Granite is an igneous rock that has been quarried for thousands of years. It forms the bulk of the earth's crust and is formed under high heat and pressure deep underground. Along with natural abundance, it comes in a large variety of colors. The incredible forces that create granite also cause it to be a very durable stone. It consists of mostly quartz and feldspar which give it a natural strength. It's a very versatile stone that performs exceptionally well over time with minimal maintenance. Granite is ideal for practically any installation, indoors or out, kitchen or baths. It ranks a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Marble and its relatives - limestone and travertine, can be used for any number of applications such as fireplace surrounds, tabletops, bath vanities, mantles, Jacuzzi area, floors, furniture pieces and shower stalls. Generally marble is a perfect choice in low traffic areas, but is not a suitable choice as a kitchen countertop. With a main component of calcium, marble is much softer with less density than granite, and therefore is slightly more brittle with a porous surface.
Commonly known by popular brand names like Caesarstone, Silestone, and cambria, man-made quartz products are a rapidly growing segment of the countertop market. Composed of crushed natural quartz, color pigments, and resin, these products resist staining and are very hard. They are suitable for many types of indoor installations.
Travertine is a naturally occurring stone that comes in mostly earthy tones. Because of this, they are a great choice if you're thinking of going with an antique look for your room. Travertine absorbs water and moisture, making it very durable. However, it is extremely sensitive to acids and needs resealing every 2 to 3 years. It is also prone to scratches and doesn't do well when exposed to extreme heat.
A stone that is gaining in popularity, quartzite is composed almost entirely of quartz in various forms. Found around the world, quartzite comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Formed under extreme pressure, this stone is remarkably hard and rates from 7-8 on the mohs scale. In addition to hardness, it is also very stain resistant. This makes it ideal for a wide variety of installations.
Limestone is a very smooth stone that comes with a great color palette, though there is often little pattern variation. Darker limestones look great for modern layouts, while the lighter tones of the material are more suitable for traditional styles. Limestone requires a bit of maintenance to keep up its appearance. Scratches happen easily and spills must be cleaned quickly to prevent staining.
Composed primarily of talc, soapstone is a very soft material sometimes used for countertops. Color options are limited as it only comes in varying shades of gray. Most slabs are smaller than 7 feet meaning a project is more likely to have seams. Because of its softness, it can easily be scratched. Over time, soapstone will darken. Even though it is soft, Soapstone is non-porous and resistant to staining. Unlike most natural stone countertops, soapstone should never be chemically sealed. Mineral Oil is used to give soapstone its rich finish.