Natural stone is an excellent choice for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities. It’s beautiful, durable, and highly customizable. Granite and marble have been extremely popular choices for a long time, and even though engineered stone alternatives have appeared on the market, these 2 “classic” stones still make up a sizable percentage of the countertop industry.
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock, that is, it’s created when sandstone is heated and compressed by the tectonic plate movement in the Earth’s crust. It’s composed mostly of quartz crystals, and after the heat & compression, these crystals form an interlocking network with incredible strength. Quartzite is so strong that it breaks through the grains rather than along their boundaries, like granite or marble would.
Its rating on the Mohs Hardness scale is a very impressive 7 out of 10, exceeded only by diamond, corundum, and topaz. This strength and durability makes it a highly desirable option for kitchen countertops. Once properly installed and sealed, a natural quartzite countertop offers the best of both worlds – the remarkable beauty and strength of stone, and the convenience and cleanliness of a sealed surface.
Quartzite is found all over the world – including USA, UK, Israel, and Continental Europe. In the US, quartz has been located in Pennsylvania, Washington DC, South Dakota, Central Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. The British Isles are blessed with a rich supply of quartzite, especially in Wales, Scottish Highlands, and northwest Ireland. The Precambrian and Cambrian mountains and crags scattered throughout the area provide a rich variety of quartzite in a stunning array of colors and textures.
The natural heritage of quartzite is evident in the names of some of the major suppliers of quartz countertops – Cambria is based on the Cambrian Mountains range in Wales, and Caesarstone is named after the Caesarea in Israel. Natural quartzite slabs feature bold colors and veins, making them a wonderful choice for kitchen designs where a particular statement needs to be made. This is not a stone for the timid designer, this is a stone that expresses the homeowner’s sense of style.
Granite is considered the #1 choice for natural stone countertops. A few decades ago, it was found only in high-end homes, but with the recent advances in mining, shipping, fabrication, and installation, it’s become much more accessible. It’s hard enough to resist abrasion and weathering, doesn’t discolor easily, and can be carved and polished for a variety of uses – countertops, columns, monuments, stair treads, statues, and much more.
Granite is a relatively common rock with deposits all over the world. Some of the most famous granite exposures include Mount Rushmore in North Dakota, Stone Mountain in Georgia, Yosemite Valley in California, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. These locations, along with the Massachusetts and Idaho quarries, have been responsible for the vast majority of US-produced granite.
Granite is a coarse-grained, igneous (solidified from cooling magma) stone, composed mainly of feldspar and quartz with minor amounts of mica and other minerals. Granite colors can range from off-white to almost black, with gradations of red and brown in between. Some stone quarries and suppliers will expand the definition of “granite” to include “any rock with visible grains that’s harder than marble” – so if you see names like anorthosite, aplite, basalt, diabase, diorite, gneiss, granodiorite, labradorite, monzonite, pegmatite, rhyolite, schist, and/or syenite – those are also either types of granite or “similar enough” stones that work well for countertops and/or architectural elements.
Granite is a “prestige material”, costing more than artificial materials, but it’s well worth it for the properties it offers, as well as the historical and cultural cachet. When you choose granite for your home renovation, you’ll be enjoying the same material that was used in the construction of Egyptian pyramids, French palaces, English monuments, and Russian museums. Granite makes one think of centuries and millions. It’s a stone that speaks wealth and durability, and there’s nothing else like it.
Marble is equated with opulence – it’s been a premium material for construction and decor for centuries. Some of the most famous attractions in the world are made from marble. The Parthenon in Athens? Pentelic marble. Michelangelo’s statue of David? Carrara marble. The Taj Mahal? Makrana marble. Grand Marble Palace in Saint Petersburg? Karelian marble.
Marble is a metamorphic rock, usually formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and temperature, deep within the earth. Inclusions of other minerals can change the color of the limestone, or create the “marbling” or “veining” effects that this stone is famous for. Marble deposits occur in many locations around the world, but the majority of quarried marble comes from 4 countries – Italy, China, India, and Spain.
Even though it looks very expensive, marble can actually cost less than other natural stone. This makes it an appealing choice for renovation projects where you need to create a “million-dollar look” on a budget. Of course, costs vary depending on the type, quality, thickness, and slab size of the marble, but in general, it’s a slightly more economical option.
Each piece of marble, even those mined from the same quarry, is going to have a unique look. The wide range of colors and patterns found in marble are due to the impurities and inclusions that were trapped in the limestone before it was “baked” and compressed into marble.
Marble is one of the favorite choices of professional chefs, because it stays cool, and doesn’t overheat or burn. It’s an excellent option for baking, pastry work, and pasta making. When it’s properly installed, sealed, and maintained, you can expect a marble countertop to last a lifetime.
Agate is a natural stone, composed of a mix of different minerals including chalcedony and quartz. It’s considered a semi-precious stone, and is highly desirable thanks to its hardness, ability to be polished to a fine finish, and strong, beautiful colors.
While precious stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds may cost thousands of dollars, semi-precious stones are far more accessible, yet bring the same sense of beauty and wonder. Their stunning color schemes can easily become the focal point of a room’s design, and since many of them are translucent, we can create backlit countertops and wall panels that will bring a luxurious and dynamic feel to any interior.
Just like the addition of acrylic resin to quartzite creates a more durable and non-porous surface (quartz) compared to the natural stone, so does a similar treatment create a better version of agate. Our agate slabs are incredibly strong, scratch-resistant, and will not stain or harbor bacteria. Beauty and brawn, in one amazing material.
They’re also environmentally-friendly, from their production process to their nontoxic nature and zero-maintenance appeal (no sealant needed). This makes agate countertops a perfect choice for homeowners interested in eco-friendly building materials.
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