Kitchen Countertops. The Pros and Cons of Natural and Man-made Stones
When redesigning a kitchen, one of the biggest decisions you will make is to decide what stone you will use for your countertops. The decision is not an easy one since each type of stone comes with its pros and cons, and there are several variables you need to account for as well.
The first decision is whether you want a natural or manufactured stone.
People usually think that natural stones are far more expensive. However, natural stones can be very affordable. Natural stones are also very resilient and last far longer than synthetic ones. Natural stones are also highly sought after when people buy a home, so your natural stone countertops offer a great return on the investment. Natural stones are also environmentally friendly since they are natural. Man-made stones can have a significant environmental impact due to the materials required and how synthetic stones are processed.
Manufactured stones also have their advantages. Since the patterns are designed into the stone, you know what your stone will look like based on the slab you see in the showroom. Natural stones are, by definition, natural, so you have no control over the pattern on the stone. The slab used to make your countertop may look significantly different from the slab you saw in the showroom. You must ensure you can inspect the stone that will be used for your project before they start to cut it.
If your countertop breaks or you expand your kitchen and want to get another stone that matches what you have, you will have no problem matching the countertops you already have. However, with natural stone, finding a slab that matches what you have can be challenging, even if it is labeled as the same type of stone.
Man-made stones also offer a wider variety of colors and styles, are relatively low maintenance, and are often scratch, heat, and even acid resistant. Natural stones can be more sensitive to heat, easily scratched, and require regular maintenance, such as applying a sealant.
Quartzite – The difference between Quartz and Quartzite is that Quartzite is naturally made mostly of Quartz grains. Quartz is a mixture of Quartz grains and resin. Quartzite is usually white or gray; being a natural stone, you don’t have many color choices. Quartzite is porous and must be sealed to prevent staining. Quartzite is also more expensive than Quartz. On the other hand, it is scratch resistant and unaffected by heat.
Granite – Granite is one of the hardest and strongest stones available. As it is a truly natural stone, the slabs usually have unique features created by mother nature. Even though Granite is natural, it is usually available in many styles and colors. Granite does need to be sealed against staining. Granite is resistant to stains, bacteria, and dirt when properly sealed. The downside of Granite is that it can crack with sudden temperature changes and break if hit with a sudden force. Fortunately, Granite is easily repaired, but finding the exact color can be challenging.
Marble – Marble countertops are some of the most expensive natural countertops. They have a classic look that many people love, and Marble never goes out of style. By its very nature, Marble has a luxurious look and feel and is one option that may even add resale value to your home. While Marble is heat resistant and durable, it is one of the softer stones, so it is susceptible to scratching and can easily stain a spilled liquid, such as coffee, is not cleaned up right away.
Quartz – For many people choosing a countertop, the choices usually boil down to Quartz or Granite, then the choice comes down to whether they want to go with a natural or man-made stone. Quartz is attractive to many buyers since it is available in many colors, textures, and designs. In addition, Quartz is chip, scratch, and stain resistant but not heat resistant. As a result, a hot plate or coffee pot placed directly on a Quartz surface can damage the stone. If you like the randomness or variations that come through in natural stone, then Quartz might not be for you. As a manufactured stone, the textures and tone are very even throughout the stone. If repairs are needed, it is also very easy to find a matching stone.
Corian – Corian is usually the third option after Quartz and Granite. It is a very durable material, is easily repaired, and is easy to maintain. Usually a lower-cost alternative to more expensive stone, Corian can be easily scratched and chipped and, like Quartz, is not heat resistant. Since Corian is manufactured in large sheets or slabs, you should be able to cover a large space without the need for piecing slabs together. Corian is not as popular as Quartz or Granite and might not be as attractive to buyers if you are looking to sell your home.
When it comes to your kitchen, you have to make decisions that make sense from the standpoint of the price and characteristics of each type of stone and what is aesthetically pleasing to your eye. While every stone has a list of pros and cons, you have to decide what is right for you. Of course, some people will be highly adamant about what type of stone you should go with, but when it comes down to it, the decision is very subjective, and there is no wrong answer.