If you’ve been planning a kitchen renovation, one of the most important decisions to make is your kitchen counters. The material, color, grain, and texture, and maintenance will influence your kitchen’s style and your cooking experience for years to come. This choice will define your kitchen, so it’s no wonder homeowners think carefully about choosing their countertop material. But where to start? How do you choose the right slab to set the tone for your entire kitchen?
Most of us start with advice from friends, real estate standards, and online photos. While everyone knows about granite as the hallmark of luxurious, practical kitchen design, you may have also heard recently about a new type of beautiful countertop stone called Silestone. Just what is Silestone and why is it getting attention as a new stone countertop option? The best way to examine any lesser-known type of countertop stone is to compare it to granite, the beloved standard of kitchen stone. So that’s what we’re going to do. Is Silestone right for you? We hope you’ll be closer to knowing at the end of the article.
What, Exactly, is Silestone?
Silestone is quartz-based artificial stone. Right now, we can make artificial stone out of almost anything. Concrete is commonly molded into garden stone. Artificial crystals are grown and gems are poured into molds. Quartz countertops are a composite designed to look, feel, and act like quarried stone, without the quarry. Silestone is actually a patented specific quartz slab design made with natural quartz and pigmented crystal and bound with polyester-type resin.
The pigmented crystal makes it easy to choose a countertop in any color, not just natural colors. But the best thing about quartz countertops is that they don’t require a continuous piece of naturally quarried slab. The manufacturing process makes use of quartz dust and chips, which requires no quarrying. It can also feature a longer replacement life and can even be recycled.
Silestone Quartz vs Granite Countertops: How do they compare?
1. The Look and Feel of Stone
The first thing most people want to know is whether Silestone quartz is really like other stone slabs. Is it smooth and cool to the touch? Does it have a natural weight and beauty? Yes, and yes. Granite, naturally, is between 10% and 50% quartz, and Silestone is about 94% quartz, both made of natural stone particles.
Only granite is held together through millennia of pressure and heat, and Silestone is held together with resin. Granite is grained with minerals that swirled through when the stone was molten. Silestone is grained with chips of pigmented crystal, swirled in artificially.
Ultimately, Silestone is a little glossier than granite, but you can choose your surface texture (gloss, matte, satin) the same way you can choose the final texture finish when you seal your granite to protect it from moisture, stains, and scratches. But both are smooth, cool, beautiful stone.
2. Maintenance and Care
If you’ve ever had and cared for granite countertops, you know that granite is a porous stone that must be sealed as a countertop. In the past, counters had to be sealed once a year. Modern sealants, however, stretch that to between two and five years per sealing. If the sealant wears away, granite can be scratched, stained, or absorb moisture. Sealed, granite is low-maintenance but acidic spills can eat away at the sealant.
Silestone is bound with resin, which makes it non-porous. This, essentially, means that quartz countertops provide their own seal. This hard resin-quartz surface is highly resistant to chips, scratches, stains, and doesn’t absorb moisture.
This is why it has a longer reputed lifespan and is less likely to need repair or replacement in the future. It also does not require annual resealing and resists acids, but will discolor if you place a hot pan without a trivet underneath.
3. Appearance in Color and Grain
Granite comes in natural colors based on the minerals found in the earth at the quarry site. There is an extremely wide range of granite colors, and palettes created by the grain, providing for an incredible range of kitchen designs. But granite is limited to what the earth has produced naturally, and Silestone quartz is not.
Silestone countertops were originally designed to mimic both marble and granite, with swirling or speckled grain designs engineered to resemble favorite patterns and colors. However, you can also have a quartz countertop in any color or color-combination you want.
You can choose natural colors that don’t occur in nature together or unnatural colors that rarely appear in large slabs of stone – like a rich green stone top swirled with gold grains.
4. Weight and Density
Granite is notoriously heavy, and many lower cabinets need support to install a granite countertop safely. Silestone is even heavier per square-inch because it is denser. The quartz is more tightly packed in a solid resin-bonded block instead of being porous with the tiny air pockets naturally form as rock cools from magma (under the earth).
You will want your lower cabinets rated and supported for a Silestone countertop, but the process is the same as having your cabinets prepared for granite.
5. Shopping for Slabs
For your renovation, the single biggest difference will likely be your shopping experience. Shopping for granite, you may look at hundreds of slabs before you fall in love with the perfect piece of natural stone.
With Silestone, shopping goes the other direction. You decide what you want your coutners to look like, the base color, texture, grain style and color, and what type of stone it should resemble. You can have Silestone that looks like marble, granite, soapstone, or a glimmering stone slab that doesn’t exist in nature.
Silestone slabs are not, exactly, made to order, but the catalog is vast and goes beynd what can be found in any earthly quarry.
6. The Price Point
Many people assume that quartz will be significantly different in price from granite but, in reality, they are about the same cost. Right now. Silestone quartz is the cutting-edge of manufactured stone and comes in beautiful luxury patterns, while the cost of granite has become more affordable for homeowners, bringing the two about equal in cost per square-foot by slab rating.
7. The Installation Experience
Finally, is there a difference between installing a Silestone countertop or installing granite? No, not effectively. The countertop is a little heavier and a little less brittle than granite, but you will still need an experienced and well-equipped team to move the counter sections into your home and safely install them as a beautiful, seamless benchtop.
Which is Better, Granite or Silestone?
Which is granite or Silestone the better countertop? The answer is really a more personal one. Which is better for your vision, your kitchen, and your total home design?
If you have a brilliant, slightly unnatural color palette, or if you want a countertop that will last decades without resealing. Silestone is the clear winner. If you have a love for all things natural and ancient, then granite may be the more rewarding choice.
Silestone can be identical to any granite (or marble) slab in appearance and very few can tell the difference. Silestone is heavier than granite, so may be tougher on vintage cabinetry, but requires less maintenance. Granite can take heat but not acid, while Silestone can take acid but not (intense) heat.
Silestone offers a wider variety of colors and designs, while granite provides the classic look and feel of homes for centuries. Which is the best countertop material for your kitchen? Because the price-point and installation are similar, it all depends on your own design vision or which slab you fall in love with first.
Explore our full selection of stone countertop slabs, styles, and real kitchen design examples to inspire your next kitchen renovation countertop choice. If you like what you see, feel free to contact us.