Arguably the most essential feature of a kitchen’s appearance and functionality is the countertops. Whether remodelling the space or looking to upgrade the existing one, nothing says more about the quality of the kitchen than the type of material used for the countertop. While some of us may remember the unsightly laminate and formica countertops of the 1960’s and 70’s, today there is a wide range of high-end options available that are exquisite and robust.
The most exciting materials being used today for countertop design are those made of stone. While stone is not the only material out there that is high-quality, it is generally thought to be the most beautiful and durable. Natural stone countertops deliver the wow factor that is sure to impress both family and friends.
Below we will examine some of the different natural stone countertop options that are perfect for installation.
Marble is perhaps the most luxurious of all the stone countertop options. The timeless beauty of this magnificent stone is impressive and delivers eye-popping style to a room. Marble is available in shades of black, white, brown, gray and green and these are not solid colours but have different coloured swirls and patterns running through them that are breathtaking. Marble is a soft stone, so it efficiently works into custom shapes and sizes. Marble runs from 125 to 250 dollars a square foot.
There is a caveat to using marble, though. Since marble is porous, it quickly absorbs stains, mainly when acidic liquids such as tomato sauce, salad dressing or red wine spill onto the surface. This susceptibility to staining can be a game breaker for some, who opt for the impervious surface of granite instead. Also, because marble is a soft stone, it can chip or show scratches.
Granite is a popular material and for a good reason. Different colours of granite come from different geographical locations, so it is easy to match with the overall colour scheme of the kitchen walls, cabinets, and floor. Granite is virtually indestructible and has a luxurious appearance that is tasteful and elegant.
It is available in a wide range of colours from pink to red to brown, back and even blue. Some veins tend to run through the stone enhancing the natural appeal of the material. Depending on the quality, granite can run anywhere from 75 to 250 dollars a square foot. Another advantage to using granite is that it is usually treated with a sealant to fill the pores of the stone and this process enhances stain resistance.
For those who are looking for a genuinely tough surface, surpassing even granite, quartz is the choice. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on the planet. Another thing to consider is that quartz is cost effective compared to granite at about 75 to 140 dollars a square foot. Quartz comes in a variety of colours, including some stunning white varieties that are almost impossible to stain. Bright reds and greens, as well as muted browns and blacks, make quartz quite versatile from a design perspective. Families with children may want to think about using quartz because of the low maintenance and durability. Quartz can be spilled on and beat on and will hold up without a problem.
Quartz is not a naturally mined slab of stone like marble or granite. Instead, quartz is made in a factory of somewhere around 90 percent ground quartz combined with pigments for coloration and resins, which make the material stain and scratch resistant. All the swirls and variations in colour found in granite and marble are available in quartz, and the result is the same quality of appearance at a lower price with less maintenance.
Limestone is a natural stone that is an exciting option to investigate for a countertop. It’s a soft stone that comes in warm colours that blend naturally into the décor. Limestone is a sedimentary stone, formed by the remains of ancient reefs and associated minerals. In some cases, fossilised remains of marine organisms are visible in the stone, adding a unique and intriguing feature to its application. Because limestone is soft and porous, it requires treatment to be stain resistant, and these treatments need to be applied regularly.
Limestone is a fragile stone and is not well-suited for heavy use. The stone is not heat resistant and will scar if a hot pan is set down upon it for even a short time. Limestone is also susceptible to chipping and cracking, so some caution is advisable when installing this stone. Limestone is an excellent choice for the aesthetic qualities that are different from other stones, and this distinctive look makes it the right option for many homeowners. Provided that limestone receives proper care, the stone is a luxurious counter surface. Limestone prices out around 50 to 75 dollars per square foot.
For optimal stain resistance, few surfaces can rival soapstone. Although soapstone is a soft stone, it is not porous and does not need to be sealed or treated like granite or limestone. Usually, mineral oil is applied to soapstone from time to time to achieve uniformity of darkness in colour. Soapstone colours are different shades of grey and white, with some off-white and pearl, also. Some of the whites have beautiful soft gray marbling in them, which looks warm and inviting. The warmth of this stone is a big reason why people select it, but in comparison to granite and marble, soapstone does not have the dramatic nuances in shading.
Soapstone will scratch, but lighter scratches remove easily with regular grit sandpaper and mineral oil afterwards. It’s also relatively inexpensive, ranging from about 70 to 120 dollars per square foot.
Slate is an excellent countertop material because it looks great and is low maintenance. Colours vary from brown and pewter to charcoal, grey, and black. It’s very affordable with prices between 50 to 70 dollars per square foot. Slate is non-porous and will not absorb any liquids, so spills are not an issue. It holds up well to heat, and a hot pan or pot will not leave a mark on this material. Slate surfaces will not chip or crack under most conditions and look sharp with a variety of colour schemes.
Slate is a natural rock that made from clay and silt that compresses for millions of years. The fact that slate is less common than surfaces such as granite appeals to a lot of people in addition to the affordability and durability. Slate is a practical choice that looks fantastic.
Now, there are other countertop surfaces that some favour, such as wood or tile. However, for long lasting beauty and resilience, most designers recommend stone. A quick trip to a local design and installation business to look at some samples is a quick way to become familiar with appearances, colouring, textures, and pricing. The countertop that best suits any homeowner is at their disposal and can soon become an integral part of the home for many years.
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