Stone countertops are a popular kitchen option because they provide timeless beauty as well as good durability. Picking the right stone countertops means you end up with an attractive counter that will stand the test of time.
1. Heat Resistance
If you cook a lot, then heat resistance is a necessary component in the counter you choose. You don't want it to stain or crack if you accidentally set a hot pot on the surface. Most natural stones, with the exception of quartz which is prone to cracking, can resist quite a bit of heat. Heat resistance can vary with engineered stones, so always check the manufacturer's information before purchasing.
Most stone has natural porosity, but the extent of it can vary. Highly porous stones can absorb liquids, which makes them more prone to staining. Marble, for example, is a highly porous stone that can be stained even by plain water. Quartz is extremely non-porous and difficult to stain. Engineered stones are often less porous than natural stone, as they are bound together by resins that seal up any pores.
The hardness of the stone determines how easily the stone can be scratched or cracked. The harder the stone, the more resistant it will be to such damages. Engineered stone counters are typically designed for maximum hardness and scratch resistance. Of the natural stones, granite and quartz will provide the hardest and most difficult to damage surfaces. Marble and limestone tend to be the softest and least scratch-resistant.
Certain types of stone may never require maintenance. Quartz and some engineered stone products, for example, never need ongoing maintenance. Highly porous stones, like limestone and marble, may need periodic deep cleaning, stain removal, or sealing services. Even relatively hard and durable stones like granite can benefit from periodic sealing designed to protect against staining.
Stone falls into two main categories: natural and engineered. Engineered stone counters are still made of stone, it's just that the stone is in chip or aggregate form and then cast into the shape of the counter with a resin binder. Natural stone is cut from a solid stone slab. The benefits of engineered stone, other than those above, are typically lower costs and a more uniform product. Natural stone provides the benefit of each slab being unique.
Contact a kitchen countertops installer to learn more about your stone option.