You may not have heard yet, but Neolith countertops are one of a new breed of countertop materials called “ultra-compact surfaces” or "sintered stone" making a splash for improved performance over other favorite surfaces.
Neolith is attractive, durable, and packed with features you’ll love when remodeling or upgrading to new kitchen countertops. But is it indeed better than granite or quartz? Let’s find out...
Neolith is a product of a Spanish company called TheSize started in 2009 by professionals from the natural stone industry. TheSize began producing the Neolith ultra-compact surface in 2010.
Like Dekton (a competing brand), Neolith countertops are made with 100% natural materials. Granite compounds, natural oxides, glass, and silica minerals are combined through a process of extreme heat, pressing, and sintering into one of the most resilient surfaces available.
You may see reference to Neolith porcelain countertops or Neolith stone. But this is not correct. Neolith is made with elements of stone but is not, itself, a natural stone material. It's man-made.
And Neolith is different and more durable than porcelain counters, although, the two share some similarities.
Natural oxides are used to provide the Neolith countertop colors while glass and silica minerals provide chemical stability and resistance to damage from chemicals and cleaners.
The high-pressure process makes the sintered stone slab very dense and non-porous, so no sealing needed and it is essentially stain-proof.
Neolith can withstand high temperatures from hot pans without scorching or cracking from thermal shock. It is also unfazed by freezing winter weather making it an ideal choice for outdoor kitchen countertops.
Just as with all types of kitchen countertops, there are some things that you will love about these sintered stone countertops, but also some problems that you may encounter.
You can choose from about 30 Neolith colors in a range of whites, grays, blacks, and browns.
Many homeowners want countertops that look like marble, but without the maintenance of marble, so it’s no surprise that the most popular Neolith colors are amazingly realistic marble look-a-likes:
Note that even though Neolith is man-made, the color match can vary depending on the manufacturer’s dye lot. This is important for you to consider when updating your kitchen as you will want to buy all the Neolith sintered stone slabs needed to complete your remodel in a single purchase from the same dye lot.
Neolith sintered stone finishes are quite unique and will suit any kitchen design style or personal taste for home or commercial use. Choices include:
Note: the “polished” finish is far less resistant to scratches and abrasion. Knives and abrasives cleaners can scratch or dull a polished Neolith finish. And ceramic knives can scratch all finish types.
Also, some of the above finishes are available only with specific Neolith color collections.
Edge styles are more limited than with other types of countertops, but you still have attractive edge options to choose from when installing new Neolith worktops.
Thickness and slab size are options you can choose like colors and edges.
Neolith comes in 4 thicknesses:
Slab sizes range from 2.5 ft. x 2.5 ft (750mm x 750mm) up to 10 ft. x 5 ft. (3200mm x 1500mm) and can be cut to any size or shape needed.
The large-format slabs cut down on the number of seams needed and make it easy to cover large kitchen islands or long countertop runs while maintaining a cohesive look to the pattern.
Like most people, you’re busy and don’t want to spend time worrying or fussing about how to take care of your countertops.
Thankfully, cleaning Neolith countertops is simple and doesn’t require any special cleaners.
It’s important to note a few things though…
The total installed cost of Neolith is $60 - $105/sq. ft. which is similar to mid to high-end granite countertops and/or quartz countertops.
Some say Neolith is cheaper than quartz or granite, but on average this is not the case. Although, quartz is becoming more expensive now that tariffs have been imposed on the importation of quartz slabs from China.
And granite prices have dropped over the last 10 years so many granite colors can be installed for less at around $45-$65 psf.
It is difficult to get an exact cost for Neolith without specifying what color, slab size, and thickness you want.
Also, the following installation variables can have a significant impact on the final price:
You may be able to cut the cost of your new Neolith countertops by choosing a thin 6mm slab (normally for flooring or wall cladding) and installing it over the top of an existing countertop.
This is something you’d need to discuss with an experienced Neolith installer as the thicker 12mm slabs are recommended for kitchen countertops.
You’ll save a nice chunk of money on the overall project cost. However, thinner slabs are more susceptible to damage (cracking and chipping).
As noted in the pros and cons above, Neolith and all ultra-compact surfaces are particularly vulnerable to damage prior to installation.
Once sintered stone countertops are installed, they are very stable and durable. However, this countertop material is thin which makes it challenging to transport, cut, or move around without cracking or splintering the slab or chipping the edges.
Some argue that because Neolith is so thin and lightweight that it is much easier to cut and install which is undoubtedly rational, however, that is not how it plays out in reality.
It’s so hard and thin that it is a bit brittle when unsupported and that’s why it presents some unique installation issues.
Now granite can crack during installation too, but Neolith and ultra-compact surfaces have a much bigger problem with it.
Because of this, it is not a favorite with countertop fabricators. Many fabricators will simply refuse to install it or any other ultra-compact surface brand.
Also, Neolith is not widely available so you may have to be more persistent in your project planning when getting a Neolith countertop installed.
On the plus side, the thin Neolith slab can be installed right over the top of other types of countertops. This can save you a little money not having to tear out your old countertops.
Neolith distributors or fabricators are not nearly as plentiful as those for granite or quartz. So, you may have some difficulty finding a supplier depending on where you live.
If you live in a larger city you can call around to various stone warehouses or countertop fabricators and, chances are, find a local Neolith dealer.
Use this Where to buy Neolith search tool to find distributors near you.
While quartz countertops are made in a similar fashion, the Neolith sintered stone countertop has advantages over quartz. Neolith and all ultra-compact surfaces were designed to improve upon the weaknesses of quartz.
Granite countertops are like the “gold standard” that all other countertop materials are measured by.
Even though granite is not perfect or without its own problems, most man-made countertops are trying to create a surface that performs as good or better than granite or has some unique feature or look that granite doesn’t.
When comparing Neolith countertops vs. granite, we see that Neolith holds up well.
Some say Neolith countertops are revolutionary and they certainly do have several advantages over other types of countertops.
However, it has some drawbacks as well and just goes to show you how hard it is to make a perfect kitchen countertop material. Alas, none are faultless.
Neolith is very durable, heat-resistant, stain-resistant and scratch-resistant except when using ceramic knives on the surface or abrasives on the "polished" finish. It does not crack easily, but dropping heavy objects on the surface could cause a crack or chip.
Neolith countertop colors are limited at this time, but modern and attractive with several finish types and edge style options. The large-format slabs allow for fewer seams and a more cohesive pattern overall.
It’s easy to clean without special cleaners but, you cannot use abrasive cleaners on the polished finish. All other finish types are okay for this.
A skilled fabricator with experience installing Neolith countertops is a must since sintered stone is more fragile when cutting and installing than other materials.
All considered, the Neolith ultra-compact surface definitely gives granite and quartz a run for their money and can be a solid choice for your kitchen countertops once successfully installed.
All images courtesy Neolith.com.