Stone Countertops Q&A

Common Questions and Answers About Natural Stone Countertops

Will natural stone stain?
Yes, it can. All natural stones have a slight level of porosity and can stain and etch. Sealers DO NOT totally prevent staining as they are a moisture barrier only, yet they will help to give you a fair amount of time to wipe up spills. Serious stains can be almost completely removed and any etching can be resurfaced.
Will natural stone scratch?
It depends on the stone. Natural stone countertops will not scratch under normal use, but keep in mind that stone surfaces are scratch resistant, not scratch proof. It's best to consult a professional stone supplier or fabricator to determine what kind of stone is best for your lifestyle and application.
Will my stone countertop chip?
It can with heavy abuse. Small chips can occur around the sink or near an edge and can be easily repaired. A colored epoxy with small pieces of stone aggregate is used to fill in small areas. If you get a larger chip, save the piece so it can be used to repair the damaged area.
What is etching?
Etching is surface damage. When acids from liquids such as fruit juices, alcohols, and even some cleaning products come into contact with certain minerals in your stone, they leave dull spots or rings. Etched areas will feel rough. Other times, you cannot feel a difference but you'll see a dull looking area.
Can stone countertops be repaired?
Yes. If minor damage does occur, natural stone usually can be repaired using a mix of epoxy and ground-up chips of stone. If your countertop is severely damaged or cracked, it may need to be replaced. Consult your stone installer regarding repairs.
Will seams be noticeable?
Seams are joints where two pieces of stone meet or join together. Although stone slabs are very big, most countertop applications require a seam. If you have curves, arches, or long spans of countertop space, usually a seam is required. Hire a good fabricator and seams are barely noticeable.
What type of edge profiles can I get?
A good countertop fabricator will be able to provide you with a wide variety of edge options to choose from. They typically own a large selection of router bits with different profiles to achieve the style you're looking for. A good fabricator can also produce custom edges to your liking using specialized fabrication techniques.
Does stone or quartz add value to my home?
Yes. Stone surfaces in your home will always add more resale value than any other surfacing material. Stone and quartz countertops are very desirable to homebuyers, especially throughout the kitchen. Stone countertops will last a lifetime, which means that after the cost of the initial installation (with proper maintenance and care) they never need to be replaced or go out of style.
Why does the price of stone from other regions around the world vary so greatly?
Prices of natural stone can differ for a wide variety of reasons. Typically the more expensive the stone, the more rare it is or difficult to obtain. Pricier, more exotic stones usually come from India, Brazil, and Italy. Other reasons stone pricing can differ can depend on quarrying and processing costs, availability, shipping and importing, complexity of fabrication, and its popularity with buyers.
Will natural stone fade in direct sunlight?
No. Natural stone and even solid surfaces will not fade in sunlight.
Is natural stone a hygienic surface?
Yes. The minerals present in natural stone resist most bacteria. Coupled with a good sealer, natural stone countertops are very hygiene-friendly.
What are stone remnants and can I buy them for small projects?
Remnants are smaller pieces of stone or sections of slabs remaining from another project. Most fabricators and suppliers sell remnants and sometimes offer price discounts on leftover pieces. You cannot special order remnants - what you see is what you get. Remnants work great for smaller projects such as bath vanities, shelving, laundry rooms, or for small desks and tables.
What are the most popular surface finishes?
Natural stone surfaces can be finished in a variety of ways but polished, honed and leathered are the most popular.
Polished: A polished surface is the most common and desirable. Polished surfaces have a great appearance and are easy to keep clean and maintain. In addition, a polished surface has a high luster and sheen bringing out the dramatic colors and rocky patterns of the stone.
Honed: Honed finishes are gradually becoming more popular for stone countertops. This finish is smooth but less shiny than polished finishes and gives your home a more natural, casual feel. One drawback of honed surfaces is that they are known to show stains more than others. But, don't let this deter you from choosing a honed finish.
Leathered: A leathered finish begins with a honed surface; then it is swept with diamond tipped brushes. The process brings back the color and closes pores on the surface. The result is between polished and honed. It has more sheen and is less porous than a honed finish.
Can I use a natural stone outdoors?
Yes. Outdoor countertops add a beautiful complement to pool areas, decks and patios but require more maintenance, especially in regions with seasonal changes. When considering a surface for outdoor use, be sure to select a hard material. Some stones are softer than others and will weather and stain easier. Stones that contain voids or fissures can crack or separate due to extreme temperature changes over time. Talk to your designer or fabricator to make sure you are selecting an appropriate material for your outdoor application and climate.
PLEASE NOTE: Most quartz products are not warranted for outdoor use. Continuous long-term outdoor exposure to direct sunlight (UV Rays) and the elements may result in discoloration and staining.
Should I be concerned about radon or VOC's in my stone countertop?
No. There has been a lot of claims that granite countertops emit radon gas or volatile organic compounds (VOC's). However these claims have been debunked through scientific research by the U.S. government and reputable health and safety institutes. None of the research studies performed on natural stone countertops have ever identified any significant health threat. However, it is possible that some brands of countertop sealers can contain small amounts of VOC's. It's best to use sealers that are VOC compliant and ozone safe. Firstline Sealer is an exclusive product from the Artisan Group that is 100% VOC compliant, 100% biodegradable and ozone safe.
What's the difference between natural stone and quartz?
Natural stone is a 100% natural material that is quarried out of the ground, cut into blocks, then processed into slabs for fabrication. With all natural stones, what you see is what you get from Mother Nature. Stone variations and colors can vary from slab to slab.
Quartz, on the other hand, is a crystal that is mined out of the earth as opposed to quarried. Raw quartz crystals are then processed into aggregate for end-use products. Quartz surfaces are produced from a man-made, engineered process, in a factory, using pure quartz crystals and particulates.
What is a solid surface?
A solid surface such as DuPont Corian is a composite material made from natural products with added acrylic polymers and resins. Each manufacturer varies their recipe, heating, reaction times and additives to achieve whatever their blend and product line happens to be. During manufacturing, colorants and particulates are added to achieve the vast array of colors, patterns and styles in the solid surfacing market.
Why is quartz sold as a stone product if it's man-made?
Quartz falls into the same category as a stone surface because quartz products are made using at least 90 to 95% quartz stone aggregate in their composition. A quartz surface is made by combining quartz crystals with polymers and resins, and then formed under intense heat and pressure to produce an extremely hard and durable surface. Since quartz surfacing is man-made, this allows total flexibility and control with styles, colors and patterns during manufacturing.
Engineered quartz surfaces allow consistent colors and variations from production process to production process. Even though finished quartz surfaces are non-porous, giving consumers a hygiene-friendly material, some quartz products also contain added built-in antimicrobial protection providing additional peace of mind against germs.
Once the manufacturing process is complete, quartz surfaces are not much different from a quarried natural stone. Quartz products such as Zodiaq, Silestone, HanStone, and LG Viatera are simply other product choices in the marketplace. They all offer different patterns, textures, colors, styles and pricing.