Other than perhaps stainless steel, no countertop is 100% stain proof. Quartz is the most stain resistant material because it is engineered with ground-up natural stone and resin. This creates a non-porous material that is highly stain resistant. Quartz is also easy to maintain as no sealer is required.
After quartz, a solid surface countertop such as the Corian brand, would offer the next best stain resistance. Solid surface countertops are synthetic and don’t offer the same quality and durability of a natural stone. However, these materials are non-porous and don’t stain easily. Certain chemicals and acidic foods can stain these countertops if left on the surface for long periods of time.
Next, granite countertops offer good stain resistance. There are many type of granite and granite sealers that impact exactly how stain proof this stone is. When properly sealed, it’s almost as good as quartz. Sealants however break down over time, which allows food and chemicals to interact with the stone. Unsealed stones may change color temporarily when wet, but permanent stains can occur if substance like wine, juice, acidic foods or oils are allowed to sit on the stone.
More commonly, granite countertops suffer from etching, not staining. Etching is when a substance actually begins to eat away at the stone causing a dullness or discoloration. With proper upkeep and sealing, this is rarely an issue.
Soapstone is naturally non-porous, so it is technically very stain resistant. The stone does change color when the surface is wet, and many substance can cause mild discolorations if not cleaned up properly. So while Soapstone doesn’t technically “stain” easily, it does often have marks and darker areas caused by water and other substances. Upkeep using mineral oil can minimize these inconsistencies in the stone’s color.
On the other end of the spectrum, the countertops that do stain easily include: unsealed concrete, travertine and many laminate countertops. Marble is another stone that suffers from etching if not properly sealed.
If you’re not interested in a stone countertop; stainless steel or synthetic solid surface countertops are your best bet for a stain-free kitchen.
If you’re concerned about stains and like the look of natural stone; granite and quartz are your best options. These stones are also very durable and a good choice for a busy household. To learn more about these natural stones, read our quartz faq and granite faq.
Most granite is very stain resistant and does not “require” sealing. However, sealing is an added precaution, and many fabricators and installers do recommend it. Quality Granite & Marble typically makes this determination, and applies sealer when needed.
A general rule used when manufacturing is, if water darkens the stone, it needs a sealer.
It’s important to know a little about the granite slab fabrication process before sealing. Resin coating applies an epoxy over the stone slabs. This resin fills the voids, veins, and fissures. This process was developed to make unstable stone sellable. The more the process was used, the more common it became. Many fabricators simply apply resin coating to all slabs to keep things simple. When you mix a sealer with an unknown resin, it may turn the resin cloudy. This is one reason you may not want to blindly apply a sealer. Check with your installer first.
For stones that do require, or would benefit from, sealing, there are a few variables to considers when determining how often new sealer is needed.
Many sealers applied at the factory last 10-15 years, while store bought (DIY) sealers may only be good for 6-12 months. So it’s important to know if you had a sealer before, and what type.
A simple water test will help you determine if sealer is needed. Pour about a quarter cup of water on a few areas of the counter. See how long it takes for the water to absorb. If the water absorbs into the stone in less than five minutes, the stone does need to be sealed. If the water is still standing after 30 minutes, no sealer is needed. Anywhere in between five and 30 minutes, the stone may benefit a sealer.
Sealing granite is a relatively simple process and can be done by a professional or by homeowners. Before sealing, it is important to know the makeup of your stone, so check with your fabricator and/or installation documentation to make sure you select the correct product and sealing process. If you have questions about how often you should seal your granite, call us at 316-946-0530.
Marble is a beautiful, elegant and timeless stone. If you’re in love the look of marble, there’s probably no substitute. However, to retain marble’s beauty, a little extra care is required. Don't let that frighten you, it's worth it.
First, preventative maintenance is key.
Don’t let spills sit. Clean up any messes immediately, this reduces the risk of staining and etching. Don’t use abrasive scrubbers or rough cloths when cleaning, they can scratch the stone. For big messes and deeper cleaning, follow the steps below.
Use cutting boards, trivets and coasters. Mable is by no means fragile, but it is susceptible to damage from extreme heat, sharp edges, wet spots and a number of chemical reactions. Cutting boards, hotpads, coasters etc. aren’t always needed, but they are a simple precaution that will help prevent damage.
Lastly, never use vinegar or citrus solutions such as lemon or orange for cleaning marble. In fact, avoid contact with these substances altogether. Marble is very sensitive to acids. They can eat into the surface leaving discoloration and rough spots. You’ll hear the term, “etching” a lot when learning about marble. Etching is a corrosive chemical reaction that occurs when an acids interact with the stone. If cause physical damage to the stone. You can more in our Marble FAQ. Here are a few other items you should NOT use on marble countertops:
The best way to clean marble is with non-abrasive dish soap and warm water. Make sure it’s not an acidic soap, it should be pH neutral. A spray bottle can be used to evenly distribute the soap solution (also useful for rinsing with plain water). Apply a thorough covering of the soapy water. You can gently scrub the stone with a soft cloth. Don’t use rough sponges or scrubbing cloths, just a nice soft towel.
Next, use a different wet cloth to wipe away the soap. You may need to repeat this step a few times. Make sure you get rid of all the soap residue.
After wiping away all of the moisture, a final pass with a chamois or microfiber cloth with add some shine. Don’t leave any water behind. Marble is porous, so standing water and liquids that penetrate unsealed areas could lead to stains or etching.
There are a number of marble specific cleaning products and polishes available in stores. Many of these products are fine, just make sure the products is for marble and not some other stone. Also, make sure you have reviewed your stone manufacturer/installers guidelines for cleaning your specific stone, methods may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
The best way to keep your marble clean, and retain it’s natural beauty is through regular cleanings and preventative maintenance. Seal your marble regularly, make frequent cleaning a habit, and follow preventative maintenance suggestions. A little TLC will help your stone last a lifetime.
Marble and soapstone are often used in luxury home design. Both stones are suitable for kitchen, bath or bar countertops. While they both offer class and elegance, the color and style of the stones are likely to be the deciding factor for most consumers.
Marble is generally white or grey with darker gray veins. While there are some black marble products on the market, they are less common than traditional marble, and often not available locally. Traditional marble is known for its brightness, and shiny finish.
Soapstone is darker than most marble, and it often darkens further with age. Color choices are limited to the gray/charcoal family. The surface is far more muted, and it doesn’t have the same glossy feel of marble. While soapstone fits well into modern and elegant designs, it is much more rustic and worn in appearance. Soapstone is not used as frequently for countertops as marble or granite, so it tends to give rooms a very unique feel.
Neither of the stones are ideal for heavy abuse. While they are both fairly durable, they are usually selected for their visual impact and style over durability. For high traffic areas, consider granite or quartz.
Marble and Soapstone Comparison
So which will you choose? If you’re going for a more natural look, and like a darker, flatter finish, you’ll probably prefer soapstone. If you design calls for a brighter, more traditional elegance, marble might be the way to go. If you’re in the process of choosing between marble and soapstone, visit our Wichita showroom to browse some samples. Or feel free call us at to learn more about which countertop material might be right for your project.
While natural stones are a great choice for outdoor countertops, the selection process isn’t quite as simple as indoor counters.
An outdoor kitchen is going to be exposed to a variety of weather conditions that aren’t a problem indoors. In addition to extreme temperature changes, most outdoor kitchens are subject to some amount of moisture and direct sunlight that can damage natural stone. This limits your material choice a bit, but for many people the beauty and durability of natural stone cannot be matched.
You’ll want to select non-porous stone for outdoor countertops because they do not absorb moisture. In most stones, moisture will cause stains and discolorations. Marble is particularly porous and not suggested for outdoor use. Quartz is non-porous, but the process used to color and seal this engineered stone can fade and discolor significantly in direct sunlight.
While marble and quartz aren’t great for outdoor countertops, there are two natural stones that work well outside, Soapstone and Granite.
This is a durable stone that weathers naturally over time. It’s a softer material than granite or quartz, so scratches are more common. This however is part of soapstones charm. Imperfections and changes in color add character to the stone over time.
Soapstone does not require sealing, but regularly cleaning and mineral oil application will help soapstone appear darker and add contrast to the natural colors.
Soapstone can handle extreme temperatures, including freezing and thawing. Direct sunlight will not damage the stone, but expect color changes over time.
Because soapstone is non-porous, rain, bird droppings, and dirt will not stain the countertop.
Granite is arguably the best choice for an outdoor countertop. Granite is very durable, and when properly maintained it is not easily stained by moisture or sunlight.
While granite does require sealing periodically, it is relatively easy to maintain. Sealing frequency will vary depending on the type of sealer used, and how much abuse the countertop gets, but expect to reseal about once a year. Your countertop installer will provide more specific information about sealing and maintenance.
Granite is harder than soapstone, so you won’t experience natural wearing over time. In fact, if you keep the countertop properly sealed, it should maintain its original color and strength for many years.
In addition to being able to withstand the weather and direct sunlight, granite countertops provide excellent heat tolerance, which is great for outdoor cooking.
Both soapstone and granite are available in a variety of colors. Soapstone tends to have a more rustic look compared to the more modern or elegant feel of granite.
If you’re creating an outdoor kitchen or bar, visit our Wichita showroom to get some ideas. Or call us at 316-946-0530. to learn more about which countertop material might be right for your project.