NATURAL SONE VS ENGINEERED STONE
When it comes to home remodeling, most people choose to renovate their kitchens and bathrooms over any other rooms due to the large visual impact it makes, and for resale value. Usually, the biggest decision for both of these rooms is what to do with the countertops. There are countless choices to pick from, but most people enjoy the upscale look and durability of a stone countertop.
But after settling on stone, you’ll have to face another decision: do you choose a natural stone or engineered stone? Each has things to consider regarding durability, price and aesthetics.
Are you in the middle of trying to choose between natural or engineered stone countertops? Keep reading for our review of the pros and cons for each option that will make your decision easier.
NATURAL STONE PROS AND CONS
In essence, natural stone refers to material quarried from the earth. Some people prefer natural stone because it isn't synthetic and creates a luxurious look throughout the house. Natural stone is a collective term for any of the following (and these are just a few of the most common):
Pro: Natural Stone is Unique
Since natural stone is cut straight from the earth, no two pieces will be exactly alike. So, slab counters will have completely different patterns, veining and unique variations. Many homeowners will find adventure in touring stone galleries to find something one-of-a-kind.
Con: It's Heavy
Natural stone is going to be one big, heavy chunk of your selected stone. For instance, 1 ¼ inch granite or quartz weighs about 19 pounds per square foot. While this fact usually doesn’t pose an issue for most homeowners, some may have to structurally reinforce bottom cabinets or vanities so they can withstand the weight of your selected stone.
Pro: Great for Resale Value
Natural stone is a desirable upgrade when it comes to elevating the appearance and look of your home. Most prospective homebuyers prefer granite countertops, so adding them in is a good investment if you think you’ll sell your home down the line.
Con: Prone to Damage
Natural stone is porous, and depending on the type of stone, prone to scratching, etching and overall wear. Substances like acids or pigmented liquids can cause permanent damage to natural stone. It’s important to seal natural stone to prevent damage from occurring.
For comprehensive information on the hardness levels and attributes of different types of stone, including granite, marble, quartzite, travertine and more, check out our stone selection guide.
ENGINEERED STONE PROS AND CONS
Unlike natural stone which is cut from a slab, engineered stone (also called manufactured stone) is a composite material made out of finely crushed stone mixed together with an industrial resin or adhesive. Manufacturers will compress stone crystals to mimic a slab of natural stone such as marble or granite.
Where a natural stone is unique with every slab, engineered stone gives a more uniform look. Since the look of the stone can be controlled with engineering technology, each piece of stone will have roughly the same pattern. This is good for large areas where consistency is important.
Con: Heat Damage
Engineered stone is relatively durable when it comes to heat. However, if there is a sudden temperature change, it causes the resin base to enlarge and contract, leading to permanent damage. You should always use a barrier like a trivet or cloth between hot pots and pans and your engineered stone.
Engineered stone is almost always more cost-effective than natural stone. For those who desire the look and feel of natural stone but don’t want the accompanying price tag, engineered stone can be a beautiful alternative that is comparable in many ways.
You may be thinking you just read that uniformity was a “pro” of engineered stone—and you would be right. But that same uniformity can be a double edged sword; sometimes a lack of texture and pattern can result in a surface that has no variation, making it look more like plastic or laminate and less like stone. It’s important to look at pictures or examples of your chosen engineered stone on a large scale (not just a tiny sample) to ensure that you like the look of it when it’s installed.
Since natural stone takes millions of years to develop and is quarried from the earth, it’s a finite resource. It also takes a lot of resources to mine, transport, cut and finish it. Engineered stone is synthetic, made on demand, and uses pieces of crushed quartz and other stone (some recycled) that would otherwise be wasted. If using sustainable building materials is important to you, choosing engineered stone may be the way to go.
MAKING THE CHOICE
As you can see, the decision to go with natural versus engineered stone can be complex. Ultimately, you’ll have to focus on what’s most important to you as the deciding factor. Make sure you do your research and work with an installer (of natural or engineered stone) who understands what is most critical to you. If you’re leaning towards natural stone, we’ve got you covered: here are five helpful tips for shopping for natural stone countertops.