From Quarries to Custom Homes - All About Countertops!

Kitchen and bathroom designs can largely rely on the selection of the countertop. Whether your design is contemporary, farmhouse, French country, or Texas rustic - the surface you select for your countertop can either add complexity or simplicity - easing the eye into fun backsplash designs or funky cabinetry. Or, it can all blend like a beautiful ethereal piece of art.
Here are a few options of countertops - split into the natural "rock" formations from quarries and engineered products from manufacturers.
 

Natural Products: 

Granite

Probably the most well-known countertop surface in homebuilding is granite. Known for its durability and plethora of color selections from white to black and every variation in between, granite is a favorite among customers and builders alike. Although granites are sturdy rocks of countertops, they do require maintenance by sealing the surface as needed. Lighter granites will need more frequent  sealing applications - closer to six months - while darker granites can last a year or longer without re-sealing.
 
Granite is a natural product, pulled from quarries around the world. Sandstone, that has been melted by the earth's heated core and then cooled, create this multi-dimensional rock; the difference in colors attributed to the minerals (such as iron creating a more red tint) that were trapped during the melting and cooling process. 
 

Colonial white granite countertops
Colonial White Granite
slab of Green Labradorite Granite
Gorgeous slab of Green Labradorite Granite

Marble

One of the oldest known countertop surfaces is marble. Created from massive heat and pressure on limestone over thousands of years, marble has been used to create entire spectacular cities most notably in Greece, Italy, and surrounding countries.
 
The historic prestige of marble is a draw for many customers and builders, however, the softness of the stone is a drawback. Marble is more porous than granite or manufactured stone, therefore, it can stain and scratch without the utmost care. For that reason, marble countertops are not as popular in kitchens, but still have a frequent occurrence in guest or powder bathrooms. Re-sealing marble is recommended as needed for high traffic areas as much as every few months.
Carrara Marble Vanity Top
Carrara Marble Vanity Top

 

Butcher Block

Many people are drawn to the rustic wood look and feel of an authentic butcher block countertop. Whether as a dedicated portion of the island, or using the entire space as a giant cutting board, butcher blocks add texture and warmth to any kitchen. 
 
Maintenance needs of butcher blocks include sealing and coating with mineral oil, typically every few months. Scratches from knife blades are to be expected, and placing hot pots directly onto the surface should be avoided. It is wood after all!
 
Butcher block kitchen island
Beautiful Butcher Block Island

Quartzite

Quartzite is very similar to granite in its creation - differing only in the abundance of quartz in the sandstone. Many people confuse engineered quartz countertops with quartzite, and the distinction should be made that quartzite is a naturally occurring product, while quartz countertops are man-made. See further on for the description of Silestone and Ceasarstone quartz countertops. 
 
As a natural product, quartzite - not unlike granite - can vary in its character. In the pictures below, the quartzite is the "Super White" selection. However, depending on when the product was harvested from the quarries, as well as the location of the quarries themselves, the color and veining patterns can vary immensely! Although harder than granite, quartzite still needs maintenance of re-sealing every one to two years. 
 
Island of Super White Quartzite
Lovely Island and Perimeter of Super White Quartzite

 

White Quartzite Island and Perimeter
Super White Quartzite Island and Perimeter

Engineered Products: 

Quartz Countertops - Ceasarstone and Silestone

Made of a composite of mostly natural quartz with resins, Ceasarstone and Silestone are the least porous man-made countertops of this list with durability that exceeds marble, granite, and quartzite.  The difference between the brands is that Ceasarstone is comprised of over 93% quartz, while Silestone is at 90%. Silestone has more color selection while Ceasarstone has broader options for finishing on edges. 
 
Both products are consistently patterned throughout, there will not be color variation amidst a slab of manufactured quartz as there would be in granite, marble, or quartzite. For this reason, the selection process can be a simple one - the swatch will match the slab. Also convenient for the homeowner, quartz countertops do not need to be sealed.
 
Ceasarstone Display at our Kurk Homes Design Center
Ceasarstone Display at our Kurk Homes Design Center

 

Blanco Orion Silestone
Blanco Orion Silestone

 

Silestone "White Platinum" 
Silestone "White Platinum" 

 

Cultured Marble

Cultured marble countertops are made from marble particles mixed with liquid polyester resin. Any shape can be custom made, since the product is molded. Typically coated with clear finish in either high gloss or matte, cultured marble countertops are most popular in bathrooms with recessed sinks. The color selection is endless, as the manufacturer can also tint the product to suit the customers' needs.
 
With the resin, the cultured marble is a non-porous product that is harder than marble, yet softer than granite. Re-finishing is recommended to prevent resistance to stains and scratches, however, unlike the natural materials, cultured marble can have scratches or abrasions filled relatively easily with a gel compound. 
 
Platinum Cultured Marble Vanity Top
Platinum Cultured Marble Vanity Top


Solid Surface:

Similar to cultured marble, solid surface countertops are moldable - made of a polyester resin with bauxite filler and pigments. They are stain-resistant and durable in comparison to products that have a seam, thus, they are highly used in the medical field, but residential use is also common. 
 
The countertops are created to mimic other surfaces, such as wood, stone, quartz, granite, or marble - so the color and pattern selection is endless. Some homeowners prefer the variety of the selections and the cost effectiveness of the solid surface countertop compared to granite or marble.
 
 
Corian Linen Countertop
Corian Linen Countertop


Which ones would you choose for your home? 

As always, if you would like to learn more about Kurk Homes and what we can offer our customers, please visit our website at www.KurkHomes.com or call us at 1-800-749-KURK. Thanks for stopping by! 
 
 

Tags: Design