Selecting the right kitchen countertop for your home is one of the most exciting tasks of building or remodeling your kitchen with many options available for natural countertops. Here are some starting points to defining and comparing the natural materials most commonly used in modern kitchen design regarding countertops.
Marble is composed primarily of calcium carbonate from shell deposits in sea beds. Marble will etch when it comes into contact with acidic liquids. It can also be scratched with a knife and affected by high heat. Marble has a beauty that can add unique elegance to a kitchen or bathroom space. Although slightly harder to maintain than some of the other natural stones, marble can also be less expensive. Some homeowners who love the look of marble but don’t want the added care required for their kitchen countertops choose to use it in lower traffic areas such as backsplashes or decorative accents.
Granite, the most popular choice for kitchen countertops due to its strength, durability and wide design appeal, is an igneous rock consisting mainly of quartz, mica, and feldspar. True granite has a consistent grain structure with deposits of dark and light colors, which become more brilliant and pronounced when a finish is applied. Granite is available in a variety of finishes; the most popular are polished (glass-like finish), honed (matte) or brushed (textured). Granite requires surface sealing every few years in order to preserve the finish.
It used to be that soapstone was only used in laboratories, but recently this natural stone has found its way into modern kitchens as countertops. Because of its density and mineral composition, soapstone is both highly resistant to acidic liquids and high heat, which makes it ideal for kitchen prep. Between light scratching and darkening soapstone will acquire a “patina” finish faster than all other stones. Soapstone can be treated traditionally with mineral oil or a soapstone wax consisting of carnauba wax and walnut oil.
Quartz, or Engineered Stone countertops, are made of 93% crushed quartz bound together by 7% polymer resin. Different types of resins are used by different manufacturers. Epoxy and polyester resin are the most common types. Quartz is characterized by a wide variety of colors and aggregates and though it is somewhat vulnerable to high heat, it is structurally stronger than most granite and almost entirely stain proof.
Slate is a low-grade metamorphic rock, it’s softer than granite and harder than marble. It comes in a variety of colors. Slate can take the heat and its non-porous surface is anti-bacterial. Over the last few years slate has been introduced into kitchen countertop surfaces and works quite well. Its handsome appearance can work well with many kitchen designs.
There are a few other natural materials that can be considered that are not mentioned here. Please visit Morningstarmarble.com or your local stone center for more information.