countertops - which material and why

lmgchJuly 1, 2014

between quartz, polished granite, honed granite and soapstone, which did you select and why (assuming budget is not the issue)

wondering what my best choice would be for super durable (heat, stain, scratch resistant), super sanitary/doesn't trap anything, low maintenance, yet looks awesome


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I chose quartz because I like the look of white-white (both bathrooms and kitchen). I've had more "active" granites and marbles in the past, but wanted something different this time.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:05PM
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We chose quartz, because we fell in love with a Cambria pattern, and couldn't find anything (in any material) that we liked as well. It certainly is easy to clean and maintain.

I wouldn't trust any countertop material to hold up to hot pots and pans.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:22AM
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I went with quartz because the look fits the architecture of the area. Also because I've been there, done that with granite and wanted something different.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:29AM
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Thanks. We've currently got a dark granite that I really dislike (along with the rest of the kitchen). But I do appreciate it's durability - I put hot pots on it without issue. With the reno I'm planning for a much lighter counter surface and wonder if with the lighter coloration, there might be more susceptibility to any stains or marks in one materiel vs another.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:53AM
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Duplicate post

This post was edited by lmgch on Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 10:07

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:05AM
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I had Corian for years and loved the way it felt and the ease of maintenance but not so much the look of it. Mind you it was not one of the new ones, but an older plain sort of beige/pinkish color that was supposed to be a neutral. It always had a pink tinge to it in our kitchen. Fast forward about 13/14 years, we replaced it with granite and I really like how it dressed up the kitchen and looks much richer. I don't ever worry about harming it. I put hot pans, cookie sheets everything on it and it's pretty bullet proof. I haven't had an issue with staining but if something were to stain it I'm pretty sure it would eventually absorb it or just blend in. I think I did spot stain it with some spaghetti sauce one time but I can't find it anymore. I cleaned it and forgot about it and now I can't really find it. I have had no extra work with sealing. It's just not an issue. It's like spraying on and wiping off. Not a big deal at all. I have the 15 year sealer on it but still, this is a total non-issue as far as maintenance goes. It's nothing to do simply spray on wipe off. I use a daily cleaner sealer product but not daily, lol. I use it whenever I give the entire kitchen counters a wipe down. Otherwise it's just wipe with dishcloth after dinner or when cooking. Same as any other counter material. It is one of the ivory granites. I was paranoid at first about hurting it, but then got used to it and never think about it anymore.

I have granite in the master bath and Carrera marble in the upstairs guest bath. The one I worry about is the marble, though so far so good and it's been up there at least two years without incident, but, it is a guest bath.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:15AM
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I looked at it all, and considered nearly everything at one point or another.

They are all sanitary.

I rejected solid surface because the patterns that I liked were out of my price range, unless I bought at Ikea, but that seemed too troublesome (Ikea is about 100 miles away). Also had concerns about fine scratching based on the counters at work, also durability against heat. In retrospect I might re-consider the A - B level whites -- at the time I didn't want white.

I rejected soapstone, which I loved just based on its looks and also because it is unstainable, only because of installation/cost roadblocks. I could have gotten it affordably from M. Texeira, but I couldn't install by myself, and couldn't find someone to do it for me at all, much less reasonably. The fact that it would scratch didn't bother me, and I would not have oiled it.

I almost bought quartz because of reputed durability and ease of maintenance; in fact did buy and cancelled. I thought the look was okay and would work but I wasn't in love with the patterns in my price range.

At first I wasn't considering granite at all, because I didn't like nearly all granites that I had seen (pattern/color wise). Nor did I like the shiny polished surface. Even though granite seemed the best choice in terms of durability and maintenance But when I saw what budget granites were available, saw some less speckled, not busy, grey and cream options, AND learned that I could have it honed, seriously started looking, and that is what I ended up with. The downside turned out to be seaming/scribing issues, but the seam was improved enough to be acceptable. The honed surface is really still smooth to the touch and does not hold dirt/spills. Very low maintenance.

So far content with my decision.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:38AM
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Planned to use granite at the start of our reno, and that didn't change. We did consider various stones at the different yards we'd visited (a fairly wide range of different patterns and colors), but settled on a gorgeous (soft) black granite called Labrador Golden Flake (polished). It contains silver and bronze mica flakes, which flash and sparkle when they catch the light. The woman who showed it to us, thought it would tie-in the colors of our SS appliances and the honeyed tones of our cherry cabinets, and we agreed!

We had seen some honed, leathered, and flamed stones during our visits to the different stoneyards, but I think they were used (even) less often at that time (7-8 years ago) than they are today. DH really wanted polished stone. I was probably more open to considering a lower-sheen look, but don't recall seeing any that I "had" to have. Our granite definitely wouldn't have the same visual impact or "sparkle" if it wasn't polished.

FWIW, I do think our kitchen (design, style, cabinets), and many kitchens, would look equally beautiful with either shiny or low/no sheen countertops. Just a different look.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Granite. The natural beauty in the different colors the veining, and swirls that makes it so unique. Photos never seem to do slabs justice. Visit a big slab yard if your considering natural stone.
This is the first time I've posted my slabs, I have bookends (:

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:49AM
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I chose soapstone, partly because I like the look and feel of it. Mostly because I searched high and low and could not find a granite that appealed to me. I like a "quiet" counter surface.

I didn't consider quartz. My sister, though, just had a solid quartz counter installed, and loves it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:51AM
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My journey to quartz was an interesting one. I could not find a laminate I liked well enough, and the Corian I had chosen was the most expensive material out there plus I could not make the pattern work in my kicthen and I was worried about scratches on a dark choice.

The KD at Home Depot pulled out a quartz sample after I showed her three totally different inspiration photos and I loved it at first sight! It was just as expensive as the Corian but DH did not want laminate. In retrospect quartz was a good choice for us because DH is a bit of a heathen in the kitchen. The durability of quartz certainly works in our favor. We never set anything hot on it, of course, without a pad or rack or trivet.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:04PM
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I have quartz. I had no clue about counter material and told my KD I wanted a gray granite. She said the supplier/templater she used had no granites that fit the bill and offered Cambria and Caesarstone as options. So, I picked a dark gray, mottled Caesarstone and here I am.

It's okay. If I were to choose again I would pick something much lighter. If I didn't go with something marble-esque (quartzite) I might go with a very uniform quartz. It's an easy material to maintain and feels like stone to me. I don't like a whole lot of movement on a large surface area. I never set anything hot down on this counter, nor would I with any other material. I always cut and prep food on a cutting board.

I don't think I would go with a quartz that was imitating marble, although they are getting better and better at it. I just got honed carrara in my bathroom and there's nothing like the real thing. I would consider marble for a kitchen. I'll see how it fares in the guest bath, but I don't think its beauty can be matched.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:17PM
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I never set anything hot down on this counter, nor would I with any other material. I always cut and prep food on a cutting board

I also have quartz and am fairly careful with it - use cutting boards and trivets. I must say that in our previous home we had granite, and we set hot things on it, cut on it (which is only bad for the knives lol), took no special care at all, and it didn't suffer from the "abuse" at all. So if you want something really care-free, go with granite.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:20PM
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You cannot damage soapstone from heat or any other chemical (which is why it's used in labratories). I also love that, in a pinch, I can set frozen meat on it, and the meat will thaw in 30 minutes or so. (I don't care for thawing in the microwave). I'm not sure why this happens... perhaps someone knows.

It's not scratch-resistant, though, by any means.

Editing to add that I answered my own question:

"One little-known fact about soapstone is that it conducts heat. ItâÂÂs a great place to thaw out meat, poultry and fish. Conversely, it also retains cold, so if you wanted to make your countertop cold for any reason, you can simply place a bag of ice on the stone for a period of time and then use the cold surface for your intended purpose. Such uses might include rolling out a pie crust or making homemade ice cream." Copied from the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Soapstone

This post was edited by peony4 on Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 13:16

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 1:04PM
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Granite, regular polished granite. I love the movement and natural variation. I love the shiny reflective surface. I wanted a worry free surface and happily discovered, after the fact, that what I have is one of the few "true" granites so it really is a worry free surface.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 1:13PM
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I would go for quartz amongst the choices you listed. It was our runner up to the Corian we've selected.

The patterns/colors can suit most any taste, and the durability/practicality is exceptional and it uniquely meets all the criteria you identified. Second choice on your list would be the honed granite.

We had the polished/shiny granite in our last home and have it in our vacation rental--I don't care for it any longer. It's so "loud" that its appearance drowns out the rest of the room from a design perspective.

In our last home, we had issues with it absorbing water and oil after it was sealed so I honestly don't buy the "bullet proof" comments. We have not had similar issues with the vacation rental--they must be different rocks. But in general, I honestly just think there are a lot of reasons for people to ask "is this even a good material for my countertop?" + the issues with radon and bacteria and strip mining etc (although there are natural elements to every surface and someone had to rip them out of the earth somehow).

I always try to use trivets, but I did like that if I didn't have one handy I didn't worry too much about setting those hot pot downs for a few seconds on it--it is granite's best feature in my opinion.

This post was edited by ChrisInSD on Wed, Jul 2, 14 at 18:27

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 6:26PM
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athomesewing--stunning slabs!!!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 6:52PM
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As soon as I saw the Caesarstone at our KD's showroom, I knew that was what I wanted. I have never liked the busy look of most granites. I also knew I wanted a backsplash that stood out, so the quiet feel of our quartz plays well with patterned tile. I have no regrets. If I hadn't chosen quartz I would probably have looked at stainless steel.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:01PM
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We installed Cambria Quartz, Kensington, which is black with tan and green specs in it. It is not as shiny as granite, and I find that I do prefer the more matte finish. I had black granite tile before and felt that the granite was too shiny and too reflective and therefore more difficult to keep clean (besides being tile instead of slab).

If you want shiny, go with granite, but if you want a matte finish that is more forgiving, go with quartz. I made my selection in one afternoon after three trips to the Kitchen Store in Culver City to swap out samples. They were surprised at how quickly I made my decision, but I am very happy with it. The colors are perfect for my kitchen.

I would love granite for furniture, but since a countertop gets a lot of use, I do not consider it the best choice for my kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:08PM
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I chose soapstone because it worked with house and style of cabinets. I also wanted something 'different'. I chose the variety because it was a bit different than most.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:21PM
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All I had to do was see and feel Soapstone, and then once I researched it's characteristics, I was sold!
I realize it is not for everyone, but if you are a "soapie", you will know it :)
I only wish I had known about it 30 years ago...

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:31PM
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I chose Sea Pearl quartzite just because I loved the color.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I chose white macaubus quartzite for the island and leathered antique brown granite for the perimeter. The leathered surface is nice and quiet, soft to the touch and has some bits that shine at night when the lights are on inside. The quartzite is white with grey-blue and rust lines. They are both sealed, easy to clean. But still I don't put blazing hot pots or roasting pans directly on them. I either put them on a towel, or on a cutting board, or on my induction cooktop. If I was thinking about putting a hot pot on the counter I'd test that using my sample first.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I chose a leathered Magma Supreme granite. I went to a local supplier "just to look" and fell in love with the Magma Supreme the second I layed eyes on it. This supplier happens to carry just about everything. They had granite, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, marble and recycled glass. I walked through the whole place and never saw anything that compared to the Magma Supreme. I tagged five slabs and brought my husband back two days later. Didn't tell him what I'd chosen, just told him that I'd picked something and wanted him to look everything over and let me know what he liked. He walked around the entire warehouse without saying a word. Then he walks back to me and tells me there were several that were nice but one that wowed him. And it was the Magma Supreme. Sold!

Love the way it looks, love the way it feels and love how easy it is to care for.

I did things a little different. I chose my counter first. I knew I wanted a stained wood and knew I could always find a stain that complimented my counter. I've always been attracted to bolder counters with lots of movement and drama.

athomesewing, your slabs are gorgeous!!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:31PM
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For super durable and low maintenance, your best choice is probably quartz. The one exception to quartz is that very high heat can be a problem. But it's virtually maintenance free. For appearance, you have to be the judge. If you like exotic crazy designs you might prefer granite.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:59PM
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I knew I wanted granite, I love the variation and movement of the natural stone. I had chosen on a light sandy colored granite, that is until I walked past the Magma slab at the stone yard and fell instantly in love with it! I tagged it that day, took my husband to see and purchase it the next morning. He was a huge quartz fan, but once he saw our slab, he was sold. So far it has been bulletproof, easy to clean and looks great!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:39PM
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I planned to use Quartz. Picked up some samples at Home Depot. But when I got the quote from HD, the Quartz was $100 per square foot, and I had a huge island to cover. I thought if Quartz is that much, how much is granite? Well, it turned out the one I really wanted, deep gray, no speckles, no glitter, no swoops, just soft layering of different hues, was $34.99. We picked out our slabs, and they exceeded my hopes. Steel Gray with white cabinets.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 12:26PM
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In the thinking stage of a kitchen and 2 bath reno...for at least a year, and have been contemplating countertop choices also and am still undecided.

We have silver sea green granite in the kitchen since last redo 1999 and it's been bullet proof. We've put hot pans directly on it, sometime cut something little on it when in a hurry like a lemon and not a mark or any staining and we've never resealed it.

I want that maintenance-free situation again, but don't know if can expect the same from every granite and I also want a light color, more marble-like without the care issues that come with marble.

So far haven't found any whitish granites and most of the quartzite I'm seeing in the stone yard here in San Diego are wild colors which I didn't know existed; I guess that's on trend here, but not for me. Next kitchen's got to last!

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 2:45PM
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island, you might want to take a look at Neolith countertops. There are some threads on GW that discuss it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 6:55PM
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"I want that maintenance-free situation again, but don't know if can expect the same from every granite and I also want a light color, more marble-like without the care issues that come with marble."

You might consider Corian Rain Cloud or Witch Hazel. There are some good Witch Hazel pics on here that DC Ward put in.

We went with Corian Glacier White in our San Diego reno after considering various Quartz options and really couldn't be happier. Don't put those hot pots on it, but everything else about it is great. You aren't supposed to put hot pots on Quartz either. We like it a lot better than the Granite we had in previous homes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marble alternatives

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 8:28PM
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