Is My Countertop Natural or Engineered Stone?
To understand the answer to this question we will discuss the characteristics of each material.
Engineered Stone Explained
Engineered stone by definition is a composite material made of crushed stone bound together by an adhesive. For kitchen and bathroom countertops, the most common engineered stone is quartz bound together with a polymer resin adhesive. This product is commonly known as "quartz surface" or just "quartz".
Typically engineered stone will consist of 93% stone and 7% polymer resin by weight. Historically engineered stone has always been a more consistent pattern and color, but within the last few years the quartz slab manufacturers have been producing more “natural looking” colors and patterns.
Engineered stone is typically less porous and more structurally flexible than natural stone due to the polymer resin adhesive and the engineering process. The quartz in the engineered stone is very hard and resistant to scratching although the polymer resin adhesives are not UV stable and therefore should not be used outdoors or in direct sunlight as this can cause discoloration and fading issues. Engineered stone is heat and stain resistant as well.
The "Nature" of Natural Stone
Natural stone is quarried from the earth and comes the way nature has created it over millions of years. Every piece is natural and unique. The most commonly used natural stones for countertops are granite and marble along with travertines, limestones, soapstone and many others rounding out the balance. The type of natural stone that is selected will determine its hardness, porosity, coloring and pattern. Because natural stone is a product of the earth there are virtually unlimited choices of colors and patterns to choose from. No two pieces of natural stone are alike giving it uniqueness in color, movement and depth.
Granite and marble are the most common natural stones used for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Granite is very hard and resistant to scratching while marble is softer and more susceptible to scratching and etching. Granite and marble are highly heat resistant making it very difficult to damage with hot pots and pans. Natural stone is a porous product of the earth often times requiring sealers to make them stain resistant.
Determining Which Stone You Have
With so many variations in both natural and engineered stone, often it does require a stone professional to help determine the answer. Many times this is possible thru a picture. Therefore, with both engineered stone and natural stone being used for countertop surfaces it is very important to know which product you have to know the proper care and maintenance so you can enjoy the lifetime of beauty they all have to offer.