Picking out a material for your countertops can be daunting! There’s quartz, granite, soapstone, marble, and more! Not to mention, you have to pick out your edging, finish (see Ali’s post about leathered finishes), backsplash, and color matching it to your cabinets and floors (sometimes even your sink). It can all be a bit overwhelming, so below is a guide to help you pick the right material for your home!

 

Buyer's Guide

First thing’s first, when picking out the material for your countertop, it’s important to take your lifestyle into account. For example, if you had a get together in your home and something were to spill on your beautiful countertops, would you wait until the following morning to clean it up? Or would you rush to clean the area immediately? Are you a person who is up to the task of sealing your stone every few years, or would you prefer to not seal your stone? 

Quartz

Quartz is man made and never has to be sealed. It’s stain, scorch, and scratch resistant, so if you’re someone who typically likes to save dishes (and possibly stain cleaning) until later, quartz will be your best friend! Notice that it’s stain, scorch, and scratch resistant, not proof! So, it is possible to scratch and discolor and deform your quartz. You can spill a glass of red wine on it and it won’t immediately stain the stone, but you will want to clean it up fairly quick using mild soap and water, no harsh cleaners! You can also discolor light quartz by exposing it to sunlight over an extended period of time (leaving the curtains open all day every day). This isn’t to say you can never open your curtains during the day, but just to use caution. Try keeping the curtains open for a couple of hours and then drawing them around the sunniest parts of the day, or keeping them closed while you’re at work. Lastly, quartz does have a heat cap of 230 degrees Fahrenheit! If you’re a person who frequently forgets to put that freshly baked pie on a hot pad after you take it out of the oven, you may want to rethink getting quartz because setting that hot pie dish on your countertop will discolor and deform your stone which may cause a seam to pop!

Granite

Granite (unlike quartz) is a completely natural stone; meaning it comes straight out of the Earth. If you want your kitchen to have a natural, non-uniform look, granite is the way to go! Now, granite doesn’t have a heat cap, so if you forget to put a hot pad under that hot pie dish or cookie sheet once or twice, it’s no big deal. But, just because you you don’t have to use hot pads doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Granite is also a porous stone, so it needs to be sealed every 3-5 years and most granite shops will sell sealant that will last you at least 3-4 seals. Because it’s porous, that means it’ll soak up that spilled red wine fairly quick, so you’ll need to be diligent when it comes to cleaning up any spills. Granite is also extremely hard to scratch or chip, so unless you’re going out of your way to damage it, it won’t show easily. Also, don’t confuse cracks with fissures; fissures are small marks in the stone that occur naturally and can be easily filled because they’re on the surface of the stone. Cracks go deeper in the stone and are most likely a result of mishandling and may be able to be filled dependent on the severity of the crack. To clean, use a mild soap and water, no harsh cleaners (bleach, scrubbing bubbles, etc.) and nothing with hydrofluoric acid!

Marble

Marble has traditionally been a status symbol throughout the ages due to its beauty and price point. But all that beauty comes with a price, so buyers beware! Although marble is gorgeous and is definitely a conversation starter, it’s super high maintenance. The first thing to know about marble is that there are NO SPILLS ALLOWED, and if you do spill, you’d better hope it’s not something sticky or colored. Marble is extremely soft and porous, so it will scratch, etch, and stain easily… even water will leave marks that could be permanent! So if you absolutely have to have marble, be ready to constantly be on stain/coaster patrol and maybe even put a protective layer of glass on your counter to prevent anything happening to your stone. Marble will definitely discolor if you put a hot pan on it without a pad underneath, so watch out! To clean, use a mild soap and water, no harsh cleaners (bleach, scrubbing bubbles, etc.) and especially nothing with hydrofluoric acid!

Above all, what you put in your home depends on your preference! Our helpful and knowledgeable staff are happy to clarify any questions you may have and whether quartz, granite or marble would work best for you and your home. 

butcher block kitchen

Butcher Block and Stone have both been around in the countertop world for a VERY long time.  They are both wonderful products, and most of the time they’re in competition with each other… But why!? In my opinion, they go better together than alone. Here are a few reason why using the two together can help turn your kitchen into a versatile, timeless, and beautiful place.We’ll start with stone. Granite, Marble, Soapstone, and Quartz are all popular products used in kitchens around the world. They are strong, durable, and have their own sets of pros/cons. One thing they all have in common is, they are not ideal for cutting on. Some are too soft, and damage when used for a cutting surface (marble and soapstone), the other is so dense that it will dull your knife so fast you’ll have to sharpen it before you can chop up a bundle of carrots! Either way, you will most likely be pulling out a cutting board every time you cook.

 
wood-butcher-block-countertop-design
Now if you’re like me, washing multiple cutting boards on top of the dishes is not my idea of fun after I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen... Wouldn’t it be great if there were a solution to this dilemma? Luckily for you and me, there is!One of the newest trends making a big comeback is, in-laid butcher block. This provides the best of both worlds, a beautiful and permanent cutting board that you can wipe off with ease, while still having all the durability and beauty of stone.Another option, if you’re not interested in permanent butcher block, is a semi permanent slide in butcher-block slab. These can be found online, and are usually a little more cost friendly than the traditional wood tops. These can be placed in different spots around the home depending on where you need it.If this is something you might be interested in please give us a call, stop by, or send an email with your dimensions! We would be happy to help plan this project for you. All bids are free of charge. 
butcher block and stone kitchen counters

In the last decade concrete countertops have really started to make an impression. The do it yourself appeal, and sheer strength of the material has a lot of people ready to take on their own project.
 
But, it may be harder than you think. As a granite shop we’ve heard many concrete nightmares from inexperienced folks who thought they would make a mold, pour in some concrete, and voila! Here are a few pros and cons if you’re trying to decide between concrete and granite:
 
Price:
Concrete is certainly a lot less expensive than granite, there’s no denying that. But, it’s for a good reason. The process for quarrying granite is extremely difficult. People dedicate their lives to finding the most beautiful slabs of granite from literally all over the world. Then, teams consisting of hundreds of workers come in and spend years cutting/use dynamite to get the material free from the mountain, then transporting it to local ports for sale. Not to mention all the work that goes into fabricating and installing the stone once we get it.
 
Patterns:
Granite has the largest variety of patterns and colors. Concrete can be died and acid etched in order to make the coloring different, but it just doesn’t hit the nail on the head when it comes to replicating granite. I can always tell when I see imitation granite made with concrete, or the real deal. If you can spare the expense, granite definitely trumps concrete when it comes to look. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the real thing if I could, and not something that looks like it.

Sealing:
Concrete and Granite both need to be sealed. To seal Granite it takes about 20-30 minutes on an averaged size kitchen, and last for 5-10 years. With Concrete, the sealing process can take up to an hour and needs to be repeated every couple years. Even with the sealant, Concrete is one of the most unsanitary surfaces to use for countertops. This is because it’s so porous. Concrete has a much better chance of absorbing bacteria, and staining.

Removal:
I would consider this to be the biggest Con of Concrete. Because concrete is SO heavy, it’s extremely hard to remove once installed. The tops have to be hammered and chiseled out with jack hammers, often damaging the cabinets and walls. Now, you’re not only replacing the counters you just removed, but also the cabinets and sheet rock that were damaged in the process.

As for granite, it is adhered to the cabinets with a thin bead of silicone. This makes removal much easier. If you have a seam in your granite, the person taking it out should torch the epoxy in the seam, causing it to come right apart. Then the granite can be removed safely and easily in sections.
Which brings us to the difference in weight; Granite is heavy, but nowhere near the weight of Concrete. This is another plus that makes installing and removing Granite easier.
 
There are many other comparisons we could talk about when it comes to the two stones.  But for now we will leave it at these few simple Pros and Cons. If you have any other questions, or you’re thinking about doing Concrete in your home, please do some research first! Granite may be notoriously expensive, but not even close to replacing walls and cabinets due to a botched Concrete job. Please come by the shop and see us for your free quote! Or if you’re not in the area, you can always email your dimensions to us at service@standerferstoneworks.com.