Countertop Materials

Onyx

Onyx is a calcareous stone, formed by dissolving limestone and redeposited as a new kind of stone. In caves, drip water forms onyx as stalactites and stalagmites. It is a soft, brittle stone and should be carefully evaluated for its intended use. Onyx slabs almost always have a fiberglass mesh material on the back to hold the stone together. This should be an indicator of just how fragile the stone is.

Quartz

Quartz engineered stone is a man made product that consists of 93% quartz and 7% pigments and resins. In contrast, granite countertops contain no more than 50% quartz. Industry wide, all granite quartz tops are made with the same process and equipment. Breton is the name of the Italian company that developed the process and the machines. The process combines crushed quartz, resin, and pigments in molds where it is heated and vibrated. The resulting quartz surface slabs are solid and impervious to stains, moisture, andbacteria. Silestone brand even boasts Microban in its countertops to prevent bacteria growth on the counter surface.

Soapstone

Soapstone is quarried like marble and granite with most of it coming from Brazil. Composed of magnesite, dolomite, chlorite, and talc, soapstone is very soft yet extremely dense. It’s heavier than graniteper square foot. Soapstone, like granite and slate, is a siliceous stone and is not affected by acids. It’s nearly indestructible. You can put hot trays and pans directly on it without any problem. It will scratch and chip if worked on without care. It is beautiful and like marble it requires maintenance. Soapstone is practical because it never needs sealing – stains do not penetrate beyond the surface. It is extremely heat resistant and does not react to household chemicals or cleaners. Usually, the only treatment for a soapstone top is a coat of mineral oil which brings out a lustrous, rich finish.

Marble

Unlike granite, marble was never a molten rock. Marble is a metamorphic rock that started out aslimestone. Intense pressure and heat caused it to recrystallize. Other materials formed with the marble giving it a variety of colors and veining. The stone industry considers any stone other than granite to be a marble if it can be polished. Marble slabs are smaller than granite and usually have a mesh material on the back to protect them from cracking. Marble will scratch and stain. Acids such as lemon will create a dull spot in the marble but can most of the time be resurfaced.

Limestone

Limestone tops and similarly travertine tops offer a distinctive alternative to granite. Limestone is an extremely versatile natural stone and is commonly used both inside and outside the home. It’s prized for its neutral creamy and soft earth tone colors which allow it to mix well with other stones and finishes (unlike granite countertop colors with hundreds of color choices).

Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed as layers of deposited rock material. It has distinguishable characteristics such as calcite streaks, fossils, shells, pits, and iron spots. It comes in few colors – ivory, brown, gray, red, and yellow. Travertine being similar to limestone has a different look with small voids throughout the surface. Travertine is limestone formed in the presence of hot springs which causes the voids.

Limestone is inherently porous. It’s like a sponge with liquids and will require sealing to minimize staining. Some limestones, especially darker ones, are denser and more durable. They can be polished unlike most lighter color limestones. Sometimes these harder limestones are sold as marble.

Granite

One of the hardest natural stones available. Granite countertops are impervious to scratches, resistant to heat and stains.

Solid Surface

DuPont (CORIAN) invented solid surface countertops more than 35 years ago. Corian is nonporous, impenetrable to mold, mildew, and bacteria. DuPont’s Corian countertops also resist burns and scratches. Seamless beauty and easy to clean.

Laminate

Affordability without sacrificing beauty is the key to today’s high-tech laminate countertops. Deep, rich textures and a luxurious appearance have become the industry standard. Create the look you want with these wear-resistant, non-porous materials.