Choosing countertops for your new kitchen can be a daunting task with so many different products on the market. The popular trend is toward “stone” countertops, which include granite, quartz and porcelain.
Granite is volcanic in origin so forms underground when magma solidifies gradually without reaching the surface. This results in distinct and visible crystal patterns depending on the time it takes to cool. The various colors are due to the differing proportions of various minerals contained in the stone. So although manufacturing is required by cutting, polishing and fabricating the stone the material itself is natural as compared to engineered stone countertops.
Granite’s beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each slab one of a kind and gives a wonderful decorative appearance. It is one of the hardest stones available which makes it extremely durable. This is a great advantage for kitchen countertops as it can withstand heat and is scratch resistant and stands up well to splashes, knife nicks and other wear and tear. As every slab is unique it allows you to choose a distinct colour and pattern to suit your style. They do require sealing every few years to prevent them from becoming porous and susceptible to stains but apart from that are very easy to clean and basically maintenance free.
Quartz countertops are man-made engineered stone countertops formed by combining natural quartz with acrylic resins and tinted with color to create a very hard granite-like surface. As an engineered product it is available in a far greater range of colors than natural stone and has become a general stone trend for kitchen countertops. It is generally the product of choice in the modern kitchen as it has a more uniform look without the busy detail of granite.
The advantages of quartz engineered stone are that it is hardwearing, scratch, heat and stain resistant and does not require sealing. It is, however, generally more expensive than granite.
Porcelain is made from clay and contains a high percentage of the mineral kaolinite along with other mineral oxides. The material is formed into slabs and fired at high temperatures in a kiln. Pigmented glazes are added during manufacturing to create different colors and patterns on the slab. The glaze can be matt or high gloss.
Many homeowners are choosing porcelain countertops as there are many advantages to the product. There are many colors and patterns available and there is the option of matte or polished. The slabs are much larger than natural stone slabs which means fewer joins to break up the run of a long countertop or large island. They are extremely durable, heat, scratch and UV light resistant and no sealing is necessary as the fired glazing acts as an effective barrier to moisture and provides stain resistance.
This is also a green product and can be 100% recycled. The slabs are lightweight and are now available from 6 mm thick which makes it ideal for backsplashes, cabinetry panels, kitchen islands as well as a host of other uses throughout the home.
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