Countertop Debate: Natural vs. Manmade

The centerpiece of a kitchen or bath remodel is usually the countertop. They are a major focal point for anyone coming into your home, and they can change the look of any room. But the choices seem endless.  From natural stone finishes to manmade materials that stand up to wear and tear – what’s best for your family?

First, a few things you should consider when you’re purchasing countertops:

  • Maintenance – Some materials are better than others at repelling stains. Other materials are meant to be stain-resistant.  If you know you’re going to have red wine spilled on the countertops and blueberry stains from delicious desserts, then opt for a less porous material that cleans up easily.
  • Sanitation– Antimicrobial protection is among the features of many of today’s countertops. If you do a lot of chopping and dicing, or if you have little ones in the house, you may want to choose something that has these anti-bacterial properties.
  • Aesthetics – The look of your countertops is the most important option. You have your choice of colors – from neutral to varying hues of reds and greens. Choose something you can live with for the remainder of the time in your home.  If you take a chance on bold, make sure you love it!

The biggest decision of all may be whether to go with natural or manmade. Of course, natural stone brings a beauty and a finish that is like no other, but that doesn’t mean manmade is bad or of poor quality.  Manmade is actually 90 percent natural materials.   Let’s take a look at your choices:

  • Granite – The most “natural” stone, granite is low-maintenance, stain-resistant and heat-resistant. You’ll love that you can cut directly on the surface and put hot pots or dishes directly on it without potholders or heat pads.  Condition it with Intelli-guard, and any liquid spills will bead up on the granite for easy clean-up.  Granite does need a granite polish occasionally to maintain its luster as well as a simple sealer every year. 
  • Cambria – The most expensive man-made stone, Cambria is made of 93 percent natural quartz stone. It is scratch resistant and stain resistant, as well as non-porous. However, it is not heat-resistant or crack-resistant. 
  • Silestone – Spanish-made Silestone is similar to Cambria in that it is composed of a combination of quartz and polymer resins and crushed stone. Silestone is durable, and it resists stains, heat, scratches and chips. No sealing required.   
  • Lexton – An acrylic countertop that’s non-porous and holds up well against heat, cracks and chipping, Lexton is ideal for bathroom countertops. The humid environment can cause mold and mildew, but Lexton is mold and mildew-resistant.  It can take the everyday wear and tear of blow dryers banging on counters, make-up stains, hot curling irons and straighteners, as well as toothpaste and mouthwash stains.  It wipes clean with a little soap and water.
  • Laminate – Today’s laminate is not your grandmother’s countertop. It has new designs that make it look like stone or other finishes on your countertop.  It’s easy to keep clean and is durable. It can be great in a second bathroom or basement kitchenette. If you are on a budget or looking for a way to phase out costs, laminate is a good option. It is inexpensive enough that after some years, replace it with the granite you wanted!

The argument for natural vs. manmade will continue throughout time. Arguments for natural are that there are no polymers, odors or harmful vapors.  Natural is enduring and easy to clean. Manmade is more available with more colors, patterns and styles to choose from that will look close to the real thing. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and needs.  If you love the look of one over the other, get the one you love. Most importantly, choose a home improvement and remodeling company that has substantial experience working with both natural and manmade stone to ensure the success of your remodel!