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September 28, 2017

It was sometime in the 1980s when installing granite countertops became a "thing". It's easy to see why; granite is absolutely gorgeous! And, once your neighbor installed one, well, you just had to have one too. Beyond its allure, however; there are a few legit drawbacks to using granite as a countertop. These would eventually lead to the development of what are known as composite materials for simulated granite counters, and later sinks.

Even though it is considered one of the strongest stones in existence, granite can be porous in varying degrees, depending on its type. This means liquids can be absorbed, leading to stains and even some pitting if the fluids are acidic. Granite also has subtle crevices which can collect microscopic dirt and grime over time; harboring bacteria. Regular applications of a sealer are usually required to diminish these problems. Even heat is not tolerated by granite, so a hot pot could lead to chipping.

In spite of any negative characteristics, granite is still a phenomenal seller! Because of these negative traits, however, many have sought an alternative that could match granite's beauty without its imperfections. Scientists hit the lab early-on, and their first formulations were used to construct granite-like countertops. And, before long, these new materials were being tweaked and used in the manufacture of sinks as well. Today numerous fabricators use their own proprietary formulas for these purposes.

When discussing sinks, you'll hear these materials referred to in a variety of terms: granite composite, composite quartzite, quartz composite, synthetic, and many more. No matter the name applied, these sink materials are a blend, or composite, of some type of stone or minerals with some type of acrylic polymer. The stone is usually used in a crushed or dust form, then mixed with acrylic resins. It is the type of stone, and its proportion to the acrylic, that makes each manufacturer's product unique. Generally speaking, it is best to look for composite sinks which advertise themselves to be at least 70-80% stone, and conversely, 30-20% acrylics.

Granite composite is a very robust material. Though it exceeds raw granite in toughness, it doesn't exactly match it in appearance when taking shape as a sink. You may see those wildly random striations of sedimentary rock in a composite counter top, but not in a composite sink, which is uniform throughout. Whatever might be lost in a comparable appearance; is made up for by its own gritty attractiveness and extreme durability; resistant to scratches, dents, chipping, and heat.

Many manufacturers use quartz or quartzite as their base stone. Both are quite strong. Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone resulting from the fusion of sandstone and genuine quartz over time under the earth's pressure. Quartz too, is a natural stone; but as commonly referenced in talking about composite sinks, the term "quartz" can mean any number of other minerals, as well as quartz itself.

You'll find that some manufacturers add silver ions to the mix. This makes the sink extremely hygienic as the silver curbs any bacterial activity on the surface.

And, consider that the acrylic element in a composite isn't there to just smooth things out. It also makes the sink naturally quiet so no extra padding, common with metal sinks, is required.

Let's recap. Composite sinks won't stain, are hard to scratch, won't crack from heat, don't chip, certainly won't dent, are extremely hygienic, and hey... they just look good! But, a word of caution - quality can vary drastically between manufacturers. Compare products carefully before you buy.