Knowledge Base – Smart & Informed: Countertops, Surfaces, and Materials

Get Fully Informed – Countertops & Surfaces

Everything you need to know about countertop materials, maintenance, and considerations to guide you in your decision making process.

When planning a remodel involving countertops for kitchen, bathroom, or other surface installations using materials like granite, quartz, quartzite, marble, soapstone, porcelain, or onyx, several crucial considerations come into play. Firstly, understanding the intended use and the specific demands of the space is vital. For high-traffic areas like kitchens, materials such as granite and quartzite, known for their durability and heat resistance, would be more suitable. In contrast, the elegance of marble and onyx might be better suited for low-traffic areas like bathrooms or accents due to their softer nature. Budget is another critical factor, as natural stones like marble and onyx tend to be more expensive than quartz or porcelain. Considering maintenance needs is equally important; for instance, individuals seeking low-maintenance options might prefer quartz or porcelain over natural stones, which typically require sealing and more delicate care. Additionally, aligning the aesthetic and color palette of the chosen material with the overall design concept and style of the space is key for achieving a cohesive and visually pleasing result. Lastly, engaging with an experienced fabricator who can provide valuable insights based on the characteristics and benefits of each material is essential to make informed decisions and ensure a successful remodel.

These versatile materials, including granite, quartz, quartzite, marble, soapstone, porcelain, and onyx, offer a wide array of applications to suit various design needs. In the realm of backsplashes, they can be utilized as full backsplashes to create a seamless and visually striking backdrop in kitchens or bathrooms. For fireplaces, these materials shine as surrounds and mantels, each contributing a unique aesthetic—granite and quartzite with durability and heat resistance, marble with timeless elegance, soapstone with efficient heat absorption, and backlit onyx for a captivating focal point. When it comes to shower walls, these materials provide both durability and style, with options like quartz and porcelain offering low maintenance and a range of designs. Outdoors, granite, quartzite, and porcelain find applications in countertops and decorative features, showcasing resistance to varying weather conditions. Accents in a design can be highlighted using onyx for its translucence or marble for its veining and luxury. Ultimately, the diverse range of applications speaks to the versatility and adaptability of these materials in elevating both indoor and outdoor spaces.

What’s It All About?

Natural and engineered stone projects involve using materials like granite, marble, quartzite, or engineered stone (e.g., quartz) for surfaces like countertops, flooring, and walls. Natural stone offers a timeless, unique look with variations in patterns and colors, showcasing luxury and durability. On the other hand, engineered stone provides a broader range of colors, patterns, and excellent durability due to its manufacturing process. Both are durable and resistant to scratching and heat. Natural stone may require more maintenance and periodic sealing, whereas engineered stone is low-maintenance and non-porous. While they tend to be more expensive than laminate or Corian, natural and engineered stones add significant value to your space, making them a popular choice for those seeking a high-end, long-lasting aesthetic. Ultimately, the choice depends on your preferences, project needs, and budget.

Disclaimer: While some materials are more heat resistant than others we recommend for all materials avoiding placing hot items directly on the surface to prevent any possibility of issues. Repeated cutting directly on any surface over a prolonged period of time may cause surface abrasions and a dulling of the surface finish.

Granite

Granite is a popular solid surface material known for its natural beauty, durability, and heat resistance. Its unique patterns and colors add a timeless and luxurious aesthetic to any space. Pros include its excellent durability, resistance to scratches and heat, and the fact that each piece is distinct. Granite does require periodic sealing to prevent staining, and it can be relatively expensive to install due to its weight and installation complexity. Additionally, it may have natural fissures or veins that some individuals might find less appealing, and it is a porous material that requires regular maintenance to retain its appearance and durability. Despite these considerations, granite remains a sought-after choice for countertops and other surfaces due to its enduring appeal and potential to enhance a home’s value.

Maintenance Consideration: A durable natural stone, necessitates regular wiping with a damp cloth and mild soap for daily care. To maintain its integrity and prevent staining, it’s essential to apply a granite sealer annually or as needed. Caution should be exercised to avoid acidic or abrasive cleaners that could potentially damage the surface.

Quartz

Engineered quartz, a blend of crushed natural quartz crystals and resins, offers several advantages as a solid surface material. Its main pros include exceptional durability, resistance to stains, and a wide array of colors and patterns that can mimic the look of natural stone. Engineered quartz is non-porous, making it hygienic and easy to maintain without requiring sealing. It also boasts strong resistance to scratches and heat. However, engineered quartz can be relatively higher in price point compared to other countertop materials, and excessive heat exposure can damage its surface. Despite the cost, many find its durability and design versatility make it a worthwhile investment for both residential and commercial spaces.

Maintenance Consideration: Quartz surfaces are relatively low maintenance, requiring regular cleaning with a soft cloth or sponge and mild detergent or quartz cleaner. Spills should be promptly cleaned to prevent staining, and it’s advisable to use trivets or hot pads to avoid direct contact with hot pans or cookware. We recommend you follow your specific manufacturers care & maintenance guides for further information.

qUARTZITE

Quartzite, a natural metamorphic rock primarily composed of quartz crystals, is a preferred solid surface material for various applications. Its key advantages include exceptional durability, similar to granite, making it highly resistant to scratching, heat, and everyday wear. Quartzite showcases an elegant appearance with unique veining and color variations, offering a luxurious aesthetic similar to marble. Unlike marble, quartzite is less porous, requiring less maintenance and providing resistance against staining. However, it may still require periodic sealing to ensure optimal performance. Despite its higher cost compared to some alternatives, the blend of beauty and durability makes quartzite a popular choice for countertops, flooring, and wall applications, adding significant value to any space.

Maintenance Consideration: Cleaning quartzite involves wiping with a damp cloth and mild soap regularly. Depending on the variety, periodic sealing may be required, and spills should be cleaned promptly to prevent stains. As with most natural stone, avoiding acidic substances is crucial to maintain its appearance.

Marble

Marble, a timeless natural stone formed from metamorphic rock, is widely chosen as a solid surface material for its unmatched elegance and aesthetic appeal. Its pros encompass a luxurious appearance characterized by unique veining and a range of soft, inviting colors, adding sophistication to any setting. Marble remains relatively cool, making it ideal for baking and pastry-making surfaces. However, it is softer and more porous compared to granite, making it susceptible to scratches, stains, and etching from acidic substances. As a result, it requires regular sealing and careful maintenance to preserve its beauty. Despite its maintenance needs and potential vulnerabilities, many still opt for marble due to its classic and opulent ambiance that can significantly elevate the look of any space.

Maintenance Consideration: Marble surfaces should be cleaned with a pH-neutral cleaner and a soft cloth for gentle yet effective cleaning. Regular sealing with a marble sealer is essential to prevent stains and preserve its aesthetic. It’s crucial to avoid acidic substances like citrus juices and acidic cleaners, which can harm the surface.

Porcelain

Porcelain is a versatile and increasingly popular solid surface material known for its durability and aesthetic versatility. Its pros include exceptional durability, making it highly resistant to scratches, stains, and heat. Porcelain surfaces can mimic the look of natural stone, wood, or even concrete, offering a wide array of design options for various styles and preferences. It is non-porous, making it hygienic and easy to clean without requiring sealing. Porcelain is also relatively lightweight, making it easier to install compared to some natural stones. However, the cost of porcelain can be higher compared to other materials like laminate or certain natural stones. Despite the cost, its durability, design versatility, and low maintenance needs make porcelain a popular choice for countertops, floors, walls, and other applications.

Maintenance Consideration: Cleaning porcelain involves using a damp cloth and mild detergent or porcelain-specific cleaner. Stains should be cleaned promptly, and abrasive cleaners or pads should be avoided to prevent surface damage. Its durability and non-porous nature make it relatively low maintenance.

Soapstone

Soapstone, a metamorphic rock primarily composed of talc, offers distinct advantages as a solid surface material. It possesses a unique, natural beauty with a smooth, matte finish and varying shades of gray. Pros of using soapstone include exceptional heat retention and resistance to heat, making it ideal for countertops and fireplace surrounds. It’s non-porous, providing resistance to stains and bacteria growth without requiring sealing. Additionally, minor scratches and nicks can be easily repaired or sanded out. However, soapstone is softer than other natural stones like granite, making it more susceptible to scratches and dents. Its color options are limited compared to other stones, and it can darken over time or with the application of mineral oil. Despite these considerations, many appreciate soapstone for its distinctive aesthetics and practical qualities, making it a preferred choice for a variety of applications.

Maintenance Consideration: To maintain soapstone’s appearance, regular oil treatments with mineral oil are recommended. Minor scratches or dings can be alleviated by surface sanding. However, caution should be exercised to prevent exposure to acidic spills that may result in etching.

Onyx

Onyx, a striking natural stone, is notable for its captivating translucent appearance and unique veining. Its main pros lie in its breathtaking beauty, with a semi-translucent quality that allows light to pass through, creating a mesmerizing effect. Onyx comes in a range of colors, often with dramatic veining patterns that add an exquisite touch to any space. Additionally, it can be backlit to enhance its translucency and overall visual impact. However, onyx is a softer and more delicate stone compared to others like granite or quartzite, making it susceptible to scratches, etching, and chipping. It requires regular maintenance and sealing to protect it from stains and maintain its appearance. Due to its aesthetic appeal, onyx is often chosen for accent features, backlit panels, countertops, and decorative applications despite its delicate nature.

Maintenance Consideration: Onyx, with its translucent beauty, requires gentle cleaning using a soft cloth and mild soap or a specialized stone cleaner. Abrasive cleaners or harsh scrubbing should be avoided to prevent scratching or dulling. Special care should be taken for backlit onyx to ensure lighting fixtures are in good condition and not causing overheating, which could potentially affect the stone’s appearance.