Natural stone countertops are undeniably a worthwhile investment because they do last compared to non-natural stone options. In most cases, these surfaces can last your home a lifetime, if cared for properly.
While natural stone can technically last your home a lifetime, its actual lifespan depends on how you maintain it, what room of the house it is in, and how it is used. Natural stone does absorb water, debris, and even food. Contaminants like this can weaken the stone and cause it to breakdown prematurely. Some natural stone varieties are also prone to scratches and cracks.
To determine the right natural stone countertop for your home that looks great and lasts your home (hopefully) a lifetime, you need to consider your lifestyle, remodeling budget, and the care needs of natural stone.
What are the Most Common Types of Natural Stone Countertops?
The most common types of natural stone surfaces you will find for your home include:
- Granite: By far the most popular choice is granite. It is hard, durable, and as long as you seal it annually, it can last your home for decades. Granite works well in not only kitchens and bathrooms, but as floors and fireplace surroundings too. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, including some that mimic the look of other natural stones.
- Marble: Marble is elegant and made from a crystallized stone naturally formed from heat and pressure. It offers sweeping lines known as veins, and with a high polish finish it complements any kitchen or bathroom.
- Soapstone: Soapstone countertops are rustic, old fashioned, and beautiful. They are softer, and when you touch them, it almost feels as though you’re running your hand across dried out soap. Soapstone does not have as many color variations; instead, they stick to dark greys, black, and almost a greenish color.
- Quartzite: Quartzite is naturally resistant to heat and stains, and it forms from quartz and sandstone. It is harder than quartz itself and comes in a variety of color choices. Quartzite is by far the most durable countertop surface. Quartzite, unlike other natural stone surfaces, comes in various styles too. You can find quartzite that looks like granite, soapstone, and marble, and even some that have a unique blending pattern of their own.
What is Your Household Dynamic?
You cannot pick out natural stone countertops for your kitchen or bathroom if you have not thought about your lifestyle. For example, if you are a busy family that cooks a lot, has younger children, and you entertain, granite might be the better natural stone choice. Granite is durable and comes in a variety of colors.
On the other hand, if you are an empty nester or single adult, you may not need a family-proof countertop. You could make your kitchen counters a showpiece instead, opting for marble. While marble does require more care, it is still long-lasting, adds value, and is beautiful in kitchens and bathrooms.
How Quickly Do You Intend to Sell?
While a countertop surface works for you, will it work for the next person who buys your home? You always need to think with a future sale in mind and consider who is likely to purchase your home.
If you have no intentions of selling your home, then pick a countertop that works for your usage needs and budget. If you only intend on staying in your home another year or so, ask yourself what the next owner would prefer. For larger homes, where it is likely the next buyer would have a family, you want a durable countertop surface such as quartzite or granite. While smaller homes typically have a single individual or young couple and you can use a more expensive natural stone option, such as soapstone or marble.
How Much Maintenance Does It Need – and How Much Are You Willing to Give?
Natural stone is not care-free. You will have maintenance. However, some natural stone surfaces require more maintenance than others, so you need to ask yourself how much maintenance you are willing to give realistically. Sure, you want a marble surface, but are you prepared to clean up every spill, seal it, and use extra caution with heat around it?
Match your natural stone countertops with your maintenance comfort level. Most natural stone surfaces only require cleaning with a special soap or mild detergent, but some require even more care. Marble, for example, is highly sensitive to acid. Therefore, even a spill of vinegar or coffee can damage it permanently. If you have a marble surface, prepare to wipe your countertops regularly, especially while cooking meals and after serving them – and even after pouring your morning coffee.
Which Type of Natural Stone is the Most Durable?
When comparing the various types of stone, granite, quartzite, and soapstone are by far the most durable and last the longest.
Granite is more resistant to scratches and chips, but both can withstand heavy, everyday use. Granite is still porous; therefore, in bathrooms, you want to ensure no one leaves standing water on the countertop and if you have small kids with a tendency to leave toothpaste globs on your surfaces, you want to wipe them up right away.
Soapstone looks beautiful in kitchens, and it is naturally resilient. It is so durable you can get soapstone sinks. It is softer, however, and more prone to scratches than granite. It does not chip easily or break, but dents are common if you were to drop something substantial onto the surface. Instead of sealing it, you will use mineral oil to coat your soapstone and then wipe it off.
Quartzite is slightly hardier than granite when compared on a Mohs scale. It measures at a 7 (with 10 being the hardest), while granite comes in at a 6.5 – so not too much harder. Quartzite is often confused with quartz, but they are not the same. Quartzite is a natural stone countertop, while quartz is human-made. Quartzite, unlike its man-made counterpart, does require sealing each year (sometimes twice a year), but it is heat resistant, scratch-resistant, and less likely to chip compared to granite and soapstone.
Bottom Line: Only You Can Decide Which Natural Stone Countertop Works for You
Finding the right natural stone countertop truly comes down to a buyer’s lifestyle and preference. While all are built to last, your care and maintenance along with everyday use, will determine how long that countertop truly lasts for your home. For more information, please visit slabmarket to learn about natural stone countertops and to see your options when remodeling your kitchen or bathroom.