In the world of interior decorating, all granite
countertops are stone, but not all stone countertops are granite.
Rather, granite is a subcategory of stone. Other types of stone common
in kitchen and bathroom countertop construction include marble, slate,
soapstone, limestone and Jerusalem stone.
Characteristics of Granite
Granite is the most popular countertop material on
the market. Its popularity stems from the value it adds to homes and
its resistance to scratching, warping, chipping, extreme heat and
staining. Granite, like most stone countertop materials, can be
customized in a wide range of colors and compositions. It is considered
to be the second hardest naturally occurring substance, next to
diamonds. Granite countertops are routinely sealed with special
protective coatings created exclusively for this purpose, but because
it has a very low absorption rate, it doesn't need to be sealed as
frequently as most other stones.
How Other Stone Countertops Differ
Nearly all other stone countertop materials are
technically inferior to granite in all criteria, which is why granite
is often the most expensive countertop option. A notable exception is
marble; while it scratches and stains easily, its cool, smooth surface
is particularly well suited for rolling and kneading dough. Many
kitchens designed for bakers feature countertops made largely of more
durable materials, but with marble panels that exist almost solely for
the purpose of working with dough.
Other stone countertops range from very hard to
very soft and from very porous to low absorption. The stone countertop
material closest to granite is Jerusalem stone, a type of limestone
quarried in the areas in and around Jerusalem.
Colors, patterns and the overall ability to match
stone countertops to existing room decor also varies from one stone
type to the next. Granite tends to have a more limited range of color
and grain options than most other stone choices.