Granite Countertops

Types of Stones

Granite tops

Granite (Igneous Rock)  – Prestigious and long-lasting, granite has long been the chosen countertop for its high heat and scratch resistance, inertness against harsh chemicals, and natural beauty. With the availability of hundreds of various colors and patterns, as well as many finish options, granite can lend itself easily to nearly any design. There are many other stones and subgroups of this igneous category that are not true granite, but for all practical purposes are labeled and used interchangeably with true granites. For example, Absolute Black is considered a granite for generic commercial purposes, but it is actually basalt- not a true granite. You can be assured however that BBG will not mislabel certain other stones (marble), with lesser qualities, as granite. Pricing ranges from Low to High and a premium is typically placed on a demand for more movement.

Marble (Metamorphic Rock)– The natural elegance of marble’s soft, sweeping movement is hard to replace. Although it scores low on care & maintenance (prone to etching, scratching, and staining due to its high amount of calcium), we at BBG find that customers who embrace that wear and tear is inevitable are generally happy with their decision. Although the original meaning of marble meant any stone that would take a polish, today’s excepted definition is a metamorphic rock that forms through the metamorphism of limestone. Prices range from Medium to High and a premium is typically placed on a demand for whiter marble with distinctly dark veining.

Travertine and other Limestone (Sedimentary Rock) – Travertine and other limestone behold beautiful earth tones and natural movement. Limestone products often contain characteristic shell fossils, which lend to their unique natural allure. Both score low on care & maintenance (prone to etching, scratching, and staining). Prices are generally Medium.

Soapstone (Metamorphic Rock) – Known for its long and fascinating local Virginia History, soapstone offers a distinct utilitarian look that transcends design from shabby-chic to industrial. Colors range from either green or light gray or to near black. Practical in the sense that the inherent dense properties of soapstone make it nearly non-porous, it is also inert against most chemicals which long made it the ideal choice for chemistry tables. Although it is relatively soft, soapstone can make an endearing surface for anyone who will appreciate the patina it will develop over time. A regiment of topical oils or waxes are often applied to expedite a darkening patina, and also help to hide the talc-white scratches or blemishes which can appear. Caution- using oils or waxes can sometimes also highlight a greenish hue in some soapstone. Prices are Medium to High and higher premiums are typically driven by the demand for darker colors.

Schist and Gneiss (Metamorphic Rocks) – Although there are hundreds to thousands of different colors of stone available on the market, depending on location, there are only about 12-20 true granite colors. Many other stones, for general purposes of simplifying things in the building industry, are labeled either Granite or Marble- given a description that most closely represents the characteristics of the stone. BBG will not mislabel a stone, such as marble, as another type of stone, such as granite, in order to make it more marketable to customers concerned about durability. However, there are many relatively hard, dense stones that are called granite which truly are otherwise. A commonly mislabeled stone is Schist. Schist, although relatively hard, is in fact a metamorphic rock. The main characteristic of this stone is to exhibit foliated plate-shaped minerals like mica. If further metamorphism occurred, then the stone may have become a granular rock known as gneiss.  While touring the warehouse at BBG, you may spot stones with these labels that may otherwise be called a granite elsewhere. Prices range from medium to high.

Kyanite (Metamorphic Rock) – Once quarried in Virginia for dimensional stone purposes, up until 2010, Kyanite is a unique stone exhibiting brilliant blue-greens and rust tones. Although this stone is no longer sourced locally for countertops, the material is still available from other sources for such purposes. Contact your BBG Project Manager for pricing and availability.

Quartzite(Metamorphic Rock)  – Quartzite is an excellent choice for those who may find its movement similar to marble, but are looking for something a bit more durable. Quartzite, a natural product containing the mineral quartz, is not to be confused with the blend of nature and technology which has been coined with the industry name “quartz.” Please see a description of quartz below. Quartzite, on the other hand, bears many similar properties of granite- more scratch, stain, and heat resistant than marble. Quartzite gets its strength from the quartz crystals which formed under extreme geological pressure in sandstone. The result is a dense material which is a great option for countertops. Prices are High.

Dolomite also known as Dolostone (Sedimentary Rock) – Dolostone typically appears in many similar forms to marble (white-to-gray and white to light-brown- although other colors such as red, green, or black are possible). In fact, many stone color options labeled as marble in fact are dolostones or contain a fair amount of dolomite in them. Dolomite is magnesium-rich and, therefore, is a little more durable and less prone to scratching than something like a Carrara marble (which has relatively more calcium); however, it is not scratch and stain-resistant. Prices range from medium to high.

Quartz (Engineered Stone) Quartz is the result of natural quartz minerals crushed into smaller particulates and then bonded together with resins. Pigments are also added to aid in producing unique colors and patterns, proprietary to each brand. Known for its incredible scratch and stain resistance, it can also be somewhat tolerable to heat- though care should still be practiced to avoid scorching or thermal shock (which said damages are most often unrepairable). Not recommended for areas exposed to high heat or UV exposure i.e. fit pits or outdoor kitchens. Traditionally uniform in design, quartz products are now available in many brilliant patterns that can mimic movement found in many natural products. Additionally, due to its man-made process, colors can also be available which are not typically found in natural stone. Prices are high and typically driven by the demand of the trending colors and patterns.

Ultra-Compact/Porcelain surfaces (Dekton) – Formed with natural minerals under extreme pressure comparable to the earth’s core, the result is a product of impressive strength and durability. Scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, heat resistant, and UV stable, Ultra-compact surfaces can be ideal for most any application- interior or exterior. Please note- most ultra-compact surfaces patterns are not “through baked” and therefore special consideration should be given for treating your type of edge i.e. mitering edges. Additional fees apply for such treatments. Ask your BBG Project Manager about projects where ultra-compact surfaces excel. Prices are high.

Pyrolithic Stone (Geoluxe) – The newest generation for “man-made stone,” Geoluxe is currently the only brand made with this patented technique. The description, pyrolithic stone, refers to the process of removing sensitive resins from the engineered stone process and exclusively using only natural stone minerals to manufacture the product. Formed by returning natural stone back to its original molten form, much like lava or magma, the contents are then poured in a sequence to achieve proprietary colors and patterns. The result of this natural product, altered by man, is a surface that is scratch, stain, chemical, heat, and frost resistant that is easy to maintain. Additionally, the process affords a product that is “through baked,” so color and patterns are passed through the entire product displaying edges that are consistent with the top surface. The colors and patterns of this new product are limited. Ask your BBG Project Manager for more information about pyrolithic stone. Prices are high.