Marble is a natural metamorphic rock created through millions of years of pressure and heat on limestone. Because of its structure, marble is naturally softer and more prone to stains and damage than other stone surfaces. It is highly prized, though, for its beauty and natural grain, and is usually in gray tones, though some marble includes minerals that adds bits of color.
Quartzite, also a natural metamorphic rock, is created through centuries of pressure and heat on sandstone, which causes its structural crystals to fuse into a new rock that is incredibly hard and beautiful resembling marble. Quartzite’s natural colors are lighter, often in shades of gray, like marble, but certain natural minerals can also give a more colorful tone. Though less porous than marble, raw quartzite is too porous to make it practical for use such as kitchen counters. To make quartzite usable and less prone to scratching, staining or etching, the fabrication process includes a coating of sealant of polyurethane, wax or acrylic. To maintain a nonporous finish, quartzite must be resealed now and then.
Granite is an igneous rock formed from the crystallization of the earth’s magma as it cools. It is mainly comprised of quartz and feldspar, with small amounts of other minerals as well, which help create its many colors and patterns. While granite is not prone to etching and offers greater protection against stains and scratching than quartzite, it, too, needs to be resealed every so often to maintain its surface beauty.
Quartz is created by fusing crushed quartz with resins and other materials to create a customized design. Though manmade, quartz offers the beauty of natural stone, with several distinct advantages. Quartz is stain-resistant and completely waterproof. It never needs sealing, and can be ordered in a solid color or any variety of patterns, including natural stone patterns.
Porcelain has only recently found its way to the forefront of U.S. home design materials. A man-made product created by heat fusion of clay-like kaolin and other materials, porcelain is proving to be a mighty contender for countertops, wall coverings, and outdoor kitchens. It does not need any sealants, as it is naturally water- and heat-resistant, and is harder than even granite and quartzite. It can be customized to any color or patterns, and modern methods even assure the design will run through the thickness of the slab, making it perfect for even undercounter sink mounting.