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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7 Benefits of Solid Surface

7 Benefits of Solid Surface

We’re not going to claim that solid surface is the answer for EVERY institutional, commercial, or residential project. However, we can certainly share the benefits of solid surface when it comes to university residence hall showers, commercial countertop applications, bathroom sink vanity tops, and many other situations.

From its safety and durability to its beauty and flexibility, solid surface just might be your best bet. Check out the infographic here to see if solid surface will work for your project.

Universities & Healthcare

For institutional settings, like universities and healthcare facilities, its safety, longevity, and low maintenance make solid surface a strong option to consider. Whether a retrofit scenario, a brand new hospital wing, or a residence hall expansion, solid surface practically eliminates many of the concerns that typically arise from other choices, like:

  • Porous material (allowing bacteria build-up)
  • Hard to clean
  • Difficult to repair
  • Lack of flexibility in design and functionality

Solid surface is the opposite of each of these, which makes it a great selection for your next project.

Commercial & Hospitality

Hotels, restaurants, and offices often use solid surface because of its durability and beautiful, custom design options. In fact, we recently created a 100 percent custom-fabricated countertop solution for national eatery Dean & DeLuca that included 70 linear feet of undulating hills and valleys of Meridian Solid Surface material to immerse the consumer into the food experience.

Residential

Homeowners, home builders, and remodelers choose solid surface for its durability, easy cleanup, and beauty, often selecting from a variety of textures and colors that can mimic granite, marble, and stone, at only a fraction of the cost of these other materials.

Clearly, you’ll need to consider all the specific factors of your project; but in looking at the many benefits of solid surface highlighted here, it should likely be one of your top choices.

If you have questions about how our solid surface material can be customized to fit within your project, please give us a call at (800) 807-8889 or click here to request more information.

 

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How to Select the Right Countertop Material

How to Select the Right Countertop Material

As you begin planning for your next kitchen or bathroom build or remodel, there are many factors that play a role in the project, such as design, labor, timing, and budget. And, one of the biggest areas is sure to be the question of materials.

Focusing specifically on countertops, we all know we need to look at the expected use of the countertop and the needs of the user. As a result, an imperative question to ask is: what is the right countertop material for this project?

Because there are a plethora of options available, let’s take a deeper dive into countertop material options to be able to best answer.

Natural Stone

Natural stone, such as granite, is heat resistant, long lasting, and durable. Sealing is generally required, as well as regular maintenance, to uphold the appearance through the years. Granite is available in a large variety of colors and patterns giving a custom look to every installation. Because granite is cut into long slabs, there are very few seams. Tower Industries has sophisticated software allowing us to digitally select the placement of seams to keep the look flowing nicely.

Quartz Surfacing

A blend of quartz and added pigments creates quartz surfacing, which has the look and feel of natural stone. Available in a variety of color and texture options, quartz also offers uniformity in color, unlike natural stone. Quartz is heat and stain resistant, easy to clean, and does not require sealing.

Stainless Steel

A modern choice, stainless steel is resistant to heat, bacteria, and stains. The material can be susceptible to dents, which could be difficult to repair. Additionally, very regular cleaning is required, as the surface is susceptible to smudges, streaks, and fingerprints. An analysis of the end user and frequency of use would be best advised when selecting this material, which could work quite well in the appropriate kitchen.

Solid Surface

Available in hundreds of colors, textures, and patterns, solid surface countertops are resistant to stains, scratches, and moisture. Solid surface is durable, repairable, and virtually maintenance free. Any potential scratches can be sanded away. With solid surface countertops, the design possibilities are endless. This beautiful material can be made to resemble stone or concrete, and can be manufactured to create almost any custom countertop imaginable.

Laminate

Made with a thin plastic resin covering plywood, laminate is durable, stain resistant, and easy to clean. The lowest cost option, this material is available in hundreds of colors and patterns, and can be made to mimic stone, metal, and wood. Scratches and cracks, though, cannot be repaired.

Tile

A great-looking option, tile is classy and available in a variety of colors. Unfortunately, the installation is more complex due to grouting, and regular maintenance is required with re-grouting, deep cleaning, and sealants. Tile is also susceptible to chips, cracks, and staining in the grouting area. An option is to utilize this material in a secondary area, such as the backsplash or on a kitchen island.

Wood

Wood is a natural beauty and is always striking in appearance. The material must be sealed or oiled regularly, though. Wood can also be vulnerable to stains, heat, and moisture, so like tile, might be better suited for a secondary area.

Concrete

Made to resemble natural stone, concrete is available in a variety of colors and is cured and finished to provide a smooth and flat surface. Concrete requires regular maintenance, must be sealed, and is extremely heavy, so is often times saved for projects where the customer specifically requests it.

In the end, the final countertop material decision weighs on the amount of tolerable maintenance by the user in comparison to the desired appearance and durability. All of these materials have pros and cons that must be analyzed, yet solid surface countertops have a tendency to rise to the top of the list. Being virtually maintenance-free, offering many beautiful and custom options, and providing long lasting durability, solid surface is a countertop material that just might solve all needs for your project.

Wondering which material is right for your next project? Contact us today to discuss all the options Tower has to offer!

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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 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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Solid Surface Shower Walls: Keeping You Safe

Even though you take showers just about every day, how much time do you spend pondering the walls of your shower? I’m guessing none or next-to-none. But I’ll give you two reasons why it’s worth thinking about them now: (1) shower walls, and solid surface shower walls especially, keep you safe; and (2) germs in the shower can be harmful.

As awful a job as it is, cleaning showers and bathtubs is important to reduce the spread of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Paul Horowitz, MD, medical director of Pediatric Clinics at Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore., was once asked what happens if you don’t clean the shower or bathtub frequently enough.

“Germs can line the walls (of the tub) and you can easily touch the surface and then touch your mouth,” he said. “What’s more, the dead skin cells that sit on the inside of the tub can be contaminated. If someone with a cut or open wound goes in the tub, those organisms can infect that wound and increase the overall load of bacteria.”

Ew.

Now that you’re totally grossed out, let me give you some good news. There is an easy way to get (and keep) your showers clean: install solid surface shower walls.

The case for solid surface shower walls:

1) Non-porous.

There are no seams to allow leakage from your shower into the home structure. Water can be extraordinarily harmful to wood framed homes, most notably from the formation of mold, a toxic substance that is quite costly to test and remediate.

2) Easy to maintain.

You heard what Dr. Horowitz said — as unpleasant as it may be, we need to clean our showers! Wouldn’t you rather clean a solid surface, easily wiped down with a damp cloth or sponge, than scrub the grout lines on a tiled shower wall? One surface, one quick and simple cleaning project.

3) Naturally sanitary and resistant to mold and mildew.

Solid surface is non-porous, so there is virtually no chance for mold or mildew to form, and it is far less likely bacteria will form as well.

4) No dings. Solid Surface is just that: solid.

It is resistant to scratching, damage from heat, cracking, chipping or other “dings” that reduce the quality of your shower experience and heighten your health risk.

5) ADA compliant.

Especially for developers requiring showers for commercial properties, solid surface walls comply with Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.

6) Easy to fabricate and install.

Manufacturers produce them to the approved specifications, and they are easily installed. Without needing the time to painstakingly grout and set tile, or to wait for epoxy materials to dry, solid surface shower walls are delivered in fewer pieces and can be installed much more quickly than other, more intricate, shower wall materials.

7) Customizable.

You can choose the thickness of your solid surface shower walls, the color you want, and they can be cut to fit the custom shower of your dreams.

Now that you’ve spent a few minutes thinking it through, don’t you agree that solid surface shower walls are a safe, convenient solution?

Have questions about solid surface shower walls? Contact us today or schedule a visit to our showroom.

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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!

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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?

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