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A complete guide to stone countertops including marble, quartzite, granite, quartz, porcelain, soapstone, concrete and limestone down leahs lane

A Complete Guide to Stone Countertops

Filed in Bathroom, House Tours and Ideas, Interiors, Kitchens, My Favorites, Our House — September 5, 2019

I’m going to share what I’ve learned about the pros & cons to different stone countertops to help guide you through your countertop selection process!!

Down Leahs Lane Leah Reinert White Macaubus Quartzite Countertop Guide
White Macaubus Quartzite via Down Leahs Lane

I am obsessed with countertops!!

the Evidence is above ... I hugged my island slab when I found "The One"!!!

This is no joke folks…I have a legit obsession with countertops! It’s almost as bad as my obsession with horses, but I digress! Hahaha!!

So what’s the most asked question I get?

You guessed it! “What kind of countertop should I get?” 

I’m happy to oblige and answer that for you, well at least make the pros and cons of each kind of material clearer (insert fingers crossed emoji)!! 

Don’t forget to sign up for my free quick reference countertop guide (pop-up & at bottom of article) that you can take with you when shopping!!

Ready? Let’s dive into the complete guide of stone countertops!

you'll Learn

natural or man made

pros & cons


resistance to heat

the “look”


price point













links to images provided at bottom of article

image’s caption credit source & photographer

I did not put items into pro & con categories. Say What???

I know what you’re thinking, “Well gosh Leah that doesn’t help me at all!” 

Hear me out on this one. I can’t put things in pro & con categories because what I consider a pro may be something you consider a big ‘ol con!

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” 

So I’m bullet pointing the differences and you’ll have to decide what category they belong in. Trust me, it’ll be easier once you see how I spell it out below; and that freebie quick guide is a condensed version of all this!

A note about Prices

When writing this guide to stone countertops, I tried my best to include a range of prices per square foot for each material below. There is a huge range because some slabs are deemed more intricate and thus valued more.

Often times you can find a slap or remnants (that’s what I did for all my countertops except my island) at a discounted price…like $30-$50 per/sq ft!! These are “luxury” stones, but because they’re remnants from a previous job, they’re not full slabs and thus highly discounted!!

The catch with remnants is you have to do some “hunting & pecking” to find the right piece. 

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Click on the image below and to save this article for future reference!

A complete guide to stone countertops including marble, quartzite, granite, quartz, porcelain, soapstone, concrete and limestone down leahs lane


Luxury is the word that usually come to mind when you hear the word marble. Rightly so, it’s the stone used by some of the most beautiful architectural designs in the world.

Does that mean you can’t have marble? Of course not! Plenty of people use marble in all styles and designs of homes! I did not use marble in my new house, but you bet I’m going to try to find a place for a marble slab somewhere in the future…I just love it!

The thing with marble is you have to appreciate the character it will develop over time. As marble is used it will scratch and stain (if not wiped up) and this adds character to the stone. 

If you’re like me and wipe your countertop daily, marble is a completely fine choice for you. Even though marble is higher maintenance, the warmth & individual character each stone brings into your home will never be replicated. 

  • natural stone
  • softer density – it will scratch easier than other materials
  • it will stain if not wiped up/cleaned up in a timely matter
  • resistant to heat – this means it can tolerate something hot being set directly on it
  • comes in a variety of colors and designs
  • often has “movement” – this is the term countertop people use to describe gentle waves & swirls throughout the slab
  • considered a “luxury” item
  • can be refinished over time – it you don’t like the natural character it’s developed, it can be refinished to get a “new” look again
  • higher price point (if not the highest) of countertop materials. Avg cost: $70-$200 per/sqft
Montclair White Marble
Montclair White Marble countertop in white luxury kitchen
Montclair White Marble via Randi Garrett Design


**not to be confused with man-Made Quartz**

Quartzite is a natural stone. Let me repeat, quartzite is a natural stone! This is where my countertop snob really comes out…I cringe when I hear people say, “oh you mean quartz.” (insert face palm slap emoji) LOL!! 

Nope, quartzite is a natural stone and I’m just going to be honest here…I’m a quartzite lover!!

I actually used 3 different quartzites in my new house: one for my island slab, master bathroom and laundry folding table! I adore the look of quartzite, plus it’s dense and easy to maintain (notice I did not say maintenance free) wink-wink!

Quartzite is often what us marble lovers will head for when we want the look of marble, but the easier maintenance of granite. So rightly so, it’s price point is somewhere between marble and granite and it’s popularity is growing! 

  • natural stone
  • harder density – should not scratch easily
  • will not stain as easily – notice I didn’t say it will never stain. You still need to wipe up messes, but way more durable than marble! 
  • resistant to heat – but I still use hot pads just in case!
  • comes in a variety of colors and designs
  • can have “movement” – just like marble, quartzite can have this; often why marble lovers like quartzite
  • needs sealed – seal it every 3-5 years to give it added protection. Sealing is not a big deal, just something to remember to do.
  • can be buffed – if it gets a scratch, it can be buffed out.
  • medium price point – it’s often priced between marble & granite Avg cost: $70-$150 per/sqft
My White Macaubus Quartzite Island Slab

For any fellow countertop aficionados out there, this is an unusual White Macaubus slab with its higher amount of dark veining – hence why I fell in love with it!

White Macaubus Quartzite countertop from Down Leahs Lane countertop reference guide
White Macaubus Quartzite Countertop via Down Leahs Lane


Go for granite!

If you’re like, “I don’t want the maintenance of marble, I don’t love the price or look of quartzite, but I want something that natural and easy to take care of…” go for granite!!

Granite comes in soooo many colors, designs and looks (not to mention all the finish options…I’ll do an entire blog post on finishes)!! So literally there is a granite slab out there for everyone!

It’s a denser stone, so to me, it looks “harder,” more like stone. What do I mean by that? It often has a “rock” or “speckled” look.  

It’s super dense, easy to care for and lower priced than marble, quartzite and even man-made quartz…so give granite a thoughtful look!

I chose a black polished granite for my daughter’s bathroom and I love it with her penny tile flooring! So nostalgic!! (She picked the pink fluffy rugs, some things I just gotta let go)! Haha!!

  • natural stone
  • harder density – should not scratch easily
  • will not stain as easily – probably one of the hardest natural stones to stain 
  • resistant to heat – but I still use hot pads just in case!
  • comes in a variety of colors and designs…like I’m talking A LOT of choices!!
  • can have a “rock” or “speckled” look – it’s a denser stone, and it looks like a denser stone.
  • needs sealed – seal it every 3-5 years to give it added protection. Sealing is not a big deal, just something to remember to do.
  • can be buffed – if it gets a scratch, it can be buffed out.
  • lower price point – it’s often priced lower than marble, quartzite & even man-made quartz & porcelain. Avg cost: $50-125 per/sqft
2 pics of granite below - The black one is ours!
Delicatus White Granite polished countertop in traditional french country cream white kitchen
Delicatus White Granite via Amsum & Ash // photo by LandMark
Black Granite with white accents polished bathroom countertop and black and white penny tile with natural alder cabinets
Black Granite with white accents via Down Leahs Lane


Are you hanging in there?? Hopefully you feel like you’re getting some good info from this countertop guide!

Quartz countertops are man-made, engineered countertops made of pieces of quartz and then artfully resin is added and orchestrated to make a beautiful countertop. 

Because it’s a man made surface, it can come in a variety of colors and patterns and often has a uniform look throughout the slab.

On the flip side, if you’re someone that does not care for a consistent pattern to your slab, that’s harder to manufacture the natural movement in a man made quartz (although some of the “luxury” quartz slabs come very close).

If you’re wanting a countertop that is relatively maintenance free, like a uniform look and just don’t want to fret about whether the island is wiped after used…take a hard look at quartz. It’s a good choice for you!  

  • man made stone
  • harder density – less likely to scratch & chip (but nothing is full proof)
  • will not stain as easily – less likely to stain than natural stone options
  • not resistant to heat – you need to use a hot pad or trivet!
  • comes in a variety of colors and designs…like A LOT of choices!!
  • intolerant to strong cleaners – alkalines, acids, free radicals, oxidizers, or other similar chemicals or cleaners (whether high, neutral, or low pH)
  • can have a “uniform” or “consistant” look – this can be a pro or a con, depending on how uniform you want your countertop to look
  • does not needs sealed – unlike natural stone, you don’t need to seal quartz
  • can not be buffed – unless your a pro
  • higher price point – plain slabs are lower priced, but the “marble looking” slabs are a high ticket item Avg cost: $70-$150 per / sqft
Quartz countertop (with waterfall edge)
Quartz waterfall island countertop in modern tudor new house with white kitchen and pendant lighting
Quartz waterfall island countertop via SD Custom Homes


Porcelain is kinda the new kid on the block…well to those of us who are mere mortals and not in the countertop biz. 

I’m a complete research junkie, like seriously if you ever need research on something, I’m your girl! I love to learn and I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to understanding something better.

Hence why this countertop post is turning into a thesis on stones! Hahaha!! I’m cracking myself up right now!!

So what are porcelain countertops are made of? “To manufacture porcelain countertops, kaolinite clay is coated with pigmented glaze and fired at 1200-1400*C.  This hardens it into a dense and highly durable material. While the clay does have impurities such as silica, mineral oxides, and feldspars, these actually add to the porcelain’s strength and color,” quote from Noell Jett who recently installed a porcelain countertop and frankly is a goddess of modern farmhouse designs!!

Well if Noell likes it, I gotta say I’m pretty intrigued!! Here’s the breakdown of deets.  

  • man made stone
  • harder density – harder than granite & equal to quartz
  • will not stain as easily – less likely to stain than natural stone options
  • resistant to heat – it’s baked at 1200*C, so it can withstand anything you set on it from your oven!
  • harder to find – it takes a highly skilled fabricator to work with porcelain, so it’s not widely available
  • can have a “marble” look – glazing pigments added during fabrication, can give it “natural” look 
  • does not needs sealed – it’s impervious to water so unlike natural stone, you don’t need to seal it
  • it can break – if hit with a direct blow, it will break apart
  • higher price point – plain slabs are lower priced, but the “marble looking” slabs are a high ticket item. Avg cost $60-$120 per/sqft.
Neolith Porcelain
Neolith Porcelain countertop in all white modern farmhouse kitchen via The Stone Shop
Neolith Porcelain countertop via The Stone Shop


Concrete countertops have been around for awhile, but when Joanna Gaines had Chip install them in their Fixer Upper houses, the popularity of them exploded. 

A concrete countertop evokes rustic, farmhouse, and an appreciation for raw materials. I’ve seen concrete countertops (and sinks) be used in a rustic design and used in a luxury modern home. They really can be used seamlessly in multiple styles.

So how do they stack up against the other materials? Let’s find out!

  • man made stone
  • it’s hard, BUT – it’s hard in density, but that doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. 
  • will stain easily – concrete is porous, so it will stain easily if not properly sealed
  • not resistant to heat – must use hot pads or trivets!
  • can be a DIY project– some of us (me included) enjoy really enjoy DIY projects. Concrete countertops make a fun project to tackle!
  • can fit multiple styles – can be used in rustic, farmhouse, & even luxury modern homes!
  • needs sealed – it’s porous, (especially if poured on site) & needs sealed to prevent bacterial growth.
  • it can break & crack – think of sidewalks & how they chip & crack, concrete countertops can do the same. If you like the character, this is a pro. If you don’t, it’s a big con.
  • medium price point – for a pro: avg cost per sqft is $65-$135, & installation is $40-$50 per/hr, per/person
Concrete Countertop
Concrete Countertop in rustic farmhouse with copper sink fixer upper joanna gaines
Concrete Countertop via HGTV.com


Ahhh here’s another countertop type that I really want to find a place for in my home! Remember I’m obsessed with countertops!!

In this beholder’s eye, it’s got a “soft look” that’s inviting and comforting in the home. Soapstone has some unique features that can cause it to be a “heck no” for some homeowners and a “heck yes” for others!

The biggest factor would be that it naturally patinas over time. “What in the world does that mean Leah?!”

It means that as your soapstone ages, it darkens. Once it’s fully “matured” it will stay the color it was meant to be. Hmmm, interested to learn more?? Let’s look at the breakdown below. 

  • natural stone
  • it’s soft, BUT – this get’s tricky. It’s soft like marble, meaning it will scratch & chip if you drop a cast iron skillet on it or cut on it without a cutting board, but… 
  • it’s dense & impenetrable – particles are extremely compact, making it more sanitary & easy to wipe clean.
  • very resistant to heat – soapstone is often used in fireplace surrounds cause it tolerates heat so well.
  • can be a DIY project– if you have good carpentry skills (or in my case, married to one), you can totally install soapstone yourself!
  • can fit multiple styles – can be used in rustic, farmhouse, & even luxury modern homes!
  • does not need sealed – remember, it’s got those compact particles.
  • it patinas over time – remember it will naturally darken over time & take on its unique properties. No two soapstones will ever look the same.
  • medium price point – for a pro: avg cost per sqft is $90-$150 per/sqft; DIYer can get a raw slab for $45-$85 per/sqft
Soapstone Countertop (this one is not oiled)
unoiled gray soapstone countertop in rustic kitchen
Unoiled gray soapstone countertop via This Old House // photo Troy Thies/Collinstock


I chose a Valencia Limestone remnant for my floating half bath vanity because I wanted a more industrial, masculine look in there…and I love it!! I also knew that the half bath would just get soap & water traffic.

However, limestone can have it’s quirks…but I’m ready to fully disclose them.

Limestone is a natural stone made up of exoskeletons of coral, shells, algae and calcium carbonate, and you can really see this in my countertop…it’s cool!

Found in neutral colors and light tones, Limestone is quite tough but it’s porous and requires care. It must be sealed by a professional before or after installation so that nothing penetrates it, and it must be properly cared for by the homeowner or you could have problems. 

Limestone should never be bleached or cleaned with acidic cleaners as it reacts violently with such substances. If you use something you shouldn’t it can etch of your limestone.

  • natural stone
  • it’s hard – and will stand the test of time, I mean iconic buildings such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Lincoln Memorial and the Parthenon are made out of limestone…BUT…
  • it’s very porous – it’ll soak up everything unless properly sealed.
  • resistant to heat – it tolerates heat well.
  • stays cool – this is interesting. It naturally does not retain heat & stays cooler to the touch. 
  • can fit multiple styles – it has a distinctive earthly yet elegant look to it. 
  • must be sealed – it’s very porous & must be sealed & maintained.
  • reacts violently to acidic cleaners – remember you must use a stone cleaner or simple soap & water to clean your limestone
  • medium price point – it’s price point is all over the place! Some basic slabs can be $70/sqft while higher end slabs can be $200/sq ft.
Valencia Limestone matte countertop Down Leahs Lane half bath floating vanity on natural alder with matte black faucet
Valencia Limestone matte countertop Down Leahs Lane

did you learn some pros & cons from this complete guide to stone countertops?

My husband was like, “Leah you wrote a dissertation on countertops!” 

Hahaha!! I know, I know!! But I wanted to give you guys as much information as I could to help you pick the perfect countertop for your home!!


So what's next?

There are soooo many beautiful colors, designs, styles of countertops within each of these stone groups!!

So I will be dedicating a blog post to each group (ie one for marble, one for granite, etc) and show you guys all the ways they can be used to create the perfect look for your home!! 

Stay tuned for more!!

And as always, comment below or DM on Instagram and let me know which is your favorite or a topic you’d like me to write a post about!! Love ‘ya guys for hanging out with me!! 

Credits & Links to Images

Pin any of these images for future reference

Finding your perfect countertop can be overwhelming, but here's a polished black granite slab with thin swirls of white on this double vanity alder cabinet. All tie in beautifully with the black and white penny tile flooring. Designed by Down Leahs Lane.
A complete guide to stone countertops including marble, quartzite, granite, quartz, porcelain, soapstone, concrete and limestone down leahs lane
8 Stone Countertops reviewed in this complete countertop guide that helps you determine what stone countertop will work best for your new house or remodel project.

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Hey there! I'm Finley Austen, a lifestyle blogger who's passionate about capturing the beauty of the world through photography, discovering new culinary delights, and exploring exciting travel destinations. With my camera in one hand and a fork in the other, I'm always on the lookout for my next adventure.

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