How does quartz compare to granite and marble?
Granite vs Marble vs Quartz
So, you’ve decided to fit solid stone worktops in your new kitchen. The next part of the decision process is to consider the unique qualities of the different types of natural stone available to you. Will you choose to embrace the seductive drama of Italian white marble, or will the robust presence of a length of Nero black granite from Zimbabwe make more of an impact on your kitchen design ideas? Perhaps the appeal of composite stone, with its durability and wide range of colour options, is a more suitable option for the budget conscious new home owner.
In any event, it is worth noting the benefits and potential pit-falls of each type of stone before making the final decision on what is best for your particular kitchen.
Marble: a labour of love
Solid stone comes into its own in many respects, in that it is cool to touch - marble has precedence for pastry cooks and bread makers alike, because dough tends not to stick. However, you’d be unwise to use marble were there is a lot of cutting and chopping involved, as both your best kitchen knives and the exquisite marble will be ruined from the off!
Without doubt, an expanse of marble kitchen worktops certainly makes for a strong aesthetic and focal point, and looked after, it will be admired for years. However, marble also has the propensity to stain easily, and, in a busy kitchen, will soon start to shed its glamour if not treated with respect for its uniquely challenging properties.
Despite being a very hard stone, the fine grains that make up the composition of marble are rounder than the interlocking grains found in granite or quartz. Since this makes marble (relatively) softer and more porous, liquids and some food items can leave stains or etching. Over time, even clean water will leave its mark! Particular enemies of marble are acidic foods such as lemon juice, vinegars and wines. Marble will neutralise acid on contact, leaving lasting marks in its wake which, if left unchecked, will damage an otherwise gleaming, white kitchen surface.
For practicality, one of the best uses of marble surfaces is the bathroom, but care must still be taken to avoid marking or etching. As with kitchen counter tops, choose appropriate cleaning products, such as baking soda for removing stains, and distilled water for everyday cleaning. Do not allow marble bath surrounds to air dry - use a soft cloth to polish dry.
Marble is among the most beautiful and versatile of our natural solid stone resources, but demands high maintenance in everyday use. Keeping it pristine is truly a labour of love.
Granite: perfectly imperfect
In many respects, granite is a solid stone suitable for crafting long-lasting kitchen worktops, which, in turn, can add significant value to your home. The possible return on your investment is therefore certainly something to consider if you’re planning to put your property on the market soon after refurbishing the kitchen. The advantages of using granite usually outweigh any negative aspects of employing natural stone in the kitchen, often making it the perfect choice, no matter what the size of the project.
Each slab of granite is mined in extremely large segments, and other than polishing, granite does not undergo any special treatment before it is commissioned. Consequently, it will always be imperfect! These imperfections are born out of the unmistakable allure of mica and semi-precious stones inherent in the make-up of granite, rendering every piece uniquely beautiful. Granite colours are routinely named with references to the galaxy - and for good reason. Black granite is the perfect foil for the glittering array of sliver fragments of mica often embedded therein. Such references can add much to your kitchen worktop design as a whole.
Physically solid, this natural product is second only to diamond in hardness. And whilst it can be expensive, granite continues to make for a very popular choice for work surfaces. It is heat resistant and durable, and resists scratching and chemicals. That said, granite can chip if heavy objects, such as large items of cookware, are dropped onto its surface.
Before making any decisions, a word of caution: some granites will need sealing because they are more porous than others, making them a questionable option in food preparation areas. So it might be worth considering alternatives such as composite stone, which does not require sealing, and yet can still have the same good looks and durability as granite ...sparkle and all!
Composite Quartz: comparable beauty and durability
Manufacturing methods employed in the making of composite stone result in unquestionable durability in a variety of settings, be it in the form of a kitchen sink surround, or a straightforward counter top. Natural particles of quartz and/or granite are mixed with acrylic resin, which binds the particles together; the addition of nominal degrees of pigmentation and additives create a long lasting, hygienic, easy to clean, matte finish that is as aesthetically beautiful as its natural counterparts.
Since composite granite/quartz is formed under very high pressure, the finished product is resistant to heat, acids, and is less prone to staining; it is also non-porous, dispensing with the need for sealing. Composite worktops are lighter in weight than solid stone worktops, because they can be made thinner whist still retaining their strength, which makes them easier to handle. What's more, Breton engineered stone such as Unistone can confidently be described as environmentally friendly, as 94% of its content comes from crushed waste stone left over in quarries or from natural stone beds.
Chips and scratches become commonplace on natural surfaces, but composite materials are more robust against accidents through normal use of crockery or sharp implements. Maintenance is down to little more than cleaning with everyday non-abrasive cleaning creams. In all, superior quality composite worktops are a credible substitute for natural stone surfaces, and generally cost less than the traditional alternatives.