When renovating or building a new kitchen, one of the most important design elements to consider is the countertop material. The counters are the workspace in the kitchen and take up a significant amount of visible surface area. Choosing the right countertop stone for your kitchen is an important decision that requires careful consideration of factors like durability, maintenance, appearance, and cost.
Quartz has become an increasingly popular choice for kitchen countertops in recent years. Quartz countertops are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. The result is a durable, low-maintenance, and stylish countertop.
Why Choose Quartz?
There are several key advantages that make quartz one of the best stones for kitchen countertops:
- Durability – Quartz is extremely hard and scratch-resistant. It stands up well to heavy use in the kitchen. Quartz won’t easily scratch, stain or scorch.
- Low Maintenance – Quartz requires very little maintenance. It resists most stains and needs only occasional cleaning with soap and water. Unlike natural stone, it never needs to be sealed.
- Appearance – Quartz comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The pigments added during manufacturing allow quartz to mimic the look of natural stone while avoiding inconsistencies. The patterns look like granite or marble but have a consistent uniform appearance.
- Non-Porous – Quartz does not harbor bacteria or promote mold growth because it is non-porous. This makes it very hygienic for food preparation surfaces.
- Heat Resistance – Quartz holds up well against heat. Hot pots and pans can be placed directly on a quartz counter without damage.
- Affordability – While not the cheapest option, quartz counters offer good value. The look of natural stone is achieved for less cost.
Quartz Countertop Options
There are many major quartz brands and hundreds of different style and color options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular quartz countertop lines:
- Caesarstone – One of the first engineered quartz brands. Known for their vast color collection and high-quality manufacturing.
- Cambria – Made in the USA. Offers a wide selection of natural stone-like finishes. Known for matte surfaces that resist fingerprints.
- Silestone – Made by parent company Cosentino. Has over 50 color options including bold colors and patterns. Stain, scratch, and heat resistant.
- Viatera – Manufactured by LG. Features high-end options that mimic luxury stones like marble. Has anti-microbial properties.
- Quartz Master – Budget-friendly brand available at big box stores. Limited colors but good value.
Granite is a naturally occurring stone that has traditionally been the most popular choice for kitchen counters. Granite remains valued for its beauty and prestige.
Why Choose Granite?
Some key features of granite make it a timeless classic:
- Natural Beauty – The natural patterns and colors of granite create a beautiful and unique look. No two slabs of granite are exactly the same.
- Durability – Granite is nearly indestructible. It won’t crack, scratch or stain easily. It holds up well to heavy use.
- Timeless Appeal – The elegance of granite has stood the test of time. It gives a kitchen a rich, high-end look.
- Resale Value – Granite is still beloved by many homeowners. Going with granite can help the resale value of a home.
- Heat Resistance – Granite can withstand heat up to extreme temperatures. Pots and pans can be taken directly from the stove or oven and placed on granite.
Granite Countertop Options
There are many granite options to browse through at a stone supplier. Here are some of the most popular granite colors:
- White Fantasy – A white background with grey veining provides a clean, modern aesthetic.
- New Caledonia – Dramatic deep gray color with mild veining and movement.
- Santa Cecilia – Classic golden beige hue with bold veining in shades of black, brown, and gray.
- Uba Tuba – Rich green color mimics rare green granite but is more affordable.
- Azul Platino – Light gray background with unusual purple-blue veining.
Marble is an elegant natural stone once reachable only for the wealthy. Improvements in manufacturing and finishing have made marble more affordable for the average homeowner.
Why Choose Marble?
Marble has qualities that make it stand out:
- Luxurious Look – Marble conveys luxury and opulence. The stone has beautiful veining and translucent depth.
- Unique Appearance – No two marble slabs will ever look identical due to the randomness of natural stone. Marble has a charming Old World look.
- Softer Than Granite – Marble has a smoother, less glassy feel than granite. It offers a warmer surface.
- Historic Charm – Marble has been used architecturally for ages. It can enhance traditional or antique decor styles.
- Heat Resistance – Despite its softer nature, marble can tolerate heat well. It can be used in a kitchen.
Marble Countertop Considerations
Marble does come with some care requirements:
- More prone to etching and scratching from acidic foods and rough treatment.
- Needs to be sealed periodically to prevent stains.
- Can develop patina, cracks, and wear over time if not properly maintained.
- Vulnerable to damage from drops, bumps, and excessive heat.
Marble Countertop Options
Some popular marble varieties include:
- Carrara Marble – Classic bright white with subtle gray veining. A timeless look.
- Emperador Marble – Rich brown color with bold gray and white veining.
- Calacatta Marble – White background with dramatic thick gray veins. Has a modern appeal.
- Nero Marquina Marble – Jet black marble with thin white veins. Provides bold contrast.
Soapstone is a unique natural stone gaining interest for kitchen counters. It offers some distinct advantages.
Why Choose Soapstone?
Here are the properties that make soapstone special:
- Heat Resistance – Soapstone has incredible heat tolerance and won’t scorch. Hot pans can be placed right on top.
- Stain Resistance – Soapstone is non-porous and naturally stain resistant. Spills are less likely to soak in.
- Smooth Feel – Soapstone has a silky-smooth tactile feel, almost like a wax candle. Provides a nice surface for kneading doughs.
- Rustic Aesthetic – The muted gray colors of soapstone fit well with country, farmhouse, or rustic styles. Gains a patina over time.
- Sculptability – Soapstone is relatively soft and workable. Homeowners can sand out scratches or engrave patterns.
Soapstone Countertop Considerations
There are a few potential downsides:
- Can dent from impact damage. Prone to scratches.
- Needs periodic sealing to maintain stain resistance.
- Limited color range – mainly dark grays and blues.
- Expensive – often costs more than granite or quartz.
Soapstone Countertop Options
- Alberene Soapstone – Very dark gray, almost black. Provides bold contrast in a kitchen.
- Brazilian Green – Gray-green hue mimics rare green soapstones. Harder and lower maintenance.
- Canadian Soapstone – Classic gray with visible flecks and veining. Gains patina over time.
- Vermont Soapstone – Light gray background with dark veining. More consistent patterning.
Factors When Choosing a Countertop Stone
With so many excellent countertop stones to pick from, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Budget – What your budget allows narrows down options. Granite and quartz are mid-range. Soapstone and marble are premium.
- Style/Theme – Does the stone complement your kitchen’s aesthetic? Granite fits traditional spaces well. Quartz works with modern.
- Maintenance – Quartz and granite need little maintenance. Marble and soapstone require more care. Factor in upkeep time.
- Durability – How much wear and tear will counters need to handle? Quartz and granite resist damage best.
- Stain Resistance – Natural stones like marble are more prone to stains than quartz and granite. Consider sealing needs.
Appearance and Finish
The color and finish of the stone should complement your kitchen’s overall design and style.
- Polished finishes have a shiny, glass-like look that reflects light. It creates a formal, elegant aesthetic.
- Honed finishes are matte and smooth. They have a soft, subtle appearance. Good for more casual styles.
- Textured finishes like leathered and rippled have visible grain patterns. Provides depth and dimension.
- Tropical/Rustic finishes have more variation and distressed marks. Works well for farmhouse, industrial or eclectic spaces.
Pay attention to the veining patterns and colors in natural stones. Minimally veined stones have a clean uniform look. Heavily veined or speckled slabs have bold unique patterns.
The edge of the countertop plays a big role in the look as well. Common options include:
- Straight/Square edges have a clean, contemporary appearance. Most affordable edge style.
- Bullnose edges rounded and smooth. Reduce sharp corners and soften the look.
- Chiseled edges have a beveled appearance. Adds dimension.
- Ogee edges have an elegant contoured S-shape. A little more ornate.
Standard thickness is 3cm (1.25 inches). Thicker countertops allow more dramatic edge profiles and give a sturdier feel.
Backsplashes prevent spills and stains from hitting walls. Materials like ceramic tile, metal, glass, or matching stone can extend the counters up the wall.
Natural stone usually requires seams between slabs. Seam placement impacts appearance. Pros can strategically place in corners or transitions.
When it comes to choosing a countertop material for a kitchen renovation or new build, homeowners have great options with natural stones like granite, marble, and soapstone or engineered quartz. Each material has its own advantages and considerations in terms of appearance, durability, maintenance, and cost.
Factors like your personal style, budget, and how you use your kitchen should ultimately guide your decision. Any of these beautiful and functional stones can provide years of enjoyment as the centerpiece of your kitchen. Consult with stone suppliers and installers to view slabs and edge profiles in person. This will help narrow down the vast selection to the perfect countertop stone to suit your needs and kitchen vision.