Your Guide to Natural Stone Countertops
If you’re considering natural stone for your kitchen countertop, you may be overwhelmed with all the different styles out there. In this guide, we’ll break down different types of natural and synthetic stone, their unique benefits, and other useful tips to keep in mind when choosing a natural stone countertop!
If you’re considering a natural stone countertop for your kitchen remodel, chances are you may be overwhelmed from time to time during the selection process. With so many different styles to choose from, the process can be challenging at times. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, we wanted to give you an overview of the most durable stone countertop options, so you can pick the solid surface countertop that suits your design preferences and cooking needs.
In this guide, we’ll break down different types of natural stone countertop options, their unique benefits, and other useful tips to keep in mind when choosing a natural stone countertop! Plus, we’ll list must-have resources that give an in-depth look at these individual stones, and their cleaning and care.
Types of Stone
In the world of natural stone countertops, there are plenty of amazing, intricate, and unique materials that draw the eye into your kitchen. Unlike other materials, such as laminate countertops, wood countertops, concrete countertops, or butcher block countertops, every cut slab of natural stone is unique. No two slabs have the same colors and patterns, or veining.
To help simplify this tough decision, we’re going to provide an overview of every natural stone countertop Bloomday Granite and Marble carries, along with which ones are the most cost-effective countertop materials.
As one of the most popular options available today, granite is incredibly long-lasting and low-maintenance.
Granite is one of the most durable natural stones on the market. It’s popular among homeowners for its exceptional hardness and beautiful patterns. However, granite is porous and requires a sealer to be applied. Bloomday applies a 15-year commercial sealer which helps fill in pores but does not change the texture or feel of the stone nor does it prevent all staining. Oils and staining foods and items should be cleaned up right away.
Granite is also unique because of its distinct appearance. No two stone slabs of granite look alike, which makes granite ideal from a kitchen design standpoint, as well as durability.
If you choose granite countertops as your material of choice, you’ll be surprised by how many different colors and styles there are! Additionally, it’s one of the more affordable natural stone countertop options on our list, but still has a similar style to many of the other options listed below.
For everything you need to know about granite countertops, review our Granite 101 guide.
Quartz Countertops & Quartzite
For people who love modern kitchen countertops, quartz should be a top contender on your countertop wish list. It’s stain resistance and low maintenance is ideal for the busiest kitchens.
It’s one of the more durable countertop materials on the market, and is resistant to stains and scratching when it’s cared for. Plus, the way quartz is created results in a stone that comes in a variety of colors and styles and can mimic more delicate stone. It’s modern, elegant look is perfect for more contemporary homes.
The most interesting thing about quartz is that it’s not technically a natural stone countertop. It contains up to 93% loose quartz, along with natural silicon dioxide and synthetic materials. However, because it’s created synthetically, it’s known as engineered stone, but this is also what makes it available in a wide range of colors.
As a non-porous material, quartz countertops resist staining much better than marble. If you cook or spill acidic substances on your countertops or kitchen island, it won’t become stained or discolored. Because of its low porosity, it won’t harbor bacteria left behind when you’re cooking.
Quartzite, on the other hand, is naturally occurring. It’s created when sandstone is subjected to heat and pressure. This stone is typically harder than quartz but requires regular sealing.
Like quartzite, marble is also a form of metamorphosed limestone. With unique vein patterns, marble is an elegant and classic style. You may have heard of “Italian Marble,” which is mined in some areas of Italy, but there are plenty of other options available!
Marble is known for its glassy finish, and light white appearance, but there is so much more to love about marble countertops than its appearance. As one of the more elegant materials on the market, it’s etching and veining are very unique, however, marble is also fairly resistant to heat.
As a classic natural stone, marble looks elegant in kitchens and bathrooms. You’ll have plenty of exciting things to look at, including the natural luster of marble counters!
Another highly popular natural stone countertop option, soapstone is a great dark countertop material that can enhance a variety of kitchens. If you’re looking for the darkness of granite with the light veining of marble, this is the perfect selection for your kitchen. Soapstone will naturally darken over time, so if you have exceptionally light and bright cabinets, but need a way to darken your kitchen, soapstone is the perfect option.
Yes, porcelain is now a popular choice for natural stone countertops. While it’s been known as a delicate material in the past, it’s actually more durable and hardy than other natural stones. It’s capable of holding up to knives, appliances, spills, and stains, and won’t have to be treated year after year in order to maintain its beautiful appearance.
Similar to marble, porcelain is known for its beauty, bright appearance, and mimics other natural stone materials. Porcelain comes in two different finishes – it can be very polished, or there are matte options available if you prefer something sleeker. Something to keep in mind is that porcelain requires specific edge treatments, so if you really love the look of porcelain, discuss this with your sales representative during your countertop consultation.
For an in-depth review of porcelain, read Four Surprising Facts about Porcelain Countertops.
If you want something that is truly heat resistant, unique, and durable countertop material, Dekton is a great option for your countertops. Dekton is engineered with the same materials as quartz, glass, and porcelain, so it has an interesting blend of raw materials.
The reason Dekton is an incredible countertop material is that it undergoes a process known as sintering, that heats and compresses all of the different raw materials. Once it’s finished, it’s an entirely new surface, with a unique finish that will wow all your guests.
For an in-depth review on Dekton, read Porcelain vs Dekton Countertops.
What are the Benefits of Natural Stone Countertops?
When it comes to your home surfaces, there are pros and cons to every natural stone countertop material. The main takeaway is that despite their different colors, finishes, patterns, and flaws, there is something for everyone when it comes to natural stone surfaces.
Natural stone countertops are versatile in style and have a variety of unique attributes that amaze family, friends, and guests. Plus, these materials have varying finishes from high polish to softer, grainy textures. These finishes can make your kitchen feel elegant and modern, sleek and fresh, or warm and inviting. Plus, natural stone countertops look great with stainless steel appliances and wood flooring. Any style you can imagine, natural stone can deliver!
Some stone surfaces will offer unique, natural patterns, such as the veining in marble and porcelain. Other styles, such as quartz, granite, and Dekton, provide a more uniform appearance.
Natural stone is also a beneficial material for busy homes that see plenty of cooking, baking, and company. Since they’re incredibly durable and low-maintenance, natural stone countertops are resistant to water damage and most heat sources as well! Marble, in particular, is a favorite surface for baking and kneading dough. All of these surfaces have advantages when it comes to durability, heat resistance, and porosity. It just depends on which features matter most in terms of your design.
Natural Stone Countertop Purchase Suggestions
With so many benefits, it’s essential to consider how each material will hold up in your kitchen or bathroom. When it comes to durability, cleaning, and other maintenance, every material is a little different. Here are the basics that you should know when it comes to caring for and maintaining your countertops – but for more tips on how to buy, review How to Choose a Countertop Material.
Durability and Damage
While granite and quartzite are considered highly durable, softer stone, such as marble, can easily etch and chip. Soapstone is less likely to chip, but it can still etch if placed under enough pressure. However, you may find that a slightly etched look adds unique character to your soapstone countertop. Some stone damage may be repairable by a professional. If you’d like to avoid it if possible, choose rounded edges instead of square edges—they’ll be less prone to chipping!
While most stone surfaces are resistant to heat, quartz is a notable exception. Taking a pan straight out of the oven and placing it on a quartz countertop can lead to cracks and fissures. Dekton and porcelain can take the heat better than most natural stone surfaces, but it’s still important to take precautions with your countertops.
If you need more information about the durability, and damage that can harm natural stone countertops, review our favorite countertop care resources:
- Common Countertop Problems
- Which Countertops are the Most Durable?
- Buyers Beware: Homeowner Tips for Buying Countertops
Natural stone is easy to clean. However, you should be careful before using vinegar or a household cleaner with bleach or ammonia—these acids can etch marble and other stone surfaces. Plus, they’ll remove the natural shine that appears on your countertops or can eat away at the applied sealer.
Stick to basic cleaning products, like water and dish soap. If you need a little extra heft to your cleaning routine, there are plenty of natural stone cleaners that can restore the shine and luster of your countertops.
For more in-depth cleaning tactics and tricks, read The Do’s and Don’ts of Countertop Cleaning. However, if you need more organizational and protective tactics, review our favorite resources:
- How to Organize Bathroom Countertops and Maximize Storage Space
- How to Polish Quartz Countertops | Bloomday Granite & Marble
- Countertop Protection for the Holidays | Bloomday Granite
How Often Should You Seal?
Like some wood surfaces, natural stone requires regular sealing to keep it looking great and maintain its durability. At Bloomday, we apply a 15-year commercial sealer to granite and marble. Soapstone requires proper treatment with mineral oil to help it oxidize evenly—every other week for the first year, and then every other month after that.
However, some countertops might need additional treatment and cleaning in order to maintain their luster and finish. If you want to learn more about the importance of sealed countertops, review Sealing Your Countertops: Is It Necessary?