When it comes to counter-tops for kitchens and baths, natural stone reigns supreme. While granite tends to be the most popular, there are other options such as marble, soapstone and quartz. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each one to help you choose the right counter-top, so let’s compare.
Granite is the earth’s artwork. There are various locations around the world where granite is mined and you’ll find a wide variety of patterns and colors; sometimes from the same cut. However, there are things to consider. Granite is porous and needs to be sealed on a regular basis. Be sure to wipe up any spills or food immediately to prevent bacterial growth. Acidic liquids, such as wine and juice will leave a stain. Because of natural fissures in the stone, it may also crack or chip. Always use trivets when placing hot pans or pots on your counter and a cutting board for any food preparation.
Carrara marble is one of the least expensive natural countertop materials because of its availability. Other varieties, such as Emperador, Crema Marfil and Calacatta are also popular but pricier. Marble is softer and more porous than granite and can potentially harbor hard-to-reach bacteria and germs, so it must be sealed professionally. Marble is popular in bathrooms and it looks gorgeous. Just keep in mind this is a higher maintenance product. Like granite, marble can stain, scratch, chip or crack. If you have a marble counter-top in your kitchen and love to cook, you will need to re-seal your countertop every 6 months.
Soapstone is a beautiful natural stone that comes in a variety of grey tones with veining. This product is non-porous so it won’t stain and is not affected by acidic liquids and hot surfaces. There are several finish options: natural, aged and oiled. Natural finish soapstone is light grey which will darken from spills but can be cleaned with any household cleaner. To achieve an Aged finish, apply mineral oil once or twice only. This process will create a charcoal look. An Oil finish will give the stone a deep rich color and bring out the natural veining. To achieve this look, you will need to apply coats of mineral oil periodically until it develops a permanent patina.
Quartz is a composition of crushed quartz stone, resin and pigment and it is sometimes referred to as engineered stone. Considered a solid surface, it is a non-porous material and will not stain or harbor bacteria. It is very easy to clean and maintain; no sealing needed. Quartz is resistant to heat and scratching, however we recommended you use a cutting board and trivet when preparing and serving meals. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a low maintenance, high performance surface with the look of granite or marble.
Installing a solid surface or natural stone product isn’t for the weekend do-it-yourself-er. Selecting your stone from a reputable dealer and/or fabricator is very important. Once the stone is cut to exact measurement, a professional should be hired to install and seal the product. Depending on which material you choose and the size of the project, it can be quite an investment. Properly cared for, stone counter-tops will look beautiful for years and years. To get started with your project, call us at Schmidt Custom Floors at 970-663-7402 or come visit our showroom at 1264 S. Grant Avenue in Loveland.