Stone Countertops

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Leave No Stone Unturned for the Perfect Countertop

Stone countertops have a solid beauty that is ageless and crosses all style boundaries. Whether you are an ardent traditionalist, love the charm and ease of country living, or prefer lean and clean urban contemporary, chances are stone in some form will enter into your design scheme.

There are a variety of stones from limestone to river rocks for stone kitchen countertops and tabletops.

The kitchen stone countertop is a hot fashion accessory

Lighting, cabinetry and flooring are all important in the kitchen, but many designers report that countertops can create the wow factor. Laminate has been eclipsed by surfaces such as granite, quartz and Corian. Homeowners seeking something even more exotic can opt for soapstone countertops, marble and limestone.

The trend in countertops begins at solid surface. Ninety-nine out of 100 customers, whether it's a renovation or a new home, want solid surface.

Laminate has stood the test of time and it remainsl a good product. The market share is low although laminate is economical; about $35 a linear foot. And Formica has launched two new laminate lines, Etchings; a high-gloss granite look and Honed; a matte-finish product that mimics the appearance of honed natural stone.

Granite stone countertops

Granite's durability and beauty are the main reasons for its appeal. Granite is available from origins such as China, India, the Soviet Union and Quebec. The color selection is virtually unlimited. The price of granite is determined mainly by its coloring and patterning.

Granite is porous, and periodically depending on wear, should be resealed with products available at any home supply store. Stains, such as wine should be wiped up promptly.

Quartz stone countertops

Natural quartz products are composed of more than 90 percent quartz, which is 10 times harder than granite and mixed with a resin.

Silestone quartz comes in 43 colors, including one that resembles concrete. Such products are non-porous and many, like Silestone, come with a 10-year installed warranty.

And for those who may not appreciate the often-inconsistent patterning in granite, quartz is extremely continuous with no dramatic variations in color or pattern.

There are many manufacturers to choose from, including Zodiaq by Dupont, Cambria, LG and even Formica, best known for its laminate products, has a quartz product, Formica Stone. Silestone, by Cosentino, accounts for about 75 percent of the North American sales of natural quartz.

Silestone has introduced a selection with built-in Microban, an antibacterial product protection that deters growth of bacteria, mold and fungi. Silestone also offers the River Series, a line of six colors inspired by the shadowing found in limestone.

While quartz does have seams where pieces are joined, it doesn't have to be sealed and just requires a periodic wipe-down with soapy water.

Soapstone countertops

One of the hot newcomers to the North American market is the soapstone countertop, which has only been in Canada about two and a half years, though Europeans have been using it for decades.

It is quarried like granite and quartz and is primarily composed of magnesite, dolomite, chlorite and talc. It's anywhere from 300 to 400 million years old and the talc gives it a soft, warm appearance and touch.

It's non-porous, so completely resistant to bacteria growth. No sealing is required, so a hot pan can be placed directly on it, in addition to using the surface for dough preparation. It's a comparable price range as granite and solid surface.

The maven of gracious living; Martha Stewart has soapstone for countertops in her kitchen and on her TV show. This Old House also has fostered interest in soapstone, which comes from Finland, China and Brazil.

It was originally used for masonry heaters and is used for countertops in forensic and science labs because it's impervious to virtually any type of chemical.

Unlike the granite or quartz, soapstone does not require the extra cost of a substrate (countertop support, like a sub floor) to install.

Soapstone requires no sealing, but for the first month, homeowners should periodically rub it with mineral oil to bring out the beauty of the stone and its marbling. Matching sinks can be created and it can be used as a backsplash or as flooring.

Limestone and marble countertops are requested by only one percent of homeowners.

Limestone and marble tends to be selected in high-end kitchens that are used infrequently and for only light food preparation.

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