If you are looking for a stone countertop which does not have any of the upkeep and brittleness of real granite there are some good, affordable granite alternatives. The best of which is to look at quartz, a manufactured and non-porous stone which has a lot of the beauty of granite but many brands have none of the upkeep.
Two of our suggestions for hassle-free alternatives to granite are Silestone and DuPont’s Zodiaq. They both offer many different colors and variants to choose from and are a type of quartz crystal which give them the depth and beauty of natural stone without its flaws. The countertops made of these materials have the durability and performance of quartz. They also have a greater flexural strength than granite, which makes them perfect for countertops.
Real Granite Has Many Drawbacks
First, many people have the idea that buying granite is an ecologically sound and responsible thing to do because it is a natural stone. This is far from the truth. Granite used for countertops is mined in overseas locations, in unsupervised mines. They are then shipped to the U.S. This wastes both time and energy. It also does not support the American economy, nor does it protect the environment. There is no way to know how the unsupervised mines operate or how the granite countertops are manufactured.
Second, granite is a brittle and porous stone. It needs regular maintenance once installed. This means that twice per year dangerous VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are in your kitchen. The fact granite is porous also means that liquids can seep through to the underside of the granite, causing mold and mildew to grow. This means the granite will most likely need to either be repaired or replaced at some point do to the damage created. There have also been some concerns about radon voiced with regards to granite.
Advantages of Zodiaq and Silestone
Zodiaq and Silestone are both non-porous stones which are incredibly low-maintenance and do not need any periodic sealing as granite does. All that is needed to clean them is a damp cloth or paper towel. Also a non-bleach, non-abrasive cleanser will work if needed.
With Zodiaq you get a product which is more heat- and scratch-proof than most other non-porous stones. It is great for the kitchen with a person who loves to cook.
Silestone is the only engineered quartz which comes with a Microban bacteriostatic protection. The Microban is an anti-microbial protection which helps discourage the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria on the surface of the countertop. The Microban helps it to stay cleaner during routine cleanings and makes it easier to clean and keep clean during its lifespan. It’s wonderful for extremely high-traffic area kitchens where your kitchen is the center of attention.
The only small drawback with these stones is they are not as heat- and scratch-proof as granite. When cooking (or any other related project), it is always recommended to use heating pads and cutting boards.