Natural Stone Countertops

Stone Countertops made of natural stone are beautiful and long-lasting. They resist damage from hot pans, cutting knives, and coffee and wine spills. Many can be restored by experts.

Stone Countertops

They are usually more expensive than laminate. Quarrying, shipping, and fabricating stone is labor-intensive. Workers can get silicosis, an irreversible lung disease caused by breathing silica dust.

Quartzite is a natural stone that can have the appearance of marble. Its advantages when used as a countertop include being harder than granite, more durable and less porous. However, it also requires a yearly application of a sealant to help prevent water and oil from absorbing into the pores of the stone. This is an important factor for people who wish to keep their countertops in good condition for a long time.

One of the advantages of quartzite is that it is not prone to etching, which some other natural stones such as travertine and limestone can do. Household acids, such as lemon juice and vinegar, will not etch this type of stone. However, if you drop hot pans or other objects onto your counter, the temperature change could shock the stone and cause it to melt and stain. This is why it is important to protect your quartzite counters by placing mats and trivets under cooking utensils.

The color options for quartzite are limited, but can be very striking. You can find quartzite in white, gray and some shades of blue, green and orange. These colors are a result of impurities from other minerals that formed during the formation of the stone. In comparison, engineered quartz can be produced in a variety of colors with pigment added.

A proper care and maintenance routine is the best way to preserve the day one appearance of any countertop surface material. While some natural stone surfaces will fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight, quartzite can be protected from the sun’s rays by installing window treatments that block its UV light. Additionally, it is a good idea to periodically use a pH neutral stone cleaner to replenish the protective seal that was applied right after installation.

Granite

Granite is a durable igneous rock with different colors and patterns formed by minerals like quartz, mica, and feldspar. It is popular as a countertop material because it stands up well to heat and resists scratches and stains. Granite counters can be honed or polished, but it’s best to have them professionally installed as the slabs are often too heavy for homeowners to handle on their own.

Granite countertops create a distinctive look that adds value to your home. However, granite can be prone to chips and cracks, so it’s important to choose a fabricator who has experience working with the material. Granite is also a porous material that can absorb liquids, especially acids, so it requires regular sealing.

Marble is another natural stone that’s highly sought after for countertops. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, and it can be honed or polished. This material is often more expensive than granite, but it’s a high-end option that adds beauty to your kitchen. Marble countertops require more maintenance than granite because they’re prone to scratches, stains, and mold growth.

Soapstone is another natural material that’s popular for its country chic style. It has a creamy color and smooth surface that can be honed or polished. Like granite, soapstone is heat-resistant and resists stains. But it is softer than granite and marble, so it can scratch or chip easily.

Man-made stones don’t go as far back as natural stone, but they are making a name for themselves in the countertop industry. Solid-surface material, such as quartz, is becoming increasingly popular because it’s affordable and easy to maintain. It’s available in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles, including duplicates of granite and marble. It’s resistant to stains and is impervious to heat, but it can be damaged by abrasives and must be sealed regularly.

Marble

With its pristine good looks, marble is a popular choice among designers for counters and other surfaces that lend an elegant look to living spaces. It has long been a favorite of sculptors and architects, who create a sense of opulence with its unique coloring and texture. It also pairs well with many types of kitchen decorating styles and can help boost resale value.

However, like other natural stones, it has some drawbacks when used as a countertop. Marble is soft and porous, which makes it more vulnerable to stains from acidic substances such as lemons, vinegar, ketchup and tomato sauce. It is best to avoid these foods, or at least protect your countertops with a sealant. Resealing marble counters on a regular basis, usually annually, should prevent most stains from occurring.

Unlike quartz and granite, which are nonporous, marble requires periodic resealing to keep liquids from seeping in and damaging the surface. Marble is also susceptible to scratches and must be sealed more frequently than other materials.

Marble is available in a wide variety of colors, from icy whites and grays to deep blacks and greens. No two slabs of marble are alike, and you can choose from a range of veining patterns to suit your taste.

While a more expensive option than some other countertop materials, a marble counter can add a touch of luxury to your home and may increase its resale value. Additionally, it is a durable material that can last for decades if properly cared for.

Travertine

As a natural stone, travertine adds elegance to a room. It’s also versatile and available in a variety of colors, styles, and textures. Its warm hues and texture are a nice compliment to any design style, from traditional to contemporary.

A softer alternative to marble, travertine is sedimentary rock that forms from carbon dioxide bubbles in hot springs and other natural pools. Its distinctive look is characterized by a pattern of small holes and indentations on its surface. When used as a countertop, travertine’s holes are typically filled to make it more durable and less prone to scratches or chipping.

Travertine comes in a variety of finishes, including honed and tumbled. The former is smooth and shiny while the latter has a more rugged, aged look. Both options are suitable for countertops, backsplashes, and flooring.

Like other natural stones, travertine requires regular care to keep it looking its best. This includes sweeping and mopping weekly with a barely wet microfiber or cloth, using a cleaner that’s safe for stone. Because of its porous nature, travertine is susceptible to staining. Spills containing acids—like citrus juice, ketchup, vinegar, or cleaning products—should be wiped up as soon as possible to avoid damage and discoloration.

While travertine is more durable than most other types of natural stone, it’s not as tough as granite or marble. As such, it’s not ideal for high-traffic areas. Travertine is also more sensitive to water, so it’s important to use a protective sealer on your travertine countertops.

Slate

When it comes to kitchen countertops, natural stones like granite and marble are usually the first materials that come to mind. However, another unique and durable option is slate. This metamorphic rock is a nonporous material that resists heat, stains, and acid damage. It also holds up well to moisture. It can be used in a variety of styles and colors for a distinctive look in your kitchen.

Slate is an extremely versatile stone that can work in many different design styles. It looks great in contemporary kitchens, but can also complement a rustic, farmhouse, or traditional style. Its understated level of detail means it’s easy to match with other finishes and materials. This is particularly true if you choose a textured texture such as cleft, cascade or honed.

Because it’s an exotic stone, slate can cost more than domestically harvested options. This makes it a more expensive choice for some homeowners, but it’s worth it for its durability and beauty. It can be installed in both a textured or smooth finish and is available in a wide range of colors, including grays, blacks, and greens.

To maintain the integrity of your slate countertops, be sure to use a pH-neutral stone cleaner that’s safe for all natural stones. Avoid cleaners that contain acid, waxes or abrasives. You should also avoid using metal cookware or sharp tools on your slate countertops, as this can scratch and dull the surface. It’s always best to hire a professional for installation and maintenance of your slate countertops so that you can be confident the job is done correctly and safely. Find a pro near you here.

Gregory Hernandez