In kitchen terms, it seems you can’t go very far these days without bumping into the argument; natural granite or the synthetically produced and highly durable Du Pont Corian?
Both materials offer highly attractive qualities: durability, unique color options and resistance to heat. However, the smaller differences between the two surfaces: ease of maintenance and cost factors can often be the determining factor between synthetic, man-made substance, versus the naturally occurring granite.
With this in mind, let’s go ahead and take a look at the hallmark characteristics in both countertop styles.
A naturally occurring material, granite is formed when magna below the earth’s surface becomes slowly crystallized over a long period of time. The sparkles attracting most homeowners considering granite are derived from the presence of quartz, feldspar with smaller amounts of mica. It is this rich color and texture unique to granite that attracts homeowners looking to upgrade the appearance of their kitchen. Mining companies harvesting the stone from a granite quarry, slice the granite into large slabs before polishing it to a very high sheen. It is this polishing process that reveals each slab or section of granite’s unique color and pigment qualities. No two pieces of granite are the same, variations in color occur both geographically and locally, making each piece highly unique. Absolutely nothing is taken away or added to the granite, making it a completely natural jewel of a stone. In short, if you think a good conversation starter at a dinner party might begin with; I’m glad you like this countertop. Did you know it used to be molten lava? Granite might be a good fit for you and your family!
On the other hand, the synthetically engineered, Corian is constructed from binding resins, minerals, dyes and fillers to provide the texture and color some argue comes a close second to granite. Originally manufactured by DuPont, since the patent has expired, other companies now manufacture comparable Corian surfaces. Today. Brands such as Formica offer comparable choices.
Granite or Corian…the Attraction, Detraction Factor
The durability of granite makes it possible to cut food without a chopping board; it simply will not chip or scratch. Granite’s heat resistance also makes it a great contender for durability; set a hot pot on this baby, and it won’t leave a burn mark.
On the other hand, granite can stain. A downside in a busy household where kids and spills seem to go hand in hand. Spilling anything acidic across the top such as citrus juice can leave a stain. Heavy use can also lead to some cracking or chipping
over time. For this reason, you might always opt to use a chopping board, just in case. Granite, being a potential stain magnet, needs to be resealed every six months. This may sound more complicated than need be; these days there are some very good commercial products readily available for this purpose. So, potentially no real biggie. It’s not like you have to haul the kitchen counters over to a service center. However, for the super busy family, having one more thing to think about or make time for may be a granite sized deal breaker. Corian, on the other hand doesn’t need sealing. Spill away, from lemons to limes, and just about everything in between, it won’t stain. Huge plus there. However, it can be a bit sensitive in the scratch and ding department; pretty much making cutting boards a mandatory accessory in terms of prevention. That said, minor scratches from the occasional setting down of a dinner knife can soon be buffed out with a scouring pad.
Lacking the heat resistance of granite, Corian needs trivets or hot pads beneath hot plates or pans. Essentially anything over 325 degrees can lead to discoloration; a good rule of thumb is to assume anything removed from the oven or off the stove will be too hot.
Keeping Up Appearances
All-natural stone granite has been a household favorite for a reason. The sheer individuality of each piece remains a huge attraction factor for many. The natural blending of quartz, mica and other naturally occurring minerals often presents a huge wow factor for many home owners, making any detractions worth-while.
Versatile Corian, with the potential to be integrated with naturally occurring materials to include wood or even glass, offers the potential for shaping or carving into unique configurations. So, if you have a strange shaped nook in the corner of your kitchen, or want that extra special engraving into your kitchen space, Corian might be an option. You might even decide to combine the two elements!
Granite is more expensive than Corian, However, not as much as one might think. Adjusting for regional differences, granite and Corian start out at roughly the same starting price range. Granite tops out over Corian but for all its jewel like qualities, only by about $50.00 per square foot. So, when considering the two materials, for many it might truly be a question of lifestyle needs at the time of the new kitchen build.
Okay DIY-ers…we know how you just love installing stuff. From bedrooms, decks, closets and shiny new front doors. You take great pride in the home improvement skills acquired over the years. However, you’re going the granite route, be advised to leave installation to the professionals. Granite is extremely heavy. It is, after all, natural rock! So, unless you’re the sort of guy, or gal prone to hauling huge slabs of rock into their home on a Saturday afternoon; best leave this one to the pros’. Not only will they have the equipment, but they should also have the right safety gear for an injury free install.
Cutting the granite can get very expensive if you make a mistake. Drop it onto your floor, and you might end up having to install more than just a few countertops. The professionals will also expertly match up seems to make sure
everything matches up at the sides and corners, with no awkward gaps and so on. If you must go DIY, either for budget reasons or just the pride gained from your ability to successfully complete a job yourself, then Corian might be the better route.
Being so much lighter than granite, Corian should be easier to handle on the job. Corian can also be cut using a regular circular saw. Additionally, matching up the seams can more easily be managed with the use of commercial materials made for smoothing out any seams.
Keeping It Clean
As previously mentioned, granite can stain, therefore sealing it every six months with a granite specific product is not something you should miss. A truly maintenance free material, Corian can be cleaned with just basic soap and
water products. In the case of removing raw fish or meat juices, cleaning with bleach and even ammonia-based products do not produce adverse effects. Abrasive cleaners are not advised as they can scratch the surface of your countertop. A little more consideration is needed in the cleaning and maintenance of granite. Bleaching agents, or other harsh chemicals such as ammonia or even vinegar will harm the surface of the granite, staining it.
To clean granite, a basic warm solution of water and soap will do the trick. Should you wish to disinfect your granite surface, especially following any raw food preparation where cross contamination may occur, a water and isopropyl alcohol solution can be used. Bleach, vinegar, or ammonia, however, should never be used to clean any natural stone because they can react with the material and dull its appearance. Only daily cleaning with warm, soapy water and weekly disinfecting with a water and isopropyl alcohol solution should be done for a granite countertop. Check your local supermarket; these days there are some excellent pre-packaged solutions or wipes you can purchase, taking the guess work out of mixing and measuring.
Paying it Forward
So, are either worth the investment in purchase of materials and installation? Cheaper alternatives are available, such as laminate which, in itself has been around for years. So beyond personal preferences, all things being equal, how does the investment stack up long term?
Often, homeowners who have granite countertops installed will generally expect their home to factor well in terms of re-sale value. Granite, after all is certainly a selling point when it comes to marketing real estate. And, certainly for those appreciating the appeal of natural stone, a house with good quality work surfaces will always trump over lower quality surfaces.
Corian, however is certainly not the poor step child in this relationship. Corian is in itself, a high quality product, developed by a world renowned and well regarded company. In all likelihood, a home with Corian product work surfaces will fetch a good price on the market by home buyers looking for quality accents in their prospective home.
Which to Buy?
Both will be happy to help.