One of the most popular uses of granite is for kitchen countertops. While many homeowners perceive granite as chic, there are trade-offs to using this stylish material. The porous stone stains easily, harbors bacteria, requires significant maintenance and weighs a lot. Granite counters often require new cabinets to support the extra weight.
When consumers consider composite products for kitchens and bathrooms, they may conjure up images of laminated countertops from the 1970s. But composites have come a long way. Today’s composites – sometimes called solid surface materials or cast polymer – offer consumers a host of benefits:
- Composites are non-porous – This makes them much more sanitary than granite, which can conceal bits of food and bacteria in its crevices. Composites also can withstand disinfectant products without damaging the material, unlike granite.
- Composites are easy to maintain – They do not require sealants or special cleaning products. Because granite is porous, it must be sealed annually to prevent staining. And cleaning products such as degreasers and glass cleaners strip the sealant.
- Composites are inexpensive – Granite sinks, for example, routinely cost five to 10 times that of composite sinks. Plus, they require professional installation, which boosts the cost. Installing lightweight composite sinks can be a do-it-yourself project.
- Composites offer endless appearance options – They can be easily formed into any shape and customized into any color, making composites a preferred choice for homeowners who want distinctive counters, shower surrounds, bathtubs and more. Granite must be carefully selected, matched and cut and is available in a limited number of colors.
- Composites are heat resistant – Composites retain their integrity when exposed to high temperatures. Conversely, granite surfaces can’t absorb heat, so they can chip if hot pans are placed on them.
Composites aren’t what they used to be – and that’s a good thing!