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Spotlight On… Countertops, Stone

July 22, 2015

Stone – naturally occurring slabs mined out of the earth and cut to fit your kitchen. For those who love the simple beauty of natural materials, stone is often our material of choice. Though stone can seem pretty solid to us, it is still a porous materials and most varieties require sealing and special care. With proper care, these beautiful surfaces can last the life of your house.

kitchen countertop slab

There is an immense variety of stone types out there, but for the purposes of countertops, they are grouped together. Granite and marble are well-known, but softer stones such as limestone and soapstone are sometimes chosen, and quartzite is becoming recognized as an excellent countertop material.

Granite – Granite is hard to categorize, as it spans a few budget levels. It is very durable and has  a huge range of looks. Granite’s speckles and beautiful patterns are why the stone is porous, so a good seal is essential for proper resistance to heat and stains. Consult with professionals, experts, and prepare to do your research if you have any plans beyond just purchasing the prettiest slab you see.

Limestone – like marble, limestone is softer than granite, but what it offers is the unique looks of the sand and water life that was preserved in the stone way beyond prehistory. Can’t get more timeless than that, right? Even with a good seal you have to be careful, as it only really stands up to heat. Stains will need to be avoided and cutting kept on the cutting board. Some professionals do not recommend this stone for countertops, but it’s there if you want it.

Marble – beautiful but not very durable, and not easy on the pocketbook either. It’s the cherry wood of the stone world; it’s softer, but is valued for how it ages beautifully and its unique range of colors and patterns. Be sure to get a quality sealant if you choose this elegant classic material as it can be stained easily by wine and lemon juice. This is a material that is worth extra research.

Soapstone – echoes the qualities of marble in that it is both a softer stone, and it darkens over time. It is highly resistant to heat (so much that its been used in stoves!) and good against stains and acid etching, but is best for low-traffic areas. It’s composed of talc, which accounts for its smooth soapy feel, and also for it’s vulnerability to cuts and edges that grow smoother over time. It might show its age, but it lasts a long time, with 200 yr-old installations still in use. More info can be found here!

Quartzite – Harder than granite, quartzite has made a stunning debut in home use with its subtle pattern and remarkable durability.

Granite countertops in a kitchen refaced by Kitchen Saver

This is just the surface when it comes to kitchen countertops!
See what else we’ve posted about countertops.
Visit our ‘Counter Topics’ pinboard for a wealth of ideas and perspectives on countertop materials.

 

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