Natural Stone vs. Synthetic Stone Countertops

Learn more about the differences between natural and man-made countertop materials.

When considering a kitchen or bathroom remodel, one of the crowning decorative changes is to the countertops. As countertops are a key tie-in for interior design choices as well as practice surfaces for food prep and toiletry rituals, it’s clearly an investment that should not be taken lightly.

With many choices available, here are a few material options to consider:


Easy to clean and non-porous, this man-made material is seamless, coming in one piece. As a result, there are no cracks to collect crumbs and other debris.

Maintenance: Use soapy water or ammonia-based cleaners. Avoid using strong chemicals. Proper cleaning resists bacteria and mold.


Granite is one of the hardest, strongest materials in nature – it’s also highly heat resistant. Beautiful and featuring thousands of pattern variations and an almost unlimited range of colors, granite is the top choice for many homeowners.

If not cut from the same slab, finding matching colors can be very difficult. The material is porous, so it may be prone to staining. Natural internal fissures become cracks, however, if subject to sudden temperature change.

Maintenance: Clean with a stone cleaner, not soap. Requires sealing annually.


Made from quartz, this man-made material can be engineered to appear like granite. Silestone cannot be installed in an outdoor kitchen as the surface will discolor in direct sun. Although resistant to chemicals, heat and scratching, the surface can be damaged by intense heat, bleach, wine, vinegar, lemon juice or coffee.

Maintenance: Make sure to always use a cutting board and hot plates under pans. Use a sponge and hot water for daily cleaning, as well as a stone cleaning solution. No abrasive cleaners should be used.


Marble, a natural material, is softer than granite, so it’s susceptible to scratches. Marble isn’t very porous, so it does not stain easily. It is, however, prone to etching from things like alcohol, citrus, coffee and cleaning products which can leave a dark stain on the surface; not always the best choice for kitchen countertops.

Maintenance: Marble should be sealed as needed. Blot up any spills immediately, clean with a sponge or soft cloth and use coasters.

This article was originally published at Angie’s List.

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