Granite is an igneous rock made up of quartz, mica and feldspar amongst other minerals. It is quarried in large blocks around the world, cut into slabs approximately 2 inches thick and polished for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
Other than being cut to fit your kitchen, with a topical and edge finishing treatment designed to enhance the beauty (http://www.ehow.com/fashion/)of the stone, granite is not altered in any way from the quality to your home.
Manufactured Stone Overview
Manufactured stones are made up of crushed or ground granite. The crushed stone is colored and held together with a resin. This resin bonds the crushed stone together, making the surface uniform in color and consistency as well as nonporous.
Manufactured stones are produced by several companies, with the three most recognizable name brands of Silestone, Caesar Stone and Zodiaq.
Like all natural stones, granite is porous, meaning it is covered with millions of tiny holes. These holes can absorb water, juice, oils, soaps and spills and should be sealed to prevent discoloration of the stone over time. Additionally, granite can etch, or have part of its surface removed by acids or harsh cleansers.
Granite does not scratch easily, burn or melt, meaning that under normal use knives and hot pots and pans will not harm the stone.
Manufactured Stone Care
Manufactured stone is nonporous, since the resins in its makeup bond together any porous materials. This means that manufactured stone never stains and does not require sealing. The resins also render manufactured stone tough enough to handle knives, hot pots and most cleaning materials. Manufactured stone requires little care beyond basic cleaning.
Granite Appearance and Cost
Granite is a natural material and no two granite slabs will ever look exactly the same. Granite may have veins, color flecks, small fissures or pits and can vary widely in colour from piece to piece and within one piece. This natural variation is part of what granite its beauty and desirability.
Granite comes in a wide range of colors and costs. Pricing as of May 2010 started around $25 a square foot and went as high as $400 a square foot for some exotic stones.
Manufactured Stone Cost and Appearance
Manufactured stone is more uniform in color and appearance from piece to piece and within one piece. Colours and patterns are limited by the manufacturer, and some colours may be available that are not found in natural stones, such as time green or orange.
Manufactured stone can mimic some types of tightly flecked granite, or it can appear manufactured in appearance. Costs can vary by color and manufacturer, but most fell within $75 to $100 a square foot as of May 2010.