Granite is natural and durable and still the most widely used material, but marble, limestone, quartzite and the quartz composites are also popular.  Granite does have its limitations in the lighter color range and for contemporary looks that are more conducive to solid or bright colors. Lighter countertops are in demand as are color choices not found in natural materials therefore the composites allow many more options.   Composites are sampled in various sizes and can be ordered without looking at slab size pieces.  Patterns can be checked in the information provided by each company to determine suitability for the project.  Granites and quartz composites can be combined in kitchen projects and the same companies fabricate both.

Keep in mind that most appliances have some black detailing.  If you don’t want the entire kitchen to have the hard look of granite or quartz then add wood on the island.  Quality installers make the difference on handling pattern match. On the overall patterns this is not such an issue.  Always select your slabs with natural materials (granite, marble, quartzite) and don’t order from samples.  There is too much variance to rely on the samples.  Designers or architects will match samples to the actual and alert you to the difference, compare samples and/or show you photos of the match.  Do not use tiles for countertops in custom homes, but they can be used for walls and backsplashes. Seal when installed and use acid free cleaner and stone polish to maintain.

Tip:  Reseal every 12-18 months depending on use.

Marble is softer but comes in lighter colors and is good for rolling dough. Sought after colors include Bianco Carrara, Calacatta , Calacatta Luccioso  and Calcutta Gold.  Vermont quarry has a very hard marble. This is a trending product and honed will be easier to maintain. It is susceptible to staining, but with the new neutral look that is currently popular, a great color choice.

Limestone is harder than marble, has less pattern than granite, but needs more daily care.

Quartz has some nice gray shades.  Quartz is not to be confused with quartzite, a natural stone that is quarried and is harder than granite or quartz.  Light options in quartz-Lagoon, White North, Tigres sand, Capri Limestone, Blanco harkie, White zeus, Mont Blanc, Blanco maple, yukon Blanco, Stellar snow with new additions from all companies.

Slate and soapstone are softer than granite and scratch marks can be sanded or buffed out.  Soapstone is treated with mineral oil, darkens over time and is stain resistant.  Slate is often left unsealed.

Lapitec is also a newer option full bodied sintered stone.

Composites, such as Caesarstone, Zodiaq, Silestone, Samsung Radianz, Cambria and ForzaStone, afford more consistency and colors, including white. They combine 90 percent ground quartz with 10 percent resins, polymers and pigments.

Concrete, typically 1-5/8 “ – 2-1/4 “, allows for more custom design options that work for specific interiors.  Concrete can stain and crack so it is often cast with steel and polypropylene fibers.  There are literally unlimited options for shapes and colors.

Wood: Maple butcher block is the most well-known but there are other beautiful woods (black walnut) that can be used depending on use and finish.  Consider the proximity to water.  Use food safe oil or hard catalyzed lacquer.  An oil finish is water resistant if maintained and a hard finished countertop is waterproof.

Check William Rogers at for beautiful examples.  Typically 1-5/8” or 2-1/4”.

Stainless Steel is waterproof and can be used with integrated or undermount sinks.  Limitations include potential dents, scratches and it shows finger prints.

Copper, like stainless, is a great look but works best if you eat out most of the time!

Other options:  Glass including recycled, zinc and lava stone.

Tip: the material will dictate the amount of overhang you can have for a bar and the use of corbels or other means of support ties in to this.  Examples are shown of the edging details for countertops.

Tip: Cantera stone is from Mexico and comes in up to 20 colors ranging from light to black.  Pinon, Santa Lucia and Cafe II are popular colors.  Cantera is softer than granite or marble and can be used for floor tiles, carved for columns, fireplace surrounds and other architectural elements.

Tip:  Light countertops are trending now. What is your personality? The white marbles (Carrara) are very popular, but can stain. This is very old world as old stone is not perfect. If you want everything to look perfect maybe a composite countertop (there are many quartz companies) would be more suitable. If you really dine out all the time then either will work!


Thank you Arizona Tile for these images of tile and slab options!

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