If you're doing some remodeling around the house and love the look of granite, quartz, and other such materials, but hate the high price tag or are worried about how using these natural materials impacts the environment, you might opt for engineered stone. Consider first what is meant by engineered stone and then why it can be a good choice for your home.

1. What is engineered stone?

Engineered stone is a manmade material, usually consisting of quartz along with glass, resin, and certain dyes. The material is crushed into a powder and then shaped and formed to look like natural stone or other such materials. Note that the material may contain a high percentage of natural quartz, so it's not completely without natural ingredients, but will contain far fewer natural ingredients than true quartz, granite, and the like.

2. Does engineered stone need maintenance?

Engineered stone may be manmade, and it has a very low absorption rate for water and other liquids, but this doesn't mean it's somehow plastic and doesn't need care and maintenance. Engineered stone may need a sealant just like natural stone in order to close off pits and pores that may allow bacteria and other harmful agents to settle. Many manufacturers recommend what is called an impregnator sealant, which settles below the surface of the stone and actually coats underneath the top layer. This can offer the most protection from bacteria and germs settling into the stone and creating an unhealthy surface for food prep and the like. Ask your manufacturer or installer about sealants that are recommended for your engineered stone.

3. Why choose engineered stone over natural stone?

The ingredients used to make engineered stone are often more affordable than the natural stone itself, so engineered stone is often cheaper than true quartz, granite, and the like. Also, many of the ingredients used to make engineered stone are recycled, so there is less harvesting of natural ingredients and less disruptions to the environment. Engineered stone might also be lighter than granite and other such stones, so if you use them for flooring or kitchen countertops, you might not need to brace up the subfloor of your home as you would with other materials. Engineered stone may also have a longer expected lifespan than granite and other such stones. It's not as prone to cracking and may better resist marks from cuts and nicks than soft, natural stones.