Natural stone countertops include popular options like granite, marble, quartz, and sandstone.
“Porous” means a stone has pores (like your skin). Pores are tiny holes in the stone, often microscopic, that can allow air, liquids, foods, etc. to penetrate or be absorbed into the stone. This can cause stains and etching. Natural stones can have different levels of porosity, meaning some stones are very porous, while others are only slightly porous. Most natural stones are porous on some level. When a stone’s porosity is too high, they are often sealed to prevent problems. Granite, marble and limestone for example are porous and generally protected with a sealant.
Etching is sometimes confused with a stain. Etching is actually a corrosive chemical reaction that occurs when an acids (from foods or liquids) interact with a stone. The process causes physical damage to the stone, not a true “stain”. Etching often appears as dull spots on stone surfaces. Sometimes they look like small spotty discolorations, or water rings. Unsealed areas of some natural stones could etch if lemon juice or other acidic foods penetrate the stone and remain long enough for this chemical reaction to occur.
Etched stones can usually be repaired to new condition, or at least improved, by a professional. This process involves removing damaged stone and then polishing and refinishing the area. For minor etching, there are some off-the-shelf products that do a good job of repairing or reducing the visibility of etched stone. Always check your manufacturer’s recommendations before using any off-the-shelf products on your marble.
Corian is a man-made solid surface material made by DuPont, while natural stone products are either cut from the earth, or an aggregate material made from natural stone. Corian is sometimes slightly less expensive than natural stone, but it is far more susceptible to scratching and heat damage than most stone countertops.
While sealing is suggested for many porous stone countertops, some do not require sealing.
Sealing required: marble, limestone, sandstone, onyx.
Sealing sometimes required: granite, flagstone.
Sealing not required: quartz, soapstone.
For almost all natural stones, it is safe to use a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap for cleaning. This is very effective for general cleaning. Simply use a soft rag to apply the soap mixture and scrub gently. Dry with a microfiber cloth if possible. For foods that have hardened on the stone’s surface, you can use a soft plastic or rubber edge tool, such as a rubber spatula, to scrape the countertop. Never use metal tools or wool pads. Never use abrasive cleaners such as Ajax or Soft Scrub, or cleaning products with any acidic ingredients. Your countertop installer or manufacturer will suggest the best cleaning methods for your stone. Generally this will be a stone-specific product that is pH neutral, non-abrasive and non-acidic. For more info about countertop cleaning, see our cleaning articles: How to clean granite, how to clean quartz, and how to clean marble.
The price of stone can vary a great deal depending on the material, uniqueness of the stone, quality, and number of cuts required for installation. We have simple pricing for granite and quartz that include several options for $45/sq ft installed and $56/sq ft installed. These options are suitable for most kitchen and bathroom projects. We also offer custom packages, which can range in price from $40-$200/sq ft. As an example, a typical sized kitchen project in Wichita would cost between $1500 and $3000 for granite or quartz countertops. Marble would be about $2500 to $5000. Natural stone countertops can be more expensive than other materials, but they have a significantly longer lifespan, they are less prone to damage, and they often add to a home’s resale value. If you have questions about pricing, get in touch for a free estimate.
There are slightly different rules for each type of stone countertop, but generally speaking all stone countertops are easy to clean when compared to other materials. Warm water and a mild dish soap is safe on natural stone. This is the most common cleaning method. Use a soft cloth and gently scrub, rinse all soap residue away when complete. Dry using a soft towel or microfiber cloth. Most stone countertops also have a safe stone-specific product that can be used. You will want to avoid harsh and acidic cleaners.