What you should know before you buy
Stone countertops are naturally beautiful, durable and easy to maintain. Several types of different countertop materials in stone or engineered elements are available:
· Overview - Granite is one of the most popular of different countertop materials.
· Appearance - There are many different types of minerals in granite, some of which appear like small, shiny flecks or longer veins of varying colors. Granite itself comes in many different natural colors and can be polished or finished in many different ways.
· Beneficial Features - The stone is naturally durable and water resistant with antibacterial and stain proof characteristics. Granite is also scratch and heat resistant.
· Granite Care- Use a granite sealant for an additional layer of protection. Clean with a clean, damp cloth and use a small amount of soapy water for heavy residue or debris. Avoid ammonia, bleach or any cleaning products with solvents or caustics.
· Overview - Marble is another popular choice of different countertop materials.
Commercially, any stone that can be polished is also known as marble, with the exception of granite. This includes serpentine, travertine, limestone and onyx.
Often called the “green” marble, serpentine marble is not actually marble but looks very similar and is more stain and spill proof than marble.
· Appearance - Marble comes in a wide variety of colors and with different vein colors and sizes.
· Beneficial Features - Natural marble is very hard, making it a versatile choice. However, protect marble from water, spills and stains.
· Marble Care- Clean up any water or spills on marble as quickly as possible and consider adding a sealant. Do not use marble in high traffic areas of the home where dirt, sand or other particles may grind into the marble, which can permanently damage or mark the stone.
Never leave a chemical, citric or acidic item or substance on the marble.
Clean marble with a clean, slightly damp cloth and then dry with a soft towel. Avoid bleach, acidic cleaners or any abrasive household cleaners with marble, as etching and dullness may occur.
· Overview - Travertine is common for both exterior and interior purposes.
· Appearance - Most natural travertine is dark, ranging from ecru to dark red, with a variety of vein colors.
· Beneficial Features - Natural travertine is softer than marble or granite and should be sealed.
· Travertine Care - Wipe down travertine regularly with a clean, damp cloth and then dry with a towel. Avoid abrasive, bleach or caustic cleaners, as these can stain, etch or dull the appearance of the stone.
· Overview - Limestone is a versatile material with many uses.
· Appearance - Most limestone from the United States is light in color, ranging from yellow to pink to gray in color. Limestone imported from other countries is often light or even dark red, brown or black.
· Beneficial Features - Select limestone with mineral dolomite present, as this type of limestone can be polished and is harder than other types of limestone.
· Limestone Care - Wipe with a clean, damp cloth if dirty.
· Overview - Slate has a distinctive cleft pattern and is usually uniform in color.
· Appearance - Different shades of slate include green, black, dark red, gray or even mottled purple.
· Beneficial Features - Slate is very hard, durable and waterproof.
· Slate Care - Rinse with water and air dry for best results.
· Overview - Primarily characterized by a soapy sensation when touched, soapstone has high talc content.
· Appearance - The color of soapstone ranges greatly depending upon the type of soapstone used. Over time, natural soapstone develops a natural patina.
· Beneficial Features - The material is stain, chemical and water resistant but scratches easily.
· Soapstone Care - Clean with water.