There is no question that stone countertops have grown in popularity over the past several years. However, there are so many options to choose, it may be difficult to decide which is the best for you and your family. Two of the most popular choices are granite and engineered stone. In order to help you choose the perfect countertop, Marble Concepts offers an explanation of the differences between the two.
Granite is a natural stone that is formed when the lava in the Earth’s crust cools and forms a stone. Various minerals are captured in the lava as it cools, creating the different colors you can find in granite. In order to create granite countertops, large slabs of granite are extracted from quarries in many different countries. The counters are then manufactured and fabricated before being installed in your home. No two slabs of granite are the same which means your countertops could have different veining and patterns if you have a large kitchen or bath.
Although there are many types of man-made countertops, including porcelain, concreted, laminate, and recycled glass, those types of counters are not actually stone. Engineered stone countertops are usually created from quartz. In this process, manufacturers mix crushed quartz, which is one of the hardest stones available, with resins and colorants to create countertops. Because the counters are made of over 90 percent stone, they are still considered natural stone. All engineered stone slabs are the same as they are man-made which means countertops are uniform throughout the room. Popular brands of man-made stone are Corian, MSI Quartz., Caesarstone, Silestone, and Cambria.
The uniqueness and the composition of granite has an impact on its cost. Supply and demand can also either increase or decrease the cost of some types of granite since some patterns are easier to find than others. Engineered stone countertops are similarly priced for the same reasons as some patterns or colors are more popular than others. Creating engineered stone can be a costly process that can be as much as the cost of quarrying natural stone. Granite costs can range from $35 to $200 with an average between $45-$65 per square foot. Engineered stone can range from $45 to $120 with an average between $60 and $80 per square foot.
In addition to the counters themselves, you will also pay to have the stone installed. If you have an extremely large room, installation costs may be higher. If the room is oddly shaped and requires several different shapes of a counter, that can also increase the installation costs. Your cabinets may need to be reinforced to handle the weight of the stone. Of course, the “extras” you need will also increase the cost. Extras include a sink and stovetop cutouts, the style of edge you choose, and the thickness of the stone.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The notable differences between granite and engineered stone are the cleaning and maintenance requirements. Most granite countertops are not naturally stain-resistant and will need sealing on a regular basis while engineered stone does not require sealing. There are a few types of granite that resist stains but the largest majority will need to be sealed periodically. Cleaning is similar for both types of stone although some harsh cleaners can discolor the man-made stone. For cleaning, warm water, a sponge and mild soap is all that is necessary. Granite can handle heat better than engineered stone due to the resins used to create man-made stone counters. Both surfaces may stain with acidic materials, like juices, tomato sauces, wine, and coffee, so those spills need to be wiped quickly. You should use cutting boards on both types of counters, not necessarily because cuts will damage the counters but because you could damage your knives. Engineered stone counters are also not recommended for outdoor use as the colors can fade in the sun while granite will retain its color.
Color and Pattern Options
Granite countertops are limited to the colors and patterns that can be created in nature. Although there is a wide range of options, minerals in nature can only create so many variances. Because engineered stone countertops are manufactured, you can find them in many different colors, some that are not available in granite. As mentioned, each slab of man-made countertop is the same which allows you to have a uniform look in a large room. Some homeowners prefer the variances in granite, however. Many people feel that granite has a “cold” feel while engineered stone feels “warmer.” Older versions of engineered stone counters did not have the same depth and texture of granite, but modern versions make it difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the two types of counters.
No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. You drop a heavy frying pan on the counter which leads to a crack or chip. Your kids spill juice and it does not get wiped up quickly causing a stain. A friend accidentally sits an extremely hot pan on the counter, causing a scorch mark. When it comes to repairs, granite is definitely the better option. Usually, when an engineered stone is scorched, cracked, or scratched, it cannot be repaired. A specialist may be able to fix a crack, chip or stain in a granite countertop, however.
Choosing between granite and engineered stone will depend on your family and your tastes. If you have small children, the stain-resistance and low maintenance of engineered stone may be the better option while a gourmet chef may prefer the heat resistance of granite. If you are not sure which option is best for you, contact Marble Concepts today to learn more about your options. They will help guide you through the process and help you make the selection that works best for you and your family. Contact them by phone or fill out the simple online form today to set up a no-obligation appointment. They will help you create the room of your dreams.