Engineered Stone Countertops
Natural stone is loved by many for its many wonderful qualities. Granite, for example, offers durability, scratch and heat resistance, and beautiful elegance. But of course there is a down side to natural stone as well. Natural stone is very porous which makes it susceptible to stains from oils, acids, wine, soda and some cleaning products. It is very important to periodically seal natural stone to protect it from such damages. As you can see, natural stone isn’t perfect.
Improvements are never ending and a perfect example of improvement comes in the form of engineered stone. This highly recommended countertop material, also called Quartz Surfacing, has been developed to form a material resembling natural stone but with improved qualities. Engineered stone is made by combining 93 percent crushed natural quartz with 7 percent resins and pigments which makes this material much harder, more durable, and easier to care for than any other countertop material. Only the diamond, topaz and sapphire are harder than quartz.
In addition to the durability and ease of maintenance, engineered stone countertops are also available in an array of colors, patterns, and textures. Similar to granite, engineered stone is usually polished to a high gloss shine and installed in solid slabs. However, the colors and patterns are more consistent with engineered stone and the surface does not require sealing either. Check out some of the wonderful benefits of engineered stone below.
Benefits of Engineered Stone countertops
- The unique combination of quartz and resins makes engineered stone nonporous and resistant to heat, scratching, stains, chemicals, molds and bacteria.
- Engineered stone is more flexible, durable and easier to work with than natural granite.
- Engineered stone will not chip and fracture during everyday use as granite may.
- It retains its high-polished luster and never requires sealing.
- It is easily cleaned with warm, pH neutral soapy water.
- It resembles natural stone, but with a more consistent pattern and color meaning that your countertop will look very much like the sample you pick out.
- Engineered stone can be made to look like granite, marble, travertine, concrete, and other natural stone.
- Slabs are fabricated into countertops with edge profiles that range from simple bevels to bull nose and ogee.
- Engineered stone, made of quartz, resists scratches from objects such as stainless steel knives, ceramic pots, and mugs.
- Engineered stone counters are resistant to heat from hot plates of up to 350 degrees. However, it is still recommended that you the use trivets or hot pads.
- It will not stain from oil, fruit juices, acids, liquid food coloring, wine, soda, nail-polish remover, felt-tip markers and most common household cleaners.
- The colors, patterns and textures available are constantly expanding. Some patterns resemble natural stone and others offer bright variations of orange, red, blue, green, and yellow. Also, some engineered stone manufacturers offer products in a matte or "honed" finish.
- Unlike natural stone, manufacturers normally offer a 10-year warranty.
Drawbacks of Engineered Stone Countertops
- Engineered stone countertops lack the natural and unique color and pattern variations that are loved with natural stone. Some of these variations are called "beauty marks" and flowing veins, known as the "movement" of the stone.
- Cutting on quartz will dull knives so cutting boards are recommended.
- There will be visible seams along the front edges and in the deck of the countertop because engineered stone is installed in solid slabs.
Keep in mind, engineered stone is an expensive countertop because of the fact that it offers so many wonderful qualities and it must also be professionally installed. Expect to pay between $100 and $150 a linear foot. Prices will also vary according to brand, color and pattern.
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There is no doubt about it that granite is a countertop material of choice due to its outstanding durability, scratch- and heat-resistance and natural beauty. Granite is also available in an amazing array of colorful and unique patterns and no two granite tops are exactly the same. However, with its great looks comes a mighty high price tag. In fact, when installed in solid pieces it is the most expensive option in countertops.
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With all the perks of natural stone plus some, quartz is the most ideal stone countertop option. Quartz combines natural quartz with epoxy resin binders to create a virtually indestructible material that doesn’t require sealants. Since it technically isn’t 100% stone, it is often referred to as “engineered” quartz. However, this is definitely not a synthetic countertop. In fact, quartz provides the look of natural stone, with added durability and a non-porous nature making it practically stain-free, as well as consistent color and hygienic qualities.
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