The look is rich, the feel is luxurious and the material is durable. Such is the definition of a natural stone countertop. Whether it comes in the form of a slab or produced as individual tiles each piece of the natural stone is unique unto itself.
Always take time and care to choose the one that will work best for your needs. Most are virtually maintenance-free and some require a bit of tender loving care to look their best such as regular staining or oiling. Natural stone countertops come in a variety of finishes with the most common being polished, high gloss, honed or matte. Below are some of the variables of living stone countertops.
Granite is the most durable of the natural stone countertops. The only harder stone is the diamond. It will not scratch, crack, or chip and can withstand heat. It can though break dishes or glasses if set down too hard. Granite is available in rich colors and a polish that won’t wear off. Since granite is porous you need to reseal it about once a year.
Soapstone, which is primarily made up of the mineral talc is popular in both modern or country-style kitchens. The nature of soapstone means acids won’t etch the stone and the stains can be easily sanded out. Homeowners tend to like the not so perfect soapstone and view it as a character instead of flaws. Mineral oil brings out its rich, dark color and makes it shine.
The sleek and elegant marble countertop is timeless. Usually found in the baker’s kitchen, it is the serious bakers’ choice for rolling dough. Marble is more porous than granite so it requires sealant to be applied more frequently to prevent stains. Since it is not nearly as hard as some other stone countertops, it is best to be used in small sections instead of the primary countertop.
Beautiful slate is available in tones of gray, green, purple, and black. It’s certainly not just for roofs or floors anymore. Slate is definitely becoming a popular choice in the kitchen. Its beauty and strength make it a durable and stylish option. As with soapstone, regular treatment with mineral oil will bring out the beauty of this material. Any scratches can usually be removed by rubbing with a damp sponge. Deeper scratches can be buffed out by using steel wool.
Limestone consists mainly of calcite, a neutral-toned mineral. Limestone varies in hardness but is a more porous stone that stains easily. It requires regular resealing to prevent stains.
Quartz is an interesting stone countertop. Though often called engineered stone, this material is composed of natural quartz mixed with epoxy resin binders. Quartz is an incredibly hard and durable surface. It is nonabsorbent that makes it more user-friendly and stain-resistant. It is basically maintenance-free with just a simple wipe off with warm water. Different pigments are mixed in the making of the quartz surfacing and because of this, there are beautiful colors to choose from.
Lava stone is a more unusual countertop material that is often sold under the French brand name Pyrolave. Lava stone is quarried in France then enameled and fired. It has a very high gloss finish and colors can be customized.