It’s no secret that engineered stone countertops (aka quartz) are getting really good at mimicking natural stone – dramatically-veined white marbles, in particular. They are great imitators. And recently, new finishes have become available that further enhance the illusion. You can now find an increasing variety of quartz with a honed or satin finish.
But there’s another type of surface that family-friendly engineered stone has become increasingly adept at impersonating, in addition to granite, marble, soapstone, limestone, quartzite, etc…
Now, the picture above is not, in fact, of the Friday Family-Friendly Find I’m writing about today. It’s a bathroom I designed last year in a client’s pool house. We wanted the look of a concrete countertop with the ease and performance of quartz, and our best option at that time (and a gorgeous one!) was Caesarstone Pebble, in a honed finish. I still love it! But since then other concrete facsimiles (as I call this class of stone) have become available. Including a really new and exciting one from MSI’s Q quartz line called ‘Urban Lava’ – this week’s #FFFind.
I have to warn you that the website images, I think, do not accurately capture the color, nor the unique texture of Urban Lava, but I’m showing them anyway, alongside my own pictures taken with the sample I obtained.
See what I mean? That mottled appearance is legit!
Now, when I first saw the ‘concrete’ finish denotation, a few alarm bells went off in my mind. Would it feel rough or scratchy to the touch? It doesn’t. It is much less bumpy/irregular than a brushed or leathered finish on natural stone. Just a little texture, but the overall effect is smooth and matte. I also remember recently reading on the Caesarstone website all of these warnings about their honed and ‘rough’ finishes. Warnings that say you must wipe up drips and spills immediately, and that ‘extra care’ is required to maintain them. I mean, what is the point of even using quartz if that’s the case, why not just do the real thing?
There appear to be no such warnings with this product. On the Q Quartz website, the care instructions for concrete and honed finishes are the same as for polished. But just in case the lack of differentiation by finish was an oversight, I did my own at-home testing on the sample this week. I dribbled olive oil and water on it, and left a glass of ice water on it over night. In the morning, I looked at it and could barely see where the drips were – I mean, it pretty much blends in completely with the surface design and texture. It already looks drippy and pitted by design. (Perfect for a kids bathroom, I think! Toothpaste residue would blend right in!). I wiped it clean with just a damp paper towel, and it looks exactly like when I unwrapped it.
By all indications, Urban Lava seems like a very durable and forgiving countertop option – and one that looks, and even feels very ‘realistic’ as an alternative to concrete (or lava stone, aka basalt, another surface growing in popularity).
The advantages (in my opinion) of Q Urban Lava over concrete for countertops include, but are not limited to:
- Consistent, predictable color and texture
- No need for sealing
- Easy to clean
- Resistant to scratching, chipping and staining
- Unlikely to crack
- Ease and flexibility of fabrication and installation
One potential disadvantage, aside from an unavoidably ‘less’ natural look, is that engineered stone is susceptible to damage from high heat conditions. Basically, even though it may fool you into looking like a concrete countertop, you have to remember that it’s quartz and behaves as such. Make sure you place a thermal barrier underneath that Instant Pot, and avoid putting it near a seam.
What do you think of Q Urban Lava? Would you use it in your home – if so, where?
Oh – and be on the lookout for a little project reveal on Tuesday! I have three words as a hint for what’s coming: Farrow & Ball Lotus. (Does the ampersand count as a word?)