Mother-of-Pearl, Calacatta, Agate, Calcite - many people find it overwhelming when selecting a countertop, but it’s quite simple to distinguish between surfaces once you get an understanding of the different elements that are available. Natural stone is completely unique and, just like its name, is harvested straight from Mother Earth.
Natural stone surfaces in kitchens are generally either granite, marble or quartzite (Limestone is seldom used.) Each is unique with variations to complement your particular style and expectations.
Stone surface #1 - Granite
[caption id="attachment_3372" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Past Basket Design showroom in Geneva, Illinois. Featuring a Granite countertop shown in foreground.)
: Harder than marble, not prone to staining and etching*. Granite can be finished in polished or honed styles. Best for: If you shop smart, natural stone on a budget.
Stone surface #2 - Marble
[caption id="attachment_3172" align="aligncenter" width="600"](Past Basket Design kitchen in Elgin, Illinois featuring Calacatta Marble.)
: Softer than granite. Porous and sensitive to chipping, staining, and etching, which again, can chemically alter the finish. Best for: Buyers who appreciate imperfections and aging along with their stone. Available in some of the trendy white and off white / grey colors not found in granites.
Stone surface #3 - Quartzite
[caption id="attachment_3184" align="aligncenter" width="600"](Past Basket Design kitchen located in St. Charles, Illinois. Featuring quartzite countertop above the white cabinets in the background.)
: Even more stain, scratch, and heat resistant than granite, quartzite comes in slab form. Best for: Those who want the most durable natural stone. Also available in lighter colors.
Alternative to natural stone - Quartz
[caption id="attachment_3190" align="aligncenter" width="600"](Past Basket Design Kitchen in Naperville, Illinois features a Quartz countertop.)
This surface is a good alternative to natural stone and is very hard. Cambria, Silestone, Caesarstone, HanStone are a few of the trade names. Consistent and durable, quartz is a worry-free countertop whose color is consistent and very low maintenance. Best for: Buyers who want that “perfect” finish.
Great reference for all things stone
- Marble institute of America
Tips for cleaning your stone
: Ask your stone fabricator. Most recommend a stone specific cleaner (available at local hardware stores).
*When an acidic liquid or substance comes into contact with natural stone like granite and marble, the surface can lose shine or result in a rough patch. In severe cases, etching can cause a pit in the stone.