Alternative Countertop Materials

By far, the most popular countertop materials today are granite, marble and quartz. These materials are preferred by homeowners because they’re durable, beautiful, long-lasting and have high value. They “wow” home buyers and retain their beauty for decades – or longer.

…but for some homeowners, there’s always some curiosity about the alternatives. Installing something different and unexpected is one way to express individuality and personal style. Some homeowners just want to be different, while others are looking for the perfect material to show off their beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Knowing those alternatives, including a few pros and cons about each, can help you decide whether a countertop material is right for you.

Wood

There’s nothing warmer or more natural than wood. This durable, earthy, rustic material is a natural addition to farmhouse-style kitchens, Tuscan style kitchens and kitchen islands everywhere.

Wood is a surprising countertop material in some ways. It’s sensitive to water, so you’ve got to be careful to clean up spills as soon as they occur. Wood also dries out easily with excessive use. Oiling your wooden countertops on a regular basis is a good way to keep them in good condition. Fortunately, wood is very forgiving and can be sanded or scraped with a razor blade to remove stains. Refinishing your wooden countertops can keep them looking beautiful for decades to come.

Concrete

Concrete has a distinctive appearance that some homeowners love. It’s very utilitarian, but has a unique edginess that pairs well with natural materials like leather, copper and wood. Some homeowners like to combine their concrete countertops with other industrial features like pendant lighting featuring Edison bulbs, exposed brick and open shelving.

The downsides? Concrete is porous and can stain. It requires sealing to be protected. It’s also prone to hairline cracking (which can often be repaired). Finally, it can be noisy. Pots and pans clanking against it can make normal cooking a very loud experience indeed.

Recycled Materials

Recycled countertops are the preferred material for homeowners who prioritize sustainability. Many recycled materials can be used to make countertops, including glass, paper and even metal. These materials are combined with resins to create a hard, durable surface.

Recycled material countertops are low-maintenance, typically require no sealing, and have a unique appeal for people who prioritize eco-friendly home systems. Some recycled materials come in solid colors, while others are flecked with pieces of material dotting the surface in interesting patterns and colors. You choose.

Pyrolave

Pyrolave is a natural volcanic rock that’s been glazed and fired like a ceramic. It’s incredibly durable and difficult to chip. It’s also non-porous, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria hiding in the cracks of the counter.

Pyrolave comes in solid colors that can’t be changed or refinished. If you ever tire of the color your counters, you’ll have to replace them. This countertop material typically comes in vibrant, bold shades that may not appeal to all audiences. If you’re worried about selling your house soon, Pyrolave may not be the safest choice. It can also be very expensive.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the countertop of choice in professional kitchens. It’s got a cool, industrial appearance that looks right at home with a professional stove and stainless steel appliances. It’s also entirely resistant to burns, melting or staining. If you’re looking for a long-lasting countertop that requires little maintenance, stainless steel is a great choice. One more benefit: it’s entirely recyclable, which means that your counters can have a new life when you decide to replace them with something else.

The downside? Stainless steel scratches easily. Even high quality stainless steel will scratch over time, but the higher quality the steel, the more durable it is. You can rub out some scratches by lightly oiling the surface of the steel with olive oil. Some fine scratches can be removed with a mild abrasive pad. Deeper scratches are there for life unless repaired by a pro.

Laminate

Laminate countertops are an affordable option for homeowners seeking a material that is beautiful, flexible in its appearance and customizable to the space where it’s being installed. Laminate has been around for decades and has made big strides in its durability in recent years. Even if you think you know what laminate is like, you may not – unless you’ve installed laminate in your home sometime in the last decade.

Laminate isn’t as durable as natural materials like stone. It can be melted, chipped or scratched, so it does need to be properly cared for and treated right. Over time, it can delaminate. When this starts to happen, it needs to be replaced.

Zinc

Zinc is a soft metal that’s easily stained by fingerprints and liquids. Over time, little, everyday stains change the countertop surface, creating a patina that’s similar in some ways to the patina that develops on soapstone. Zinc can be polished to a shine, or left with a matte surface. This unusual metal is beautiful and distinctive in its appearance. It looks just right in industrial kitchens and in more traditional kitchen settings.

Epoxy

Epoxy countertops are customizable, beautiful and long-lasting. Some homeowners install their own epoxy countertops, while others hire a contractor to do the work for them. Epoxy can be installed over older countertops, so it’s a popular material for homeowners who want to revitalize their old countertops without paying for all new. Epoxy can be made to resemble certain types of stone, or it can come in solid colors. It can stain, so spills need to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Don’t Accidentally Ruin Your Countertops

Your countertops might be made of a durable material like stone or quartz, but there are ways they can be damaged. You can keep your counters in good condition for decades – if you know how to do it. With the right care, your stone or quartz countertops could outlast your kitchen! Here’s what we recommend.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies

Some cleaning products are acidic and can etch the surface of your counters. Be wary of cleaning products that contain vinegar or citric acid. Both can etch stone with time. Phosphoric acid is a slightly stronger cleaning product that is sometimes found in bathroom tile, tub and sink cleaners – this too should be avoided.

Gentle cleaning products like dish-washing soap is adequate for cleaning kitchen counters. You can also add some rubbing alcohol to the dishwashing soap and water mixture for extra cleaning power. If you own natural stone countertops, stone cleaner is another good product that can safely keep your counters clean.

Use a Cutting Board

Don’t use your countertops as a cutting board – even if you own a cutting board made from the same material. If you don’t use a cutting board, you could gouge or scratch your countertops. This is especially true if your counters are made from a soft stone like marble.

Seal Stone As Needed

It’s easy to forget that many types of stone are porous and can absorb liquids, leading to stains. You can avoid this problem if you seal your counters periodically.

Sealing is relatively easy if you have the right products. A few months ago, we published an extensive article about sealing your countertops. If you’re not sure whether your stone counters need to be sealed, try this test:

  1. Pour a teaspoon of water on the surface.
  2. Leave the water to sit for 15 minutes to half an hour.
  3. Wipe away the water. If the water leaves a wet stain behind, this means your counters need to be sealed. Don’t worry – the water stain will dry.

If you own soapstone counters, you do not need to seal your counters ever. Soapstone is so dense that it cannot absorb water. You can, however, oil the soapstone to ensure the stone’s patina develops evenly.

Clean Up Spills from Acidic Foods

Just as acidic cleaning products can etch your counters, acidic foods can do the same. Clean up spills from foods like red wine, white wine and ketchup as soon as the spills occur, or as soon as you notice the problem. If your counters are properly sealed, a spill that goes unnoticed is less likely to do damage. Take care of your counters!

Don’t Use Your Countertops As a Step Ladder

Stone may not be strong enough to support your weight while you change a light bulb or hunt for a pot in the cabinet over the stove. Do not step on or stand on your counters. If you crack your counters or chip them, contact your fabricator as soon as possible to discuss a potential repair.

Use Trivets

Countertops of all kinds can be sensitive to extreme heat. Some can be discolored by heat, others may crack or warp. Use trivets, hot pads, cork pads and other types of pads to provide protection from hot pots and pans.

Are You Hard On Your Countertops? Pick the Right Material

Some materials are more easily damaged than others. For example, marble is a particularly soft stone that can be easily scratched and stained. By comparison, quartz is especially tough and requires little care.

You should pick the type of material that matches your lifestyle and cooking habits. Your installer or fabricator can help you sort through the choices and make the right decision for your home.

Outdoor Kitchens – Choosing Countertops

Outdoor kitchens are exciting because they bring some of our most beloved activities – cooking and eating – into the great outdoors. A lot goes into the planning and design of an outdoor kitchen, even when it comes to the counters. Before you build an outdoor kitchen this year, know what kind of countertop material is best for your home.

What to Look for In an Outdoor Countertop

For an outdoor kitchen, it’s important to choose a countertop material with the right qualities. Not all materials are created equal. Some wear faster than others, and some are simply not suitable for an outdoor environment.

Durability. Your outdoor kitchen is regularly exposed to summer sun, rain, snow and ice. Stay away from counters that may crack or deteriorate when exposed to temperature extremes. The best outdoor counters require little or no maintenance (other than regular cleaning).

Beauty. Outdoor kitchens are 100% luxury – so we recommend the most beautiful, stylish counters you can find. Consider the colors and patterns in the surrounding landscape or on your deck as you choose the colors and patterns for your counters. Some materials come in as many colors and patterns as you can imagine, so keep an open mind when trying to picture what could be.

Which Materials Are Best?

There are so many popular and attractive materials to choose from that making a decision can be hard. We recommend viewing each possible material in person before making a decision. Touching each sample, seeing the slabs up close and discussing your favorite materials with a professional can help make your decision easier.

Quartz

With the look of natural stone but the durability of a man-made material, quartz is a dream countertop material for most homeowners. Because it’s man-made, homeowners can pick almost any color or pattern they want, and match their counters to nearly any surface or object in the vicinity.

Quartz is almost the ideal material for an outdoor kitchen because it’s so incredibly durable, low-maintenance and long-lasting. You’ll never have to seal your quartz counters. Quartz is also stain-resistant, so there’s no need to fret about that dollop of melted butter or dressing that goes unnoticed after your afternoon barbecue.

Constant exposure to sunlight can cause damage to this man-made material. If you’re going to use quartz in an outdoor kitchen, keep it covered and in shade throughout the day.

Pros:

  • Stain-resistant
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Low maintenance, no sealing required
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Can be made to mimic the look of many natural stones, like marble and granite

Cons:

  • Should not be exposed to constant sunlight

Soapstone

Elegant, understated, and sophisticated – this natural stone comes in shades of gray and cream. It’s so dense that it’s non-porous, which means you never have to seal it or worry about bird droppings permeating the surface. It’s also impervious to freeze/thaw cycles. It’s not sensitive to the sun, so you can install soapstone counters in the open air or under a covering.

Soapstone develops a patina that darkens its surface over time. Oiling the soapstone will help this patina develop evenly, but you don’t have to apply oil. There’s no way to stop the soapstone from darkening, so be prepared. Some people like this patina, others do not.

Though it is dense, soapstone is also fairly soft, so it scratches easily. It must be protected from sharp knives, heavy cast iron and other materials that could mar its surface.

Pros:

  • Stain-resistant
  • Low maintenance, no sealing required
  • Develops a patina that some people like
  • Will not be damaged by regular exposure to the sun

Cons:

  • Develops a patina that some people don’t like
  • Scratches fairly easily

Granite

Granite is a very popular countertop material outdoors because of its beauty and durability. In fact, granite was considered the most desirable countertop material – indoors or outdoors – for many years. It comes in flecked patterns that can hide dirt and crumbs, so it looks great outside even when it hasn’t been cleaned or used in days.

Granite is also very scratch-resistant, so it’s a good choice if you’re very hard on your counters. And, even when exposed to regular sunlight, granite does not easily fade or stain.

The one complaint some homeowners may have about granite is that it needs regular sealing. If a seal is not regularly applied, it will absorb water, which can make it vulnerable to freeze/thaw cycles. Sealing granite is not hard, but it does need to be done periodically as the old seal wears off.

Pros:

  • Stain-resistant when properly sealed
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns

Cons: 

  • Needs regular sealing

How to Maintain Your Outdoor Countertops

Maintenance is important for outdoor furnishings and fixtures – especially if they’re used for cooking and food preparation. Above all else, outdoor countertops must be kept clean or you could subject yourself and your loved ones to food-borne illnesses.

Cleaning

If your outdoor counters are made from natural stone, we recommend cleaning them with a natural stone cleaner with anti-bacterial properties. Talk to your stone fabricator to find out which cleaning product is best.

If your counters are made from quartz, use an anti-bacterial, non-acidic, non-abrasive cleaner. You can also use warm water mixed with dishwashing liquid.

Clean your counters before every use, after every use, and in between if you’re cutting up raw meats or handling foods that could contaminate your counters with germs.

Sealing

If you own granite (or marble) countertops, apply sealant according to the instructions. Some counters need to be resealed every 6 months, others can go for a year without resealing. You’ll be able to tell when your counters need to be sealed again because they’ll start absorbing water. Pour a tablespoon of water on the surface and leave the water to sit for 15 minutes. If the water leaves a stain after it’s cleaned up, it’s time to re-seal.

Test your counters regularly to decide whether they need sealing. Check out our recent article for more in-depth instructions.

Countertop Fabrication Done Right

Custom-cut countertops made from natural stone add value and beauty to your kitchen or bathroom. The multi-step fabrication process ensures that your new counters will be personally made and perfectly fitted for your home. Throughout the process, you’ll make many decisions that will influence the course of the project. Knowing what to expect and which choices benefit you most is important.

Choose the Right Stone Fabricator

There may be many stone fabricators in your area. Choosing the right one is very important. Look for a business that sells quality materials, provides excellent customer service, sets fair prices and enjoys a good reputation.

  • Visit the showroom to view their selection in person. Pay attention to the customer service you receive during your visit. Are they attentive? Do they communicate well and answer your questions accurately? Are they willing to go the extra mile to help you make your decision?
  • Get references from previous customers. This is the best way to gauge a fabricator’s service, products and quality.
  • Read the warranty. Choose a fabricator that shows confidence in their products with a solid warranty.

Select Your Stone Type

Marble, soapstone, and granite are the most common natural stones used as kitchen counters. Each has its own patterning, color, and durability. Each stone is differently maintained. Some are more durable than others. The countertop material you choose will affect the type of maintenance you perform and the day-to-day behaviors that you adopt to protect your countertops.

Marble is a sophisticated but soft stone, most commonly available in white and gray. It’s highly absorbent and must be sealed periodically to prevent stains. It also scratches easily, so it must be protected from knives and heavy, hot pots with cutting boards and trivets.

Soapstone is a very dense, hard stone that does not need to be sealed. It ranges in color from soft, creamy white to deep charcoal gray. Soapstone develops a natural patina that darkens with time. Oiling soapstone periodically helps this patina develop evenly.

Granite. Granite is the most popular natural stone countertop material. It is prized for its durability and beauty, and comes in a range of colors and patterns including brown, brown, gray, black and white. Though granite is much harder and more scratch-resistant than marble, it too can absorb liquids and may be subject to staining. Periodic sealing helps granite repel water and protects granite from stains.

Inspect the Slab

Every slab of natural stone is unique. Some have beautiful features that you’ll want to stare at, run your fingers across, admire. Most slabs will have spots you might call “imperfections.” A good stone supplier will allow you to inspect each slab before selecting your countertops. Show your fabricator the areas you like best, and the areas you like least. Your fabricator will help you choose a layout to showcase what you love.

Sign a Contract

Countertop installation is no small investment. Your fabricator should present a contract to ensure everyone is on the same page. Read the contract thoroughly and ask questions about any parts that you find confusing or difficult to understand. The contract should contain information like payment terms, stone type, dimensions, the name of the installer, scope of work, and the contact information for the installer.

 

Learn more about the process of fabricating countertops by reading our article titled “Countertop Fabrication from Start to Finish: How to Install Custom Countertops at Home“.

 

Countertop Fabrication from Start to Finish: How to Install Custom Countertops at Home

Natural stone countertops are a joy to behold. They gleam and shine. They provide the backdrop for your meals and meal preparation. They are also a major investment. Well-chosen stone can last centuries if properly installed and well maintained. Installation of natural stone is a process. Before you get started, here is what you need to know.

What Is Countertop Fabrication?

Countertop fabrication is the selection, cutting and installation of natural stone countertops. Fabrication from a turn-key supplier is a full-service experience, starting with the selection process and ending with professional installation.

Fabrication, Step-By-Step

1. Measure the countertops.

Draw a layout of your kitchen, and measure your counters including their width and depth. Note any built-in appliances and features like the sink, including their measurements and placement on your counters. These measurements do not have to be totally precise, as your fabricator will eventually come to your home to take more precise measurements for installation. The measurements you take now will serve as a useful reference when you are discussing costs, material types and individual slabs with consultants from the fabricator.

Interested in a matching stone backsplash? Measure the walls, including width and height, and note their placement on the counters. Talk to the fabricator about the backsplash when you visit the showroom.

2. Make your selection.

Bring your drawings to the fabricator to discuss your upcoming installation. Consultants will show you various types of stone, discuss your budget and help you explore materials to find the right stone. As you are discussing the various types of stone available, have a conversation with the consultant about maintenance and durability. Each stone type is different. Pick the type of stone based on all its characteristics, not just appearance. Once you have selected a stone type, the fabricator will submit a bid for purchase and installation.

3. Your fabricator will prepare the space.

Installers will come to your home to take more precise measurements. When they are done, they will use those measurements to create a wooden template. This template will help fabricators cut your new countertops without error. If you wish, you will be able to use this wooden template to plan the layout. Your fabricator will lay the wood over the slabs, and you can help position the template over the slab so that your favorite colors and details are included.

4. Stone cutting and installation.

The rest of this process is in the hands of your fabricator. They will cut the stone, then install it. Countertop installation takes about a day. Installers will attach the sink, install the faucet and plumbing, remove the old countertops, and manage the disposal. On the day of the installation, you will be able to speed the process along by removing your countertop appliances and other items on the countertops. When the work is done, your counters will be permanently transformed.

Sealing Granite Countertops

Granite is a favorite countertop material found in homes across the United States. It’s beloved for its natural resistance to scratches and beautiful variations in patterns and colors. To look and perform its best, granite needs to be sealed periodically. If you own granite countertops, here’s what you need to know about sealing granite.

How to Seal Granite Countertops

Below, we’ve described the process for using most sealer types. However, if the sealer manufacturer provides instructions that contradict the steps below, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  1. Clear the area.
  2. Spray the sealer generously over the area being sealed.
  3. Spread the sealer over the stone with a clean rag. Don’t wipe the sealer off the stone, just spread it around.
  4. Wait 15 minutes.
  5. Buff the area you sealed with a clean rag.
  6. Allow the sealer to cure on the countertop for 48 hours.

Some tips:

Seal your counters one segment at a time. Remember, you’ll have to wait 48 hours after sealing before cleaning your counters. Unless you’re going away for a weekend and can leave your counters to seal while you’re away, seal only one a segment at a time. This leaves available counter space for food prep.

Choose a quality sealer that’s appropriate for your counters. Not sure which sealer to pick? Get a recommendation from your installer. Also, read the notes on the bottle to be sure you’ve selected a sealer that’s appropriate for your stone type. 

Is This Necessary? What Is the Purpose?

The process of sealing your counters is important because it improves your counter’s stain resistance and prevents your counter from absorbing spills. Sealing protects your counters in the kitchen, where cooking oils, red wine and tomato-based sauces can leave glaring stains on your counter’s surface.

How Often Should I Seal?

Seal your countertops when the old sealer wears off. Sounds simple enough, right? Sealer is clear, so you may have a hard time telling when your counters are ready.

Lighter counters are more at risk for showing stains, so they should be resealed every six months to one year. Darker countertops are less likely to show stains, so an annual resealing may be enough to protect darker stones.

The sealer of your choice may provide a recommended timeline for re-sealing your counters. However, there’s an easy test you can use to determine when that protective layer of sealant has worn off.

Pour a tablespoon of water on your counters. Examine the bead of water, especially at the edges. If your counters are properly sealed, the water will maintain a round, bubbly appearance. The edges of the water will not spread flat, but will instead curl under, almost like a partially-filled water balloon laying flat on its side.

If you wait 15 minutes to wipe away the bead of water, you may see a wet stain on the stone where the water used to be. This stain (which will fade away in a few hours) means your counters are absorbing liquids. It’s time to reseal!

What Materials Are Needed?

Here’s what you’ll need to reseal your counters:

  • Quality sealer
  • A few clean rags or paper towels
  • Time

Read the instructions on your sealer bottle before getting started, to be sure that your particular brand of sealer doesn’t need any extra materials.

Polished vs Honed vs Leathered Stone Finishes

After long deliberation, you’ve finally picked the type of stone for your countertops at home. You’re done making decisions, right?

Not quite! Before your stone supplier can install new countertops, you’ll have to choose a finish. Some finishes are high gloss and shiny, others have a matte appearance and texture. The finish impacts the appearance of your counters, how much maintenance they require, and their durability.

To make your decision, take into account factors like how gently you treat your counters, how often you cook, and how much time you can dedicate toward ongoing maintenance.

What Does Each Finish Look Like?

Finishes can be divided into three categories: polished, honed and leathered.

Polished stone is very glossy and shiny. Its mirrored surface is reflective and bright – almost cheerful in the way it reflects light around the room.

Honed stone has a matte finish that is equal parts subdued, conservative and tasteful. Some might describe its texture as satiny or buttery. A honed finish reduces the contrast between light and dark areas. Dark veins on light stone often appear lighter and less obvious compared to dark veins on a polished stone.

Leathered finish is similar to honed finish except for one thing: it has the dimpled and almost wavy texture of leather. Leathered finish is created with a diamond-tipped brush run over the honed surface. Think of a leather couch, or leather car interior. Leathered stone has a similar texture.

How Do They Wear?

Each type of countertop wears in its own way.

Polished

Polished stone is resistant to stain, but shows scratches easily. Sometimes scratches can be sanded down and the surface re-sealed, but in some cases, the only way to eliminate scratches once they’ve been made is to refinish the countertop. This requires help from a contractor.

Honed

Honed stone doesn’t show scratches as easily as polished stone, so if you’re rough on your counters, a honed finish may be the right finish for you. Honed stone needs to be sealed more frequently than polished stone, as it is highly absorbent and can stain easily.

Leathered

Leathered stone, which is often (though not always) a dark stone may be the lowest maintenance finish there is. Darker stones show fewer stains, and the uneven leathered surface masks most scratches.

Refinishing leathered stone is not easy. If you do manage to damage your counters and require a refinishing, it will be almost impossible for your stone repair contractor to refinish only a portion of the countertops. Instead, they’ll likely have to refinish the entire surface.

Which Finish Requires the Most Maintenance? Which Requires the Least?

All counters should be cleaned multiple times per day to ensure proper food sanitation. However, each type of finish responds to cleaning in its own way.

Polished stone is very easy to clean, because it is very non-absorbent. Leathered stone is also very easy to clean, because it shows less dirt and grit than either of the other two types of finishes. Honed finish counters need regular attention to clean spills and avoid stains.

 

5 Reasons to Be Grateful for Your Quartz Countertops This Thanksgiving

Here we are, November once again. It’s the season for cooking. The season for turkey. The season for gratitude and appreciation of that which enriches our lives.

At this time of year, our kitchens take an elevated position in our household. They become more than just kitchens: they become the focus of our attention, the center of our household, and a place where we spend hours preparing for one of the most important meals of the year.

You may not often think about how important your countertops are, but at Thanksgiving, their importance becomes abundantly clear. If your countertops are made of quartz, this is a good time to reflect on how their performance contributes to your ability to make an outstanding Thanksgiving meal.

1. Durability

No kitchen material is harder, more scratch-resistant, and more stain-resistant than quartz. Made from crushed stone and resin, quartz needs no sealing in order to maintain its perfect, pristine surface.

Did your spouse spill the red wine, and the spill went unnoticed? Or maybe your teenager dragged a hot pot across your countertop?

More likely than not, your counters will be fine. Although you should wipe up stains as soon as possible, and you should avoid dragging hard or sharp materials across your counters, quartz can stand up to a range of accidents and long hours of use. After a Thanksgiving of cooking and celebrating, your quartz counters should be just as beautiful as they were before the meal.

2. Beauty

Enduring beauty is one of the reasons that homeowners choose quartz over other materials. Because it’s made from crushed stone, quartz can be shaped to take on the appearance of any natural countertop material, from marble to granite. It’s the perfect backdrop to bowls of stuffing, baking dishes filled with turkey, and casserole dishes brimming with macaroni and cheese.

3. Longevity

You’ll be enjoying your quartz countertops for many Thanksgivings into the future. Over time, your counters will become a part of your Thanksgiving tradition and Thanksgiving memories. Looking back on pictures of this year and years to come, quartz will be one of the unchanging features in your holiday photos.

4. Functionality

One of the great joys about quartz is how easy it is to clean. It’s non-porous and responds to a variety of non-abrasive cleaning products.

No more worries about applying poultices to unsightly stains after the meal is over – because quartz is highly stain resistant! Your countertops should be the lowest maintenance part of your Thanksgiving Day.

5. Value

Maybe you had to spend a little more money for quartz than you would have spent on another countertop stone, but you’ll be so happy you did. Quartz is the countertop material that gives back with every Thanksgiving that goes by.

 

Undecided About Marble Countertops? 3 Signs Marble Is Right for You

In some of the most magnificent buildings in world, marble graces stairways and altars, mantels, and sculptures. Marble is beloved because it conveys a sense of luxury and permanence. It is elegant and sophisticated. For thousands of years, marble has been a favored building material in churches, museums, and homes. Today, it can be found in kitchens around the world.

This relatively soft stone is not for everyone. As a countertop material, marble needs more protection and care than some other stones. If you have an appreciation for beauty and do not mind performing a little maintenance, marble maybe the perfect countertop for you. In this article, we will talk about the three clear signs that you would be happy with marble countertops.

#1. You love marble’s timeless, natural beauty.

No stone is more lovely than marble. It comes in many colors and varieties, including soft blue, moody gray, regal gold and darkest black. In all its forms, marble transcends other natural and man-made materials. If you adore marble’s beauty and magnificence – if you believe marble will turn your kitchen from ordinary into extraordinary – then marble may be the perfect countertop material for you.

#2. You don’t mind occasional maintenance.

Marble can absorb spilled liquids, which leads to stains. This can be prevented through occasional maintenance. Marble must be sealed periodically to prevent it from absorbing spilled liquids like cooking oil and red wine.

You can easily seal your counters yourself, or hire a pro. Either way, your marble counters will require occasional re-sealing. The frequency depends on the sealer. You will be able to tell when your stone needs a new coat by performing a simple test.

Pour a tablespoon of water on a frequently used area of your countertops and wait 15 minutes. If your counters are properly sealed, the water will bead up and will not be absorbed. If the stone is not properly sealed, the water will seep into the stone. Wipe the water away. Is there a wet mark where the water was spilled? If so, a resealing is required. …oh, and do not worry about that water stain. It will disappear as the stone dries.

If you’re not interested in performing this kind of maintenance, consider a more durable stone like quartz.

#3. You treat your counters with love.

Marble is a soft stone – that’s why the great artists of the Renaissance used it for their sculptures. Marble can be scratched or gouged if it is not treated with care. It’s easy to protect your countertops by maintaining good food prep practices. Use cutting boards and trivets. Don’t place hot pans directly on your counters. Never use your marble counters as a cutting board. Avoid sliding heavy objects from one side of your counters to the other: pick them up.

If these practices sound like your normal habits, then you should have no trouble maintaining marble counters in your home. If you’re rough on your counters, but still want marble in your house, consider installing marble in a low-contact area of your kitchen, like the backsplash.

4 Easy Ways to Keep Your Countertops Looking Their Best for Years to Come

Stone and engineered stone countertops are well known for being durable and easy to maintain. They perform best when cleaned regularly and some types of countertops require regular sealing as well. After installing natural or engineered stone, it is important to know your role in keeping these materials looking their best for years to come.

1. Choose the Right Counters for Your Lifestyle

Not all countertops perform exactly the same. When trying to make the decision between synthetic material or stone, it’s important to know each type’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can purchase countertops that make sense for your lifestyle.

Natural Stone

Natural stone countertops are the product of choice for homeowners who prefer natural materials and who have time to maintain them. Stone is porous and needs some preventative care to avoid stains.

Engineered Stone

Engineered stone is stain-resistant, crack-resistant, and durable. For homeowners with small children, busy careers, hectic lifestyles and for homeowners who just do a lot of cooking and are hard on their counters, this type of countertop material is top choice.

2. Clean Regularly

All types of countertops need to be cleaned regularly because of the potential for germs and food-borne illnesses. To clean your countertops, use a damp, soapy rag. Wipe away all food particles and dust. Do this between meals and at the end of every day. If you spill anything on your counters, especially anything acidic like red or white wine, or tomato sauce, clean it up as soon as possible to avoid staining.

Do not clean your counters with abrasive material or acidic cleaners like vinegar. Acidic cleaners can etch the surface of your counters, leaving the surface vulnerable to staining.

3. Seal if Needed

Some natural stone countertops, marble and granite included, need to be sealed periodically. Most engineered stone and soapstone do not need to be sealed, but read the manufacturer’s instructions and warranty for more information.

Sealer prevents the material from absorbing liquids like wine and cooking oil. Failure to seal natural stone countertops can result in stains. How often your counters need to be sealed depends on how you use your counters, what kind of material your counters are made from, and the quality of the sealer used.

Your stone dealer can help you choose a quality sealer that will protect your counters for the longest time possible. You will be able to tell when the sealer wears off because your counters will start to absorb liquids. Spill a tablespoon of water on your counters and leave the water there for a few minutes. When you wipe the water away, all moisture should be wicked away by the rag. If a water stain is left on the counters, the counters need to be re-sealed. (By the way, the water stain will evaporate – just give it a little time.)

4. Read the Warranty

Read any warranty that comes with your countertops. In the warranty, you’ll see helpful information about what to do and what not to do with your counters. Follow instructions in the warranty to avoid damaging your counters.

Questions? Call Us

With proper care, your countertops could outlast all other fixtures and features in your home. They’re that strong. For more information about how you can take care of your stone countertops, feel free to reach out to us.