A stone countertop is a beautiful addition to your kitchen décor. It is harder wearing than wood or formica and less delicate than stainless steel. Granite and marble have specific qualities that must be considered before selecting either for your kitchen countertop. While quartz is not 100 percent stone, it does have the qualities of stone and therefore can be grouped with the stone countertops.
Granite offers the most choices in color and design, from solid black to a glittering yellow or a deep-veined red. Granite is the hardest stone used for countertops. Select a slab in the slab yard and mark it as your own, as no two are alike. In the past, kitchen designers would build a bullnose edge by sandwiching two pieces of granite together to form a lip and shaping the custom design. Today's designers are foregoing the edging and opting for a simple square or lightly rounded carved edge cut from the original slab. It creates a more streamlined look. Granite can be porous if not sealed correctly and sealing should be done yearly. Hot pots can be placed directly on top of the granite without scarring.
Marble is a more delicate stone than granite. When initially installed and sealed it will have a shiny appearance. After time and use, the shine is replaced by a soft patina. Marble is also less showy than granite, with veining creating a larger pattern than the intricate configurations found in granite. Marble is porous, it scratches, and must be maintained after every use by wiping with a damp cloth.
Harder than granite, non-porous and scratch resistant, quartz is making inroads in kitchen countertop design. Slabs of quartz are unusual. Instead, manufacturers are mixing ground quartz with resin to create the hardy quartz countertop. Quartz does not require sealing. Hot pans can be placed directly on quartz. It is non-porous and bacteria-free.
Making a Decision
Deciding between granite, marble or quartz depends on the look you are trying to achieve and how the countertop is being used. For busy families marble may be too high maintenance. Drink spills, food stains and high usage without wiping up after can cause deterioration of the appearance of marble. Granite is hard, resists stains but is not completely stain-free, and requires a minimum of sealing once a year. Quartz is a good choice for active families because of its stain-free quality.
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