Although more expensive than laminate or wood, granite makes up for its higher price in the eyes of many homeowners with its strength and luxurious finish. Engineered stone, a manufactured alternative to natural granite, is similar in price to natural stone, but it offers advantages that lead some homeowners to choose it over the more traditional alternative.
Natural granite countertops are manufactured from stone quarried from the earth and cut into slabs of the appropriate size. Much of the granite used for countertops today comes from Brazil and India, although cheaper grades of stone from China are also available. Granite countertops can be made from stone with a wide range of colors and patterns of striations, and it can be cut and milled to custom shapes and profiles.
Engineered stone is a man-made material made up of natural mineral materials mixed with resin and binders to form a solid, stone-like surface. The natural components of engineered stone are usually quartz or silica, but ground granite or other stone is sometimes used as well. The resins bind the natural components into a solid material that can be cut and polished so that it resembles natural stone.
Advantages of Natural Stone
Compared to materials such as laminates and wood, granite countertops are resistant to heat and scratches. As you would expect, granite has the durability of stone, and its polished surface will hold up to years of wear. It is not as porous as laminate or wood countertops, so it is relatively resistant to staining and the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. Because of its natural appearance as compared to man-made materials, it is often preferred over engineered stone for high-end applications.
Advantages of Engineered Stone
Engineered stone is less porous than natural granite, so it is more resistant to staining and bacterial growth; granite must be re-sealed every several years to maintain its stain resistance. Engineered stone has consistent coloring throughout its cross section, making scratches less visible than scratches in a natural stone finish. If there is a need to replace or add to an existing countertop, it is easier to match the color of engineered stone than that of natural stone.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images