Kitchen countertops are the most used and abused work surface in the home. For that reason, choosing the right one is a big decision, especially if you are eyeing dimension stone for it. Natural or quartz stone is beautiful in any setting, but they last for years and the investment can be considerable even for a small kitchen, If you choose the wrong one for your needs, you’re stuck with it unless you replace them at more cost.
The problem is, there are so many types of dimension stone to choose from, and many designs and colors for each one. They are all look so nice that it certainly doesn’t make the choice any easier! You should find out more about each one so that you can make an informed decision. Below are the three best stones for kitchen countertops, with their pros and cons.
Stone options for kitchen counters
Why choose granite
Granite is definitely on the top of the list for many homeowners as well as designers, especially for kitchen countertops. If you want an easy choice, granite is certainly a good one to go with because even though it is very popular, yours will always be unique. No two slabs of granite are exactly the same. In fact, two slabs that came from the same block can look completely different from each other because the specific composition can change radically in different parts of the block.
Aside from being unique, granite is extremely durable. It is an igneous rock, which means was formed over many, many years from slowly cooling magma under immense pressure so it can take whatever you throw at it. Its distinctive crystalline patterns are also a result of this slow cooling, so in most cases you can easily identify the individual minerals that went into the stone. Its good looks and durability are the main reasons builders and artists use it for their best work.
However, you might be surprised to know that some granite slabs you like may not even be granite at all. Granite is typically light-colored and made of feldspar, mica, and quartz. If you choose a dark granite, that might actually be basalt or gabbro, which have different colored minerals in the mix that gives it its dark color. It doesn’t really matter, though, because these are still igneous and have the same properties of granite.
In terms of cost, granite is relatively affordable for a dimension stone. You can expect to pay about $50 per square foot for the granite itself, but factoring in the higher cost of exotic granite, fabrication and installation, your cost could go as high as $200 per square foot from most suppliers.
The great thing about granite is it is extremely durable because of the quartz it contains. Quartz is an extremely hard colorless mineral and granite is made of about 40% quartz.
Granite also looks fantastic. Quartz has no color, but granite also has other minerals, primarily feldspar, which is a light-colored rock material classified as aluminosilicates made of sodium, potassium, and calcium. It also contains mica, a soft and flexible silicate, also light in color. These materials help form the crystals and veins in granite.
In addition, granite is heat- and scratch-resistant, always a plus when using it in the kitchen.
Granite is a natural stone, and like most natural stones a certain level of porosity. Some granites or granite-like stones are dense enough to be non-porous, but the most common types of granite are porous. This means water and other liquids can seep in, staining the stone, and perhaps harboring bacterial, mold, and mildew growth. In most cases, you can manage this porosity by sealing the stone after installation, and re-sealing it when necessary.
Some granites also have a tendency to effloresce. This means that salts that may be in the stone rises to the surface over time, leaving a whitish residue. It usually stops after a few months, so a regular wipe down should keep your countertops looking pristine.
Why choose quartz
Quartz countertops are also popular because they simulate the look and feel of natural stone, but they are synthetic, which is why they are also called engineered quartz, They look very nice, and the fact that they are generally available on demand makes it a great choice for many homeowners. Engineered quartz stones contain a minimu of 90% quart crystals, with the remaining portion a combination of binding resins and pigments to impart color and patterns. The best brands are HanStone, Stone Design, and MSI.
Engineered quartz stones are even more durable than granite, because it contains more quartz. The resin brought into the mix keeps it from becoming brittle, so it is the perfect material for heavy kitchen use. It is the favorite choice of many interior designers because it is almost impossible not to find perfectly colored and matching stones for any kitchen design. Natural stone such as granite, on the other hand, is typically on an as-is-where-is basis. You have to design around natural stone rather than the other way around.
However, perhaps the best thing about engineered quartz for use in kitchen countertops is the fact that it is non-porous. You don’t have to worry about staining or harboring bacteria on the surface because liquids can’t get into it. You don’t have to seal engineered quartz at all. This makes engineered quartz much less troublesome for the homeowner.
However, because engineered quartz has about double the quartz content than granite, it is also significantly heavier, so it can be more difficult to install properly. It also tends to be more expensive overall per square foot than natural stones. Additionally, because it is a synthetic stone, it lacks the unique quality inherent in natural stones such as granite and marble.
Dark quartz stones tend to fade when constantly exposed to direct sunlight. You should avoid placing dark quartz stone in your outdoor kitchen or where the sun comes into the indoor kitchen. If you still want quartz stone for these areas, choose a light colored one.
Why choose marble
Another designer favorite for kitchen countertops is marble, primarily because it looks very elegant. It doesn’t really matter where you put it, it will always command attention because of its distinctive patina that only gets better as time goes on.
Unlike granite, marble wasn’t always marble. It was once limestone, but which pressure and time had broken down and reformed to make marble. This is why it is called a metamorphic rock.
Marble is most commonly white, although you can probably find some colored ones as well. The funny thing is, pure white and colored marble are quite rare, so they tend to be more expensive than the yellowish white marble with which most people are familiar.
The best thing about marble is its elegant beauty. It imparts a certain look to any room it is used, and that is often enough to make it a favorite, especially for an all-white kitchen design. The mellow patina of marble gives an otherwise monochromatic and sterile look a hint of warmth. In addition, marble tends to be significantly cooler than its ambient surroundings, so it is a great stone for making pastries.
The worst thing about marble is its softness. While it is still hard (as rocks go), it is easy to scratch, so it is not the ideal stone for regular kitchen use. It also happens to be much more porous than granite, so it also stains easily. If you are determined to have marble kitchen countertops, you should get it in a honed finish, which will hide minor scratches. Avoid abrasive cleaners as marble etches easily as well. You should also have it sealed well, and re-seal when necessary. If you can do these things, it will help keep your marble countertops looking pristine.
Things to consider
If you are to make a checklist, the things you have to consider when choosing a kitchen countertop are (price, maintenance, appearance, longevity, and use. Price-wise, engineered quartz tends to be more expensive than either granite or marble. In terms of maintenance, quartz stone is maintenance-free, followed closely by granite. For appearance, marble and granite vie for the top honors, while in terms of longevity, all three types of stones can last for decades with proper maintenance. If you need a countertop that can stand a lot of use and abuse, quartz stone and granite are your best bets.