CHOOSING STONE FOR YOUR COUNTERTOPS
While no stone counter top is completely free of maintenance, most natural stone is quite durable and will undoubtedly add to the long term value of your home. Additionally, the overall amount of maintenance for stone countertops is minimal.
Mohs scale of mineral hardness helps define the strength of minerals and natural stone. The scale is based on one stone or mineral’s ability to scratch another mineral. Numbers are assigned to minerals based on their hardness.
The higher the number, the harder the mineral is.
Soapstone - 1
Marble - 3-5
Limestone - 3-5
Quartzite - 7
Granite - 6-8
Quartz - 7-8
There are also many manufacturing methods and other factors involved in countertop production that determine the true hardness. However, Mohs scale is still a good guide.
If you’re looking for a very durable countertop that is scratch resistant, quartz and granite are top choices for kitchen countertops, bars and bathroom vanities.
Granite is a natural stone composed of minerals. The amount and combination of minerals is what creates the different colors and patterns. Granite is very durable making it very difficult to scratch. It has high heat resistance and doesn’t easily crack or chip. When properly sealed the stone also won’t stain.
Quartz is an engineered stone. It is 90-95% natural ground quartz combined with polymers, resins and pigments. The resin binds the elements, creating a very strong, non-porous, and scratch resistant material. This stone will not easily stain or etch.
Quartzite is a natural metamorphic stone quarried from the earth and is almost completely composed of mineral quartz. In terms of hardness, durability and chemical resistance, quartzite is one of the most impressive types of natural stone. Quartzite countertops can stand up to just about anything – even heat. They are also resistant to etching and are difficult to scratch.
Marble forms over millions of years when limestone undergoes recrystallization, a process which makes it stronger. It is a metamorphic gemstone abundant in the mountains of North America, South America, Asia, and Europe, most notably in Italy.
Marble is not heat resistant, it quickly scratches, and it may chip if a heavy object is dropped on it. Acidic foods such as tomatoes or lemons may react with the marble and render etch if left on the marble surface for too long. Marble also has a tendency to absorb oils from the skin, taking on colorations from the hands. However, marble holds a cooler temperature which makes it ideal for rolling out doughs.
Soapstone is very dense, and naturally non-porous. Non-porous stones don't absorb liquids, so they generally do not stain or etch. Soapstone is also proficient in heat resistance.