It’s countertop day! Woohoo! Feels like a pretty big milestone for our little renovation project! Not that I’m complaining, things have actually been moving along pretty well in our bathroom reno so far. Our closet organizer is in, our glass shower enclosure was installed last week. It’s finally starting to look like a bathroom again! Today we are taking a good leap forward though and our countertop is being installed. Amazing what a difference that makes to the space!
Picking the right countertop for you and your project can be a bit overwhelming. It’s a big investment and can make a big impact on your room. So what should you look for in a countertop? Where do you start? What is the right product for you? All very important questions. Questions I was reminded of just a couple of weeks ago with a client planning their own bathroom renovation.
Solid surface countertops continue to be extremely popular. But that could mean granite, marble or quartz just to name the top few. What’s the difference? Which one is better? With all these questions swirling around it can seem impossible to make a decision.
We have actually tried them all in our house. We have granite in our kitchen, marble in our main bathroom and have chosen quartz for our ensuite. They all have their pros and cons, although I do caution anyone thinking about marble! To help you with your countertop selection, here are some tips to pick which one will work best for you.
How to Pick the Best Solid Surface Countertop:
What is it?
Granite in the most simple of terms is stone. It’s a stone that was formed deep underground over millions of years. As liquid magma flowed underground into vacant cavities, it slowly cooled and hardened due to compression caused by the overlay of other materials. Granite is actually the most common form of igneous rock found along much of the earth’s crust. The slow cooling of the magna created the coarse mineral texture that we see in most granite samples today.
Granite is a strong and durable material. It’s beauty when cut and polished has made it a popular building material and architectural embellishment for hundreds of years. Even today, over 40% of the stone quarried is still granite. Due to the physical location where the granite is quarried and the minerals present during its creation, the colour and composition of the granite can vary significantly. Granite is available in very light to very dark colour options.
- Granite is beautiful. There are some spectacular slabs of granite available on the market with beautiful crystallization and veining.
- It is a natural product. While the manufacturing process enhances the look of the granite, it does not change it. What you see is what you get, it is not a reproduction.
- Granite is unique. No two pieces are ever quite the same, due to the natural variation.
- The surface is durable. Granite offers a naturally hard surface that makes a great countertop option. It is stain and scratch resistant.
- Granite is heat resistant. Although you should always avoid direct heat when possible.
- Due to the naturally porous surface of granite, it does requires periodic maintenance and sealing.
- Natural variation can lead to differences between batch lots. Batch lot viewings may not be necessary but are highly recommended.
- There are limitations on the size of the granite slab. Other solid surface countertops like quartz also have size limits, but granite tends to be a slightly smaller sized slab than quartz. This can sometimes cause issues with where seams are placed if necessary.
- Granite can chip or crack. Although unlikely, it is possible to damage granite and care should be taken with heavy objects dropping onto the surface.
- The cost of granite can be high. There is a range of colours available in granite, but some of the more rare or exotic colours can be quite expensive.
What is it?
Although still a natural stone product, marble is fundamentally different from granite. Marble is classified as a metamorphic stone because it is created by the transformation of one type of stone (sedimentary rock) into another (marble). This transformation occurs deep underground through intense heat and pressure. Marble originates primarily as limestone and transforms into marble. Other minerals incorporated during the metamorphic process give the marble its attractive colours and variation.
- Marble is beautiful and unique. No two pieces are ever quite the same due to the natural variation.
- As it is less commonly found, marble is a highly sought after and elegant countertop material.
- The process through which marble is formed creates a less granular, more fluid appearance than granite.
- Although it is a stone product, marble is actually a softer surface than granite. This makes marble more susceptible to scratching, staining and etching.
- Marble is a porous material and must be sealed at least once per year. This is even more important for marble than granite!
- Choose cleaning product carefully to avoid damaging the stone. Do not use harsh, acidic cleaners.
- Avoid direct heat on marble, it is not heat resistant and contact with hot pans could damage the surface.
- The cost of marble can vary but it can be an expensive countertop option.
- As a surface, marble tends to be a more suitable choice for low-traffic areas like bathrooms and fireplace surrounds rather than kitchens.
What is it?
Quartz is the new darling of countertop design. It has overcome early misconceptions and is rivalling, even surpassing granite as a countertop selection. Quartz countertops are man-made stone countertops formed by combining between 90-95% ground quartz (depending on the manufacturer) with 5-10% resins, polymers and pigments. The result is a very hard granite-like surface which can be manipulated to achieve any given number of looks. Its appearance depends on how the quartz is ground, coarse versus fine, and the pigments and processes used during manufacturing. Quartz is now able to mimic both granite and marble quite convincingly.
- Quartz has a very hard and durable surface. It is scratch and stain resistant.
- The surface is non-porous and is low maintenance. It does not require resealing.
- The non-porous surface is antibacterial.
- Quartz is available is a wide range of colours and designs.
- It is easy to clean with mild soap and water.
- Although quartz can be expensive, it does offer a good range in price and selection.
- Quartz is not heat tolerant, homeowners should use trivets or heating pads to protect the surface.
- It does not offer the same natural variation, each slab is reproduced and not necessarily unique.
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