- Areas, especially in marble, that have been filled with a matching or contrasting color epoxy that may compromise the integrity and strength of the material.
- Variations in veining, color, and movement that may be present in any natural materials. Materials that are referred to as “swirl” granites exhibit more of these types of natural occurrences.
- Fissures – small visible lines on the surfaces of the polished or honed slab which rarely indicate or affect the structural integrity of the product.
- Beauty marks – natural mineral deposits concentrations that can be seen as intensified spots or lines of color, lack of color, or areas with compromised polishing ability.
- Pitting – “pock marks” of varying size on the surface of a slab which are a rsult of the tightness of the material grain and the material’s ability to accept a polished finish.
The presence of any of these characteristics adds to the uniqueness of your material, and in the majority of cases does not compromise the durability of your product. Due to the large volume of natural stone we purchase from our suppliers, The Hartford Granite & Marble Co. reserves the right to refuse any natural stone lot that does not meet the highest quality standards, including shipments containing excessively heavy pitting or markings, faded coloration, or excessive cracking. We are commited to using only the best-valued products for your countertops.
But engineered or man-made stone products are increasingly popular and comparable to granite in just about every way. In fact, say some advocates, it is superior in some important considerations.
Engineered stone products are primarily—more than 90 percent—made of natural quartz, the hardest non-precious stone, bound together by resins. On the other hand, granite is only about 40 percent to 60 percent quartz; the rest is made up of softer minerals and impurities.
Why man-made stone?
Engineered stone products require less maintenance than granite because they are non-porous. For example, they don’t have to be sealed periodically. Their impervious surface provides more stain and bacterial resistance than granite.
“The durability of these products is great,” says Leah Palmer Johnson, senior project manager and designer with Ramsey Engler Ltd., an interior design firm in Minneapolis. In the unlikely event that the surface gets a minor stain or scratch, someone from the fabrication shop can buff it out. “Deeper scratches or difficult stains may require taking the material out and back to the shop for buffing and polishing with a high-pressure water buffing process,” she adds.
Man-made quartz surfaces are more heat-resistant than natural stone, too, says Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, president of Remodel One, Inc., a remodeling firm in Roselle, Ill. “If you put a hot pot on granite, you can crack it.” He points out, though, that none of the manufacturers recommends putting hot items directly on the surface of any engineered-stone products. However, most manufacturers of engineered stone offer a 10-year limited warranty—another plus over granite, which may have a base warranty.
In addition to kitchen countertops, engineered stone products can be used for shower and tub surrounds, vanities and other surfaces throughout the home. And unlike porous granite, which can foster bacteria, they are ideal for commercial settings, especially daycare centers, hospitals and foodservice providers.
A variety of manufacturers offer products in a diverse range of colors and finishes, including:
- CaesarStone. A 93 percent quartz product made to evoke the look of limestone, its color palette ranges from bright to subdued.
- Cambria. Made from pure natural quartz and epoxy resin, it offers a finished, mock-granite look.
- Silestone. Consisting of 93 percent quartz and 7 percent polymers, this product is as tough as they come and has one of the most scratch-resistant surfaces. It provides a brilliant polished finish.
- Zodiaq. Made by Dupont, this surfacing material captures the radiance of quartz crystal with depth and clarity.