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Lower prices are moving limestone, marble, and other natural materials into the bathroom. You'll also see more concrete, granite, and--yes--stainless steel as kitchen preferences migrate.
Home Depot, Lowe's, and other major retailers now sell natural and resin-based, engineered stone for about the same price as Corian and other solid surfacing.
Engineered-stone, solid-surface, and stainless counters are waterproof. Granite and engineered stone should also be able to handle dropped shavers and forgotten curling irons without a fuss. But as our tests confirm, some materials are much less forgiving than others. The details:
Limestone: Pretty but impractical. Even a high-quality sealer didn't keep this soft, porous stone from getting stained by nail-polish remover and other common spills. Twelve of the 19 substances we applied left permanent marks after just 24 hours. As we also found, scratches and dings from our dropped 5-pound weight stood out on its surface.
Marble: Sealing is important. As with granite, most stains that marred unsealed marble wiped away with water on sealed samples. But hard-water-deposit removers left a permanent mark even on sealed stone, as did scrapes and dings.
Stainless: Tough to a point. True to its name, stainless resists most spills. But drain cleaners and hard-water-deposit removers can …