Quartz vs. Granite: Which One Comes Out on Top?

Quartz vs. Granite: Which One Comes Out on Top?

[vc_row 0=""][vc_column][vc_column_text]Spoiler Alert: Quartz isn’t better than granite, but granite isn’t better than quartz, either. That’s like asking whether red or white wine are better.  Like the best wines, it all comes down to personal taste, and what you are pairing it with. Quartz is the more resilient of the two, but some kitchens don’t look right without the unique colors and flow of granite.  While we won’t be able to tell you which one is right for you, we can definitely help you get closer to making the right choice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column 0=""][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_n9W37McaY&autoplay=1" align="center"][blockquote layout="4"]

Like the best wines, it all comes down to personal taste, and what you are pairing it with.

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Natural Stone Vs Engineered Stone

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1507216344550{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1510608906939{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}"]Granite—a natural stone—is indeed 100% natural as it is quarried directly from the earth in large blocks. These blocks are then sliced into slabs and polished on one side at the quarry before being shipped to the broker or fabricator. Fabricators cut shapes from the slabs according to your countertop specifications. They then profile and polish the edges.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1507216358735{margin-top: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Quartz, on the other hand, is an “engineered” stone, meaning a manufacturing plant uses various grades and sizes of quartz crystals and mixes them with resin and pigment (for color) in a ratio of 93% quartz to 7% resin (yes, we’ll still refer to quartz as natural stone, but it’s not as natural as granite). Fabricators create quartz countertops in much the same way as they do granite countertops: by cutting the shapes from the slab and then profiling and polishing the edges.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which is stronger?
A. Quartz.

Quartz is one of the strongest materials on the planet; significantly stronger than granite.  However, just because granite isn’t as strong doesn’t mean it’s a wimpy choice either.

Q. Which stone looks better?
A. Well…

We are back to red wine vs white wine.  Quartz looks simpler and has excellent color choices, but every granite countertop is one of a kind.  Granite slabs are known for having a lot of “movement” and variations in its natural color, while quartz tends to be less dramatic in its colorization.  If you are a minimalist that prefers a monochromatic kitchen, go with quartz.  If you want a counter with character that is unique as you are, go with granite, especially if you enjoy a sunlit kitchen. (More on that later…)[/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2="Can't decide between the two?" h4="Completely understandable. You should call us." txt_align="center" style="custom" add_button="bottom" btn_title="Click here to get in touch with us." btn_style="outline-custom" btn_outline_custom_color="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_background="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_text="#739dcb" btn_size="sm" btn_align="center" btn_button_block="true" custom_background="#739dcb" custom_text="#ffffff" btn_link="url:%2Fcontact-us%2F|title:Contact%20Us||"][/vc_cta][vc_column_text]

Q. Which stone is easier to clean?
A. It’s a tie.

Both are easy to clean, but granite is more prone to staining than quartz, since natural stone is porous, and quartz is not.  Warm soap and water will get the job done on either surface.  The better question is…

Q. Which stone is easier to maintain?
A. Quartz.

Quartz wins this one, hands down.  Not to say that granite is a nightmare – you just need to seal it once a year – but quartz requires zero maintenance.  Keep your counters clean, and they will take care of you.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTQBdj9tEG8"][vc_column_text]

Q. Which stone should I use for my outdoor grill/table/decor?
A. Granite.

Granite takes the crown this time.  Quartz will discolor over time in direct sunlight.  Even in your kitchen, you should try to keep the sun away from your counters so they maintain the same look they had when they were first installed.  If you like sunlight, go with granite.

Q. Which stone is more expensive?
A. Here’s the thing…

Quartz used to be more expensive than granite, but things have changed fairly recently.  With advances in technology and production methods, both quartz and granite are now closely priced.  Granted, you may come across some rare exotic slab of granite that was unearthed in a remote Brazilian jungle during a lunar eclipse, but for the most part, the cost is a non-factor.

So, Who Wins?

So what do truly “objective” sources have to say in the debate between granite and quartz? Every year, Consumer Reports puts out an issue that ranks kitchen countertop materials. Quartz and granite are always neck-and-neck.

But as we said in the beginning, the debate comes down to this: what’s the right countertop material for your specific needs, your lifestyle, your design? Do your homework, answer those questions, and then decide.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_single_image image="6109" img_size="full" alignment="center" onclick="custom_link" css=".vc_custom_1507220796146{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}" link="https://towercountertops.com/meridian-quartz/"][vc_cta h2="Do you think quartz is the choice for you?" h4="(We have a lot of colors choices.)" txt_align="center" shape="square" style="custom" add_button="bottom" btn_title="Click here to see more" btn_style="outline-custom" btn_outline_custom_color="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_background="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_text="#509584" btn_size="sm" btn_align="center" btn_button_block="true" custom_background="#509584" custom_text="#ffffff" btn_link="url:%2Fmeridian-quartz%2F|title:Meridian%20Quartz||"][/vc_cta][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_single_image image="6111" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" css=".vc_custom_1507220818773{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}" link="https://towercountertops.com/natural-stone/"][vc_cta h2="Do you think granite clearly came out on top?" h4="(We have a lot of these colors, too.)" txt_align="center" shape="square" style="custom" add_button="bottom" btn_title="Click here to see more" btn_style="outline-custom" btn_outline_custom_color="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_background="#ffffff" btn_outline_custom_hover_text="#d37735" btn_size="sm" btn_align="center" btn_button_block="true" custom_background="#d37735" custom_text="#ffffff" btn_link="url:%2Fnatural-stone%2F|title:Natural%20Stone||"][/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Impress Your Guests: How a Custom Conference Table Can Set Your Business Apart

Impress Your Guests: How a Custom Conference Table Can Set Your Business Apart

If you’re like many business owners, then you take great care and feel an immense amount of pride in the way your business and your brand is displayed to the world. Every product or service provided speaks to who you are, as does every advertisement or piece of marketing. This can also include your office space itself, especially the conference or meeting room, where important deals are closed, contracts are signed, and hands are shaken.

Of course, you’re conducting your business every daythere too, so in addition to impressing prospective clients and helping to close deals, you want to feel good about showing up to the office every day. A custom designed conference table can help all of this and more, ensuring your business stands apart from the crowd with a beautiful, eye-catching aesthetic that is sure to impress.

There are a number of ways to customize a conference table. One of the best is with custom solid surface conference tables. With solid surface, you get a durable and easy to maintain solution, but also one that truly looks the part, and offers near limitless opportunities for customization.

One popular choice is to create inlaid conference tables. Here, you can select different colors, perhaps opting to match your brand’s color scheme, with dozens of options available.

Different designs can also be created and imprinted in your conference table. Many companies opt for logo conference tables, having their logo itself proudly emblazoned on a beautiful, expansive table. It looks great for clients, customers, and partners, and it will make you proud every time you pull up a chair for a meeting or presentation.

Inlaid conference tables can also be further customized in a number of ways. You can choose different table sizes and shapes, as well as several different edge profiles. So whether you want a commanding boat-shaped conference table with room for 20 and a brightly inlaid logo sprawling across its surface to showcase as the centerpiece of your conference room, or a simple, yet custom design, it’s all possible.

Tower Industries has over two decades of producing custom conference tables for a wide range of clients. Our Meridian Solid Surface conference tables offer a beautiful and unique way to stand apart from the crowd and impress in the boardroom. Explore our custom conference tables gallery or call us at 800.807.8889 for further assistance.

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Dekton: Ultracompact Surface for Homeowners or Commercial Applications

Dekton: Ultracompact Surface for Homeowners or Commercial Applications

For decades, at the beginning of any kitchen or bathroom project, designers and architects have debated the multitude of materials available, from quartz countertops to concrete to solid surface solutions. In very recent times, however, a new product has been added to the list of options: a product called Dekton.

What exactly is Dekton and what are some of the advantages to using this material? Let’s take a closer look.

Dekton Described

Made from a combination of glass, porcelain, and quartz, Dekton is created and manufactured by the company, Cosentino. In an attempt to create the ultimate countertop material, Cosentino developed a proprietary process called “Sinterized Particle Technology,” to alter the state of natural stone.
Imagine the condition of stone after being exposed to extremely high heat and pressure for thousands of years. The resulting creation would be Dekton, a product designed to be ultra-compact and the most durable material available today.

Dekton Benefits

Designed for a wide range of applications, including bathroom shower wall panels, kitchen countertops, exterior building cladding, as well as many other commercial applications, Dekton excels in a variety of areas, including:

  • Heat and Fire Resistance: The product is capable of withstanding the impact of high heat that would be found by placing scorching hot pans on its surface. Even the use of a blowtorch will not damage this surface.
  • Scratch, Abrasion, and Stain Resistance: More compact and harder than even quartz surfacing, Dekton is able to survive cuts and scratches without needing repair. If the product was used in a flooring application, the abrasive damage normally caused by heavy activity would not be a problem. Additionally, Dekton is completely resistant to stain damage normally caused by kitchen spills, such as wine or coffee, as well as chemicals, like nail polish remover or bleach.
  • UV, Ice, and Thawing Resistance: Dekton can be utilized in outdoor countertop solutions in locations ranging from exceedingly hot and sunny to exceptionally cold and icy. Environments with extreme climates do not affect or damage the product. No fading or cracking with Dekton!
  • Non-Porous: Similar to quartz countertops, Dekton is non-porous, making it mold and mildew resistant and very easy to clean.
  • Appearance: The controlled manufacturing process used to create Dekton allows for color consistency throughout the product and from slab to slab. And, it offers multiple color options, including looks designed to mimic wood, concrete, and natural stone, including the veining look found in marble. Check out the Dekton images in our photo gallery.

This ultra-modern, latest and greatest invention could transform kitchen, bathroom, and commercial designs by offering solutions to several common problems. Dekton is designed to be the toughest and most durable product on the market today.

Capable of surviving blowtorches, hot pans, cutting board mistakes, sun rays, icy storms, mildew, and mold, all while looking good and offering a large selection of color options, Dekton just might be the architects’ and designers’ dream solution.

Want to learn more about Dekton? Call us today at 330-837-2216 or contact us here to discuss your needs.

Resellers Guide to Countertop Selection

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5 Steps to Choosing the Right Countertop Solution

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Countertop Solution

As general contractors and commercial builders know, there are many decisions that must be made before final designs for commercial or residential kitchen projects are approved and finalized.  From the structure and layout, to the countertops, cabinets, floors, and ceilings, builders and contractors are responsible for making the right decisions for the project.

Let’s look at the steps you should take when choosing the right countertops for your next project.

1. Look at Appearance

An extremely important consideration in the countertop selection process is the look and feel.  The contractor needs to take into consideration the matching or blending of the design with the overall appearance of the kitchen, making sure to account for the types and colors of neighboring appliances and cabinets.

Fortunately, there are a multitude of options, including:

  • Granite: A natural product offering a variety of shades with unique designs.
  • Quartz: A manufactured product that provides the look and feel of stone without the ongoing maintenance of granite
  • Marble: Offering an elegant look, also with a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Solid Surface: Available in countless colors and patterns that can mimic the look of granite, quartz, wood, or other natural materials.
  • Concrete: Offering many colors with the ability to mimic the look of other materials.
  • Wood and Stainless Steel: Providing very distinctive designs.

2. Consider Utility

You’ll need to consider the end-user’s lifestyle and predicted use to ensure an appropriate countertop is selected.  Heavily used kitchens, for instance, will need countertops that can withstand daily wear and tear, while still maintaining its original appearance for years to come. Tile can be challenging because the countertop surface is inherently uneven. Stainless steel, while offering a very sleek appearance, quickly gathers fingerprints and is often loud with the clinking of pans or plates against the surface.  With naturally stronger composition, materials such as quartz, or solid surface countertops will often hold up better in more highly used areas.

3. Estimate Time to Install

The time required for installation is another imperative step in the countertop selection process, as some materials will take longer to install. Concrete requires longer installation time due to concrete curing requirements.  Tile involves more time for grouting and the setting of the tiles. Cultured marble, solid surface, quartz, and granite countertops, on the other hand, are designed for easier installation processes and requires less time.

4. Ensure Durability

While making countertop selection decisions for a quality project, contractors need to consider the whole picture.  Which countertops will stand the test of time and offer durability for the end-user? Which countertops will require the least amount of maintenance?  Granite, quartz, and solid surface countertops offer durability and simple maintenance, while laminate is prone to burns and scratches, and tile needs regular re-grouting.

Make sure your choice is in line with the desired maintenance and expected ongoing costs.

5. Stick to the Budget

With most projects, the overall cost is just as important as appearance. Keeping your expenses within budget is a vital step in the countertop selection process. Be sure to consider the cost of the countertop material as well as the cost of installation.  More lengthy installations, as mentioned above, will require more labor time, thus increasing costs.  A countertop with an overall lower cost and less complex installation, such as a solid surface countertop, can help maintain a controllable budget.

At the end of the day, careful consideration of all aspects of the design and installation of countertops must be considered.  Builders and contractors need to consider the steps involved when choosing the appropriate countertop for the project: the appearance desired, the intended use, installation time, durability of the product, and overall costs associated with each.

Not sure if solid surface countertops are right for your project? Call us today at 330-837-2216, or contact us here to discuss your needs.

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Quartz or Solid Surface Countertops: Which Is Right For Your Project?

Since you’ve been searching for the perfect countertop for your project, you might still be scratching your head when it comes to choosing between quartz and solid surface countertops. Although both offer great value, their differences are distinct. While quartz competes more closely with granite and solid surface countertops with laminate, both materials are more durable and affordable than their competitors.

Keep reading to learn about quartz and solid surface countertops, and their pros and cons to help you decide which would be best for your project.

Quartz Countertops

Created using 93-95% crushed quartz with the remaining 5-7% being natural pigments and resin binders, quartz countertops offer a solution to your project that provides the look and feel of granite without the regular maintenance. Exceeded in toughness and durability only by diamond, sapphire, and topaz, natural quartz won’t scratch and is highly durable.

Quartz countertops provide a smooth, non-porous surface with a shiny finish. Additionally, these countertops are heat resistant and can withstand temperatures up to 400°F without a problem.

Pros of Quartz Countertops

  • Highly durable and scratch-resistant.
  • Non-porous and very sanitary. Quartz countertops won’t carry bacteria and are easily cleaned. They are also stain resistant so juices or wines won’t threaten your countertop.
  • Abundant color and pattern options to meet the individual buyer’s desires.
  • Heat resistant up to 400°F.

Cons of Quartz Countertops

  • More expensive than solid surface. These countertops cost about $70-75 per square foot and higher, depending on the color and brand. Prices can vary so always shop around.
  • Seams in quartz countertops will be seen and felt, which can build up dirt and debris.

 

Solid Surface Countertops

Created from acrylic and/or polyester resins, solid surface countertops are man-made and are a much more durable countertop than its biggest competitor, laminate. Although solid surface countertops can chip and get scratched, any minor damages are easily repaired.

The solid surface countertop is typically uniform in color and pattern and is supplied with a matte finish. These countertops offer an affordable and attractive solution to homeowners.

Pros of Solid Surface Countertops

  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • The surface appears seamless
  • Durable and sanitary.
  • Minor damage or scratches can be easily serviced and fixed.
  • More affordable per square foot than quartz countertops.
  • An abundance of color choices.

Cons of Solid Surface Countertops

  • Not 100% scratch-resistant.
  • Doesn’t stand up as well to extremely high temperatures.

By examining the pros and cons of both quartz and solid surface countertops, you will be able to make a better decision for your unique project. Both quartz and solid surface countertops are excellent choices for homeowners and have the durability to bring you and your family years of enjoyment.

Which type of countertop do you think would work best for you? Call us today at 330-837-2216, or contact us here to discuss your needs.

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Quartz Countertops: Pros and Cons

When it comes to countertops, granite is the champion. MSN reported in 2012 that a whopping 75% of new kitchens included granite countertops. But if granite is the champion, the #1 challenger has to be quartz and for good reason. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of quartz countertops.

Quartz has been manufactured for countertops since the 1960s, largely in Europe. It was only after the turn of the century that quartz, and granite, began to catch on here in America. Engineered quartz has a 5% market share in the U.S. and a 9% share of the Canadian countertop market according to JPMorgan. Globally, engineered quartz has grown roughly 16% per year over the last decade. Here are a few reasons why:

Pros:

Color and texture choices. Quartz, the mineral, is the second most abundant underground material on Earth and makes up 93-95% of quartz countertops. The remaining 5-7% of a quartz countertop is a combination of natural pigments and resinous binders, which can be manipulated to produce the precise color or custom look individual buyers want. Also, unlike a natural granite countertop that can vary in color and pattern even within the same slab, the manufacturing of quartz countertops makes it much more likely that the color and pattern will be a consistent match throughout the slab.

Durability. Did you know quartz rates higher on the hardness scale than granite? It is exceedingly scratch resistant, and it’s difficult to chip or crack — even if you tried to.

Non-Porous. This is an important feature in favor of quartz. Non-porous surfaces are stain resistant so juices, vinegar, oil, wine, and other stain-inducing items won’t pose a problem on your countertop. Non-porous surfaces also won’t carry bacteria, so you are assured your quartz kitchen or bathroom countertops are clean and hygienic after washing with just soap and water.

Virtually no maintenance. Quartz never requires sealing, buffing or polishing. Ever. Warm soap and water is all you’ll ever need to clean your quartz countertops, whereas granite tops will require a polish, reseal, or even a recondition in order to retain its new shine look.

Cons:

Potential damage. Any countertop can be chipped or cracked with excessive force, and quartz is no exception. While quartz is heat resistant, surfaces can be damaged by sudden and rapid temperature changes, as well as direct sustained heat applied to it. The use of a hot pad or trivet is always recommended.

Price. Quartz is still one of the most expensive options out there, similar to the cost of granite. It can cost as much as $70-75 per square foot. It is recommended that you shop around before settling on a price for quartz countertops, as prices do vary and deals can be had.

Quartz countertops have similar features and as strong a record of performance as granite countertops. Why not look to quartz before going granite

 

Want to know more about quartz countertops? Visit our Meridian Quartz Surfacing page or contact us today!

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Custom Countertops: Tips To Get The Style You Want

The great American chef Mario Batali once said, “The kitchen really is the castle itself. This is where we spend our happiest moments and where we find the joy of being a family.” A home’s kitchen is a reflection of a family itself, and there can be no more impactful decision on the look and feel of a kitchen than the countertops. Consider custom countertops to ensure your kitchen is a match for your family’s lifestyle.

Countertops command the eye’s attention and dictate the overall environment kitchen. Choosing the countertop style for your kitchen is a very personal, and permanent decision.

Follow these important tips, and make what can be an overwhelming decision more manageable.

Tip 1: Decide on what sort of kitchen you want.

Is the kitchen of your dreams elegant? Do you desire magnificent countertops, high-end furniture, and state-of-the-art appliances? Do you envision preparing exotic foods for upscale dinner parties? If so, then consider the more upscale countertops like marble or granite.

If you want the focus to be on practicality and convenience, consider stainless steel or solid surface. Both of these options are easy to clean and impossible to stain – there’s a reason why they’re used in so many professional kitchens!

Perhaps you’re aiming for a homier look, where people immediately feel at ease. Your kitchen might be where food is prepared, but it’s also where important conversations take place between family and friends. If so, then a warm colored quartz or granite top might work well.

And if you desire a hip, modern look to your kitchen, then your countertop material is perhaps less important than the color or style. A contemporary feel can be achieved with dark colored granite, quartz, tile, or solid surface counters.

 

Tip 2: Consider what already exists in your kitchen.

Unless you’re completely renovating your kitchen soup to nuts, you need to consider how your countertops will match the existing space. New custom countertops can be transformative, but the style and colors must mesh well with the existing appliances, cabinets, furniture, and light fixtures.

Take multiple pictures of your kitchen and bring them to the store or your designer so you can be sure the color scheme and style will match.

 

Tip 3: Stay practical.

Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each material before making your final choice. For example, stainless steel brings a professional look to any kitchen, but it scratches fairly easily (bad for bacteria!) and can dent. Butcher-block counters provide extra cutting space, but require biannual sanding and oiling. Marble is gorgeous, but can be stained by lemon, vinegar, wine, and other common cooking materials. Want low maintenance? Make quartz your go-to surface.

 

Tip 4: Determine your budget and shop around.

Carefully measure the square footage of your counter space. Countertop materials are sold by the square foot and prices can vary dramatically, so it’s worth a little legwork to compare prices.

Choosing custom countertops can help ensure a kitchen makeover meets all your practical and aesthetic desires. Follow our four tips, and you’re on your way to having the kitchen you and your family have always wanted!

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Not Granite! The Best Alternative to Granite Countertops

As recently as 2012, granite countertops were being installed in 75% of new kitchens. Granite has been the king of the countertops for years, but there are plenty of durable, aesthetic, and practical alternatives to granite to consider before you make your choice.

Some factors to consider when choosing a countertop material include aesthetics, practicality, durability, price, and how it will match the current layout and makeup of your kitchen. Below, in no particular order, are three solid alternatives to granite that may be the better choice for you and your family.

Solid Surface

There are few, if any, more versatile countertop materials than solid surface. A durable option, solid surface countertops can be customized for color, pattern, edging, and anything else you can dream up. Perhaps a backsplash or striking color will provide the look you want – even if it’s a stone pattern that looks like granite! Scratches or abrasions can be repaired so as to be virtually undetectable, and seams are fused together to make them inconspicuous.

 

Natural Stone

If you seek a stone-look, granite is not the only option on the market. Soapstone and slate are also options for a smooth, contemporary feel. Soapstone is among the most durable stones being used for countertops today. It will not stain, and it easily stands up to hot pots and pans – you can set them directly on the stone without worry — and its natural veining gives it a classic but contemporary feel.

Similar to soapstone, slate requires little maintenance, if any. While it typically comes in a matte sheen, it can be easily made to look wet. Any scratches are easily buffed out, and the price is right: as low as $100 per square foot.

 

Quartz

If granite is king, there are signs that quartz is beginning to storm the castle. Widely regarded as more durable than granite, quartz requires virtually no maintenance and never needs to be sealed. A beautiful, polished stone-look, quartz can enliven a kitchen, while also being a practical choice. Install quartz, and never worry about your countertops again. Quartz typically retails for $100 – $150 per square foot.

 

These are just three of the many alternatives to granite out there, so before you demand granite for your kitchen project, be sure to examine all your options!

Read more Not Granite! The Best Alternative to Granite Countertops

Solid Surface Manufacturing: Behind The Scenes

At Tower Surface’s 60,000 sq. foot manufacturing facility in Massillon, Ohio, solid surface products are cast in molds each and every day. The capacity and capabilities of our facility allow us to offer turnkey products to vendors no matter what quantity they may need. Whether someone is in need of one product or one thousand, we pride ourselves on being able to handle practically any job that might come through our doors.

There’s no getting around the fact that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for growth with solid surface, which is why we’ve chosen to invest in such an impressive line for manufacturing. Solid surface countertops, sinks, and shower basins are the preferred choice for modern residence halls, hospitals and other types of institutions, as they perform exceptionally well, are simple to install, and can be cleaned/sanitized with ease.

The future of solid surface manufacturing at Tower Surfaces is looking bright. As more of today’s institutions look toward this material as the preferred option for surfaces of all kinds, it’ll no doubt continue to move in a forward direction. To catch a glimpse of what it’s like at our Massillon, Ohio plant, have a look at this video.

Contact us today to learn more by calling (330) 837-2216.

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Natural Stone vs. Solid Surface: What’s the Difference?

At Tower Industries, we sell several different types of surfacing solutions, including quartzsolid surface, and natural stone.

We talked about quartz vs. natural stone in this blog post. Now, it’s time to shine the spotlight on natural stone vs. solid surface. How are these materials the same? How are they different? How should you determine which material is right for your application?

Let’s get to it.

NATURAL STONE

Natural stone (granite) is just that—it’s 100% organic, made by Mother Nature herself. It’s quarried from the earth in large blocks, sliced into slabs, polished on one side, and then shipped to the broker or fabricator.

Characteristics of natural stone:

  • 100% natural. ‘Nuff said.

  • Unique. No two slabs are alike, which can be a huge selling point (originality), but this also means you won’t find identical color and pattern from one slab to the next.

  • Strong and durable, but not indestructible. You can damage natural stone through excessive force or sudden fluctuations in temperature (which is why you should always use a trivet before placing a hot pan or pot on a natural stone counter).

  • Porous. In order to prevent staining and, more importantly, the harboring of germs and other icky stuff in the stone’s nooks and crannies, we recommend sealing natural stone countertops once a year.

  • Easy to clean when sealed properly. Use a soft cloth with warm water and any pH neutral, non-abrasive cleaner or mild dishwashing detergent. Rinse well to avoid a filmy residue and streaks.

  • Seams will be plainly visible, especially if the stone has veins or directional movement in the pattern.

 

SOLID SURFACE

Solid surface, on the other hand, is a man-made material composed typically of acrylic and/or polyester resins and pigments (the latter is what gives solid surface its color).

Characteristics of solid surface:

  • Manufactured surface.
  • Color variety. The color is controlled during the manufacturing process, so you can count on color consistency throughout the entire sheet and a wide variety of colors and patterns from which to choose.
  • Highly durable. Even more so than natural stone. Solid surface can withstand stronger impact  than stone. That said, solid surface can be damaged by excessive force and heat (we still recommend using trivets with hot pots and pans).
  • Non-porous. This surface is hygienic and doesn’t require sealing.
  • Easy to clean. A little soap and water usually does the trick.
  • Stain resistant. Thanks to the fact it’s non-porous.
  • Inconspicuous seams. This provides much more design flexibility. One popular application is combining a solid surface countertop with a solid surface sink bowl for a sleek and seamless look that is super-easy to clean.
  • Can be used in horizontal and vertical applications. Think beyond countertops—you can use solid surface in shower surrounds, wall panels, and backsplashes.

 

Now that you know more about natural stone and solid surface, how do you determine which material is the best choice for your application?

Think function. This is a personal decision, and only you can answer it honestly. If you want an ultra-low maintenance surfacing option due to the fact you have a large family, for example, and the countertop will see a lot of “action,” then solid surface beats out natural stone.

If, on the other hand, you want a truly unique look and you know you’ll keep up with a regular sealing schedule, natural stone can be a lovely choice. There really is no right or wrong answer—only what’s right or wrong for your particular circumstances.

Think aesthetics. Again, this is extremely subjective, and that’s OK. Your opinion is the only one that matters, at least when it comes to choosing materials for your own home. When you’re choosing materials that will appear in commercial settings, you need to think of the people who are using the space and what their likes and dislikes might be (same is true for the “function” test above…always consider the people who’ll be using the space).

The biggest difference between natural stone and solid surface when it comes to aesthetics is this: with natural stone, you’re truly going to have something that’s one of a kind. This might be extremely appealing.

When it comes to solid surface, you’re going to have many, many options in terms of colors and patterns. This can provide you or your designer a lot more design flexibility, which might carry its own appeal, depending on your goals.

Think price point. We’ll be honest here—natural stone will usually cost more than solid surface, so if budget is a big factor, keep this in mind.

 

Once you’ve made your decision, now comes the fun part: buying the material and awaiting the next step in the renovation process (e.g. the fabrication and installation of your new countertop). Before you buy, be sure to check out our product lines: Natural Stone CountertopsMeridian Solid Surface Countertops, and Meridian Solid Surface Acrylic Collection Countertops.

Happy shopping!

Read more Natural Stone vs. Solid Surface: What’s the Difference?

Quartz Countertops Are Best Choice for Busy Kitchens According to Consumer Reports

It’s easy for us to talk up the wonders of quartz and granite. You probably wouldn’t expect anything less from us, right? After all, we sell these surfacing products.

This is why it’s helpful—for us and for you—to be able to point to an objective and respectable third party that also says you can’t go wrong when you select one of these surfacing solutions for your kitchen countertop. Yep, we’re talking about Consumer Reports.

Every year, typically in the summer, Consumer Reportsreleases its annual “Kitchen Planning Guide,” which evaluates everything related to the most important room in your house, from appliances to countertops to everything in between.

Regarding countertops, Consumer Reports ranked quartz as the number one kitchen countertop material for 2014, but granite was right on its heels, making both materials great choices for your hearth and home.

Check out this excellent video from Consumer Reports. It discusses some of the criteria the folks used to analyze each surfacing material, including quartz, granite, and many others.

In this video, you’ll hear one of the presenters say that quartz is the best choice for busy kitchens since it’s low-maintenance, heat and stain resistant, and comes in a wide variety of colors. We couldn’t agree more, and we’d just like to add that quartz is also strong, durable, and continues looking fabulous year after year.

If you’re considering quartz or granite for your kitchen countertops, be sure to check out our line of products: Meridian Quartz and Natural Stone. And if you’d like to learn more about these two materials in general, check out our article on the similarities and differences between quartz and granite.

Got questions? Leave them in the comments below or contact us directly. We’re happy to help!

Read more Quartz Countertops Are Best Choice for Busy Kitchens According to Consumer Reports

4 Interesting Characteristics of Solid Surface Material

Back in July, we talked about why solid surface material is a “solid” choice for your countertop needs. We highlighted the big advantages: the material is non-porous, it comes in a wide array of colors, seams are rarely an issue, it’s easy to integrate with sinks, and cleanup is fast and simple.

But guess what? Here are four other interesting characteristics about solid surface material.

1. Memories may fade, but your solid surface countertop color won’t. 

Kitchen countertops see a lot of action, don’t they? We’re talking lazy Sunday breakfasts with The New York Times crossword puzzle, holiday parties, afternoon homework sessions with the kids, book club with cheese and crackers (and wine!), cooking marathons, coffee with friends, a dumping ground for permission slips, bills, and smartphones…well, you get the idea.

But despite all this traffic, the color of your solid surface counter will withstand the test of time…as well as that wine spill from an over-eager reader of Fifty Shades of Grey (we won’t tell).

Isn’t it nice to know there’s one color in your life that won’t fade?

2. Pow! Kerplunk! Yes, solid surfaces can take ALL THAT.

We’re not suggesting you beat on your solid surface countertops, but let’s face it: accidents do happen. As in, someone drops a plate, a pot, a book, a laptop…sometimes by mistake, sometimes on purpose (those of you with kids can relate, I’m sure).

Here’s the thing: solid surface material can withstand impact much better than other materials, especially granite. However, ANY countertop can be damaged by impact, so don’t abuse your solid surface countertop by any means. Solid surface may also show scuffs and scrapes that happen under normal everyday use. This is where its renewability is so important – these scuffs can be easily removed using materials that you can buy at your local grocery store. See our care and maintenance blog.

3. Moisture doesn’t scare solid surfaces (but it does scare plastic laminates).

Because solid surfaces are, well, SOLID and homogenous, moisture can’t penetrate the material. This is an important characteristic, since moisture is one of the biggest reasons laminates separate and ultimately fail.

4. How unseemly your seams are, dear tile.

Tile is a popular choice in the kitchen, especially for backsplashes, but people tend to forget about All. That. Grout. Why is grout such a problem? Because it requires constant cleaning (you better save those old toothbrushes, folks!). Tile is also prone to cracks (and guess what can get in there?).

With a solid surface material, cleanup is a snap and you don’t need to worry about cracks harboring yucky things like mold, mildew, or bacteria.

So there you have it: four interesting but lesser known facts about solid surfaces. What do you think? Are you convinced this material was made in countertop heaven?

By the way, be sure to check out our solid surface collections: Meridian Solid Surface Acrylic Collection and Meridian Solid Surface Countertops.

Read more 4 Interesting Characteristics of Solid Surface Material

The Science of Solid Surfaces

If you’ve been conducting research about the best options for your next shower, countertop or sink, you might be running into the term “solid surface” quite a bit. You might be asking yourself, “What in the world is a solid surface?” Basically, a solid surface is exactly what it sounds like: a surface that is solid. But that’s probably not the answer you’re seeking. So that you can make the best possible decision about upgrading your countertop, shower or sink, I’m going to explain what a solid surface is and the process we go through here at Tower Industries to ensure you get the best solid surface product available.

Whether you’re weighing your options for a commercial space or a residential space, it’s important to understand the manufacturing process for solid surfaces.

Customized Fabrication

Solid surfaces are made using homogeneous acrylic or polyester-acrylic blend resins mixed with other natural additives to allow for total customization. Yes, there are standard sizes available, if that’s what you need. But one of the greatest benefits of a solid surface is that it can be shaped, molded and fabricated to fit almost any space. In addition to size customization, color and pattern customization is also a major value of a solid surface shower, sink or countertop. The fabrication process of our solid surfaces also allows for custom inlays to our conference tables and showers, which is especially beneficial in commercial applications.

100% Non-Porous

Because solid surfaces are fabricated with one non-porous resin from front to back, there are no surface coatings you need to worry about damaging with spills and stains. In fact, the non-porous nature of our solid surfaces means that your countertop, shower or sink will be resistant to most household chemicals, so liquids won’t soak in and destroy the material. Additionally, our solid surfaces are resistant to the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, which is especially beneficial in a sink or shower application.

Durability

Another major benefit of a solid surface for both commercial or residential applications is its outstanding durability. Because solid surfaces are homogeneous, you won’t need to worry about veneers or surface coatings peeling or cracking. And although they can get scratched, solid surfaces are what we call “renewable.” This means scratches can be sanded and gouges can be filled, if necessary, and it’ll look as good as new.

Common Misconceptions

Although the phrase “solid surface” makes it sound like one, large seamless piece, often times this isn’t entirely true. Showers can be constructed using multiple large panels of solid surface materials installed in a such a way that they appear seamless, and a solid surface sink can be expertly joined to a matching solid surface countertop so that no seams are showing. At Tower Industries, cast shapes are fabricated in one solid piece, and the surfacing experts and installers fit these pieces together in your commercial or residential space so that the edges are practically invisible, giving the illusion of seamlessness.

Overall, solid surfaces are an excellent choice if you’re looking for durability and design flexibility. If you’re a die-hard granite fan, that’s okay, too. Solid surfaces can be fabricated to look exactly like stone, so don’t give up on us just yet.

If you have any questions about the solid surface fabrication process, please leave them in the comments below. We’d love to help you out any way we can.

Read more The Science of Solid Surfaces

Top 5 Kitchen Styles & Trends

Are you in love with your kitchen? Or are you desperately trying to figure out how to breathe new life into an old, boring space? Your kitchen is arguably the most important room in your home. It’s where guests gather during a party, where the family sits down at the end of a long day to share a meal, and where all of that magic happens at the stove. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses; it’s about having the living, cooking and eating space that you really deserve.

We’ve compiled some of the latest kitchen styles & trends below to help you get started on that kitchen remodel today.

Latest Kitchen Trends

Stainless Steel
You can’t turn on HGTV these days without hearing about stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel looks great, it’s easy to clean, and it’s durable. This trend has been around for a few years now, and it’s probably not going anywhere for a while.

Professional-style Chef’s Stoves
Homeowners aren’t messing around with their stovetops. Many are paying big bucks for professional-grade ranges, brass-sealed burners and high-end hoods. And a lot of these fancy stoves and hoods are made of – you guessed it! – stainless steel.

Soft & Neutral Colors
Bold, contemporary colors tend to be trendy (remember avocado green?) and don’t really stand the test of time. Homeowners are moving more and more toward soft, neutral colors for their kitchens, like beiges, browns, and warmer whites.

Hardwood Floors It wasn’t too long ago that tile was in. And not long before that, everybody was jumping on the laminate train. Not so anymore. Homeowners are choosing hardwood floors more often than not, and not just in the kitchen.

Eco-friendly Materials
It’s 2013, and now more than ever, we’re interested in protecting our environment when we can. Homeowners have jumped on this trend, too, opting for eco-friendly and sustainable kitchen materials, like flooring, cabinetry, surfacing and appliances, when possible.

Latest Kitchen Styles

Early American
Early American colonial kitchens are being reproduced in homes across the country (in a modern way, of course). We’re talking about Shaker-inspired cabinets, soapstone sinks, reclaimed pine or brick flooring and exposed ceiling beams.

Bungalow Bonanza
Bungalow kitchens are built with an eye toward efficiency: built-in kitchen, easy-to-clean linoleum flooring and mint tile are likely to make an appearance in a Bungalow-style kitchen.

Victorian Farmhouse
Go poke around Pinterest for 30 seconds and report back. What’d you find? You probably discovered that vintage is in. People love old stuff made to look new, which is probably why the Victorian Farmhouse look is coming back. Deep porcelain sinks, glass-front cabinets and nickel-plated stoves are hallmarks of a Victorian kitchen.

Mid-20th Century Modern
Think about the time WWII was coming to an end: cabinetry went from wood to metal, Formica became the go-to counter surface, and vinyl was all the rage for flooring. Bright colors and “space age” designs were popular, too.

Ultra Modern
Ultra modern kitchens could be described in one word: minimalist. The less stuff in your kitchen, the better. Clean lines, sleek surfaces, concrete floors and European-style cabinets make up this contemporary style. In other words, get thee to an Ikea as soon as possible!

A trendy kitchen that stands the test of time is the best kind of kitchen. Imagine waking up every day to a beautifully-designed kitchen filled with surfaces, cabinets and a sink manufactured with materials you picked out yourself. It’s a wonderful fantasy, right? Let’s turn that fantasy into a reality today! Whichever kitchen style or trend you decide to incorporate into your kitchen, remember that Tower Industries has many surfacing solutions for you to consider. We offer Meridian and Hanex solid surface countertops and sinks, natural stone countertops, kitchen cabinets and more. If you need design flexibility, Tower Industries is definitely for you.

Which style or trend do you like best? Are you all about Victorian vintage, or do you prefer a contemporary look? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more Top 5 Kitchen Styles & Trends