Solid engineered stone is preferred by people who want the look and feel of natural stone combined with the convenience of a synthetic product. It is also preferred by homeowners who desire a more consistent pattern, and less of the random patterns and “visual movement” that are created by the highly varied grain and veining characteristics of granite. Several companies manufacture solid engineered stone, including Silestone™ and CaesarStone™.
- Material and Installation Cost: $60 to $80/square foot
NOTE: These prices are all-inclusive of material, fabrication, and installation. It also includes a basic edge cut called “eased-over.” (See below for more information about edges)
Solid engineered stone over existing countertop
A relatively new concept has emerged among kitchen countertop options that involves the installation of an engineered stone countertop directly over an existing countertop. This product eliminates the cost and mess associated with demolition of an existing countertop. Like the solid engineered stone described above, this process uses materials that are non-porous, scratch resistant, and maintenance-free. Granite Transformations is one company that provides this type of product.
- Material and Installation Cost: $90 tol $130/square foot
Solid Natural Stone Countertops
Granite has remained the most common countertop material for higher-end kitchen projects. Granite is popular because of its rich look, color variety, and natural grain and vein patterns. Be sure to inspect your granite slab before fabrication since each slab is unique even within the same color grade.
Although granite is relatively heat resistant and safe from thermal shock, it is always wise to use trivets whenever placing very hot items on your countertop regardless of the material.
Since Granite is considered to be porous, it must be sealed initially after fabrication and resealed every year or so thereafter. Without proper sealing, granite can be stained by acidic liquids such as red wine. Granite slabs are available in two-centimeter and three-centimeter thicknesses for residential use.
- Material and Installation Cost: $60 to $90/square foot (for two-centimeter slabs)
NOTE: Two-centimeter slabs require the installation of a plywood underlayment support over the entire countertop area before the finished granite is installed. To prevent the edge of the unfinished plywood layer from being visible, it must be hidden from view by having a “built up” edge fabricated onto the granite slab.
Long admired for its very rich look that is reminiscent of European cafes, marble is considered by many as the ultimate choice for kitchen countertops. However, since marble is relatively softer and more absorbent than some other natural stone materials, it requires much more maintenance to keep it looking new. This translates to having to reseal a marble countertop as often as every few months.