Kitchen remodelling can be stressful yet exciting, especially when it comes down to choosing the perfect counter-top. This article is going to give you a breakdown of selections to consider when picking your counter-top based on types of materials and their properties. The first and most important factor to consider is the type of stone you are going to be using. The reason why I say stone, in most cases, stone is much more durable and desirable then many other counter top surfaces. Let’s start off with one of the pioneers of counter-tops; natural stone.
From the 80’s to the early 2000’s it was the “thing” to have that unique granite counter top, but what is granite and is it as popular today? Granite is a natural stone, extracted from quarries of large igneous stone deposits found around the world. Among the most beautiful counter top materials as it emphasises the appearance of quality kitchen cabinets. This stone not only has the strength to withstand impact it is also is heat resistant as it is a natural stone. However, like all natural stones there are some cons when considering this counter-top material. If not sealed and maintained properly, this may lead to staining and bacteria build up due to the porosity of the stone. Also, the variation of veining and colour of granite can be extreme and the look of the stone can be quite busy for some people as modern kitchen designs have a more minimalistic style.
Granite counter-top kitchen
One of the most beautiful if not the most unique stones in the world is Marble, but is it suitable for the everyday counter? Marble is a metamorphic rock containing a high concentration of calcite or dolomite and every slab is one of kind. One cannot argue of how beautiful this natural stone is however it is known that marble is not ideal for counter tops due to the extreme porosity of the material. Marble is permeable and will stain unless properly sealed and carefully cleaned. It must be resealed as often as once per year or sometimes even twice depending on the amount of use. Marble scratches more easy than granite especially in high-gloss finishes and it will etch if exposed to acidic materials such as tomato juice or lemon juice.
Calacatta Extra Marble. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery
Constantly innovating and growing, it is safe to say that quartz countertops are dominating the counter-top industry. Gaining popularity within the last 20 years, Quartz is an engineered stone that consists of about 93% quartz crystals and 7% resin and pigment. There are many advantages that this stone has over the rest making it the number one choice of counter today. Here are some of the advantages:
- Excellent options for color, pattern, texture and finish
- Extremely durable, strong and resistant to scratches
- Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed
- The use of resins may actually increase the strength of the material
These are just some of the advantages that come along with quality quartz slabs. The quartz industry is a competitive industry with many different companies that distribute this material. Buyers should be aware that there are a lot of low end quartz products and you should always do your research of the company you are considering purchasing from. A premium quartz company like Quartex Surfaces Inc. replicate natural stones, offers flawless polishes, textured finishes, high quartz content, stain resistance and provides longevity. There characteristics of quartz that one must keep in mind;
- While quartz is heat resistant, excessive exposure can be detrimental.
- It is not advisable to be used for exterior applications as it is not UV stable.
4100 Calacatta Vogue from Quartex Surfaces Inc
Wait … porcelain? For counter tops? Yes. Originated in Europe, porcelain slabs are now trending and emerging in North America, becoming the flagship of modern kitchens. What is porcelain? It is a manufactured type of clay, abundant in minerals known as kaolinite and feldspar. There is a long list of properties that make porcelain so appealing to consumers, one of the biggest advantages is that it can replicate natural stone like never seen before. Slabs are fired at over 1000° Fahrenheit, compressing the minerals, a process in which it gives the material its outstanding strength. After, digital technology contributes to the design of each slab, creating a digital printed image that can mimic a fine Calacattas or exquisite Statuario marble. Still not convinced? These properties should help:
- Porcelain is extremely non porous – with an absorption rate of less than .05% the material is virtually stain proof
- Heat resistant, porcelain will not burn and can be subjected to fire.
- Impact resistant, once supported and installed properly this material is actually harder than quartz and granite
- On the Mohs Scale where Talc is 1 and a Diamond is 10, porcelain is rated higher than natural stone and quartz
- Resistant to wear and tear—long lasting
- High scratch resistant
- Resistant to frost and ice which means this material is suitable for outdoor applications/kitchens
- UV stable
XX.IV Suave Porcelain from Quartex
These counter tops offer a wide range of finishes and colours with a unique look. If you love the look of marble, but not the brittleness and staining that comes with it, then porcelain is an excellent alternative with outstanding properties. Buyers should also keep in mind that when choosing a porcelain counter-top it is important that they work with an experienced fabricator/installer due to the fact that it is a fairly new product on the market and not everyone is equipped and trained to handle it. As listed above there are many features and benefits of Quartz and Porcelain compared to their predecessor, natural stone. It is always important to stay informed of what products are out there and to choose the right stone for your specific needs.