Upon first glance, it’s difficult to tell the difference between natural stone countertops and ones made of engineered stone. So, what are the real differences between them?
Both options are beautiful. When it comes to natural stone, your most popular choices include marble, granite, slate, limestone, and travertine. With engineered stone, your new countertop will most likely be made from a variety of quartz.
The differences don’t necessarily lie in how visually alluring the countertops are (though that can play into the decision for some people); they lie beneath the surface.
The number one difference between natural and engineered stones is where they’re sourced from. Natural stone countertops are created from slabs of rock of the same material—cut from stone quarries far underground. In the quarries, natural stone is formed over time from molten rock and minerals—meaning that no two natural stone slabs will be the same because all formations are unique. The geographic location of the quarries also makes a difference in the way natural stone countertops look. The color of the stone varies on where it’s sourced.
Engineered stone, on the other hand, is man-made. Engineered countertops are made from quartz combined with man-made and natural materials—combining ground stone crystals with resin and pigments to achieve the look of a natural stone countertop using some synthetic materials.
A Closer Look: Natural Stone
Before making the final choice, you’ll want to look at how the details of choosing one stone over the other will impact your life. The main two differences between natural and engineered stone include durability and cost, and that’s what this section will look into.
Of course, natural stone is a popular choice because its beauty commands attention in a room. It’s typically the first place that your eye goes when you enter. It’s stylish, elegant, and sturdy.
The durability of a natural stone countertop depends on what material you choose. For example, granite is known for its strength in comparison to marble, which is a bit more fragile and should be handled more delicately. That doesn’t mean it’s easily breakable; it just takes a bit more thought.
When natural stone countertops are sealed regularly and correctly, they can last a lifetime. When they’re not sealed is when they’re susceptible to damage—and this is because they’re inherently porous stones. But sealant will protect the counter, no matter the natural material, from damage caused by liquid, heat, and acids.
Value and Cost
Natural stones are very popular, and it’s unlikely they’ll go out of style anytime soon. Due to this fact and because they last so long, they automatically add value to a home. Even if you’re not looking to sell, planning for the future is never a bad idea when remodeling your kitchen or bathroom. A natural stone countertop is a smart investment to make.
When it comes to cost, you’re getting what you pay for. Of course, every project will be priced differently, but when you’re looking to remodel a room with natural stone countertops, you can expect it to cost anywhere from $40–$250 per square foot. Again, that’s a rough estimate—you can contact us for a consultation for your specific remodel and material.
A Closer Look: Engineered Stone
Engineered stone is capable of mimicking the appearance, color, and texture of natural stone, which makes it appealing to plenty of people. The color in quartz countertops comes from the stone itself, but it’s sometimes enhanced with dyes or other colorants to create a specific shade.
While some people prefer the unpredictability of natural stone and the fact that no two slabs are alike, many people lean toward the uniformity of engineered stone.
Engineered stone is very hard and strong as long as it’s installed correctly. It even has the potential to be as tough as granite. But unlike natural stones, engineered stones do not have to be sealed, and they’re automatically scratch and heat resistant (although using cutting boards is still recommended).
Engineered stones are also non-porous, unlike natural stones. This allows for easy cleanup and a surface that is more resistant to bacteria and stains, keeping them sanitary and beautiful.
Value and Cost
Engineered stones are not as high-end as natural stones, but they can still add resale value to a home. If done well, they qualify as an upgrade from old and outdated countertops and promise easy maintenance, which is a draw for many buyers.
When it comes to cost, engineered stone is known for being more affordable. It’s priced anywhere between $50–$150 per square foot, although that will vary depending on the countertop material and size of the remodel.
Which Is Right for You?
There are advantages to both natural stone and engineered stone—the choice comes down to your personal style, budget, and lifestyle. If you need help deciding which material is right for you, contact Marble Granite World today.