Homeowners selecting a new countertop have more options today than ever before. Among those selections is to use a natural stone counter, or a “man made” stone counter or quartz counter. There are several different manufacturers for quartz countertops, although most of them are made similarly. Homeowners deciding between the two types of material may not realize what their similarities and differences are, which could lead them to make the wrong decision for their home.
Natural stone counters can be granite, marble, limestone, slate, or a variety of other stones including dolomites and gabbros. Each type of stone can be slightly different from the others, with some requiring more care and sealing to help protect them, while others require little to no care.
The vast majority of natural stone counters do need to be sealed on a semi-regular basis, and should be cleaned with a PH neutral cleanser to avoid etching. Because these stones are completely natural, their color may vary dramatically from piece to piece and even within one piece. Sometimes pits and fissures may be found in the stone, as well as unusual minerals that could give the stone spots of unusual color or veining.
Quartz counters contain roughly 90% natural quartz, a mineral found in many natural stone counters. This quartz is mixed with a variety of resins and pigments, however, which renders the quartz counter non porous, stain resistant, and scratch resistant. These counters never require sealing, and do not have natural fissures or pits.
They also do not have any natural color variation; while there can be some slightly variation due to dye lots, these counters are usually fairly similar in one color from piece to piece and within one piece. Some may have veins or color flecks, but these are carefully controlled so as not to introduce random colors or movement into the counter.
For those that want a controlled and low-maintenance countertop, quartz counters can be a good option. For those wanting the color, movement, and variability that only natural stone can bring, however, nothing but stone can do.