Design Inspiration

Beauty vs. Durability: Why choose when you can have it all?

Throughout the years, home design has evolved to keep pace with advances in product technology. Materials coveted for generations have been exposed as “inferior” due to performance issues. High-performing materials, once snubbed by designers for their utilitarian appearance, are now all the rage.

But do you really have to choose between durability and beauty? Let’s examine several types of materials used in today’s home construction.

The Latest in Counter Intelligence: Marble Countertops vs. Quartz Countertops

For many years, marble had been considered the “gold standard” in countertops — despite being a poor lifestyle choice for a countertop material, not just for a houseful of rambunctious children or adventurous, budding home chefs. Did you know the simple act of gently placing down a glass of water or carefully sliding a plate across it can (and eventually WILL) leave stains, etch marks, and chips on your otherwise pristine countertop? While no one can deny the impression a beautifully veined marble countertop leaves, there are definitely more practical, affordable, and just as attractive options available.

Did someone say “Quartz?” For years, this was one of those materials that designers scoffed at during the selection process — but it’s come a very long way. This man-made product is highly engineered and designed for performance. Quartz is more resistant to heat, does not require sealing, and resists chipping and scratching much better than marble — in fact, it almost dares you to treat it poorly.

Spilled red wine? No problem! Spaghetti Wednesday? No worries! Baking with the grandkids? Bring it! Quartz actually welcomes your abuse and makes a lovely and (more) affordable addition to your home.  It’s available in myriad options and is sold under a number of brand names: Cambria, Silestone, Viatera, Caesarstone, etc. Discover how many ways you can personalize your kitchen with Quartz today.

Be “Floored” By The Difference: Engineered Hardwood Floors vs. Site-Finished Hardwood Floors

There’s nothing like the beauty of original hardwood floors — but what if you’re installing them new? Do you choose engineered or go with site-finished hardwood flooring? Which lasts longer? Which sustains its appearance over a longer period of time? The answer is engineered hardwood flooring. Surprised? As it turns out, engineered flooring beats site-finished flooring due its top coat or surface finish, Aluminum Oxide. It’s extremely resistant to surface scratching and engineered floors are finished with 7-10 coats of it before they leave the factory — a process site-finished hardwoods don’t undergo.

In fact, when a site-finished hardwood floor appears scratched, it’s usually the top coat that’s been damaged. And no matter how many coats of polyurethane you put on a site-finished hardwood floor, your first casual stroll across it will leave visible scratches in the top coat.

While fans of site-finished flooring would argue the benefits of polyurethane include refinishing it as often as you wish to refresh the appearance, consider how many times a year you'd want to move out of your home for three to five days while the floor is sanded, re-stained and recoated. If engineered hardwood flooring comes with a 50-year warranty on the surface finish…why on earth are some people still debating this decision?

Bottom line, your home is your largest investment and you shouldn’t have to choose between beauty and durability. And with the numerous options now available in quartz countertops and engineered hardwood flooring, you won’t have to anymore. These impressive products will sustain years of comfortable living — and isn’t that what your home is for?