Granite counter top

Counter Top Porosity: Quartz vs Granite vs Marble vs Limestone

Just like the mighty sun, the most powerful star in the galaxy, can’t shine every day, no counter top surface is completely impervious. For all their style, remarkable ability to enhance the beauty and value of kitchens, and every day kitchen uses, no counter top is perfect. Whether quartz, granite, marble or limestone, every counter top has weaknesses.

When it comes to counter top imperfections, few are more potentially more damaging than porosity. If liquid or air can pass through your counter top, your kitchen’s centerpiece has a gaping hole, damaged look and major structural deficiency.

Each counter top surface can withstand its natural porosity with differing degrees of strength. Can your kitchen counter top pass the porous test? Here’s how to know:

Quartz: The Surface No Acidic Opponent Can Beat

The undisputed, unbeaten champion of the Porous Test, quartz is non-porous. Quartz’s non-porous nature allows it to resist staining much better than granite, marble and concrete. Quartz can repel the harshest spills, from juice to oil to tomatoes, coffee and more.

Quartz is also the cleanliest of America’s most popular countertop surfaces. Its non-porous surface means it will not harbor bacteria or viruses. Plus, quartz is available in a larger variety of colors than stone surfaces, delivering all of the style of marble and all the durability of granite, but none of the porosity.

Granite: Beautiful, Stronger Than Oak, But Porous

A gorgeous, nearly impenetrable counter top surface, granite is highly resistant to scratching, cracking and staining and is impervious to heat. Daily kitchen activities pose no problems for granite, which can even take on a hot pot without the use of a trivet. Heck, even a knife can’t scrape granite’s good looks. Also, granite is immune from the damages of most common household acids.

Alas, its porous surface is granite’s kryptonite. Like all-natural stone, granite is susceptible to liquid sinking into its surface. Even worse, germs, bacteria and mold can invade unsealed granite counter tops with stains running not far behind. Experts recommend sealing granite counter tops once per year.

Different colors and stones of granite are more porous than others. For some granite colors, dark spots may appear if a puddle is left unattended for a substantial period of time. Experts recommend using a stone sealer for all granite counter tops after installation. A penetrating sealer like the highly rated Granite Gold Countertop Liquid Sealer and StoneTech Bulletproof is recommended to prevent stains from oil, wine or other liquids from soaking into the surface.

Remember, no sealer absolutely prevents a stone from being stained, but regular use of sealers on granite counter tops make it very hard for this stunning surface to lose its shine.

Marble’s Porous Dilemma

Smooth, cool, beautiful as a diamond and much more resistant to porosity problems, marble is a gem of a counter top surface. Still, marble is more porous, softer and less durable when compared to granite. Marble is especially vulnerable to household acids like vinegar, mustard, catsup, citrus and numerous food-related products. Acidic substances can cause etching when they come into contact with marble. This chemical reaction removes marble’s natural and stunning polish.

Most liquids, if wiped up quickly, won’t stain marble. But liquids left unattended lying on marble for extended periods of time can leave a lasting stain scar. Like granite, marble needs to be sealed regularly. For marble countertops, the most effective sealants are those with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like DuPont Premium Stone Sealer and Miracle Sealants Porous Plus.

Remember, if not previously sealed, marble will soak up sealant like a sponge, meaning multiple applications are needed to reach maximum sealing potential. But with the right sealant and regular care, marble can stand the test of time and overcome its porosity to be the wowing showcase of your kitchen.

Handle Limestone’s Porosity With Care

The power of sedimentary rock is great: Strong, head-turning, hygienic and distinctive, limestone is a popular and trendy counter top choice. Be warned though: Like marble, limestone is highly susceptible to kitchen acids like citrus juices, vinegars and mustards. Blame limestone’s calcium carbonate nature. Left unsealed, limestone can stain worse than melted chocolate on a white T-shirt. Polished or semi-polished limestone counter tops will be left with rough spots from where acidic substances sat on the stone.

While attractive and heat resistant, limestone is the weakest of the three most popular counter top surfaces when fighting porosity. Limestone’s light color can leave it defenseless against staining without regular care and maintenance. To protect your limestone counter top, seal it at least once a year with a water-based sealant, which offers the most protection. Specific cleaning sprays with sealing properties used with soft cleaning rags or washcloths on a weekly or monthly basis offer an added layer of protection against staining.

The bottom line on limestone countertops’ porosity: They can’t fight their porous nature without help.

All stone counter tops are naturally porous, and need help fighting this potentially damaging structural imperfection. But the right treatment plan and regular care can keep your counter top  — whether granite, marble, limestone or quartz — gleaming, strong and functioning as the heart of your kitchen.

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