These days there are a variety of options when choosing your kitchen countertop. Over the next few issues of "ReVIBE Raves" we are going to discuss the more common materials and their pros and cons. Here are the first three:
This relatively new countertop material is a composite of rock aggregate (makes up 90% of its mass), resin and pigments. Engineered stone is sold under brand names called Silestone, for example and will commonly be referred to as quartz. Available in dozens of colors, it is non-porous and scratch-resistant. Because these stones do not contain fissures or veins, the strength of a slab may be more consistent throughout than that of natural stone. This consistency also makes seams easy to match.
Pros - Easy to maintain; resistant to stains, heat, scratches, and acid. Sealing is generally not required. Color is consistent throughout so scratches are less noticeable than with other materials. The most durable of all countertop materials.
Cons - Expensive; less natural looking than marble or granite.
A popular countertop choice because of its appearance and durability, granite is siliceous stone made from an extremely hard volcanic rock. It is available in a range of colors and is often flecked with bits of minerals that produce a salt-and-pepper look. There are two types: consistent; which has the same pattern throughout, and variegated; which has veins.
Pros - heat resistant, beautifully colored, each slab of granite is unique; good surface for working with pastry dough, since it doesn't conduct heat.
Cons - Expensive; requires regular maintenance, including periodic sealing, stains; can crack; can be tough on dishes and glassware; variegated granite pieces are hard to match.
Marble countertops are beautiful but because it is a calcareous stone, marble is softer and more porous than granite. Its permeability makes it susceptible to scratches, chips, and stains and its luster can be dulled if not properly cared for. Many homeowners choose to confine it to an island or baking center.
Pros - holds up well to heat; beautiful and luxurious; ideal for rolling out dough since it doesn't conduct heat.
Cons - Expensive; must be sealed to protect it from stains; requires regular maintenance; very soft so it scratches easily; Can be tough on dishes and glassware.
Stay tuned next week for information on the next three materials used in countertops...