Is it stone, or is it solid-surfacing? The beauty of this product is that it's both. Cultured stone, engineered quartz, composite stone -- no matter what technical name it is called, this type of countertop material was developed specifically to have the durability of stone and the wide array of color choices of solid-surfacing.
Cultured stone has a flecked or speckled look created by bits of ground quartz blended with polyurethane resin. The result is a contemporary, uniform look that some designers covet. Ironically, this is one of the biggest complaints about cultured stone: There are few imperfections and irregularities to give it the personality of natural stone. Silestone, Caesarstone, and Zodiac are a few of the manufacturers of cultured stone.
Feel like tap-dancing on your countertops? Go right ahead. With cultured stone, there is little you can do to mar the surface. It is scratch-, stain-, and heat-resistant. It doesn't require sealing, polishing, or other special treatments. And because it is a solid surface, it has color throughout -- not just on the top of the surface.
About the only concern homeowners have with cultured stone is that its seams can be hard to mask, especially with the darker colors of cultured stone. Also, when exposed to direct sunlight over extended periods of time, the color has been known to fade.
Cultured stone is as expensive as natural stone and, in some cases, can cost even more to install because it is heavier. Plus, this countertop material doesn't hold its value like natural stone. Pricing for cultured stone increases with thickness, color choices, and name brand.
- Intrigued but not convinced this is the countertop material for you? Ask a dealer to provide you with a 12-inch piece to take home. Conduct your own tests, using it as a cutting board and exposing it to stains before taking the leap with your wallet.
- Even the lightest, whitest colors of cultured stone can resist the darkest stains. Red wine and chocolate are no longer off limits in the kitchen.
- This is not a do-it-yourself project, in part because cultured stone is extremely heavy. It also takes specialty tools to cut and shape the stone. Budget-conscious homeowners set on using cultured stone should find other areas in their budget to save money.