Deciding on the material for kitchen countertops can be difficult. You can choose from a number of natural stones are available, not to mention the numerous manmade materials. Among the most popular materials for countertops are granite and solid surface. Here is a head-to-head comparison between granite countertops and solid surface to help you make the right choice.
Builders have used granite for centuries to build monuments and anything else they want to last because it is a very durable, very abundant natural material. Granite is natural stone of the igneous type, formed under the surface of the Earth from a mix of minerals present in magma, including very hard quartz and feldspar. It formed over millions of years under immense pressure and heat, giving it its durability and distinctive crystalline structure that is visible to the naked eye.
Granite comes from all over the world, including the US, Italy, Brazil, and Spain. To get granite from the source to the kitchen, granite companies cut blocks of it from a quarry, cut it into slabs or tiles, and send it to distributors and retailers. Kitchen countertops use slabs cut and polished of 2 cm or 3 cm, which are thick enough to stand up to vigorous and constant use, but not so much that they become too heavy.
Solid surface defined
Solid surface slabs, on the other hand, are not natural stones. It is a composite of different minerals, resins, and pigments and produced using a patented process invented by DuPont. The company marketed the solid surface material for use as kitchen countertops under the Corian brand, and it is the first solid surface brand to come out into the market. The patent has since expired, and many other companies have come out with their own solid surface products. Generally, solid surface slabs are 66% crushed minerals and 33% resin and pigments.
Granite countertops and solid surface cost approximately the same per square foot, between $40 and $60, installed. Granite slabs can be much more expensive, depending on its source and rarity. However, many countertop specialists offer special packages featuring a wide range of granite colors and varieties at around $30 per square foot, so you can probably save a significant amount of change by taking advantage of these special packages.
Tastes and preferences vary, so comparing granite and solid surface in terms of esthetics can be problematic. Some people prefer the uniqueness of patterns and depth of colors of granite, while others like the uniformity and predictability of solid surface colors and designs. Some solid surface brands do offer products that give a good approximation of the look of natural granite, but perhaps not enough to convince the discerning. In any case, the jury is still out on which one is more esthetically pleasing, but most people do tend to turn to granite when it comes to design.
Most reputable manufacturers of manmade dimension stones offer some type of warranty for their products, and this includes solid surface stone brands. This is in case of manufacturing defects that can cause the product to fail. Countertop suppliers have no such warranties for granite slabs because there is no need. Granite stone is particularly durable, and will most likely outlast the home in which it resides. The only time when granite may crack or break is during fabrication and installation, in which cases it is on the countertop company to replace them.
Solid surface countertops are non-porous, which means it does not need sealing. Granite is slightly porous, and requires sealing. That said, solid surface is much more likely to stain than granite, all things being equal. In addition, granite is heat and scratch resistant; solid surface is neither. This means solid surface is more likely to sustain damage with regular use than granite countertops. In terms of cleaning, both are safe for food preparation with daily cleaning with mild dish soap, clean water, and a soft cloth.
Ease of installation
Granite is a very durable stone, which means it is very hard to cut it. It is also quite heavy, so installation is no picnic. In most cases, granite countertops require skilled and experienced professionals to fabricate and install them. This is not the case with solid surface. While it is still quite heavy, it is soft enough that you can cut it with a regular circular saw. Theoretically, you can DIY its installation if you have some basic carpentry skills. However, this also means that solid surface countertops will probably not last anytime as long as granite countertops. You will probably need to replace them in a few years.
And the winner is…
Without a doubt, granite countertops have a lot more going for it than solid surface. The manmade option has some following, but this head-to-head comparison explains why granite continues to be one of the most popular materials for kitchen countertops.
However, if you plan to put in granite countertops in your home, it is extremely important that you do so through a reputable company. Silver Marble Granite is your best bet in the areas of Washington D.C., Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, among others. You can visit our showroom in Sterling, VA to see the products before you buy.
We are your ONE-STOP SHOP for home improvement, and we specialize in the best kitchen countertops in Northern Virginia. We work only with the best brands in the business, and can offer better prices and faster turnarounds than big box stores.
However, don’t think we have no truck with manmade stones. Aside from granite and marble, we also carry top brands in engineered quartz, including Silestone, MSI, Cambria, and Caesarstone.
Check out our website for some of the best deals in kitchen countertops and other products to make your home a better place. While you’re at it, take advantage of our free quote. You will be amazed at the deal we can offer you!