Mined from the earth, granite is a 100% natural material. Lasting a lifetime even outdoors, (think cemetery headstones), it comes in a range of nearly 3000 colors and has the 2nd highest hardness rating after diamonds.
It’s also one of the healthiest choices, ranked 2nd for the total microorganisms per square inch left behind after an average wipe down. (Stainless steel is ranked #1) Granite holds up well to heat, however, it does absorb stains if left unsealed. Fortunately, it will be installed with a 5 year sealant on its surface, and the newer sealers are almost maintenance free and easily applied by the consumer.
Granite offers a wide range of color and pattern possibilities. The starter grade granites tend to have a more consistent color range and the patterns are typically closer together and more uniform. Erratic veining is found in the more exotic grades.
Marbles, dolomites, and soapstones also fall under the natural category.
Quartz is an engineered stone product composed of quartz particles combined with resin to bind and pigment to color. Quartz is a mineral found in granite and the resin used is the same type that’s found in the seams in granite countertops which makes this also a very hard material. The range of the amount of actual stone contained in the product varies by brand. The lowest being around 89% and the highest at 97%. Most fall around the 93% purity range. The surface is nonporous so sealing is not necessary, however, It must be protected from heat as the resin will burn.
Color and pattern variations can be found in abundance in quartz.
Solid Surface & Laminates
These manmade products are best known by Corian, Formica, Wilsonart, LG HiMacs, and Swanstone. They come in a rainbow of colors and patterns and are easier on breakables. They must be protected from heat, but other than that, they’re easy to maintain and very durable and inexpensive alternatives.