Natural Stone Countertops

Natural Stone Countertops. Breaking Down Stone Age Misconceptions

A natural stone countertop is as unique as an original work of art. Every stone that’s quarried from the earth has its own color, veining, and speckles, and these characteristics can’t be recreated with man-made materials. Stone has depth of character and a sophisticated feel. It’s both a prepped canvas and a natural, one-of-kind design pattern waiting for the stoneworker’s tools, and the architects or designers’ vision. While natural stone countertops take a little extra maintenance -the Jackson Pollock-like splatter of red wine stains needs to be treated immediately – by knowing the do’s and don’ts of stone and spills, you won’t end up a hostage to your countertop, calling a professional to restore the finish every time you have a dinner party.

At Connecticut Stone, we do our research on each and every stone to see what type of damage results in the most common household spills. From lemon juice, coffee, wine, milk, and more, we test these products to ensure we can relay accurate information to anyone looking to begin a project based on their activity in the kitchen. So, what are the best stones for kitchen countertops? It’s time to break down stone age misconceptions, one layer at a time.

What Natural Stone is the Best for Kitchen Countertops?

Ask a designer, architect, or tradesman what natural stone is best for kitchen countertops and you’ll get as many answers as there are stones in the earth. It all comes down to personal choice, aesthetic sensibility, and how much wear and tear you expect to inflict on the countertop. Are your children going to use it as a place to do homework? Are you a devoted foodie who’s constantly kneading pizza and pastry dough on the kitchen countertop?

Granite was once used only in high-end kitchens, but today quartzite is most popular due to the fact that it looks and feels like marble, but it’s strong like granite. Soapstone is a classic choice; it doesn’t crack, but it dents when it gets hit or banged with something, and the dents give it a used, distressed look that some homeowners love. Marble remains a very popular material of choice because of its unparalleled unique veining and colors. However, it is more temperamental, so people who choose marble should note that it has to be cared for in a particular way. For a family with kids that may use the counters a lot, durability will likely outweigh the aesthetics, so picking a stronger, less fragile stone is the way to go. However, if the client cooks a lot and doesn’t mind putting in the extra effort to care for their countertops, marble is a classic option. It’s all about understanding the customer and picking the right stone for their lifestyle and their needs.

Etching and Staining

Geology affects how a stone performs in the kitchen. Calcareous stones like marble, react to acidic products and will etch when it comes in contact with wine, fruit, vinegar, lemon juice, tomato sauce, etc. Limestone, travertine, dolomite, and onyx are all examples of calcareous stone. Siliceous stone, on the other hand, does not react to chemicals and therefore will not etch. Granite, soapstone, slate, and quartzite are examples of siliceous stone. Who knew a Phd in geology would be just as beneficial as an interior design degree from RISD when it came to choosing new countertops for the kitchen?

Honed Surfaces, Polished Surfaces, and Sealing

If you want a natural stone countertop that is made out of a calcareous stone like marble, then opt for a honed surface instead of a polished surface. Honed countertops have a matte-like finish that’s closer to acid etching than polished is; in other words, the orange juice spill isn’t going to be as noticeable as it would be on a polished piece. “On a polished finish, etching is going to turn it dull and be more visible. With honed, you’re dulling an already dull finish, so it disguises it,” says Evan Nussbaum, vice president of Stone Source in New York.

At the same time, if your heart is sold on polished marble (yes, because that classic white marble from Carrara, Italy is timeless), then the best way to protect the countertop from exposure is to be careful. Because there is no sealer to stop etching on calcareous stone, it’s important to use a cutting board, coasters, and to not place things directly on the countertop. The Natural Stone Institute suggests that most stone be sealed to protect it against dirt and spills. However, while sealing a natural stone counter is best practice, it’s important to remember it makes the stone more resistant to stain, but it does not make it stain proof. Technology has changed the stone industry, and there are more ways than ever to finish stone. Different brushing and polishing techniques have been developed, including a texture that’s commonly referred to as a leather or river-wash finish.

Kitchen countertops can make or break the aesthetic appeal of the kitchen. Whether your current obsession is sky-blue granite or burgundy quartzite, the beauty of natural stone will turn your kitchen countertop into an original work of art. Just make sure you do the proper research to ensure you have the right type of stone for your everyday needs. For more information on stone, staining and etching, or to begin a project, contact Connecticut Stone today.