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Your guide to engineered stone countertops

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | October 25, 2013

A key element of any kitchen remodel is most certainly the countertop. The right one adds color and interest while pulling together the other elements of the room.

Although homeowners have many choices, engineered stone countertops are a popular option. Not only are these countertops versatile and durable, they also come in a wide range of colors and textures.

Pros and cons of engineered stone countertops

Engineered stone countertops are sometimes called quartz countertops, although they can be made with other materials as well. They are created with a mixture that is typically 93-95 percent quartz, granite, or marble and 5-7 percent resin.

Mimicking the look of natural stone, engineered stone countertops come with a number of benefits.

  • Durable and heat resistant
  • Nonporous, making them stain- and scratch-resistant
  • Dozens of color and edging choices
  • Option for polished or textured finishes
  • Minimal maintenance requirements and no sealing necessary

However, like any countertop, there can be drawbacks to engineered stone. Chief among these is the tendency for the material to have an unnaturally uniform appearance. In addition, engineered stone countertops may have visible seams, and edges may chip.

Pricewise, these countertops can be cheaper than granite but more expensive than other natural stone options. Depending on the particular countertop selected, expect to pay anywhere from $65 to $100 per square foot. Some specialty countertops may cost even more.

Popular types of engineered stone countertops

Once you have decided an engineered stone countertop is right for your home, it is time to choose a particular brand. Here are the basics of some of the most popular manufacturers.

  • Caesarstone: Considered one of the biggest names in the industry, Caesarstone uses 93 percent natural quartz in its countertops. The company boasts 40 color and texture options that are appropriate for a variety of design styles. Caesarstone countertops are backed by a residential lifetime warranty and carry the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Independent distributors sell the product across the country.
  • Silestone: Sold through Home Depot as well as other kitchen and bath stores, Silestone contains 94 percent natural quartz. It is available in 60 colors and 3 textures and is the only engineered stone countertop product that offers bacteriostatic protection, a technology using silver ions to prevent germ growth. Silestone offers a written 15 year transferrable warranty.
  • IceStone: For homeowners seeking green building materials, IceStone offers an innovative option. Rather than being made of natural stone, IceStone countertops are a mixture of 100 percent recycled glass, portland cement, and pigments. Currently, there are 19 colors available. IceStone countertops are available through certified fabricators and come with a 10 year limited residential warranty.
  • Zodiaq: Created by DuPont, Zodiaq quartz surfaces are GREENGUARD certified meaning they meet standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The product contains 93 percent quartz and is currently available in 34 designs. Properly installed Zodiaq countertops come with a 10 year limited warranty and may be purchased at retailers throughout the nation.
  • Cambria: If you want a luxury product for your home, Cambria specializes in high-end countertops. It doesn't reveal the proportion of quartz to resin in its products, instead saying it combines quartz with 'a small amount of pigment and resin.' Cambria is available in three thicknesses and offers more than 100 designs. Made in America, Cambria is available only through select dealers and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.

You can find other brands of engineered stone countertops that use granite, marble, and even semi-precious stones to create distinctive designs. Regardless of which one you choose, you'll be guaranteed a durable countertop that is sure to accent any kitchen.

About the Author

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.