An integral part of the kitchen design or renovation process is to assess the numerous worktop materials available today. Marble, granite, wood, and quartzite have been used for decades. Evolving mining technology has also brought high-performing, customized countertop materials like quartz, porcelain, terrazzo, and stainless steel. To be precise, homeowners are spoilt for choice and often need help with the right decision.
Kitchen Worktop Materials: Natural versus Engineered
- Natural stone has been a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom worktops. Marble worktops are often the first choice of homeowners because of their timeless grandeur and luxury. Similarly, the robust strength and style quotient of granite is unparalleled. Although difficult to maintain, marble and granite worktops are considered ideal for a higher home valuation.
- Engineered worktops give homeowners exactly what they want in terms of colour/design/finish choices, ease of use, hassle-free cleaning/maintenance, durability, heat resistance, zero porosity, and physical endurance. In particular, quartz and terrazzo worktops last a lifetime with minimal maintenance.
Marble Worktops: Overview, Pros, and Cons
Before googling ‘buy marble worktop’, homeowners should understand their choices. In terms of aesthetics, marble is the best choice. Naturally formed by the metamorphosis of limestone, marble is a soft, semi-porous crystalline stone that requires regular sealing and polishing. The finest marble varieties are sourced from Italy, with Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario being the most luxurious and sought-after.
Pros of Marble Worktops
- Both visually and feel-wise, there is no material more luxurious than marble.
- Marble worktops have excellent heat resistance. This makes the surface perpetually cool.
- When maintained carefully, marble worktops are long-lasting.
- Any marble installation will boost home value during a sale.
Cons of Marble Worktops
- Reacts to a wide range of liquids to stain immediately. Thus, marble surfaces have to be cared for diligently.
- Being highly porous, it requires sealing and polishing every six months or so.
- Rated three on the Mohs hardness scale. Hence, it is not hard enough to avoid cracks, scratches, and dents.
Granite Worktops: Overview, Pros, and Cons
Granite is a crystalline, igneous rock formed by the pressure-intensive, gradual cooling of molten rock or magma below the earth’s surface. Like marble is a metamorphized version of limestone, granite is a crystallized form of sandstone. While marble largely has elegant veins and streaks as naturally-formed patterns, granite has bold, multi-coloured specks, striations, and visible grains.
Pros of Granite Worktops
- Granite is rated seven on the Mohs hardness scale. This indicates that it is quite robust and durable.
- Granite worktops only require an initial round of sealing before installation, which makes them non-porous and highly resistant to staining.
- A hardwearing material, granite surfaces can easily withstand busy kitchen operations’ physical wear and tear.
- Sealed granite is easy to clean, antibacterial, and hygienic.
Cons of Granite Worktops
- For most granite varieties, the colours are limited to certain shades (black, white, brown, rust, and beige). Colours like green, blue, pink, and cream/golden is found in rare/exotic variants that are considerably more expensive.
- Granite slabs are extremely heavy. If not installed professionally, they might get cracked during the process, making them almost impossible to repair.
Quartz Worktops: Overview, Manufacturing, Pros, and Cons
Despite certain limitations and inherent faults, the classic appeal, grandeur, and reliability of granite and marble are highly favoured by homeowners. Before engineered worktops ventured into the market, these impressive natural stones largely dominated the home interior realm. Of all the manufactured options available today, quartz worktops are giving tough competition to granite and marble. Be it in terms of attractiveness, customisation, reliability, longevity, or resistance, quartz worktops are giving natural stones a run for their money.
The mineral quartz is abundantly found in all geographical zones. In its natural state, it is wrought with impurities and, thus, rendered soft. Quartz is first purified to increase its strength. Thereon, it is pulverized in large-scale industrial mixers and combined with specific polymers, resins, and pigments. The composition is approximately 90% pure quartz and 10% additives. The worktop is extra-strong, dense, non-porous, and resilient after being subjected to high temperatures, intense pressure, and vacuum.
Pros of Quartz Worktops
- Quartz can be customized according to aesthetic tastes. For instance, marble-look Unistone quartz looks exactly like marble, and only a professional can tell the difference! Similarly, quartz countertops resemble other natural materials like granite, wood, and quartzite.
- Quartz is durable and resilient and requires simple cleaning with almost no maintenance. Quartz worktops are famed to last for a lifetime.
- It doesn’t have to be quarried and shipped from distant countries.
- It is non-porous, hygienic, and fairly heat-resistant.
Cons of Quartz Worktops
- Like granite, quartz slabs are very heavy and unsuitable for DIY installation.
- The higher the customization, the more expensive it is.
Homeowners should conduct ample research before making a purchase, whether it is granite, marble, quartz, or any other kitchen worktop material. Once installed, it is difficult and expensive to change the countertops frequently. Hence the decision has to be calculated by weighing all the relevant factors, requirements, material characteristics, and budgetary constraints.