There are many different materials available to consumers for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Natural materials like marble, limestone, granite, and quartzite have been used for many years, and man made solid surfacing, aka quartz, is becoming popular. Picking the right material for you is a hard choice.
Marble has been used for centuries as flooring, counters, and other building materials. It is beautiful and durable but it is a little softer than granite or quartzite. Marble and limestone must be sealed regularly but can still stain and etch when exposed to certain chemicals like acids or red wine. Stains and etches can be removed or repaired fairly easily, but scratches need to be honed by a professional. Marble varies greatly in price, depending on how rare the stone is.
Granite is the most popular solid surface material for kitchens because it is so durable and less maintenance than marble. Granite is available in a wide range of colors, from light to dark,and styles from fairly uniform to heavily veined. Granite needs to be sealed annually but that is an easy process for most home-owners. Granite is formed from liquid magma so it is very resistant to heat and very difficult to stain or scratch. Granite varies widely in price, depending on the thickness of the slabs (transportation and labor costs) and how much supply is available in the quarry.
A new material, Quartzite, has been introduced in the last decade, and is even harder and more stain and heat resistant than granite. Quartzite often looks like marble but it is stainproof and it will not etch. Frequently quartzite is multi-colored with smoothly flowing veins like marble, and it can also have a pearly look. Quartzite is a solid crystaline material, harder and less porous than granite or marble. It may be slightly more expensive than granite.
Man Made Quartz
Man-made quartz is a composition of resin and quartz chips, powder or flakes. It varies in greatly in colors and styles – some are plain, some look like marble and others try to look like granite. It is a durable material but sensitive to heat and can be stained by certain chemicals like permanent markers and some oils. Quartz is not UV safe and must not be used out doors. It is usally about the same price as granite.