For families large and small, kitchens are often considered the heart of a household. Usually, they function as a back-drop to everyday life and receive very frequent use. Offering a place for loved ones to connect over casual meals and an environment that encourages a passion for food, it isn’t uncommon for people to be constantly coming and going. Whether someone is whipping up a quick snack, doing the dishes, or making lunches for school, most kitchens endure quite a bit of activity.
Every homeowner knows that designing a kitchen countertop which meets their needs and will stand the test of time is much easier said than done. As an area that serves multiple purposes at once, it can be very difficult to prevent signs of wear and tear. Countertops are often one of the first places where these signs will appear. Because of this, durability should be a very important factor in deciding which material they’re built with. Below, we’ll take a look at some exciting options and who they are best suited for.
Quartz Is Unbeatable in Function and Versatility
In 2014, the National Kitchen & Bath Association reported that 88% of kitchen designers chose quartz as a countertop material for their clients – and with good reason! Just edging out the ever-popular granite, which landed at a very respectable 83%, this manmade stone has risen to become the leading choice for consumers. Not to be confused with naturally-occurring quartzite, quartz is engineered by combining pieces of crushed quartz with resin and coloring to create a sturdy and beautiful finish.
Quartz has come a long way since first emerging onto the market. Originally, some avoided it completely because it’s manufacturing process formed patterns that were too uniform to mimic natural stone. Unlike with granite or marble, the swirls and flecks it featured weren’t organic enough to look believable. Fortunately, the latest brands of quartz are a very different story. Companies who produce it have determined how to create less consistent markings for a more genuine appearance.
A brilliant alternative to granite and marble, as well as for those who want something vibrant and unique, the advantages of quartz don’t stop at style. Boasting enough durability to rival that of granite, quartz is as close to indestructible as you’ll find in a countertop. It is impervious to stains, handles acidic foods with ease, plus stands up to hot pots, serrated knives, and abrasive cleaning pads – without ever needing to be sealed! Quartz is also far more scratch and chip resistant than most other materials, and can be considered environmentally-friendly because it’s made from leftover rock. For kitchens that see a lot of action, it’s an excellent option that won’t let you down.
How Does Quartzite Compare to Quartz?
Something of a cousin to quartz, quartzite is mined in large slabs from natural deposits, whereas the former is made with excess stone. Millions of years ago, present-day quartzite started out as sandstone. Slowly, over long periods of time, this metamorphic rock began to form crystals when placed under intense heat and pressure – usually a result of tectonic plate activity. It is very similar to quartz in some respects, but the materials differ quite a bit in other ways. In any case, as they are pretty evenly matched on the durability scale, either one is an excellent choice for high-traffic kitchens.
Both options showcase gleaming, polished surfaces, and are nearly equal in terms of hardness and resistance to wear and tear. However, although quartz is non-porous and doesn’t require a sealant, quartzite does. The two materials have separate things to offer where appearance is concerned, as well. Neither is more objectively attractive – merely different. While quartz is produced in a myriad of shades and patterns that can replicate most varieties of natural stone, styles of quartzite are limited to what Mother Nature provides. They usually range in hue from white to gray, but the presence of iron oxide and other minerals can create streaks of pink, red, green, yellow, blue, and orange.
There’s a Good Reason Why Granite Is So Popular
While it may not be considered as sturdy as quartz and quartzite, granite shouldn’t be dismissed as a countertop material. This gorgeous, classic stone enjoys a level of popularity among consumers that is very well-deserved. Showcasing a rich, timeless beauty that’s difficult to match, the addition of granite will provide a stunning focal point to any kitchen. Plus, with more than 20 shades to choose from, it shouldn’t be hard to find one that complements your existing aesthetic.
Granite provides a very hard surface that is scratch, stain, and chemical-resistant. Also great at handling high temperatures, it won’t be damaged by hot pots and pans. If properly installed, granite countertops should last a very long time. The only caveat is that they must be properly sealed. When done correctly, liquids won’t be absorbed and the exterior is extremely easy to clean. Overlooking this can lead to staining and bacteria buildup. All in all, if treated properly, this stone can look like new for years to come. Minor chips and cracks are also a relatively easy fix.
Soapstone Countertops Are Worth a Look, Too
Although not as durable as the options above, soapstone shouldn’t be discounted. It stands up well against heat, chemicals, and stains. Like quartz, it has a non-porous surface, so it doesn’t require sealant and is very simple to clean. Ranging in color from pure white to charcoal gray, soapstone’s relative softness is its only major drawback. This quality allows nicks, cuts and scratches to occur rather easily. Small imperfections can be repaired with a bit of sanding and mineral oil, but if you’re someone who tends to bang around in the kitchen, it may be best to stick with quartz, quartzite, or granite.
Hopefully, this short guide was helpful in directing you toward the ideal countertop material for both you and your family. It’s absolutely possible to design a kitchen that strikes a perfect balance between function and style when you remember to keep durability in mind. Even under regular stress, the right counters can last for decades – sometimes with very little maintenance!
If you’re interested in seeing which stone could fit best in your kitchen – give us a call and schedule a free quote with our Dallas based stone fabrication team.
What the experts say
Megan Kranz, MTK Design Group: “While I do enjoy the environment-friendly benefit of quartz, and sleek appearance in the right modern setting, my personal preference has always leaned towards 100% natural stone. With Kitchens and Baths being so hard-surface, a natural counter offers a unique, one-of-a-kind way to warm up a space and make it personal to the home.”