Countertop Types: What Will Work Best For You

kitchen.jpgPhoto: Prestige Marble & Granite

Marble? Granite? Quartz? Natural stone or engineered? What does it all mean? Anyone who has built a home or done a kitchen remodel knows the number of different material options can be overwhelming. And it’s an important decision. Experts estimate you should plan on spending 10 to 15 percent of your kitchen budget on your countertops. Here are some thoughts on different types of materials so you can choose what’s right for you and your home. All prices mentioned are general estimates.

Granite

Granite is the number one countertop material for a reason. It’s beauty and durability make it a wonderful choice for almost any kitchen. It’s very nature makes it resistant to water and heat. That being said it is slightly porous. Most granites don’t need to be sealed, though it never hurts and will help block stains and liquids from eventually seeping into the stone. Granite’s inherent strength will also help protect it from scratches and etching. Because granite is a natural material there will be variation from slab to slab. While many people love the uniqueness this ensures, it can make matching up slabs difficult.

Expect to spend between $40 and $200 per foot installed.

Granite comes in a variety of natural stone colors and can be finished multiple ways.15-gorgeous-granite-countertops-title-e1503856458744.jpgPhoto: Home Epiphany

Marble

The demand for marble has certainly increased in the past few years. While a lot of marbles have gray veining running throughout, if you’re looking for a bright, more pure white slab, marble is definitely for you. It gives a high end, classic feeling to any space. Marble is more porous than granite and does require sealing; this means it does stain more easily than granite and some other natural stones. It’s also a softer stone, meaning it more readily scratches and nicks. While some marbles like Calacatta and Carrara are decidedly more expensive, there are plenty of options with a price point comparable to granite.

Expect to spend between $50 and $200 per foot installed.

The gray veining warms up this marble slab , which lends a polished feeling to this rustic kitchen.Advantages Of Marble CountertopsPhoto: Improvenet

Quartz

Quartz countertops are growing in popularity thanks to their many good qualities, and due to the fact they don’t have many of the weaknesses of natural stone. Quartz is a manufactured product and is also referred to as engineered stone. The manufacturing process for Quartz allows for an almost unlimited range of colors and can be finished in a luxurious way other solid surface materials aren’t. Quartz is just as durable as stone but more forgiving, so it won’t chip or scratch easily. It’s also nonporous, so it resists staining and will not harbor bacteria or viruses. Quartz doesn’t have many downsides, though it isn’t as heat resistant as natural stone.  It may be considered on the more expensive side, though it’s pricing is competitive with many natural stones.

Expect to spend between $50 and $200 per foot installed.

If you’re wanting a nontraditional countertop color, quartz might be just what your looking for.
quartzPhoto: HouseTrends

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural material that has been used as countertops for literally hundreds of years. Today people love soapstone for its warm, rustic charm. Soapstone ranges from light to dark gray; the darkest slabs are almost black. Soapstone actually contains a certain amount of talc, which accounts for its milky look and somewhat powdery feel. This also accounts for the softness of the stone, but doesn’t mean it can’t stand up to daily kitchen use. Soapstone is nonporous so it is stain and acid resistant, though it does darken over time. It is recommended you treat soapstone with mineral oil to help achieve a more even look and deepen the color. It’s softness does make it slightly vulnerable to scratching, the mineral oil will help disguise these. Soapstone is extremely heat and bacteria resistant, making it a wonderful choice for any kitchen.

Expect to spend between $75 and $150 per square foot installed.

Soapstone is perfect for warming up what would otherwise be an all white kitchen. It also creates a sense of depth and additional dimension in this large space.decorpad.jpgPhoto: DecorPad

Limestone

Limestone is a beautiful choice, but not always practical for a busy kitchen. Limestone is an extremely versatile stone, available in a variety of colors and textures. Only the harder, denser varieties should be installed in the kitchen. Your fabricator should be able to help you choose the appropriate slab for your needs, should you choose limestone. Limestone is a calcium-based rock and by its very nature reacts with acidic substances in a manner that can create etching. It’s extremely porous and should be sealed regularly to help minimize staining, as it will soak up liquids quickly. Due to its softness, limestone also scratches and chips more easily than other natural stones. You also need to protect your limestone countertops from heat as it does have the ability to burn.

Expect to spend $50 to $100 per square foot installed.

Limestone looks great in almost any setting, though it requires a lot of maintenance. Many homeowners who want limestone choose to use it in a bathroom as opposed to the kitchen.
f89819d6fbab1e723c2ae503f35ae8af.jpgPhoto: Traditional Home

Whatever countertop material you ultimately choose,  Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

 

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All About Soapstone

Fantasy Soapstone from Brazil is a beautiful, soft blue-gray with dramatic quartz veining.

Do you remember your high school chemistry class? If so, you might recall the black countertops the Bunsen burners sat on. Those countertops are made of soapstone, a metamorphic rock that consists of talc, steatite, magnesite, quartz, and other magnesium rich minerals. Soapstone is the countertop material of choice for chemistry classes because its chemically inert composition and high density make it impervious to stains and bacteria. The qualities that make soapstone a good choice for chemistry classes are the same qualities that make it good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Physical Characteristics of Soapstone

The talc found in soapstone is soft to the touch, lending a smooth feeling of  dry soap, which is how soapstone got its name. The colors of soapstone are typically medium gray and can have a greenish cast or bluish cast (the greener the slab, the softer it is, so seek out slabs with less of a green cast if you want a harder slab). Soapstone slabs can contain pronounced veining, which is produced by quartz in the stone.

Qualities of Soapstone

Durability is one of soapstone’s top features. It’s unaffected by heat (it was often used for wood-burning stoves from the 1800s that are still functioning today) so you can place your hot pans and pots directly on the surface with no risk.

Unlike granite, marble, and quartzite, soapstone is not porous. This means that you can put raw foods on the countertop without worrying about bacteria growth. It never needs sealing and cannot be stained.

The talc content is what makes soapstone softer than some other stones, which leads to edges and corners being eased over time. Nicks and scratches may accumulate, but they can be easily rubbed or sanded out or considered part of its patina.

Caring for Soapstone

Soap and water is all you need. Because of its extreme density, soapstone is naturally resistant to bacteria and germs. Use a bit of mild, pH balanced, clear dish soap when you want a heavier clean than just water. As with marble and granite, do not use any acidic or heavy duty cleaners on your soapstone.

Many homeowners like to oil or wax their soapstone once or twice a year. This keeps the color more vibrant and will bring out a charcoal to black color. This is an optional treatment. If you don’t treat your soapstone, it will develop a beautiful patina over the years.

Little white scratches on your soapstone countertops can usually just be wiped away with your hand or a bit of mineral oil. If you really cut hard with a knife, or accidentally drop something heavy onto the stone, you may get a nick or scratch that can’t be wiped away with water or oil. In that case, the scratch can be sanded out. Use three sandpaper pads (60, 100, and 220 grit), and lightly sand the spot in a circular motion with each, starting with the lowest grit. Then wipe off any dust and use mineral oil or water to restore the color. It’s that easy.

The ageless beauty of soapstone is at home in any design style and will be an asset to any project. Here’s a look at some beautiful uses of soapstone in kitchens and baths.

Chestnut Hill kitchen
updated kitchen
Crocus Hill Kitchen
Interior Paint Projects
Elk Ridge Lodge
SoHo NYC Loft Kitchen With Virginia Alberene Soapstone
San Francisco Edwardian Home
Northwest Guest Bathroom
Spa-Like Bathroom
To see even more beautiful soapstone countertops, click over to our Pinterest board! 
Prestige Marble and Granite offers quality sopastone, in addition to many other beautiful stone varieties. Whatever stone you choose, rest assured our experienced fabricators can handle the job!