Are you trying to decide which type of surface is for you? Take a look at the information and links below to get started. Need some care and maintenance advice? The attached documents may help. Have a few questions? Check out our FAQ to save some searching time.
What’s right for you?
Stone surfaces are natural works of art. As an investment, they become unique one-of-a-kind assets in your personal, retail or work environments that add significantly to a property’s value. They are sought-after by people who desire beauty and craftsmanship in their living and working spaces.
Fortunately, these surfaces are also highly practical. They maintain their value over the long term because, when selected and cared for properly, they are designed to provide durable use that can last for the entire life of a building or home. Stone surfaces can be the ideal solution for many applications, including kitchen countertops, backsplashes, bathroom vanity tops, tub surrounds and shower walls, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens or grill areas, and numerous other indoor and outdoor uses.
How do you select the right surface for your needs? Why and when would you prefer granite, engineered quartz, recycled surfaces, quartzite, marble, soapstone or other stones? Here is some information that might help you decide:
Stone and Surface Facts
If you select any of the natural stone surfaces, it’s important to know that Great Lakes Granite Works applies DryTreat STAIN-PROOF Original™ penetrating sealer as part of its fabrication process. This assures that your stone surface is able to repel stains, graffiti and food products, and makes cleaning easier. It carries a 15-year warranty and is suitable for indoor and outdoor surfaces. For more on DryTreat products, visit www.drytreat.com.
Granite is one of the hardest natural stone surfaces. Cut from quarries around the world, each granite slab exhibits its own unique geological patterns. This type of stone is available in many beautiful and surprising colors. Granite surfaces are also easy to care for, and are extremely heat, scratch and stain resistant. Even better, granite surfaces inhibit bacterial growth, so they are excellent for bathrooms and kitchens.
Engineered quartz is a manmade product created mostly from natural materials. It is made of 90 to 94 percent ground quartz and six to ten percent resins and pigments, which are combined to create durable, nonporous slabs. The strength of quartz, even in a manufactured form, makes it naturally resistant to scratches, dents, and even acids, without the need for sealants. Even better, the environmental impact of manufactured quartz is low: quartz is an abundant material, the finished product is nontoxic and hypoallergenic, and the surface will last a lifetime, which reduces the need for replacement.
These manufactured surfaces offer a wide variety of designs, textures and colors. Click the links below to explore the options offered by various engineered quartz surface manufacturers:
Natural quartzites have the look of marble or onyx. They are usually lighter in color, with beautiful wispy, marble-like veining. There are hard quartzites and soft quartzites. The hardest quartzites can sometimes even surpass the hardness level of some granite, and the soft quartzites are closer to the hardness level of marble. Natural quartzite surfaces can be a good alternative to marble.
Recycled surfaces may be your optimal choice if you are seeking a beautiful and durable surface that is also environmentally friendly. Recycled surfaces help the environment not only by using reclaimed materials, but also by employing a variety of sustainable manufacturing processes. Consider these three recycled surface manufacturers:
- SileStone Eco surfaces (http://www.sile-stone.com/eco/) are manufactured from 75% recycled materials that include mirror, glass, porcelain, earthenware, and vitrified ash.
- Vetrazzo® recycled glass surfaces (http://vetrazzo.com/eng) are made from 100% recycled glass that includes architectural and art glass, beer bottles, jars, and other reclaimed glass. Each slab is a unique blend of color and content, comprised of 85% recycled glass and 15% modified Portland white cement. Variation in the glass sources of a Vetrazzo slab is the result of the nature of comingled recycling.
- Curava™ sustainable surfaces (http://curava.com/sustainability) are made of 100% recycled glass fragments mixed with a resin binder. Curava surfaces are manufactured using a variety of ‘green’ methods.
Marble is a soft stone that requires more care and maintenance than granite. This stone has been used for centuries in European kitchens, and just as it has in those kitchens, marble will develop a natural patina over time. It does stain more easily and is more prone to scratching and bruising. However, its beauty is remarkable and unique. If marble is used in a kitchen, a honed (matte) finish is the only suitable surface treatment. High-gloss polished finishes are acceptable for bathroom vanities, where it will experience lighter use.
Soapstone is a very popular surface to use for farmhouse kitchens.
Although it is soft, soapstone is a very dense (non-porous) stone. Surprisingly, it is actually denser than marble, slate, limestone, and even granite. Since soapstone is impenetrable and will not stain, no liquid will permeate its surface. This is why soapstone has also been widely used for chemistry lab countertops and in acid rooms.
Other stone surfaces such as travertine, limestone and onyx are also used for countertops. These are very soft and fragile stones that must be treated with care. They are mainly used for bathroom vanity tops and are not recommended for kitchens.