Granite and soapstone have been used for counter tops for generations and are very popular today. Quartz, or engineered stone, is an increasingly popular option with many unique benefits that differentiate from traditional natural stone.
Because the natural stone industry lacks a standardized grading process for granite, soapstone, and quartz, determining the individual “quality” of these materials is difficult.
A thorough understanding of what makes them different in composition and performance is the most effective way to determine which is best for your counter project.
Here is a primer to help you understand some of the differences. Learn, ask questions, and understand all you can about the characteristics of each product before making a decision you may life with for decades.
|Colors and patterns||Infinite number of natural colors and patterns. Mundane to exotic!||Many colors, fewer random patters than granite.||Most often found in dark grey or green, with light gray veins.|
|Stain Resistance (none are completely stain proof)||Light colors are more prone to staining than dark. Generally good with sealer and careful maintenance. Don’t let fluid sit on it for long periods of time.||Light colors are more prone to staining than dark. Generally good if you keep it clean and don’t let fluid sit on it for long periods of time.||If well oiled, it is stain resistant if spills are promptly wiped up.|
|Maintenance||Mild soap and water with no abrasives, or acid. Reseal every 6 to 12 months unless long-term sealer was applied by fabricator.||No sealing; clean with soap and water or glass cleaner||Seal with mineral oil regularly, and let a patina develop over time. Can be cleaned with household cleaners.|
|Durability||Extremely hard. Some granite can chip but it is generally scratch resistant. Hot pots and pans can be placed directly on the surface.||Very hard and durable, not as prone to staining or scratching. Not as heat resistant as granite. Sometimes difficult to repair.||Feels soft to the touch but is very durable. Scratches easily. More resistant to acids and alkalis. Absorbs heat – hot pans can be placed on it. Gets darker in color as it ages and oxidizes.|
|Longevity||Will stand the test of time if properly maintained.||This is an engineered product and is imported from all over the world with inconsistent quality control. The amount of quartz particulate to resin varies and can dramatically impact the quality of the product over time.||People tend to either love it or hate it when it develops a patina. It has a rough finish which can scratch your glasses, dishes and pans. At the same time, it is so soft that it scratches easily and will quickly develop a “distressed” look.|