The clean look of quartz countertops is popular in modern designs.

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What makes the quartz countertop so special?

­We've learned what quartz countertops are made of, how much they cost and that they come in a plethora of colors and styles. But why go with quartz when granite costs the same and is a standard in the kitchen? One reason is that quartz is extremely durable with a scratch sand scorch resistant surface that ranks No. 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes your quartz countertop very difficult to scratch or chip.

Another advantage is that it's nearly stain-proof as well. This is because it's a nonporous surface. Your coffee, cabernet and olive oil will sit on top of the surface instead of soaking in, ready for the sponge. Because it's nonporous it also doesn't need to be sealed or treated. Many kitchen surfaces like granite, marble and limestone need regular sealing. Quartz is ready to go right out of the gate, making it maintenance-free.

Its nonporous nature also makes it more difficult for bacteria, mold and mildew to grow, which makes it an ideal choice for the kitchen and bath. The clean factor doesn't just stop there. Silestone also has something called Microban built into the surface of the countertop. Microban is a trademarked antimicrobial compound that's mixed into the quartz and resin goop, actually making it part of the structure. Microban helps to fight the buildup of tiny pathogenic microorganisms, like bacteria. It won't protect you from a food-borne illness and you still have to clean it, but it does provide an extra measure of protection and makes the surface easier to clean and keep it that way.

Besides the cleanliness, durability and lack of maintenance, there's one more good reason to go with a quartz countertop -- it's green. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas found in different levels all over the Earth. Many manufactured household materials, like granite countertops, emit small levels of radon. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that indoor pollution can be up to 100 times higher than outdoor pollution. Silestone quartz countertops have been tested and show little to no radon emission.

Because of the Microban and radon testing, Silestone has been certified by the National Sanitation Foundation and the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute as a low-emitting product, meaning that it's safe for indoor applications and ideal for use where food preparation takes place. It's so clean, safe and durable that it's been the countertop of choice for the last three HGTV Dream Homes. These are large, green-concept homes that the Home and Garden Television network gives away each year to one lucky viewer. Only the latest, top-of-the-line products go into the dream home. Check the Internet to find out where you can get some quartz countertop samples. You could be doing yourself and the environment a favor.