All About Stone Countertops

Stone countertops are a beautiful and popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Made from natural stone slabs, they come in a variety of colors, patterns, and finishes. Stone countertops are durable, heat-resistant, and easy to clean and maintain. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about stone countertops, including the pros and cons, costs, installation, care and maintenance.

What Are Stone Countertops?

Stone countertops are countertops made from slabs of natural stone such as granite, marble, quartzite, soapstone, and slate. The stone is cut into slabs and polished to create a smooth, beautiful surface for kitchen and bathroom countertops.

Stone countertops are resistant to heat, scratches, and stains. They are also hygienic as they do not harbor bacteria. With proper sealing and care, stone countertops can last for many decades.

Popular Types of Stone for Countertops

  • Granite – Hard igneous rock with sparkly crystals. Available in wide range of colors and patterns.
  • Marble – Metamorphic rock, tends to have elegant veining. Stains more easily than granite.
  • Quartzite – Hard metamorphic rock with earth tone colors. More stain and scratch resistant than marble.
  • Soapstone – Made from steatite rock, often gray/black with mineral veins. Naturally antibacterial.
  • Slate – Metamorphic rock with layer-like cleavage. Comes in mix of colors from gray to purple.
  • Engineered Quartz – Not a natural stone but made of crushed quartz and resin. Stain and scratch resistant.

The Pros and Cons of Stone Countertops

Advantages of Stone Countertops:

  • Beautiful & unique natural patterns and colors
  • Extremely durable and long-lasting
  • Resistant to scratches, heat, and stains
  • Easy to clean and maintain with annual sealing
  • Won’t harbor bacteria or mold
  • Adds value and elegance to kitchens
  • Available in wide range of colors, finishes and edge styles
  • Can be custom cut and fabricated for your space

Disadvantages of Stone Countertops:

  • Expensive upfront cost, especially for rare granites and marbles
  • Can chip if subjected to heavy impact
  • Requires yearly sealing to prevent stains
  • Marble and soapstone can stain more easily than granite
  • Cold to the touch and no built-in heating options
  • Natural stone can have variances in patterning
  • Heavy and requires reinforced cabinet support

While granite and quartz countertops are most popular, marble, soapstone or slate may be more suitable for certain design styles. Weighing the pros and cons helps determine if stone is the right material for your home.

Cost of Stone Countertops

The cost of stone countertops varies greatly depending on the type and quality of stone slab, edge treatments, and the overall size and complexity of the installation. Here is an overview of typical price ranges:

  • Granite: $40 – $100 per sq.ft installed. Mid to high-end granite runs $80-100/sq.ft.
  • Marble: $70 – $150 per sq.ft installed. Rare Carrara marble can cost up to $200/sq.ft.
  • Quartzite: $70 – $140 per sq.ft installed. Depends on rarity of color and pattern.
  • Soapstone: $70 – $100 per sq.ft installed. Soft but durable steatite stone.
  • Slate: $40 – $70 per sq.ft installed. Affordable option compared to granite.
  • Engineered Quartz: $80 – $150 per sq.ft installed. Durability comes at a premium price.

Other factors affecting overall cost:

  • Edge treatments like bullnose rounded edges ($15-$30/ft)
  • Backsplash installation (adds $10-$30/sq.ft depending on material)
  • Stone thickness (thicker = more expensive)
  • Cutouts for sinks / fixtures / backsplash ($150+ per cutout)
  • Complex layouts requiring more fabrication time
  • Local market labor and material rates

Stone is a major investment, but it’s durable beauty and longevity make it worthwhile for many homeowners. Be sure to get quotes from 3+ stone suppliers to find the best deal.

How to Choose the Right Stone

With so many options for stone materials, colors, finishes and patterns, choosing the right stone countertop for your home can feel overwhelming. Follow these tips:

Consider the color scheme and style of your kitchen or bath design. More traditional looks pair well with classic white Carrara marble or neutral granites. Contemporary designs can handle bold, colorful patterns like red quartzite.

Factor in ease of maintenance. Granite and quartz are most stain-resistant. Marble and limestone require more frequent sealing.

Evaluate your habits. Active cooks and messy bakers may prefer granite’s durability. If you tend to set hot pans down without trivets, heat-safe stones like soapstone are a smart option.

Decide on an edge style. Edge profiles like beveled or chiseled add detail. Bullnose rounded edges minimize sharp corners. Ogee edges have an elegant curving profile.

Look at stone slabs in person. Photos don’t always capture the nuances. View multiple slabs to see color range and patterns. Bring home samples to view in natural light.

Consider resale value. Neutral granite and marble boost home value for resale. Trendy materials like concrete-look quartz may fall out of favor.

Your stone supplier can advise you on which materials suit your needs. Ultimately choose a stone that makes you smile every time you see it!

How to Buy Stone Countertops

Purchasing stone countertops entails working with a stone supplier to select material, finalizing edge details, and measuring your space. Here are the typical steps:

1. Find stone suppliers near you

Search for “stone countertop supplier” or “stone fabricator.” Ask friends for referrals. Look at potential supplier’s previous work and reviews.

2. Schedule an initial consultation

Meet with a kitchen designer or supplier rep to discuss your project. Bring photos, dimensions, and an idea of your budget.

3. Select the stone material and edge style

Browse slabs at the stone yard. Narrow down choices and select the exact slab(s) for your counters. Finalize the edge detail.

4. Measure countertops and create template

The supplier will come measure your existing counters and create a template to cut the slabs to fit.

5. Fabrication and installation

The fabricator cuts, polishes and installs your countertops. The process takes 2-4 weeks.

6. Inspect and seal

Do a final inspection, checking for defects or damage. Apply the initial sealant layer before using counters.

Shop around and find an experienced local stone supplier you can trust. They will make the process easy.

How Are Stone Countertops Made?

Stone countertops are carefully fabricated and installed by specialty craftsmen. Here’s an overview of the stone countertop fabrication process:

1. Template and Measurements

The first step is to create a template based on measurements of the existing cabinets and counterspace. This is done onsite to account for any irregularities in the cabinets or walls. The template is used to cut the slabs accurately.

2. Slab Selection

The customer visits the stone yard to hand-select the slabs for their project. The thickness is chosen, typically 3cm for counters. Thicker slabs are recommended for island counters or flooring applications.

3. Transportation

The heavy slabs are transported from the yard to the fabrication facility for cutting. Forklifts and special cranes are used due to the extreme weight of natural stone slabs.

4. Cutting and Shaping

Cutting is done using water jets or diamond-tipped blades. The slabs are cut to the measurements from the template. Edges can be cut into various profiles like beveled or eased. The sink, faucet, and stove cutouts are done.

5. Polishing

Final smoothing and buffing is done with wet diamond polishing pads ranging from 50 grit to 3000 grit. This achieves the signature shine. For matte finishes, less polishing is done.

6. Sealing

Sealant is applied to fill microscopic pores and prevent staining and etching. This helps repel water and substances that can cause damage.

7. Installation

The finished countertops are installed by fabricators. They are secured to the cabinetry using brackets, shims, and caulk. Finally, any backsplashes and finishing touches are added.

How to Clean and Care for Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops bring unmatched beauty to kitchens and baths. Keep them looking like new with regular cleaning and yearly sealing:

  • For daily cleaning, use mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Blot spills immediately using a soft cloth. Don’t let liquids sit on the surface.
  • Use coasters under glasses, trivets under hot pans. This prevents etching.
  • Reseal counters every 1-2 years with a stone-safe impregnating sealer. This prevents stains.
  • Avoid using vinegar, lemon juice, or acidic cleaners which can etch and dull the finish.
  • Don’t sit or stand on countertops. This can crack the slab.
  • Use cutting boards instead of slicing foods directly on the counter.
  • Don’t place extremely hot pots or pans directly on the surface.
  • Wipe spilled oils and grease right away to prevent buildup.

With some basic care, your natural stone counters will stay looking beautiful for decades to come. Be sure to address any chips, etching or stains right away to prevent further damage. Contact a professional stone restoration company if deeper repairs are needed.

Can You Repair Damaged Stone Countertops?

Life happens and stone counters can become damaged from chips, scratches, and cracked seams. Many types of damage can be repaired by a professional stone restoration company. Here are some common stone counter repairs:

Cracks and Chips

Small chips along the edges and hairline cracks through the slab can usually be repaired with epoxy fillers. The epoxy is color-matched to the stone, filled into the crack or gap, and buffed smooth once dry. Larger fractured areas may require more extensive patching.


Acidic liquids like juice, chemicals, or cleaning agents can etch the surface leaving a hazy, dull area. This damage is removed by honing and re-polishing the sections of the slab. Refinishing restores the glossy look.


Oil stains, food spills, hard water marks and soap scum buildup can sometimes penetrate the surface. Many stains can be removed by deep cleaning, poulticing, and re-sealing treatments.

Seam Repair

Shrinkage gaps sometimes form at the seams and need to be re-filled for an even surface. The old caulking is removed and new color-matched filler is injected into the gap. This also prevents moisture damage.


Heavily damaged stone may need resurfacing. This involves re-finishing the top layer of the slab down to a pristine, uniform surface. Only a thin layer is removed.

Contact a stone restoration company to assess damage and get a repair quote. Keep your stone counters in great shape for years to come.

What Makes a Stone Countertop Unique?

The uniqueness and natural beauty of stone makes it a treasured material for countertops. Here’s what gives each stone counter its one-of-a-kind look:

Color Variation

All stones exhibit subtle natural color changes across a slab. Granites range from solid blacks to variegated blending of crystal speckles. Soft movement in tone adds depth and contrast. No two slabs are exactly alike.

Veining Patterns

Marbles are prized for their gentle grey and white veining with intricate feathering and swirls. Sandstone quartzite often shows wavy lines in shades of amber, cocoa and copper brown. Movement in the veining makes every slab distinctive.

Natural Pitting and Marks

Many types of natural stone have small pits, divots, crystals and grain lines embedded in the surface. These marks add rustic texture and charm. They show the authentic origins of the material.

Unique Mineral Composition

The mineral makeup of each slab yields different coloring and patterning. For example, Blue Bahia granite contains blue quartz, feldspars, and biotite mica that give it scintillating depth when polished.

Hand-Selected Material

Clients hand pick each slab from the stone yard, selecting that perfect palette of tones or flow of veining. This personal selection makes the stone one-of-a-kind.

No two slabs of natural stone are exactly alike. Subtle uniqueness makes each kitchen truly custom. That’s the beauty of genuine stone.

What Edge Styles Can You Get on Stone Countertops?

A key part of choosing stone countertops is deciding on the edge style. Edges can be cut into different profiles that complement the design aesthetics. Popular edge styles include:

Straight Edge

A simple squared off edge. Provides a clean linear look, especially with contemporary styles. Elegant in its simplicity.

Beveled Edge

The stone is cut at a sharp 45-degree inward angle. This adds definition and dimension along the edge.

Eased or Softened Edge

A light rounded edge. Less severe than a bullnose. Softens the look while minimizing sharpness.

Ogee Edge

A refined curved edge with an element of elegance. Combines convex and concave shaping inspired by classical architecture.

Full Bullnose

A rounded, convex shaping. Creates a bold, thicker feeling edge profile with no sharp corners.

Half Bullnose

A rounded edge where just the top corner is shaped into a curve. Bottom has a flat profile.

Chiseled Edge

The edge iscut at various angles, often with a slight rounded element. Provides a hand-carved, chiseled look.

The edges can be mixed, like having a beveled island countertop with eased edges along the backsplash. Consult your fabricator on the best options for your counterspace and design aesthetic.

Should You Get a Backsplash with Stone Countertops?

While optional, adding a backsplash is recommended for most countertops, including stone. Here are reasons to add a backsplash:

Protects the Wall from Splashes

A backsplash shields the wall from water splashes, sauce smears and food spills. This damage is easier to clean off a backsplash than to patch drywall.

Ties Countertops and Wall Color Together

The right backsplash complements the hue of the countertops. Lighter granite may look best with white subway tile while darker stones pair better with metal or mosaic backsplash tiles.

Adds Visual Interest

Creative backsplash designs like herringbone brick patterns or geometric Moroccan tiles give the space excitement. Even simple materials like marble tile or stone slabs add interest.

Finishes the Look

The space visually flows better with a backsplash instead of an abrupt transition between countertops and wall. The finished look pulls everything together beautifully.

Increases Resale Value

Upgraded backsplashes recover around 75% of their cost at resale. Homebuyers expect backsplashes with higher end kitchen materials like granite or quartz counters.

Work with your contractor to determine the height of the backsplash. Many range from 4 to 6 inches tall on average. Add a cohesive backsplash to take your stone counters to the next level.

What Thickness of Stone Countertop Should You Choose?

Stone countertop slabs are cut to various thicknesses. While thicker stone costs more, it provides benefits:

1 1/4″ Thickness

Best for flooring and commercial use. Too thick for the average residential kitchen counter. Difficult to fabricate tightly around sinks and cooktops.

3/4″ Thickness

Least expensive option but prone to cracking and structural issues over time. Best used only for simple shapes and small spaces in residential remodels.

1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ Thickness

The “standard” thickness recommended for most home kitchen counters with more complex shapes. Provides good durability at a moderate price point.

2″ Thickness

A luxurious thickness reserved for large kitchen islands and higher end homes. Offers outstanding strength and resistance to damage or cracking long-term.

2 1/4″ to 3″ Thickness

Ultra-thick slabs used for big statement islands in luxury estates. Provides ultimate heavy-duty construction but costs a premium. Requires special cabinet reinforcement.

Always check your cabinetry depth to ensure thicker slabs will fit properly. While thinner slabs may save money upfront, long-term durability suffers.

FAQs About Stone Countertops

Stone countertops enrich kitchens and bathrooms with natural elegance, but also come with questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are stone countertops expensive to install?

Yes, stone is one of the higher end countertop materials. Expect to pay an average of $60 – $150 per square foot for materials, fabrication and professional installation. Granite and marble on the higher end of the spectrum.

Which is better, granite or quartz countertops?

Granite is more heat, scratch and stain resistant due to being 100% natural stone. Quartz is engineered and offers more color and pattern consistency. Both are excellent options that add value.

Do stone countertops need to be sealed