kitchen design with stone countertop
When’s the last time you updated the counters in your kitchen or bathroom? If you find your countertops outdated, run down or just downright lacking taste, then why not upgrade it with granite, marble or engineered quartz? These are some of the top materials used for many of today’s countertops, backsplashes and bathroom vanities. The material you select for your counters should be something that’s appealing, functional and durable.

All About Granite

Granite is one of the most popularly used stones for kitchen counters. It’s highly durable and great to look at. You can find an assortment of color options to choose from, making it easy to match your kitchen décor. This stone has been around since the glory days of ancient Egypt. It’s actually what the pyramids are composed of. If this doesn’t prove its durability, then nothing will! For over a millennia, these granite pyramids have sustained all types of harsh weather. Surely, it can withstand anything you kitchen throws its way.

So what is granite? Simply put, it’s a natural stone that is composed with at least 20 percent quartz, mica and feldspar. The options for colors are virtually endless, with the full spectrum of the rainbow at the disposal of consumers. You can shop around for monochromatic slabs or bold patterns. There are various types of finishes to select from as well, including:

Polished

This is a mirror-like finish that makes your countertops look super clean. This allows for easier maintenance, since it withholds against stains and isn’t as porous.

Honed

This is a matte finish that isn’t usually recommended, since it can stain and scratch rather easily.

Brushed/satin

This is similar to the honed finish, but isn’t as matte. It’s also a higher performing finish.

Flamed/thermal

This finish is created by running a flab over the surface of the slab. It also has a textured appearance that is rough and varies in surface depth.

Leather

This offers a better finish compared to honed or matte finishes. It also has a little bit more texture.

Antique

This comes with a dull, brushed appearance that lacks texture.

What Are the Advantages of Granite?

There are various advantages to installing granite inside of your home. For one, it has super durability, thanks to its heat and scratch resistance. It is able to withstand high heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. You also don’t have to worry too much about water and stains, since it is resistant to these as well (when it’s properly sealed). The amount of options for granite make it even more appealing to consumers.

What Are the Disadvantages of Granite?

The installation of granite counters can be a bit tricky because of its hefty nature. The cost of installing exotic slabs tend to cost more money.

Is Granite Sustainable?

Since granite is known for being durable, it can outlast most products inside of your home. This makes it highly sustainable. The mining of this stone doesn’t cause disruptions in local ecosystems and it doesn’t deplete finite, nonrenewable resources. There are also eco-friendly versions of granite, which derive from salvaged slabs. If eco-friendliness is important to you, consider purchasing from a supplier that’s located within your region. This way, you know the granite is being mined locally and the transportation-related energy costs are reduced.

How Hard is Granite to Maintain?

Granite is quite durable, which means that there is little maintenance required on your behalf. All you need to do to care for granite is to use a soft cloth with water water or cleansers designed specifically for granite. It’s also recommended to seal your counters once every one to two years. Make sure the sealer is impregnating and water-based.

Is Granite Healthy?

Those who are eco-friendly will be happy to know that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed granite healthy. It poses little to no health threat, which is great news for anyone worried about radon content inside of granite.

What About Engineered Quartz?

This is another popular countertop material that is frequently used inside of American homes. Engineered quartz is a man-made material that is designed by man. It consists of between 90 and 95 percent ground quartz and the remaining is made up of pignments and resins. Some of the popular brand options to choose from include Caesarstone, Silestone, Zodiaq and Cambria. They offer a variety of color options, from earthy tones to bright oranges and reds.

What’s Good About Engineered Quartz?

One of the up sides to engineered quartz is its beauty. It has the look of natural stone without the common hassles associated with maintaining it. Quartz content is very durable and tough like granite, but the resin in it makes it malleable and impact resistant. It’s also non-porous, which means no worries of scratches and stains.

What Are the Cons of Engineered Quartz?

As with anything in life, there are downsides associated with engineered quartz. Although not many, engineered quartz is known to have some faults. One being that it doesn’t have great resistance to heat. Make sure to place your hot pans and pots on trivets.

Is Engineered Quartz Eco-Friendly?

Those who are looking for green solutions will find quartz to be a great option. It’s been noted that quartz counters are excellent for indoor air quality, since they emit few voltaile organic compounds, or VOCs. They are also nontoxic and nonallergenic. This is why many quartz products have been certified by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute. This is an independent agency that certifies products that claim low chemical emissions.

Granite and quartz are great materials to use for your kitchen countertops and backsplashes. You can find these available at various suppliers and contractors. Just make sure to request samples before committing to a purchase and installation. If you’re worried about petroleum-based resins, then quartz isn’t for you. Cambria is the only brand that mines and manufactures quartz inside of the U.S., which is great for keeping energy costs low, and reducing your carbon footprint.