns, colors, consistency, and durability of the stone. To someone who loves consistency this is a huge benefit. However, others may find it boring or plain compared to the natural inconsistent patterns in a natural stone.
While I do see a lot of white quartz, quartz comes in many different patterns and colors. Leaders in the quartz manufacturing industry include companies lime Cambria, Siltstone, Wilsonart, and more. These companies all have their own selections of materials and range from wild sparkling patterns to matte white and black.
One reason quartz is one of the leading materials being used in kitchen and bath design today is that is it non porous, antibacterial, and stain resistant. This means that you can have those beautiful white marble looking countertops without worrying about stains or etching. There are also many quartz options out there that have truly beautiful and natural looking patterns if you aren’t looking for white.
One great thing about quartz, its extremely durable and stain resistant. This makes it great for home owners who want a sparkling clean kitchen and have little ones running around spilling colorful drinks and smashing playdough like its their day job.
The only real downside to quartz is that because it is manmade it does have resins in its composition. Because of this, it is not heat resistant. This does mean a warm plate or a coffee mug will damage your quartz. You just want to be careful not to place items out of or off of the oven directly onto your countertops.
Damaging your quartz (although its very difficult to do) is one of the only downsides of the stone. Since it is manmade, if you damage it and the stone that you selected has been discontinued, you may not be able to replace it. Also, damages to quartz usually cannot be repaired and require replacement.
With that being said however, do not be discouraged from selecting quartz for your new kitchen countertops. Overall is is an amazing durable product. It’s also one of the only stones that you can achieve the marble look with without the delicate nature of a true white marble.
Ah, yes the king of countertops. I remember thinking thinking as a child that having granite countertops must mean you are rich! Which isn’t really a feeling that that is unjustifiable and this was before many people had it in their homes. Granite has depth and a certain feeling of gravitas to it. It grounds you in a space and feels natural and earthy.
There are some considerable differences between quartz and granite. Granite is typically busier than quartz aesthetically and can be much darker compared to the popular white quartz we see today. The reason for this is because granite is natural, of course, which means that their can be different stones and minerals mixed throughout the slabs. These are considered by some people to be “defects” but I promise you your stone fabricator will not think so. Many stone fabricators will have clauses in their contracts stating the different color variations are natural and should be expected throughout the stone.
Because granite is a natural stone, it is porous. This means that if you do not protect your stone by sealing it with a silicone based sealer you are leaving those pores open for contaminates and stains to seep in. Darker granites (almost black) can be denser and less porous than lighter colored granites. Because of this they require sealing less frequently, usually recommended once a year compared to 1-2 times a year with a lighter granite. Stains in granite can occasionally be drawn out, but often they are permenant.
True marble countertops are absolutely stunning. Something about the ivory color of a really white natural marble is rich and lux feeling. Not surprisingly though, this beautiful stone is the most high maintenance of all the stones we are talking about today. (Is this just an unspoken rule in life?)
Natural marble is even more porous than granite. This means sealing it is a must should be done frequently to protect the stone from etching, staining, and even patina occurring over time.
I would not recommend a marble in the kitchen but you can get away with it in a bathroom since you aren’t typically using highly acidic substances in this area.
Key take away- marble is gorgeous but very soft. Do not choose a marble if you are not a maintenance person. I would however recommend it in a bakers station or if you are going for a vintage farmhouse look where you are okay with chipping and the potential patina in the stone.
Okay, this one usually confuses people. “Hard Marble” countertops are a blend of marble, natural quartz rock, and other materials. This is why they are considered to be “hard”. They are lighter and appear softer than a granite, but are much more durable than a true white marble.
These stones are very popular, they come in many different color options, but, Fantasy Brown and River Blue are some of the most popular types. They are easier to maintain than true marble, only needing to be sealed usually 1 to 2 times a year. However, they are not as dense as a granite or a quartz. As long as you clean spills up promptly you shouldn’t have issues with staining.
I hope this guide helps with you decision on your countertop material. Ultimately, staining occurs when you leave substances on a porous surface, so clean your spills and keep a sealer on your natural stone sealed and you will fine.
Thank you for reading, my name is Raina Terry, I am an Interior Designer specializing in Kitchen and Bath design in New Hampshire. Are you a local resident looking for assistance on your kitchen, bath, or other interior project? Please reach out to me today to find out how to get started on a custom design for your project!