There was a time when any material that wasn’t “natural” was considered kind of a second-rate option for use in your home. That’s understandable, because “engineered” materials used to look engineered. They didn’t have the look and feel of the real stuff. To be blunt: they didn’t quite look like real stone.
That’s not the case anymore. The engineered stone products of today look great and are extremely durable. So how do you decide between engineered stone and a natural stone such as granite? Both can be great choices, so let’s consider them together.
Granite is comprised of a variety of natural minerals, including quartz, tourmaline, topaz, garnet and titanite. All of those materials contribute to the beautiful look we expect from granite. Engineered stone, on the other hand, is manufactured which gives it a consistency that you won’t find in natural stone. What’s interesting, however, is that engineered stone is actually comprised of approximately 95 percent natural stone (generally quartz) and 5 percent resin. The natural stone crystals are ground together and then heated to create a solid surface.
That difference is why granite often includes natural flaws and irregularities that produce a unique and intriguing look. No two slabs of granite will ever be identical. Some people prefer granite to engineered stone for that very reason. On the other hand, it can be tougher to match colors within your kitchen.
The two surfaces have somewhat different levels of durability and strength. They are both very durable and are relatively easy to maintain. Engineered stone is somewhat harder and heavier than granite and very resistant to chipping or fracturing. The same natural flaws and irregularities that make granite beautiful make it somewhat more susceptible to breakage. This generally is not an issue with granite—particularly if it is properly sealed after installation.
Mild cleaners and a damp cloth can be used to clean both surfaces. Granite is a bit more prone to stain because it’s somewhat more porous (another reason to make sure it is properly sealed). Engineered stone is non-porous. Some homeowners prefer engineered stone for their kitchens because it is less likely to grow bacteria.
What about cost? In general there is not a huge difference between natural granite and engineered stone—particularly when comparing engineered stone to mid-range granite. One thing that you may want to think about is that granite does tend to have a slightly higher resale value should you decide to sell your home down the road.
Both surfaces are great choices for your kitchen counters. To be honest, both of them will deliver great performance and look great. Your choice will most likely come down to which one you think looks best in your home. Of course your counters are only one aspect of what makes a great kitchen. Check out our free Create Your Ideal Kitchen eBook for additional ideas on ways to create the kitchen you’ve always dreamed of.