Quartz is a man-made engineered stone that is non-porous and available from a variety of manufacturers. The stone is created by combining natural ground quartz, resins, polymers, and pigments, which makes for a very durable surface. Quartz is offered in a large variety of colors and patterns and can be a great alternative to marble without the maintenance. Although Quartz is non-porous and does not need sealed, it is not as heat-resistant as natural stone and is not recommended for fireplace surrounds or outdoor applications.
Granite is the most popular and common natural stone that is quarried around the world. It offers the largest variety of color, texture, and pattern to fit any style and design. Granite is generally heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, and impervious to stains once sealed.
Marble is a classically elegant stone that has been used for centuries around the world. It comes in a variety of patterns and colors. Marble is a softer, more porous, more delicate stone, making it ideal for low traffic areas such as bathrooms and fireplaces. Sealing marble countertops is highly recommended. However, staining, scratching, and etching can still occur with everyday use of common cleaning products.
Onyx is a rare, delicate natural stone that comes in a myriad of vibrant colors and dramatic patterns. It is a soft material that is susceptible to scratching and will etch when introduced to acids. Sealing this material is highly recommended, but it will not prevent etching. Onyx is a unique natural stone because it is translucent and can be backlit to accentuate natural, dramatic beauty. Due to its fragility, it is more commonly used as a backsplash or in low-traffic areas.
Porcelain is made from a non-porous ceramic clay that contains various minerals, such as Kaolinite and silica that are manufactured under extremely high temperatures, making it very heat resistant. Porcelain colors and patterns can strongly resemble natural stone or other natural materials like wood, but the patterns and colors are only surface-deep. Because Porcelain is a thinner material than other stone, edge profile options are limited to either a square edge or mitered edging to give countertops a thicker appearance. Due to its thin nature, Porcelain is ideal for vertical wall applications such as shower walls, fireplaces, and backsplashes. It does not need to be sealed.
Quartzite is a hard, dense natural stone that is often used as an alternative to marble. It undergoes an immense amount of heat when formed within the earth, which makes it one of the most durable, heat-resistant, and scratch-resistant natural materials. Quartzite comes in a variety of colors and patterns and can sometimes be mistaken for marble. Sealing this material is highly recommended to prevent staining, but Quartzite does have the ability to etch when introduced to common, high acidic products.
Soapstone is one of the softest natural stones offered. It is a Talc-based material, which makes it more susceptible to scratching, but is very heat-resistant. It is extremely less porous than most other natural stones making it less likely to absorb liquids and chemicals. For this reason, Soapstone is commonly found in science labs. It is generally a darker stone commonly found in colors such as grey, black, green, and blue. It has more of a matte finish, but mineral oil can be safely applied to bring out the luster and natural beauty of the stone.
Solid Surface is a non-porous engineered material that consists of a variety of plastic resins and pigments. It is offered in many colors and designs and is a material that is solid all the way through from top to bottom. Solid Surface is not heat resistant and will scratch more easily that natural stone or quartz if you cut directly on it. It does not need to be sealed since it is non-porous, and does not absorb liquids and bacteria.