Like a big-name star, granite can be a glamorous prima donna in the countertop maintenance department. Cheer up! If you want natural stone, or a solid countertop with real color choices beyond earthy neutrals, Silestone and mineral/resin choices like Corian have your back. Either alternative requires very low countertop maintenance. You don’t have to tip-toe around cooking chores with an ever-present fear of stain blotches from oils, fats, water rings, mustard, wine, and many other foods. No flour and peroxide “poultices” to treat stains. No testing the clear coating every few months for wear and possible re-coating. With Silestone and other solid countertops, just sponge ‘em down and you’re out of there!
Engineered stone and mineral/resin countertops
So exactly what are these easy-going wonder boys? Each has its own attributes.
- Silestone, Caesar Stone and others: These engineered countertop materials are mostly natural small quartz stones with a resin and pigment binder. The variations in color and texture are a delight. Choose from solids in white, black, blue, red, green, gold, and browns, or light stone specks, to a veined granite-like look. Mercifully, quartz is much harder than granite. Only diamonds, sapphires and topaz are harder. It is more heat resistant than many solid countertops, although heat exposure should be limited. Surfaces can be matte (recommended) or glossy, with some colors available in a leather-like or slightly pebbly, volcano-stone surface. Sinks can be integral to the countertops. Combinations of one color for the countertops and another for the backsplash are among design possibilities. Yes, seams will show. But Silestone surfaces clean with a soapy sponge at best, or the scrubber side of the sponge at worst. It’s easy to keep it bacteria-free. Fifty or more colors are available.
- Corian and other mineral/resin countertops: Corian is perhaps the best known of a number of solid countertop brands which include Swanstone, Staron, Formica, LivingStone, Wilsonart and others. These easy maintenance countertops combine minerals of fine to heavy textures in an acrylic resin. The material is non-porous, seam-free, repairable, anti-microbial, mold and mildew-resistant, heat and burn resistant, and usually less expensive than granite or quartz. A soapy-water wipe-down is all that’s needed for most cleaning, or a mild cleaner for stubborn residues. Colors? Mind-boggling at well over 100. They range from neutral, pastel, and bold solids, to fine stone-like textures, to remarkably granite-like varieties. Cove the backsplash or sink seamlessly into the countertops, or choose a complementary solid and textured combination. Color samples fire the imagination.
Solid countertop ballpark prices
Silestone and solid countertop prices range from roughly $45 to $95 and more per square foot, installed. Corian-type products are around $35 to $80 and more per square foot, installed. The more stone-like the look, the more costly.