Material Comparison Material Comparison Chart

The below chart provides a graphical comparison of 6 common vanity top materials: Natural Marble, Natural Granite, Engineered Stone, Solid Surface, Cultured Marble, and Laminate. Ratings are provided on key features which should be considered prior to investment.

These ratings are on a scale from 0 (Poor) - 10 (Excellent)


Features Natural Marble Natural Granite Engineered Stone (Quartz) Solid Surface Cultured Marble Laminate
Hardness 7 9 8 6 4 7
Heat Resistance 9 9 7 6 4 4
Stain Resistance 4 8 8 8 5 5
Burn Temperature 9 9 7 6 4 4
Repairability 5 5 5 9 2 1
Machinability 9 9 9 9 0 0
Cost 4 6 3 6 8 8
Scratch Resistance 6 9 9 6 5 7
Total Value 53 64 56 56 32 36
Average Value 6.625 8.0 7.0 7.0 4.0 4.5

Material Pros/Cons


Natural Marble

Pros: Beauty, Durable, Natural, Heat-Resistant

Cons: High Maintenance, Cost, Sealant

  • Mined throughout the world, most notably Italy, Brazil, India, Turkey, and Greece
  • Characteristic swirls and veins are usually due to various mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, and iron oxides
  • Although not as soft as some top materials, it can scratch, so care in handling must be taken with this material
  • Proper sealing of marble can make a difference in its stain fighting properties
  • Structure typically contains far more cracks, fissures and stress points that can make it difficult to machine for vanity tops
Natural Granite

Pros: Natural, Durable, Stain-Resistant, Low Maintenance, Heat-Resistant, Scratch-Resistant

Cons: Cost, Sealant

  • Composed primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar
  • Extremely hard, durable and very resistant to both heat and scratching
  • Unaffected by wine, tea, citric acid, coffee or most other elements used in the kitchen or bath
  • Colors vary in price as a result of their rarity in the earth rather than any physical quality differentiation
  • Can chip when struck with a severe impact, especially on an edge
  • Can be repaired with eopxy resins
  • Sealers for stone are below-surface penetrating sealers and are delivered inside the stone by natural absorption
Engineered Stone

Pros: Durable, Heat-Resistant, Nonporous, Scratch-Resistant, Stain-Resistant, Low Maintenance, No Sealant Required, Look of Natural Stone

Cons: Cost

  • Composite material made of crushed stone bound together by a polymer resin
  • No difference in performance between quartz products and sealed granite
  • Does not have hidden cracks or flaws that may exist in natural stone
  • Heat resistant up to 300°F
  • Should not be used in outdoor applications
  • Factory made in slabs, cut and polished by fabricators with professional stone cutting equipment
  • Can be produced in either 12 mm (1/2-inch), 20 mm (3/4-inch) or 30 mm (1-1/4-inch) thickness
Solid Surface

Pros: Durable, Stain-Resistant, Easy Maintenance, Lots of Color/Pattern Options

Cons: Moderately Sensitive to Heat

  • Non-porous material that offers a seamless look as well as exceptional durability
  • Demands little maintenance and is extremely durable
  • Number one material used in hospitals as a result of its resistance to the growth of bacteria
  • Consists of two main ingredients: a natural mineral (the "filler") and a resin (the "binder")
Cultured Marble

Pros: Cost, Nonporous, Easy Maintenance

Cons: Weak Top Coat, Easily Scratched

  • Consists of polyester resin, an activator (catalyst), limestone filler and pigmented color
  • Seamless constructed product and thus the bowls and the backsplashes are integral into the deck of the top
  • Features protective layer of clear gel coat which provides the bright, shiny or matte surface of the vanity top
  • Surface is susceptible to scratches as well as a Thermo Shock

Pros: Stain-Resistant, Waterproof, Lots of Color Options, Inexpensive

Cons: Sensitive to Heat, Difficult to Repair

  • Economical installed price laminate offers good value and performance
  • Constructed of a stack of thin plastic layers bonded together under heat and pressure
  • Can burn, wear thin, and dull over time
  • Available in many colors and patterns
  • Finishes range in texture from high-gloss smoothness to a mottled, leather-like look


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