Natural stone is a work of art; its beauty is unrivalled by any other commodity on the market, and it's no secret that we adore incorporating it into our projects!
When it comes to kitchen benchtops, there is a range of materials to choose from, including natural stone. If you're thinking of opting for a natural stone benchtop, read on for some tips; it's a guide to help you make informed decisions.
First of all, it’s important to decide which type of natural stone you want. The most popular types of natural stone for benchtops are granite and marble, but there is a range of other options available. Once you've decided on the type of natural stone, you need to consider the colour and pattern. This is because the natural stone's colour and pattern can impact the overall look and feel of your kitchen.
Engineered stone is an artificial material created from quartz, resin, and pigment. It is a non-porous material, so it is resistant to staining and etching. It is also easy to clean – you can wipe it down with a damp cloth. Engineered stone is a durable material, and it is scratch and heat-resistant. However, it is also a cold material, so it can be difficult to work with, so it's important to get professional installation.
Porcelain benchtops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. They are made from a type of ceramic called porcelain, which is fired at a high temperature, making it durable and resistant to staining, etching, and scratches. Porcelain benchtops come in a range of colours and finishes, so you can find one to suit your style.
Marble stone is a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms because they look elegant and luxurious. However, they are also quite expensive. Marble is a natural stone, and it is prone to staining and etching. Carrara marble is a type of marble that is white with grey veining. It is the most popular type of marble for benchtops. This means that you need to be careful when cleaning it, and you should avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. In addition, marble is a cold material, and it cannot be easy to work with, so it's important to seek professional installation.
Commonly confused with Quartz, a man-made stone, Quartzite is a natural stone that's popular for its ability to add drama and personality to any indoor space. It's often found in neutral colors with swirling or faint veins, causing it to closely resemble marble.
Like crystals, Quartzite offers a slight sparkle when exposed to light, giving the material a reflective and enchanting feel when coupled with pieces of furniture.
It's worth noting that this material shares similar properties with granite, making it an excellent option for kitchen countertops. However, Quartzite isn't infinitely sturdy as excessive force or moisture can damage the structure with time.
Therefore, we recommend cleaning the surface with a gentle detergent regularly to keep it visually appealing and pristine.
Granite is a naturally occurring material that is ideal for making benchtops due to its low maintenance and durability. The low porosity of the stone makes it ideal for indoor and outdoor benchtops, as it won't crack or disintegrate rapidly.
However, while Granite is impressively resistant to moisture, it still requires proper sealing to prevent permanent stains and help it maintain a fresh stone finish for longer periods. For frequent cleaning, we recommend using a PH neutral gentle detergent since it prevents corrosion while prolonging the surface's visual appeal.
It's worth noting that every quarried slab of Granite can appear slightly different from each other. Therefore, no two kitchen benchtop surfaces will look completely the same and will each possess different patterns and looks.
Nevertheless, it's an interesting material that comes in different styles and colours, which are guaranteed to bring more beauty to your space.
We sat down with the Founder of CAVART, Nathan Karpenko, and asked him a few questions about natural stone benchtops. Nathan has over 15 years of experience in natural stone, and we love to use his stunning materials for our projects.
Quartzites, a well-worn natural stone mainly from Brazil, are in trend. They are hard natural stones that closely resemble marble. Due to their sturdiness, we discovered we could bring larger-sized slabs than other natural stones. Most offer amazing colours and natural movements.
It is important to have a good understanding and clear expectation of the performance of any stone or benchtop material. For example, there is always a stigma about using marble on a kitchen benchtop because someone’s friend used it once years ago and had concerns.
Not all marbles are of equal strength and durability, and some older marbles used in the creams and darker colours were not the best options. However, Italian white marbles are particularly hard, well-wearing, and less problematic and will always perform best in a honed or matt finish.
Acidic products such as vinegar, wine, and lemon juice can react with calcium carbonate minerals in marbles and etch or dull the surface, making the darker coloured marbles can be more pronounced. Instead, we recommend sealing the all-natural stone with a premium penetrating sealer such as Lithofin MN Stain Stop. This helps in cleaning and maintaining the stone, and when applied correctly, most stones wouldn't need to be resealed for around five years, which is a process that clients can do.
We don't recommend using any harsh or high alkaline cleaning products on stone benchtops, and most supermarkets can now find suitable stone benchtop cleaning products. However, we encourage clients to ask us any questions or concerns about the durability, performance, and ongoing maintenance of the stones, as we are happy to assist.
Most stones will perform best in a honed or matt finish. Therefore, we bring most of our stone in a honed finish and some of our quartzites and granites in a leathered or brushed finish to give that extra tactile feel.
All stones will vary in cost, and the price has no bearing on the durability or functionality of the stone. However, there is always an assumption that. Natural stone is expensive, and clients are often surprised to hear that the stones are not as expensive as they thought. We have a broad range of stones at different price points.
It's important to consider your cooking style and activities when picking a natural stone benchtop. For example, if you cook and aren't available to clean the surface until many hours later, you shouldn't pick marble as its porous nature absorbs moisture and keeps stains locked. Also consider the maximum load, and resistance to heat, shock, impact, and other factors that can ruin a stone benchtop.
Ensure to consider the size and thickness of your benchtop material before selecting since some will meet your needs better than others. While aesthetics are part of the experience of owning this benchtop, there are some functional aspects in benchtop sizing worth considering.
For example, if your benchtop is placed against a wall, it should have a maximum depth of approximately 650mm, making it easier to reach across during cleaning. On the other hand, you can opt for a wider size if it occupies the middle of the room.
When choosing length, consider the number of people that will use the benchtop at once thereby preventing the inconvenience of two people struggling to enjoy their meal due to poor spacing.
Once you've considered your benchtop's size, functionality, and durability, ensure the option you're left with is visually appealing. Is it modern? Does it pair well with your interior decoration (cabinets, walls, joinery, etc.)? These factors are essential as they determine the reason you and other people get when entering your kitchen.
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