Common Questions to Ask When Choosing Countertops

Installing new countertops can transform your kitchen and change the way you prepare food. Modern countertops made of stone and engineered stone are ultra durable, long-lasting and high value. They come in an assortment of colors and are made from a variety of materials. There are so many types of countertop materials, it can be hard to choose which type is best for your home. Before you can purchase the countertop material that will make you the happiest, it’s important to know the answers to these five questions.

1. Are quartz countertops natural stone?

In the world of geology and science, quartz is a mineral. In the world of countertops, the word quartz refers to a man-made material made from real crushed quartz combined with resins and pigments. So while quartz countertops are not pure stone, they are made up of about 90% natural materials. Some quartz countertops look and feel so much like real stone that few people can tell the difference.

2. Which is better: natural stone or engineered stone (quartz)?

Years ago, natural stone was the most coveted countertop material in high-end kitchens. Today, many homeowners prefer quartz. Why? It’s ultra durable and requires less maintenance. Some homeowners still prefer natural stone because they like natural materials. Natural stone can also be less expensive, which makes it more attractive to homeowners on a budget.

The decision to install natural stone or quartz depends entirely on your personal preferences, budget, cooking practices and so on. You’ll have to weigh these factors to make your choice. Work with a good countertop installer to discuss the pros and cons of countertop materials you like.

3. How much maintenance does natural stone require? How is that different from quartz?

Both natural stone and quartz countertops need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Natural stone should also be sealed once a year (or more often, depending on how you use your countertops and the type of stone). Sealing can be done by a professional, or it can be done as a DIY project. To seal your counters, purchase the appropriate sealer for the stone type and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. What does sealing do for countertops?

Some countertop materials are made from porous stone and will absorb spilled liquids. Cooking oil, tomato sauce, red wine and even some lighter liquids like white wine can stain unsealed countertops. The sealing process fills the pores and prevents the stone from absorbing liquids. Ultimately, this protects your counters from becoming stained.

Sealing is not necessary for all types of countertop material. Granite and marble need to be sealed, while most soapstone and quartz counters do not. Whether a countertop material needs to be sealed depends on its porousness. Your countertop installer can answer your questions about sealing at the time of purchase.

5. What can you afford?

Know your budget and the dimensions of your counters before shopping for countertop stone. You can expect to spend anywhere between $40 to $80 per square foot, depending on the material, quality and brand. Knowing how much you can afford and how much you need to buy can help narrow your choices and make your decision easier. Communicate your budget with your countertop installer to ensure everyone is on the same page.