Natural Stone Countertop Materials Comparison [2021]

 In Blog, Countertops, Granite, Marble, Marble Countertops, Natural Stone, Quartz Countertops

Choosing between all of the natural stone countertop material options can feel overwhelming. They are all beautiful, and many of them come with a long pros list. This can make it challenging for homeowners to determine which option would best fit their needs. However, Rock Doctor aims to make this process a bit easier for homeowners. Check out our natural stone countertop comparison guide!

Granite

Let’s start with granite. Granite has been one of the most popular countertop materials for the last few years. One of the main reasons that granite is so popular is that it is both durable and beautiful, coming in various colors. Granite’s unique speckled appearance has also contributed to its popularity.

Many homeowners love that granite can improve their resale value, and we have seen more and more granite countertops popping up in renovation projects.

Granite Pros

Granite is both heat- and scratch-resistant, making it a durable countertop option for those who use their kitchens a lot. In addition to being highly durable, granite is relatively low maintenance. It does require sealing, but you won’t have to fuss over your countertops like you might have to with other countertop materials.

The timeless look of granite makes it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms, especially for those who are renovating, because it can increase the value of your home. Keep in mind that nearly 3,000 different colors and types of granite are available, so there is bound to be something that you love.

Granite Cons

The biggest con for granite is that it is a porous material, meaning it must be sealed to prevent damage from moisture. A natural stone sealant is the best way to protect granite countertops from moisture damage and stains.

Another con is the hefty price tag associated with granite. Depending on the grade, pattern, color, and thickness of your granite slab, you could pay anywhere between $25 to $1,000 per square foot. The thickness of the granite can quickly drive up the cost of the stone slab. If you are on a budget, you might want to purchase a slab that is three-quarters of an inch thick instead of an inch and a half thick. This strategy will give you the best chance of getting your money back on the countertops when you sell your home.

Quartzite

Quartzite is the combination of sandstone and quartz fused together under intense heat and pressure. Due to the combination of minerals, quartzite is harder than quartz and naturally resistant to heat and stains. This metamorphic stone is also scratch-resistant. Quartzite comes in light colors with a veiny pattern, making it perfect for modern-day kitchen and bathroom countertops.

Quartzite Pros

Quartzite countertops have a glassy appearance that many homeowners desire in their kitchens or bathrooms. The patterns in quartzite often resemble the veining found in marble slabs.

Quartzite is denser than granite, making it more resistant to damage such as chipping, staining, and scratching. It is also easier to maintain quartzite as it is less likely to experience damage from acidic cleaners than other natural stones.

Since it is resistant to UV rays, quartzite is an excellent choice for outdoor countertops or kitchens that get a lot of direct natural light. When subjected to direct sunlight, quartzite will not fade.

Quartzite Cons

Like many other natural stones, quartzite is porous, meaning that you will need to keep it sealed to prevent damage from moisture and stains. Additionally, you need to be careful with knives on quartzite because they could damage the stone’s surface.

Quartzite also tends to be expensive, even more so than granite, which puts it out of some homeowner’s budget. It also only comes in a few select colors, so it won’t work for every homeowner’s style.

Marble

Marble is generally associated with luxury and beauty, and a marble countertop is definitely beautiful. Marble countertops fit well in elegant, modern kitchens as well as classically designed ones. Marble comes in various neutral colors like beige, white, black, and slate gray. No two sheets of marble are exactly the same, so homeowners with marble countertops know that their counters are uniquely theirs.

Marble Pros

The high-end aesthetic of marble makes it desirable. It is a great work surface for bakers because it naturally stays cool, and it is both waterproof and heatproof. The natural stone also comes in many different textures and colors, including unique veining patterns. Marble also increases property value when well-maintained.

Marble Cons

For most homeowners, the number one con for marble is its price point. However, marble scratches and stains very easily, and it requires frequent sealing to protect the stone. Repairing marble is difficult, as well. Marble is also very heavy, making installation a challenging task that should be left to professionals.

Limestone

This sedimentary stone is made up of mostly calcium deposits. Limestone’s versatility has made it the obvious choice for some homeowners. For example, limestone can come in large slabs or smaller tiles. In fact, limestone often looks a bit like marble due to its veiny patterns. However, limestone tends to come in a sandy color or white.

Limestone Pros

Limestone countertops bring natural beauty into kitchens and bathrooms, and they have such an elegant pattern that people tend to fall in love with them. Limestone is earthy and comes from shells and fossils from aquatic creatures, making it exceptionally unique. Even chefs desire this material because it looks great with stainless steel appliances.

Limestone Cons

Limestone is going to require more maintenance than many other natural stone countertop options. You have to treat it carefully because it is prone to scratching, scalding, and more. It also tends to come in only a couple of different shades, so it isn’t the right fit in every home.

Slate

Slate is a non-porous, metamorphic stone that is stain- and heat-resistant. Its affordability has helped it become a popular choice among homeowners, and it is a good option for those looking for a neutral countertop. Slate’s soft-matte finish provides a look that is quite different from many other natural stone options. Some homeowners use oils to give the slate a glossier appearance.

Slate Pros

Slate is versatile because it is gray with various shades of either pink, purple, blue, black, brown, green, or red. The hard, durable nature of slate makes it great for kitchens that are used frequently.

Slate Cons

The corners of your slate countertops could be incredibly sharp, and it might not be a great choice for homeowners with small children or large pets. Additionally, slate is prone to minor scratches, but they can typically be buffed out with steel wool.

Soapstone

If you are interested in countertops in a shade of gray, black, or white, soapstone might be the right option for you. Soapstone has subtle veining but also a very consistent look about it. Made of talc, soapstone looks great in modern and traditional kitchens, so it is very versatile. Although it is frequently found in historic homes, soapstone will blend seamlessly into your modern kitchen, as well.

Soapstone Pros

Soapstone is non-porous and highly resistant to both stains and bacteria. Due to its non-porous nature, soapstone doesn’t require sealing, but applying mineral oil can help cover any surface scratches and add a glossy finish to the stone. The oil can also deepen the color of the stone over time.

Soapstone Cons

There is only one major downside to soapstone countertops. Soapstone is relatively soft when compared to granite or quartzite, and it has a silky-smooth texture. So, you want to be gentle when working on it. Never cut anything directly on a soapstone countertop and be careful to not drop heavy objects on it either. To prevent damage, you should also hire a professional to install soapstone countertops.

For some, the fact that soapstone can darken over time is a huge turnoff. This darkening often adds an aged look to the stone.

Travertine

If you are looking to create an old-world vibe in your kitchen, travertine lends the perfect creamy texture to the style. Travertine is a little high maintenance, but it creates a warm, inviting feel that many people are drawn to in the heart of their home.

Travertine Pros

Travertine is another durable form of limestone, and you can have it installed in slabs or as tiles. Since travertine tiles don’t have to go through the same manufacturing process that many other stones require, it is an eco-friendly option.

Travertine Cons

This beautiful stone is porous, and it needs to be sealed frequently. The surface of the stone is pitted, so it has to be filled to smooth it out. Travertine can be easily scratched or damaged by heat. Acids can also stain the surface of the stone if they aren’t cleaned up right away. Fortunately, scratches and other damage can typically be sanded out easily.

Quartz

Although quartz is technically an engineered stone, it consists of between 90 and 93 percent natural quartz. The quartz crystals are then bound together with either acrylic or epoxy binder. Quartz has been increasing in popularity due to its beauty and the wide variety of colors and patterns available.

Since quartz is manmade, the countertop delivered to your home will look just like the samples you saw. Plus, it is less expensive than granite and many other natural stone countertop materials on the market.

Quartz Pros

Quartz is more durable and lasts longer than granite because it is one of the world’s hardest materials. In addition to being hard, quartz is also heat- and stain-resistant, making it one of the easiest countertop materials to maintain.

Quartz is non-porous, meaning it doesn’t need to be sealed like many other natural stone surfaces. Non-porous materials are also much less likely to have problems with bacteria or mold.

Due to the fact that it is manufactured, quartz can be given patterns and veining that make it look a lot like marble or granite. You can also have quartz custom-fabricated in any size and shape, which isn’t always an option with natural stone slabs.

Although quartz is heavy, it is durable enough that DIY installation is relatively safe and easy.

Quartz Cons

While there many reasons that homeowners love quartz, there are a couple of things that you should consider. First, since the colors and patterns are so consistent, they can often look artificial. The seams in the stone can also be more prominent than they are on other types of stone countertops.

Quartz is also one of the more expensive options for countertop materials.

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