Your investment may be considerable at first, but stone countertops will last for many years with reasonable maintenance, so it works out to your advantage as a homeowner. If you plan to sell your home in the future, the presence of these stone countertops is a big selling point.
Stone options for kitchen counters
However, you do have to be careful when choosing the right stone for your kitchen for these very reasons. If you choose the wrong one, it could mean more expense down the road to replace them. If you choose the right one, you will have a lot of satisfaction for many years.
With so many stone countertop options available to homeowners nowadays, the decision is not going to be an easy one. Each of the most popular types have their pros and cons, so you need to know a bit more about them to make an informed choice.
Why choose granite
Most homeowners that prefer natural stone choose granite for their kitchens, mainly because it is more readily available in a wider variety than marble. Each slab is unique, too, so even if it is the most abundant natural stone in the world, you can be sure your countertops will be different from everyone else’s.
Granite is an igneous rock, which really only means it was formed from cooling magma. What distinguishes granite from other natural stones is its composition. Composed mainly of quartz and feldspar, it is an extremely durable light-colored stone with darker veins and crystals. You almost immediately know granite when you see it, although if you see dark granite, in technical terms, they may actually be gabbro or basalt. There is no real difference in terms of performance, however, so they may as well be granite.
Because it is so beautiful and durable, granite has been popular as a decorative and structural stone for centuries, all the way back to the times of the ancient builders and sculptors. Back then, it was used for anything they wanted to last, such as monuments and statues. Today, it is still a popular choice for wall cladding, floors, memorials, and of course, kitchen countertops. In terms of cost, granite slabs typically go from $50 per square foot, although it is possible to install kitchen counters for a small kitchen for as little as $1,800 including sink and installation from Badger Granite.
Durability is the ace in the hole for granite, and this is due mostly to its quartz, and to a lesser degree to the way it was formed over millenia under extreme heat and pressure. It is heat proof and scratch-resistant, which makes it particularly ideal for kitchen countertops. You can even use a knife directly on granite without scratching it! It might dull your knife edge, however.
More importantly for most homeowners than durability, though, is the way it looks. Granite looks fantastic anywhere you put it, and fits in with any kitchen design, from traditional to contemporary. With its distinct veins and crystals, it dominates the kitchen in the best possible way, increasing the wow factor to a high degree. You can be sure that anyone that walks into the kitchen will notice it right away.
A small problem with some granite slabs is porosity. Most natural stones are porous, although some granite slabs are so dense that they may as well not be porous. However, for those that are, staining could be a problem. Fortunately, there is an easy solution: impregnating sealer. We always seal all the granite countertops after installation, just to be on the safe side. Under reasonable use and maintenance, you may not have to reseal for years, if at all.
Why choose marble
Marble is another beautiful natural stone that woos the heart of many stone owners, especially if the kitchen is all-white. Dimension marble is most commonly found in shades of white, and unlike granite, its veining is normally light colored as well.
Marble is a metamorphic rock, which means it was once another type of rock (limestone or dolomite), which broke down and reformed, making marble. It is a relatively soft rock with a distinctive patina that seems to glow, which is why it is the favorite material of sculptors in ancient times as well as now. As a kitchen countertop, it beats any other material hands down when it comes to elegance.
Marble is not as abundant as granite, so it tends to be more expensive. On average, you can expect to pay from $85 per square foot, depending on the rarity of the marble you choose, and with installation and other costs, the price tag can soar from $230 per square foot.
The beauty of marble is its best asset. Any room that features marble is instantly elevated to classy, and it even fares well outdoors because it weathers nicely. Marble only get better with age in any situation. In the kitchen, it is ideal for use in pastry making as it is typically a few degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.
Because it is a relatively soft stone and quite porous, marble is prone to scratches and stains, which can be a problem with heavy kitchen use. The typical solution is to seal marble, but you can expect to reseal it quite often.
You also need to be careful with what you put on top of it. Metals, sharp implements, and even glass and ceramic can scratch the surface. If you do choose marble for your kitchen countertops, make sure you get a honed finish, which does not show scratches as much, and have a good supply of trivets and hot pads.
Why choose engineered quartz
Engineered quartz is also a popular choice for many homeowners, but it is not actually a natural stone. Typically containing quartz minerals, it is made using a patented process that uses polymer resins and pigments to bind the raw materials into a stone slab. In appearance, it can simulate the look of granite, marble, or any natural stone.
Engineered quartz is manufactured under several well-known brands such as Radianz, and each brand produces a wide variety of patterns and colors from which to choose. It tends to be more expensive than natural stone, starting from $100 per square foot, costing from $300 including installation.
Engineered quartz is extremely durable, but its biggest advantage is non-porosity. It does not scratch, stain, or etch and does not need sealing at all, so it is virtually maintenance free. It is also heat-resistant, so it can withstand heavy use.
Because it is a manufactured stone, it is readily available in many colors and designs that will make it easy to find the perfect stone for your kitchen. It is the favorite for many homeowners and interior designers for this reason, especially for modern kitchens. It is also customizable, which is a big plus.
Engineered quartz is expensive, and it tends to be much heavier than natural stone, which means it requires more work during installation. Each slab of the same model will look exactly the same, so you lose much of the unique factor you get from natural stone.
Dark engineered quartz also tends to fade under sonstant exposure to direct sunlight, so it is not ideal for outdoor use or for areas in the kitchen that receives direct sunlight. If you choose engineered quartz for these situations, you should choose light colored ones.
Things to consider (price, maintenance, appearance, longevity, use)
In summary, granite, marble, and engineered quartz are all good countertop materials, but there are clear winners for different considerations. The stone you choose will depend on your priorities. Here is a run down from best to worst.
- Price – Granite, marble, engineered quartz
- Maintenance – Engineered quartz, granite, marble
- Appearance – Marble, granite, engineered quartz
- Longevity – Granite, marble, engineered quartz
- Use – Granite, engineered quartz, marble
Countertop edge types
The edge profile you choose can also have a distinct effect on the form and function of your countertops. There are many different types of edge profiles, but the most common are the square, mitered, eased, bullnose, bevel, and ogee. We can walk you through each one and recommend the best one for your particular kitchen.