What makes the perfect countertop? The short answer would be stone. Within this domain are a very wide range of mineral compositions that give us very different and unique countertop materials. Marble, Granite and Quartz are three of the most commonly used countertop materials. Marble, composed primarily of calcite, was formed when limestone was put under extreme heat and pressure. Granite, as it is known in the industry of countertops, is a wide range of stones that were formed when magma solidified. Quartz is a product produced by combining a high percentage of natural quartz with binder and coloring to form a slab of material. Marble, Granite, and Quartz each have its superiority in the proper application.
Marble is classic. The beauty of marble captures the essence of mother nature's elegance. Classy and exquisite, marble has etched its presence in history as The Statue of David, The Colosseum, and The Taj Mahal. As a countertop material, marble is best suited for those who are willing to take care of a piece of art. Even when polished marble is a very porous stone that will readily accept liquids and stain if not properly sealed and maintained at least 2 times per year. Over time, oils and fats from cooking can create an unsightly coloration that may be very difficult to remove. The composition of marble makes it inherently prone to etching. Anything too acidic has the potential to chemically remove the shine from the stone exposing dull unfinished surface with open pores. Marble is beautiful. It is also soft and delicate requiring more care and upkeep than other materials.
Historically banks, churches, and government buildings all had one thing in common. They were built out of stone (granite). They were built to be timeless. They age well, weather well and stand the test of time. Granite tends to be harder and stronger than marble while being less susceptible to staining or etching. Many different types of granite are composed of various hard and soft minerals that are present, homogenized or veined. The combination of hard and soft minerals allows granite a unique feature; leathering/texturing. By brushing granite with various grits we can create very shallow smooth peaks and valleys between the hard and soft material. While the end product is not as glossy as a polished finish, the look and feel is natural and earthy while being refined. Granite is harder, stronger, and more durable than marble but it can still be damaged by chipping, scratching or placing extremely hot items onto the surface. While less porous than marble, granite still needs to be sealed at least 1 time per year.
The current trend in countertops is a solid surface material known as Quartz. Quartz is manufactured with a high percentage of natural quartz (which is the primary component of granite). The natural quartz is poured by a machine into a slab with coloring and binders. Whereas natural stone is random and unique, Quartz is patterned and replicated. Compared to marble and granite Quartz is stronger, harder, and less susceptible to stains and scratches. With Quartz, you can achieve the look of granite or marble while basically eliminating all the shortcomings of natural stone. Due to its strength, much longer overhangs on islands can be achieved without support(s) (assuming the cabinets are fastened down properly). Quartz cuts smoothly without breaking or chipping which allows for a clean sharp edge. Mitered Edges, and Waterfalls are excellent options that Quartz is well suited for. A unique characteristic of Quartz is that is can be thermoformed. When milled to < ¼” Quartz can be bent and shaped.
Custom furniture can now be wrapped in stone creating a truly unique work. While Quartz has some significant advantages over granite and marble it is not perfect. A hot pot or pan can melt, burn, or damage Quartz if placed on the surface. If exposed to excessive UV the surface color may degrade/change. Marble and Granite are produced in blocks and cut to produce bundles whereas as each individual Quartz slab is poured. There are many different