As both a cook and a designer I often get asked about which materials are best for kitchen benchtops. My answer is always honed marble (my personal favourite varieties are statuary or Carrara) or soapstone. I really enjoy their mellow appearance set against the polished fixtures of my kitchen and its semigloss-painted cabinets.
The Difference Between Commercial Quality & Premium Quality Granite Slabs
Want to know the difference between commercial quality and premium quality slabs?
Mr Alberto Antolini from Antolini Luigi, one of the biggest names in the stone industry was recently interviewed and was asked to explain the difference between commercial quality and premium quality slabs.
Here is what he said....
"Everything has to start from the quarry, from the mine. And the first selection I think is very important, in the quarry of the rough blocks."
"The inspector of blocks or purchasing managers around the world go in and inspect block-by-block, and in doing so take hours to inspect a single block at a time with a lot of systems, a lot of knowledge and a lot of expertise."
"There is a lot of companies that are selling commercial quality for premium quality but there’s a big difference between these two categories."
"You need to be aware that when you select your slab you see it’s physicality, see the slab that you’re going to have in your benchtop.
A commercial quality granite slab can be naturally imperfect. For example, in a movement stone, you need to have a certain balance of the colour, you need to have a certain veining movement that makes the slab look nice. When you see an off balance in the colour movement or when you spot a vein that doesn’t belong to the natural design, the natural movement of the material and the finished benchtop created potentially will be flawed."
"What makes a commercial slab can be as simple as an open piece or micro facial crack in the middle. These elements can turn a premium quality slab into a commercial quality slab."
"Besides the natural imperfections, there can be production imperfections which occur during the cutting process. This sometimes result in a big difference in the thickness in the same slab. Just as important is the polish process creating an impeccable shining polish in the slabs, otherwise, it the slab becomes commercial quality instead of premium."
Saving money on a cheaper benchtop - is it worth it?
Their is a huge misconception on the long term benefits of saving a few hundred dollars on choosing poorer quality granite benchtop.
When you selecting a granite bechtop be aware of two important factors.
Selecting a uniform consistent colour is less difficult. A great finsihed granite becnhtop has to be consistent and uniform, without uneven veins, darker spots or lighter spots in the middle.
It is vitally important that the two or three slabs you need for your kitchen - for the island, the main kitchen top and the splashback - need to be from the same slab, so there’s not a big difference between one slab and the other.
Ask to put the templates on top of the slabs that you select to see if the premium quality is uniform in the movement, balance and not dark on one side, light on the other side or from the top to the bottom, two completely different colours.
By not doing this you can potentially have a completely off balance kitchen and you’re not going to be satisfied.
Antolini Luigi said, "The last few years I would say that a lot of fabricators and a lot of importers are trying to maybe sell the commercial grade for premium, as I said before."
"So it’s very important that you hand select, you take your time because after the job is done it’s going to be a big headache to change and rebuild off all the granite top in the kitchen island. So, take your time, go around, see the material, select one-by-one and then when you see that it’s the premium quality with the right colour, then go for it."
Use premium quality slabs and make sure you see the slabs before they go into production so that there are no surprises when the benchtop ends up in your kitchen.