Granite in a non-white kitchen (for commenter “JT”)

Back in 2015 I wrote a pair of columns on countertops, and specifically issues I’d been having with mine. Based on new information, I thought a revisit was in order. In Part One I wrote about some of the more unusual countertop options like paper, wood, and glass before diving into the varieties of stone.  In this column, I’ll finish up with the rest of the stone landscape.  As with any list, it’s by no means exhaustive.  New stones are being mined all the time and new materials are being pressed into service (who’d have thought about lava rock 20 years ago?).

Regardless of the type of countertop you select, understand that there are different things that impact overall pricing.  Each material has different grades, which equate to different prices for the raw material.  Often it’s based on rarity or difficulty in manufacturing the product.  From a fabrication perspective, complicated shapes, cutouts, and edge treatments can add cost depending how complicated you get (complication equals time/money). Finally, there’s installation.  How easy will it be to get the countertops into the building?

That said, let’s talk about marble …



Figure 1: Author’s Anatardite Calcite, mislabeled as Quartzite from IMC

This story has since been updated here, here and here. Please read.

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

There are many options for countertops, ranging from bog-standard Formica and tile to stainless steel, slab glass, concrete, marble, granite, manufactured quartz and now natural quartzite.

The minimum one expects from a countertop is durability. Many would think durability, along with stone rarity, should increase with price. I think we all know that marble, especially the lighter colored varieties, can be fussy and prone to staining. It requires regular sealing to protect from stains, which is why it’s more often used in bathrooms versus kitchens. Sealing doesn’t protect against etching.

Quartz is a very hard and durable mineral that’s imprecisely used to describe two types of stone. There is manufactured quartz like Silestone and Caesarstone that take quartz aggregate and mix it with resin under extreme heat and pressure to form slabs. Quartzite is an all-natural stone mined the same way as marble and granite.

Quartzite’s appearance varies greatly but has distinct veining and can have a look anywhere from crisp solid coloring to very crystalline in appearance (like crushed ice). I’ve seen quartz so perfectly colored, I’d swear it was fake. While some patterns are brilliantly crazy, it’s generally a more subtle stone group that definitely causes as much “WOW” for viewers as it does owner’s wallets.

But quartzite has a dirty little secret. There’s a high likelihood it’s been mislabeled which may lead to problems.