Choosing Your Countertop Surface Material

How exciting! You’ve decided to update your kitchen and expand space by adding an Island for family gatherings and expand your food prep area, with its own sink or maybe a grilling station. Such a grand idea for additional living space. You have the plan, the color scheme for cabinets, the new appliances in mind. What will you choose for counter top material in your new space? Perhaps you’ve decided to bump out a wing for a master suite with a luxurious new bath. Will you use tile or natural stone in your new shower and new vanity top?

Products abound on the market today that offer innovative ideas for creating a unique kitchen or bath design. Initially, determining factors that go into the design such as color, personal style, material, and size for examples, should reflect your personality and lifestyle; feel inviting when you walk into the room.

When engaging ideas for your personal choices, questions you might ask are:

Granite Countertop

1.     Will your surface reflect, or will it absorb light based on your finished product?

2.     Will it be porous or impermeable, based on the nature of the natural stone?

3.     Will it be light or dark in contrast to other elements in the room based on your design media?

If you choose a designer to assist you with your choices, you will find a world of color and design that will open doors to a variety of possibilities.

Historically, 20th century traditional trends back in the early 50’s through the 70’s was Formica® laminate (a type of plastic composite) and steel as well as Butcher-block and other natural based materials as in concrete. All had to be molded to dimensional size. Coming into the 21st century, we are still using these materials but integrating them into more sustainable durable flooring and countertops. Laminate is now offered in a variety of color choices and patterns to challenge any design or budget. However, you will always get the feel of a man-made product vs. what mother nature offers with real stone. But is this the whole story?

Today’s trends in natural stones will lean towards granite and quartz, two highly regarded types of natural stone countertop surfaces to increase the beauty and value of your home. Granite in its natural state is mined from the earth’s crust where lava once traversed and is made up of several mineral components. It is then quarried and cut into large slabs which can then be fabricated into the countertops we use in kitchen and bathrooms. Quartz countertops are composites mixed with polyester resins, also known as engineered stone. Although beautiful, a quartz counter may not be as impenetrable as a granite top and a reliable countertop installer will tell you the quartz countertop is not heat resistant no matter the brand. Anything over 275° can potentially leave a mark. But both will stand up to scratches well and overall be exceptionally low maintenance. Inclusively, their performance and durability remain about the same. Silestone is the number one leader in quartz countertops but other brands match the same quality and performance, it’s really about what you want in your design to choose for color and pattern variation.

And of course, let us not forget Marble for the bathroom walls, vanities, and shower stalls. Marble is a timeless material that even the ancients of old used in their superior bath houses. With its variations and patina over time, a homeowner can enjoy years of durability and beauty all in one.

When considering a spa-like bath, one where you can “get away from it allthere is nothing like the look and feel of natural stone to calm and soothe. Natural stone retains heat. A heated floor under natural stone feels so comfortable when one gets out of the shower or tub. Warm colored stones also work well with wood tones like teak and walnut used in cabinets and vanities. If cooler tones are preferred, one would choose white or grey tones. Carrara Marble is recommended for a cleaner look with minimal lines.

Marble shower and floor

Other places in the home to show off natural stone can be a fireplace facade. It can be fabricated on a grand scale to cover the wall, the hearth, the mantle, and/or facial wall around the opening of the fireplace itself. It can be as minimal or dramatic as your inspiration allows. Examples of extraordinary  stone work for fireplace displays shown here:

One must keep in mind while owning a luxurious natural stone; they all must be maintained to keep their luster and maintain the integrity of the stone. Where this is a natural surface that will be in your home for years to come and will only get better with age, environmentally friendly cleaning products are a suggested use to reduce the chemical impact that often end up in our water supply as a hazardous waste.

Note: Vinegar in your cleaning product can be detrimental to the surface of your granite countertop. Being acidic, it can easily deteriorate the sealant that protects it from stains and etches, not to mention dull the integrity of the finish. General rule of thumb, any cleaner with an acidic base should be considered harmful to your natural stone countertop.

Friendly products should be:

  • Water based

  • Contain no harsh chemicals

  • Produce no toxic fumes

  • Contain no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

  • Biodegradable

  • Packaging is minimal and recyclable

Let’s face it. Stone is beautiful.

But when one is desiring visual appeal without the hefty price tag, what is available? There are other stone-like materials that should be considered as well. These are man-made products that are composites of several materials such as porcelain, concrete, recycled glass, Corian (a solid surface, non porous, stain resistant man made material), and laminates as previously mentioned. Man-made stone countertops or engineered stone counters are made from quartz crystals and held together with a resin binder. Another similar product would be cultured marble; a combination of pulverized natural marble and synthetic resins and dyes to simulate the veins, coated with a clear hard protective gel.

Quartz manufactured sink

Cultured marble is more durable than natural marble or even granite where granite is a porous material and the cultured marble is solid. Both man-made stone and granite stone compare cost-wise mainly because though one is factory processed, the other mined from the earth and have similar appearances, the fabrication and transporting slabs cost about the same. It’s what you are looking for in the result that will determine the cost by determining depth, textures, patterns, and colors.

Right now, the top four trending man-made stone countertops are:

Cambria Quartz, Caesarstone, Silestone, Zodiac (now called Corian Quartz). This is just to name a few, with so many others to choose from. These four presently dominate the market. The composition of the quartz countertop is basically the same no matter which brand you buy.

Bottom Line: It is what you are looking for in the result that will decide the cost by determining depth, textures, patterns and colors. Choosing one type of material over another will be a matter of taste and budget and what you find appealing. Making sure you have all the choices available to pick your heart’s desire is what makes it all worthwhile. Gable Building Corp has been helping customers fulfilling their dream kitchen and baths for over 25 years. We have helped customers work through the planning details from start to finish. If you are considering a design plan for adding a new space to your home, contact our office either through our website or by calling the number listed on the website. We can help you achieve your goals in adding natural beauty to your new living space.


Foot notes: Data info based on following ideas websites:

Use Natural Stone by Megy Karydes | Mar 24, 2020 | Inspire

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