Whether in kitchens or bathrooms, natural stone countertops add an aesthetic beauty that’s impossible to match with manufactured products. But, given the challenges that countertops face in kitchens and bathrooms, they need to be hard-wearing, stain-resistant, non-porous, easy to clean and durable.
Making the right choice for your stone countertops can add significantly to the appearance of your kitchen and bathroom. But, with many varieties available, can you make that choice correctly? Here are the five most popular stones with descriptions of their qualities.
Although previously associated with high-end properties, granite is now the number one choice for quality countertops. It’s an igneous rock that’s formed by extreme temperature and pressure deep in the Earth’s crust that fuse small quantities of quartz and feldspar. This gives granite remarkable heat resistance, superior hardness and an attractive speckled or mottled appearance that makes each stone unique in colour and pattern.
Granite has small pores or crevices that need to be sealed initially and then resealed regularly. This will prevent staining, increase water resistance and make the countertop safe for preparing food. It is one of the most expensive materials and comes in relatively small slabs so there may be seams along the countertop, although these are often disguised by the granite’s veining and overall pattern, and does not detract from the stone’s beauty.
Quartzite has many similarities to granite but is less frequently used since it is slightly more expensive. It’s a metamorphic rock formed naturally when extreme pressures and temperatures are applied to quartz sandstone. Individual quartz grains and materials holding them together form a mosaic with a smooth and glassy surface while impurities add colour and form streaks that make the stone resemble marble.
Quartzite is denser than granite and so has greater resistance to staining, chipping and scratches. Like many natural stones, it requires regular sealing but no other maintenance is necessary other than cleaning.
Marble was the material of choice for classical sculptors and remains a premium choice for bathroom and kitchen designers. It’s a metamorphic rock formed through extreme pressure in the Earth’s crust being applied to limestone or dolomite. This causes impurities to create a huge number of colours and patterns, giving marble an elegant and striking appearance with different veining patterns and shades.
Marble does not conduct heat but is not as durable as granite and some other materials, and so can be scratched and chipped without due care. It is porous and can stain easily so needs to be sealed regularly, in common with many other stones.
Ancient Rome was largely built of travertine, a classical stone that has stood the test of time. It’s part of the limestone family and has a variety of earthy tones that give it a subtle elegance.
Travertine is heavy but easy to cut and fit, is often installed as tiles but also as slabs. It’s a porous stone that needs to be sealed to prevent water penetration and staining. It also needs to be cleaned with non-acidic agents but, if properly looked after, will have the beauty and longevity of Ancient Rome.
In a wide range of generally pastel shades, onyx has a unique and exotic look, with varied patterns that will enhance any kitchen or bathroom. Although it can be brittle and react to acids, it can last for generations if sealed and treated properly.
Onyx is a relatively expensive stone but will add value to any property with its translucent appearance. It’s easy to keep clean and, with care, will enhance any room.
Natural stone is often a personal choice. We provide tiles and countertops in all stones and can advise the best one to suit your situation. Any of them will help create a great looking kitchen or bathroom.