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Emily Henderson

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by Grace de Asis
Emily Henderson Bedrosians How To Pick Stone 20 2500x1786

Hi everyone, it’s Grace, Social Media Manager for EHD and trained interior designer. You haven’t seen my name around these parts much, but I’m always in the background, promise. When Emily and Arlyn asked me to take a stab at writing this post, between all the fear that flashed through my eyes and the sirens that went off in my non-writer head, I had to laugh. Ironically, in college, I had a couple of geology classes that I thoroughly enjoyed. We had to memorize so many rock types, which stone turns into what, and also be able to identify them from a photo or sample on command. I surprisingly aced those classes and enjoyed all the lectures, so naturally, I thought being a geologist was my calling. Because obviously all you need in order to become a geologist is be great at memorizing all the rocks! My young and naive self told my dad about my amazing career discovery and he literally laughed at my face while reminding me that geologists go and spend time on the ground under the sun. I hate going outside and spending time in the heat (my kryptonite). Crushed and dejected, I was, I tell ya. But just because I couldn’t pursue that path doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the things that have refused to be memory-dumped out of my brain from those days.

Today, we’re talking to you all about stone slabs for your home, how to pick them, and the pros and cons of each. And while EHD has had its fair share of kitchen and bathroom designs, we’re by no means the absolute pros, so to fill in the missing pages from our own research, Brooke, our amazing contact at Bedrosians (where we got most of our slabs for the mountain house), set up a call so we could pick the brains of a few people in the company. Going for natural stone can be a commitment, but stick with us and you might just end up with the stone of your dreams.

Emily Henderson Bedrosians How To Pick Stone 8

There are a lot of options, most you wouldn’t be using in your everyday space like a kitchen or bathroom, so we’ll only go through some of the more popular ones in the market right now. But first, there are three things to consider before running out and buying that milky white marble with gorgeous blue-gray veining you just saw on Instagram.

1. What is your lifestyle?

Listen up! This is, hands down, the most important tip of all (and everyone that we talked to at Bedrosians agreed—thanks Michael and Anna!). Think about your lifestyle and how you are as a person. Dig deep, guys. Are you an extremely busy person who is normally running late in the morning and don’t have time to meticulously clean up a massive spill as you frantically run out the door, or are you a helicopter parent to your surfaces? This is a safe space. There is no judgment here. You can be honest to yourself. Wherever you lie on this spectrum, there is a perfect stone for you. For instance, as I’m sure you’ve heard, marble is soft and picks up stains easily while something like an engineered quartz or even natural quartzite are much harder stones that resist chipping, scratches and wear-and-tear. 

2. Where is this stone going to go?

Now that you know your capabilities, think about where you want to put this dream stone of yours. Kitchen countertop? Bathroom vanity counter? Shower floor and surround? A wall feature? In each of these areas, the stone will be exposed to different kinds of traffic, liquid (wine, citrus, vinegar, products, etc.), and level of moisture. Certain stones will definitely work better in some areas than others, though that’s not to say that they should never be used in non-recommended areas. We just want you to be aware of the stone’s limitations so that you know how to properly care for it.

3. What’s your budget?

Make sure you come up with a realistic budget for yourself (with maybe a cap on how much you’re willing to spend) before you start choosing and wanting to buy everything to your heart’s desire. To give you a quick rundown about pricing (don’t worry, we’ll go into specifics in a bit), on average, granite and marble are generally similarly priced, travertine and limestone are cheaper, and quartzite is more expensive because it is harder to find and quarry. In general, these are the factors that determine the price of your stone:

  • Actual stone slab (the main driver for which is transportation cost as it has to be quarried, transported, and shipped from the site)
  • Availability (if it’s rare and there isn’t a lot of it, then it’ll cost more)
  • Fabrication cost (how many cuts are needed, how many seams are there, plus extra if you want it honed or leathered)
  • Installation

Stone is usually sold polished, but some might be available pre-honed. For our stone slabs in the mountain house that were honed or leathered, our fabricator found a guy who was able to add the finish for about $650 a slab.

Emily Henderson Mountain House How To Choose Stone Stone Finish V2
from left: image source | image source | image source

Marble

Let’s chat about marble first because in case you’ve been living under a rock (ha!), you know that people are absolutely obsessed with marble. I know that you know that we here at EHD are obsessed with it, too. (I mean, how can you not be?! Have you guys seen that Montclair Danby marble in the Portland kitchen and media room wet bar?

While there are many different types of marble (the variety of colors in veining is from the different minerals present in the areas that they are quarried from), the most popular ones are Italian marble. You might have heard of them: Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario. Keep in mind though that for whichever type of marble you’re looking at, there are different grades within each type depending on where exactly they were quarried from (meaning that cost can really vary, though on average, marble is about $50-$100/sq ft, but a rare Roman Calacatta Gold marble could range from $80-$260/sq ft).

Emily Henderson Mountain House How To Choose Stone Marble Types 103118
from left: image source | image source | image source

But now you’re asking, “Which one is the best and most low-maintenance of all??” I wondered the same thing, so I asked our friend Michael. Short answer: there is no difference between the three in terms of porosity (ability to absorb liquid). All marble, no matter where it is quarried from, is composed of calcite. So while it looks like a tough material, calcium is still going to be sensitive to acid no matter what. Lemons, wine, vinegar, and other acidic items are not marble’s friend and will cause etching. The acid essentially dissolves an area of your marble surface as it reacts with calcite; think science class volcanic eruption experiment minus the mega explosion!

A similar problem can happen on marble flooring, as Anne from Bedrosians’ PNW market told me. In one of their showrooms with polished marble flooring, daily foot traffic over the years has self-honed a pathway and you can see a dullness contrasting with the polished stone on the rest of the floor. But do not despair, not all is lost! You can still have your house where marble dreams are made of! Here’s how:

  1. Get a sealant for your marble (or any other kind of natural stone) and make sure to reseal it every couple of years. Your fabricator will usually do this for you during install, but for future reapplication, you can get a $20 to $60 a bottle from your local hardware store. An impregnating seal is recommended by stone companies for harder stones due to the solution being made up of smaller molecules, allowing it to get into the stone a lot easier.
  2. You can choose to hone or leather your marble to help hide blemishes, etching, or dullness (though this will also etch your marble a little bit easier). Honed marble will give you a matte and smooth finish, while leathered marble will give you a matte and textured finish. In simplistic terms, the textured finish is achieved by going at your marble with a sander and acid wash.
  3. Every one to two years (depending on the amount of action your marble gets), have a professional come in to repair your surface for a couple hundred dollars (depending on what it’s been through). They’ll bring in their sandpaper or polishing pads and make your marble look pretty damn close to new again! Don’t be afraid that it is easily scratched and is not acid-friendly because YES, marble can be restored, and the patina that it gets over time is also a desired look by some (like Emily!).

Very important note: Sealing will not necessarily prevent your marble from etching, or from getting scratched for that matter. It’s not the hardest of stones in the grand scheme of things; Michelangelo did sculpt from it after all. Make sure you’re using a cutting board and wiping spills right away. If you think of looking at marble on a microscopic level, picture the letter “W” with the troughs being tiny little pores that get filled with sealant; in this scenario, the pores get filled and become protected, but on some level, the three tips of the “W” are still exposed and prone to being etched or stained.

Emily Henderson Bedrosians How To Pick Stone 10

Granite

Granite is a silica-based rock that typically has a speckled look from crystallized minerals that formed and cooled underneath the earth’s surface. I read on this one geology website that in the stone industry, granite is any stone that you can see visible grains from that are much harder than marble. This is where you get your granite varieties (the standard speckled granite is probably pegmatite and something with visible bands is probably gneiss, but let’s not get into that). We’ve all seen the usual builder-grade kitchen countertop, but similar to marble, there are different levels of granite, some with very beautiful flowing patterns and mottling in various colors. You can get a more standard granite for the low, low price of $2/sq ft even, but on average it is similarly priced to marble at $50-$100/sq ft. Once you get to the mid to upper ranges though (think $90/sq ft and up), you can get some really pretty stone with lots of different colors that make up its pattern.

Because it is considered to be a hard material (read: scratch-resistant), it’s great for kitchens and areas that will take a beating. If areas do get chipped, repairs are fairly easy as you can get a professional to refill chipped or cracked areas with some granite dust and epoxy resin, color-matched to your specific stone. It’s not as porous as marble, so you don’t really have to worry about staining and wiping spills right away. (Tip: Ask your fabricator or installer for the type of sealer they used on yours so you can get the same one for future reapplication; sometimes different sealants react badly with one another.) Granite is also one of the more heat-resistant stones so no need to worry about having to place a too-hot baking sheet directly on the counter. That said, be careful with slow cookers and such appliances that retain heat for long periods as they might crack your surface.

If you’re able to find a slab that speaks to you, it can kind of be just as pretty as marble (for a relatively similar price), but without all the upkeep and maintenance of actual marble.

Emily Henderson Bedrosians How To Pick Stone 9

Quartzite

Not to be confused with quartz (which I’ll address later), quartzite is characterized by streaks and striations that are kind of similar to marble, and can also come polished, honed or leathered. But unlike the softer marble, quartzite is much harder and durable (a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale—marble is a 3…diamonds a 10, for instance). Just like with every other natural stone, it should be sealed during installation, and resealed over time, to protect it from stains and other abrasive materials. (Strong chemicals, in general, could ruin a stone’s sealant over time.) Because it is not a very porous material, is scratch-resistant, and is not sensitive to acid, it’s a great alternative for shower surrounds and hard-working kitchens. Remember that striking emerald stone you guys picked for the Mountain house kids bath? That’s quartzite! It’s also UV-resistant so they are great for indoor and outdoor use without having to worry about fading issues from sun exposure.

So now you’re thinking, “Enough already, Grace, you’ve sold me on quartzite!” GREAT! My job here is done. Almost. You might be surprised to find out that marble is in fact not the most expensive of stones out there. That distinction goes to none other than our quartzite friend over here; on average being $60-$120/sq ft though it can definitely get even more expensive. Our stone expert friend Michael says that because quartzite is typically harder to find and quarry (it’s such a hard material that they need diamond cutters for the job), its price and fabrication costs can cost you a pretty penny. But hey, if you’ve got the change to spare and you’re looking for a striking and low-maintenance natural stone alternative to marble, quartzite just might be the one for ya!

If you’re looking for other options that won’t break the bank as much, but will most likely endure many accidents and mishaps, you should consider composite stones, aka engineered stone. Guys, meet quartz and porcelain!

image by sara ligorria-tramp | from: it’s finally here! the mountain house kitchen reveal

Quartz

Quartz countertops are not to be mistaken with the mineral quartz (read: rose quartz, amethyst, and the likes, yes, I’m talking about those same crystals that you have in your intention corner for positive vibes). In the stone industry, quartz countertops are a type of engineered stone made up of loose quartz mineral aggregates, mineral pigment, and a binder (usually resin).

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the cream surface with tiny little speckles throughout, but quartz can actually come solid or even textured as well. And you might be surprised to find out (as was I) that you can get it in a polished, honed, lightly textured, or rough finish. They can be used in practically the same way as natural stone, as countertops, vanities, cladding, and even flooring.

Emily used quartz counters (White Cliffe Matte from Cambria) in the mountain house kitchen, but went with a solid color to let the wood of the cabinetry shine. It’s a stylistic choice, but also a lifestyle choice because she didn’t want to spend her time up there babysitting countertops.

And because they’re engineered and makes use of resin as their binder, they’re non-porous (aka very resistant to staining), durable, acid-friendly, and generally requires no additional sealing. A low-maintenance stone for a “low-maintenance” gal like me! You can cut all the lemons you want for your spa water and peel all the oranges you need to get that perfect twirl for your old fashioned. But quartz’s greatest feature is (kinda) also its greatest downfall: that same resin used to bind it in production makes the stone sensitive to heat! So unless you want burn marks on your precious countertop, don’t put extremely hot things on it! And by extremely hot, I mean anything above 300F. That’s what a trivet is for guys! Or a towel, that works, too.

Btw, if you’re thinking of using quartz for that outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming of, you should know that it’s not very UV-friendly like quartzite. When placed outside, there’s a high chance that sun exposure will cause fading and none of us would want that for you.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda’s tiny kitchen makeover takeover

Porcelain

Porcelain slab countertops, on the other hand, are a newcomer (relatively) in the stone industry game…in the US at least, I’ve read that it’s been around in Europe for a while. Similar to your porcelain dinnerware, when used in this capacity, it has some more additives and is fired at a higher temperature which makes it extremely hard and strong.

It is very much resistant to chipping, scratches, and general wear and tear (Velinda has them in her home and basement kitchenette—above, Bedrosians Magnifica Basalto porcelain countertop slab—and loves them), though that’s not to say that it won’t ever crack or break, with enough blunt force, it can. I also read somewhere that ceramic knives could potentially scratch your porcelain surface (because they fall under the same grade in the hardness scale). Oh, and remember when I said earlier that quartz can’t take the heat? (I’m so punny, ha ha.) Porcelain, because it literally took the heat during manufacturing, has no problems handling hot pots or tools! No more worrying that your curling wand will burn your pretty stone (just your pretty hair?).

One of the best things about using porcelain countertops is that you can use high definition inkjet printing technology to get photos of natural stone (or any pattern really) printed onto your porcelain slab. Your stone company should have a database of high-resolution patterns that you can choose from. INSTANT CALACATTA MARBLE OF YOUR DREAMS! Without the upkeep and commitment required from the real deal. Our other friend Anne from Bedrosians said that the process is much like office printing, but on a grander scale. A large computer-controlled printer installed in the manufacturing plant applies mineral glaze components instead of ink. The image files are pulled from the computer and imprinted onto the slab; the more images used, the less the pattern repeats, making it look as realistic as natural stone. (Bonus Perk: the glazing aspect means no additional sealant is required to protect the surface from moisture and staining).

Emily Henderson Mountain House How To Choose Stone Porcelain Inspo
image source

I know I said I’m all for quartzite, but I think I’m all about porcelain now. And did I tell you that you can even install it directly over an existing countertop? And and and! Because it’s made out of clay, it’s considered to be a very green material that can be recycled for use in other products at the end of its life cycle.

And because we know that’s A LOT of information to remember, we put together this handy dandy matrix for you to save and reference when it comes time to pick stone and surfaces for your home.

Emily Henderson How To Choose Stone Matrix

Now, there are a few more natural stones on this sheet above which we haven’t touched on yet (like limestone and soapstone) since those are less popular, but here’s a quick crash course in case you want to know:

Limestone and travertine are both sedimentary rocks formed out of layers of compacted sandstone and seashells. These two have a high calcite content like marble (in fact, marble WAS limestone in a previous life) so they are very sensitive to acid and could corrode in a similar way to marble. Limestone, usually ivory and beige in color, has that beautiful rustic texture that is popular in use as pavers, tiles, and slabs in exterior designs. Travertine, used mainly as a building material, is also a popular choice for facades, flooring (great as pavers), and wall cladding. In the last few years that I’ve spent scrolling through Houzz, I’ve seen a lot of people use it in bathrooms. It comes in a polished or honed finish, and filled or unfilled. Travertine naturally has holes that can be filled in with a mixture of stone dust, water, and glue. It isn’t typically used as a slab countertop, but more as an outdoor flooring or cladding material where it is often desirable to leave it unfilled with a chiseled finish to add to its rustic look.

Soapstone is a talc-based stone that can range from gray to charcoal to black in color with little to no veining. It also happens to be the softest mineral out there. This means that while a lot of people use this as a working kitchen countertop (or science labs in school settings), it is very prone to scratching. Not to worry though because you can erase these scratches with mineral oil, which also acts as its sealant and is great if you want to go for a darker look.

BEFORE WE LEAVE YOU, IT’S BONUS TIP TIME! 

Once you picked your stone type based on budget, lifestyle and placement, there are still other decisions to be made such as stone thickness and edge profiles.

Let’s start with thickness: Natural stone slabs typically come in a thickness of either 2cm or 3cm. 2cm is the standard practice here in California because of labor laws, FYI. That 1cm difference between the two slabs apparently makes the thinner option weigh half as much as the thicker option, and causes less accidents in fabrication and installs. The rest of the country generally uses 3cm slabs, which eliminates the need to both install the stone over plywood and have extra edge pieces.

On to edge profiles: We figured a graphic could do most of the talking here, so here are all the options in one quick reference sheet:

Ehd Stone Guide Countertop Edge 103118

Eased edge (which is also just your basic straight finish) is not usually an upgrade, but most of these other profiles are and can range from $20-$36 per linear foot, so make sure to account for that in your budget if you have a stylistic preference.

And that’s all we have for you today. You’re ready to get your stone on! Hopefully, you feel like you have more information to make the best choice for your home and your lifestyle, but please ask more questions should you have them. If we can’t answer them, I know the readers here probably can because you all are a wealth of knowledge from your own projects.

We know this was a very nuts-and-bolts post, and probably not the sexiest topic, but if you have any requests for other useful posts like these that would help you (or would have helped you) in a renovation, let us know. We’re happy to put on our backpacks and take out our notebooks to school ourselves and then pass on the information in a digestible format.

  1. Wonderful, comprehensive roundup! A few additional things I have learned after doing several kitchens and baths over the past thirty (well…closer to FORTY!) years: 1. Visit your stone slabs BEFORE they are cut. If you look at the photo above over ‘Granite’ you can see the huge change in color from top to bottom. Depending on your preferences you may or may not want to use the busier areas….your fabricator may be able to cut around them or show you a different slab. 2. If you need a countertop for a small area, give the stone people your dimensions and they will likely be able to show you a selection of ‘leftovers’ from other projects. Keep an open mind and you may find an expensive stone remnant that fits your style AND budget.
    3. When picking an edge, know that the more rounded profiles are less likely to chip, are easier to clean and usually cheaper.

    1. #2 is SUCH a great hack, TBN! Thank you! 🙂

    2. Very nice read. Did you happen to ost your article on Pinterest? I’d love to save it in my kitchen section for my remodel!

  2. Very comprehensive! Thank you!

    1. So great, thank you! I’m about to replace countertops in a house we’re buying… Very helpful.

    2. You’re welcome! 🙂

  3. Informative; thank you! I asked a PhD geologist friend to go over this with me once and 30 seconds in I had to ask him to stop because I was looking for this kind of info and not the actual chemical structures of each, nor the fact that scientifically, granite IS quartz. Great, funny writing…I’m off to sit in my intentions corner & talk all this over with my crystals now!

    1. Ha! An earlier draft may or may not have had some of that kind of info you’re talking about (forgot to take off the nerd hat, sorry Arlyn!).

      Thank you, glad you liked!

  4. this is awesome! Totally wish i had this when i was picking out my new countertops… also a PRO TIP – ask to see the “scrap yard” or leftover pieces. this is the leftovers from people who like totally redid big areas and had to buy a lot of stone but didn’t need it all. you get big discounts!!!! i got the EXACT piece of quartzite i wanted for my bathroom vanity for half the cost because i used a scrap.

    1. That’s a great tip, Veronica–THANKS!!

  5. Great roundup! Going to the stone yard is one of my favorite things to do! I can’t help but gravitate to the marble. There is really nothing more beautiful if you can handle a little patina. Nothing else really compares to the real deal.

  6. This was so helpful! Thanks!!

    1. Great post! What are your thoughts on concrete countertops?

    2. Thanks guys!

      Concrete countertops–I’m definitely into them. 🙂 Haven’t done much research on the how-to though, so make sure you do if you’re going the DIY route.

  7. This. Is. So. Helpful!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for this post! (And you should never be nervous about writing/posting again because you did a fabulous job!)

    1. I agree. Grace is awesome! 🙂

    2. Aw, thanks Julie! <3 (and Arlyn!)

  8. Love this type of informative post! I’m not installing countertops anytime soon (just did concrete countertops, we love them!) but I love learning a little more about this type of thing and know that I will come back to reference this one day!

    1. Woohoo! This is why we write them. 🙂 Bookmark away, Eve!

  9. Fun and informative! I will definitely be referring to this when i redo my kitchen. Great job on your first post. Hope to hear more from you!

    1. Thanks, Jenna! <3

  10. So great! Thanks!

  11. WHERE WAS THIS POST 6 MONTHS AGO! Happy with our choice, but would have made it MUCH faster! Ha! Thank you!

    Jennblogshere.com

  12. This is so helpful! Because of our budget, the only quartz we can afford is the white with glass speckles. I’m worried it’s going to look dated/anachronistic with our craftsman cabinets and cement look tile floor. Would you do a granite in that case (family with toddlers)?

    1. Rebekah – Check out different quartz manufacturers. We ended up choosing the “cheaper” MSI quartz brand over the Cambria or Silestone. It’s been 3 years and we’ve been SO happy with our beautiful white countertops. Two anecdotes. My 8-year old was doing “homework” at the counter and decided to use a sharpie marker, which I didn’t discover until a couple of days later…a little nail polish remover and it was gone! (whew!) Same thing with juice, or berries, etc. that my kids leave on the counter. Also, just last week my husband was doing dishes and when he went to “shake” some drips off a pan, whacked the pan onto the edge of my countertop. I nearly fainted. The high-end pan was dented, including the Teflon edge! But my counter had a faint black mark that wiped off. No cracking or damage. It was totally unbelievable. Good luck!

      1. Just wanted to tell you that your advice to keep looking was spot on- and we found something awesome! Thank you!

  13. This post was fabulous. Saving for my future kitchen reno. Thanks for all the research that went into this article!

  14. Awesome post, Grace! Personally I like Quartz. The veining and varieties in stone are too busy for my minimalist taste.

    Warning, gross stuff ahead: I want to offer some personal experience to the conversation with regards to marble on floors. I rented a house with marble showers and floors in the bathrooms. The floors were permanently etched by previous tenants and it was gross – urine sprinkles on the floors around the toilets, and in one bathroom, there were vomit stains etched all around the toilet. We had the floors professionally treated but the etching was still visible. And in the showers, the iron deposits within the marble caused some rust stains to appear, so while they were still pretty, they looked a bit worse for wear. Just some things to consider when choosing marble.

  15. I echo the others when I say: WHERE WAS THIS WHEN WE REMODELED OUR KITCHEN? I went with a quartz, which is a great lifestyle choice for me, but this would have been so helpful at the time! Not a boring post by any means!

  16. this is super helpful…just installed quartzite countertops last year and searched and searched for this kind of overview! but whew, i’m happy with my choice, though verrry intrigued by porcelain now!

  17. Excellent roundup! Wish I had had this a couple years ago when we were choosing finishes on our house. We went with granite in our kitchen (really popular on the east coach and generally cheaper than marble), and quartzie in the bathroom. HOWEVER, I’ll echo a below comment that you HAVE to go see slabs in person! I had picked out this one granite slab that was BEAUTIFUL, with creamy and blue veins, but that slab was sold and the other slabs of the same material had smaller slabs that made much less of an impact (which I wanted in an otherwise white kitchen). On another trip to the warehouse, we found a granite with gorgeous burgundy and pink veins (and a discounted price due to having ordered way too much for another project) and I was sold! It’s beautiful!

  18. In your research did you find anything about the durability of quartz as far as chipping goes? Wondering if it’s typical to get knicks in it. Is it any more or less durable than a natural stone in that way?

    1. I can help you with that as I have quartz (Cambria) countertops. If you choose a sharper edge profile, it can chip a little. My sister dropped a dish as she was loading our dishwasher, which hit the edge of the counter on the way down and the counter did chip. Not a massive chip, probably the size of a lentil. However, it was repaired by a Cambria guy while he was here installing another piece of quartz in our laundry room and it is amazing. I know of other people who have gotten chips around their sink area, but it hasn’t happened with mine. I have been really pleased with the durability of mine (we also installed quartz in our lake house and have had no problems at all). I also chose quartz that is pretty neutral and timeless because I don’t want to replace it anytime soon.

  19. Thank you, this is a very interesting article. I love learning about all the options in stone counters.

    But, unless your design really hinges on a specific look, do not pay prices anywhere near what they are showing. You can easily get granite countertops for an entire kitchen for under $600, in fact there is no excuse for buying a home that does not have sold stone counters ( they are so much cheaper then they were even 10 years ago), it’s standard now.

    1. How do you find the cheap options? Just starting to think about new counters and overwhelmed by the process and PRICES.

    2. Uh, not in South Florida you can’t and for $600 that must be a really tiny tiny kitchen

  20. Finally, a countertop review that recognizes porcelain as an option! And, in my view, it is the best option of all. Looks exactly like the real thing [e.g., Calacatta, granite options, limestone, cement] — whatever your heart desires. What’s more — it is bulletproof: stain-proof, highly scratch-proof and you can take a blow torch to it. with no ill effects. Best brands are Neolith and Sapienstone.

  21. This is so amazing and helpful, particularly as I am about to redo the kitchen and bathroom and was feeling a bit overwhelmed on where to even begin! However, could you comment a little on where terrazzo fits into this countertop theme especially in comparison to the other materials you’ve listed above? Greatly appreciated!

    1. Hey Brandie! Terrazzo would fall under composite stones (man-made), they’re mostly marble/granite/other stone chips, sometimes even glass, that are mixed with cement and/or some other type of binder… So I’d say they’re also pretty durable, but I’m no expert and also haven’t done much research in cost and install…

  22. I just did Dekton counters in my kitchen which are a type of porcelain as well (Cosentino’s version). I LOVE Them. They can be done super thin too which is really cool.

  23. Super informative! Can you tell us what the EHD preferred edge profiles are or what Emily has used on her projects in the past? The bevels and ogees seem a little ’90s to me and I’m wondering what is “popular” right now in design – seems like a mitered or eased edge is most common right now?

    1. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I would say my preference would vary depending on the house or the style that I’m aiming for. In the mountain house, we used mostly a squared / mitered edge for all to keep it more modern (which is the overall style that we were going for with the house).

      In Emily’s current house (and Portland), I believe they chose something more like the ogee since both houses lean traditional.

  24. I’m confused by the chart. Hardness 3 dots is the best, but Porosity 3 dots is the worst? And doesn’t a high in Hardness mean it’s scratch resistant. And if it’s Porous, doesn’t that mean it needs to be sealed and isn’t stain resistant?

    1. Hi Karen! Apologies if that wasn’t made clear in the chart–a dot means something is low on the hardness or porosity scale (whereas three dots would mean it’s a very hard / porous material and two dots is medium).

      So for example, marble (3 dots porosity) means it’s VERY porous and therefore NOT stain-resistant (so no circle mark under it). Because it’s porous, it’s more prone to stains and therefore a sealant is required (so you’ll see a circle mark for it under Sealant Required). Hope that helps!

  25. As a professional architect and interior designer always seeking options for sustainability, I am thrilled to see that you included porcelain in your counter surface guide. Porcelain is stain, heat, and scratch resistant, is often manufactured locally, and is available in sizes that can bring costs down to $20 per square foot. It is the most practical material to mount to the top of a wood cabinet, the lifespan of which is far shorter than quartz and granite.

  26. Loved this post! So informative and helpful! Keep posts like this coming.

  27. Thank you for this roundup! No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to stop loving marble. One thing to consider with porcelain is that only specific fabricators will work with it because it’s really fragile and easy to break, therefore fabrication costs can be double the cost of fabricating marble, making it potentially not really cheaper than marble once installed.

    It is insanely beautiful in person but when considering it for our kitchen, I read some reviews that it wasn’t actually quite as durable as it’s made out to be. Both with heat resistance (large cracks from warm – not hot – pans) and with chipping (around the sink and on the edges). And neither manufacturer nor fabricator wanted to take responsibility for damages once installed. So, things to consider and ask about when looking at porcelain. Again, it’s so pretty, but it’s relatively new to the market here and I just haven’t seen enough good reviews to confidently choose it. Back to that porous marble I go!

  28. Very helpful!! I picked marble for my kitchen and after I had my heart set on some stones found out they were too small for the island we had planned out. So on my second trip I switched to quartz. It was a gut decision with two small kids who were going to spend the next decade coloring/doing school projects/working on this island-i just didn’t want to hate them everyday for messing with the marble in some way. Totally a lifestyle decision!! I’ll put all the marble in my master bath!

  29. Dear Grace, you ROCK! Ha ha. I have been googling this subject and yours is the most informative article by far. Also beautifully written with so much personality and humour. I hope that you write lots more. Best wishes G x

    1. Ha ha! Thanks, Georgia! 🙂

  30. LOVE LOVE LOVE This round up thank you so much. About to start a reno and this is such a good overview. Would love to see something similar on Window Coverings (especially in rooms with multiple window sizes) and flooring.

  31. This post was incredibly helpful. If taking advice for future posts, I would love to hear about ideas for alternatives to tearing out perfectly good stone. My personal example is that we are moving to a house that’s only a few years old with kind of a Tuscan look in the kitchen, but my aesthetic leans modern or California casual(?). It would be great if you could share some ideas for how help your stone choice adapt to different styles.

  32. In case this helps anyone…

    We had our countertops replaced a little over a year ago now and went for quartz because my husband is the king of not wiping anything up. While I love the look of marble, I had to be realistic for our life style. I was lucky that the stone folks we worked with in Kansas City had great options for still achieving my design dreams and have been in love with our counters since day one of install. We paid $62 per sqf and were able to have seamless counters with our layout/fabrication work. The quartz specifically is Paragon Aurea. I hadn’t searched for them online because I’d seen in person samples, but it’s definitely this! https://aureastone.us/paragon/. Check out the photo gallery for what you can expect. I am still so impressed by how real the veining looks and NOT like some of the cheaper printed on versions I saw in our search. We’ve literally left coffee spills on it for over 24 hours (not intentionally!) and had it wipe up like nothing. It’s a dream and I will be so sad when we leave this house and I can’t take them with me!!

    1. We have Aurea Stone quartz and have loved it as well. (No little specks at all on the background either. I didn’t notice the them until I compared).

  33. Love this post! Thank you ladies!

  34. Love this post! Well researched and I always love a good chart 🙂
    I was excited to see this … I’ve been working with my aunt’s natural stone company, so I’ve had countertops on the brain 😉 If anyone wants to get some more information on using natural stone in your home, for countertops or anything else, check it out … Imagine Real Stone (dot com)… Also a ton of project inspiration, too.

  35. Long-time lurker and first time commenter- thank you so much for this helpful roundup!
    One suggestion for those of us with less than 20/20 vision – it used to be possible to zoom into posts by “pinching” my ipad touchscreen (for some reason it’s still possible to do so on an iphone?) Could you please bring this feature back (or please tell me what I’m doing wrong!) as I think the high res of the wonderful photos on all your posts means the font size is a little small. Thanks so much!

  36. Love this article! I’ve purchased a new home and am researching counter tops. I am leaning toward quartz or porcelain for my new place. You forgot one amazing counter top, though! It’s CORIAN. Yes, Corian! I have it in my house now and LOVE it! The integrated sink is simply the best. No grout, no seams, no stains, doesn’t harbor bacteria. I know it’s considered lower class, but I did a lot of high-end finishes in my last home and still chose Corian. Lifestyle choice, indeed. It comes in natural stone look now, too. Check out the benefits and try it! I also did my shower walls in pure white Corian! NO GROUT!

  37. Great tips for kitchen and bathroom renos. I love the look of quartz over marble. quartz countertops kansas city

  38. Hi! Thanks for the tips! I recently moved into a house where the previous owners JUST put in granite countertops. They’re not my style (too busy, too much brown in it, won’t work with a marble backsplash which I would love), but it seems wasteful (and I don’t have the budget) to put in new countertops. I know what I would pick if I could choose any countertops, but since I don’t have that option, have you heard of any options for resurfacing countertops? Something I could put over the granite to get the look of a more neutral stone like a white quartz or marble? This might just be wishful thinking, but I’d love to know if anyone has experience with something like this!

  39. Amazing article and so helpful!!

  40. Thank you very much for the roundup. Great to learn about porcelain countertops. I do have a request though.
    Should you decide to do another “episode” in countertops, could you talk about Onyx? I personally love the ability to backlight it, but could use a lot more information about the material, as you showed in your comparisons in this article. It would also be cool if you could cover other types of countertops mentioned here in the comments. Thanks Again!!!

  41. Great article. I thought I had done a lot of research on soapstone and was pretty well prepared but have found that you basically have to wind up oiling it but as the oil fades, it does it in a very blotchy way and any wet spots leave marks on the oiled surface. I would also advise anyone thinking of using it as we did for a farmhouse since to beware. Because of the constant wetness, it always looks quite dirty. I loved the look and tried to keep the natural state before oiling overall, but it was a serious amount of work. One amazing advantage is that you can take something from the freezer and set it on the soapstone and it will thaw in no time. Hope this helps someone else. I love the idea of the porcelain countertops you wrote about.

  42. This article is so helpful! Thank you! We are thinking about remodeling our old kitchen, so your information really was beneficial. Never heard of porcelain for counter tops!
    Again many thanks for this great tutorial!

  43. I personally love, love, love my soapstone countertops! I have two different kinds, Marine Black and Alpine. Every counter in my home is one or the other. The Alpine is a beautiful grey-green which waxes to a beautiful almost translucent emerald green. The Marine Black is one of the hardest soapstones and had beautiful white veining with some flecks of gold and a deep greenish tone to the black. I wax my soapstone rather than oiling and find that I like that treatment a lot better. It lasts much longer and acts more like a sealer as water will bead up on it. I can’t imagine my rustic craftsman home without it. I love having something that is very natural, perfectly imperfect, and has an aging process, like copper (which I also have in my home).

  44. Has anyone had two stone yards call one slab two different materials? When we were shopping for our kitchen one yard called ours quartzite and one yard called it marble. Like it was a “softer” quartzite or a “harder” marble and so it was interchangeable??? Either way we’re super happy with what we ended up with. But I hadn’t seen/heard of that before and don’t know if it was true or they were trying to pull a fast one. Anyways, LOVE this post! Content like this is so helpful during a remodel to figure out not just what’s pretty, but you will actually love once you’re living with it.

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