How to Choose a Countertop – Part Four
Selecting a countertop is one of the major decisions in any kitchen, bathroom, fireplace or master closet renovation. Not only is it a prominent feature in the room, but it may equal or sometimes even exceed the cost of your cabinets. In parts one and two of this four-part series, we discussed the pros and cons of manmade stone and the various types available on the market. In part three, we discussed the pros and cons of manmade stone. Now, we’ll discuss the three most popular types of manmade stones available and their attributes!
Quartz is by far the most popular manmade stone on the market. It’s available in granite and marble imitations as well as neutrals and exotic colors and patterns that do not occur in nature. Quartz manufacturers like Silestone, Corian and Cambria have become so well known, a lot of people assume they are the name of the stone itself rather than just the producer. Quartz is extremely hard and durable and is non-porous making it stain and crack resistant. It doesn’t require any maintenance and is easy to clean with soap and warm water. It’s important to note that quartz is not scorch resistant so placing extremely hot pots and pans directly on it is not advisable. It’s also good to note that it isn’t stain proof – meaning with enough abuse, it is possible to stain. In comparison to a natural stone, however, the stain resistance is significantly better. Quartz is my number one go to for bathrooms and kitchens as it’s very competitively priced these days and withstands every day usage.
Sintered stone is natural materials that go through an engineered process of compression and heat. Because of this, it gives a more realistic look complete with the natural texture and faults of a real stone. It’s great for countertops, but is also great for flooring, pools, and spas. Like quartz, sintered stone is temperature and stain resistant. Unlike quartz, it can withstand extremely high temperatures without damage which makes it great for outdoor applications. It is also even harder to etch and stain than quartz. Sintered stone patterns are typically very natural patterned, so if you’re looking for a wide selection of marble like looks, this probably isn’t the stone for you. However, if you’re looking for a more natural look without the maintenance and upkeep, sintered stone might be a good choice!
Porcelain is the newest countertop material on the market. Made of the same material as porcelain tiles, it’s now available in 2 CM thickness so it can be used for counters, fireplaces and grout free shower surrounds. Advertised as stain and heat proof, it’s currently the strongest countertop available. It also has stunning patterns that resemble natural marble more closely than quartz. However, it does have its cons. Since it’s a newer, high-density material, countertop fabricators charge more to work with it. You have to find a porcelain certified installer with equipment strong enough to cut it. It’s also currently not available in standard thickness and therefore always requires a more expensive mitered edge to give the thick look. It is also possible to crack with a blunt force (say hammering it intentionally with a meat cleaver ;). Standard use, however, it’s perfectly strong. If you’re interested in a very durable, realistic looking slab with a contemporary thin profile; porcelain might be the choice for you!
This ends our series on countertop selection. Make sure you go back and read the first three parts if you’ve found yourself struggling over which material to choose. If you’re realizing there’s a lot more to consider than you thought, it’s time to work with a professional! Our design consultants take time to learn your style, budget, and needs to recommend the perfect material for you. Give us a call, and you’re one step closer to your dream renovation!