Many homeowners choose stone countertops because of their beauty and durability. Stone, forged millions of years ago, can be expected to last longer than the house itself. But as long-lasting as they are, each type of stone has its own qualities. Here are some to consider for countertops:
Beautiful, cool to the touch, strong and expensive, granite is one of the most popular countertop stones. It can be installed as a slab or as tiles. Though many people think of a salt and pepper pattern when they think of granite, it can come in many colors, including brown, green, purple, tan, gold and black. Interior decorating experts recommend that people who use their kitchen — that is, cook a lot — avoid dark, high polished granite. This type of stone is hard to keep clean and shows scratches and dings.
Granite is porous and needs to be sealed every two or three years to protect it from stains. Some granite slabs and tiles come presealed from the fabricator. The homeowner knows to reseal granite when a drop of water no longer beads up on the stone.
Marble is softer than granite and even cooler to the touch. Because it’s soft and porous, marble is more susceptible than granite to dings, scratches and chipping. Marble, a metamorphic stone that evolved from limestone, also needs to be sealed. The cook should avoid spilling even the milder acids of citrus juice or vinegar on it because marble etches easily. Still, nothing beats white or pale marble for gathering in and giving off light.
Both marble and granite only need to be wiped with a damp cloth a couple of times a week. They should never be cleaned with soap, detergent or harsh cleaners, but with tepid water and a pH neutral cleanser.
Like marble, travertine is related to limestone. It is a type of limestone that’s deposited by hot, mineral springs and comes in creams and browns. Unlike marble, it is a sedimentary as opposed to metamorphic rock. Like marble, it is porous, very reactive to even mild acids and needs to be sealed. However, travertine’s earthy colors give a warmth to the decor of the kitchen. It needs to be cleaned much the same way as granite and marble.
When people speak of quartz, they’re usually speaking of engineered stone. Counters made of engineered stone are made of powdered quartz mixed with a pigment and a resin then formed into any shape the homeowner wants. Engineered quartz counters are becoming popular because they are as beautiful as natural stone but do not have to be sealed. They resist etching, burns mold, mildew and bacteria. If a quartz countertop needs to be replaced, it can be replaced by a slab or tile that is exactly like the original. This is not possible with natural stone counters. The one thing the homeowner needs to be careful of is to not clean a quartz counter with bleach, for bleach will ruin the color.
All of these stones are beautiful and have desirable qualities. It is up to the homeowner to choose which one is perfect for their kitchen.