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.
Stone Benchtops Installer
A Look at Stone Benchtops
Stone benchtops can take your kitchen from boring to beautiful, while also proving to be functional, durable, and easy to maintain. If you are considering replacing your existing benchtops with some made of natural or manufactured stone, there are several things you should know first.
Here's a quick look at the top things to be aware of before deciding on your new stone benchtops.
The Types of Stone Benchtops
Usually, stone benchtops are divided into 2 categories: manufactured (also called engineered) and natural. Manufactured stone are typically made from crushed stone that has been mixed with resins before being formed into slabs. This process may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer.
Granite, followed by marble, is the most popular type of natural stone. Granite, which is denser than marble has to be sealed and polished to help prevent staining. It is available in a huge array of textures, colours, and patterns. For example, you can find everything from teal and purple to mottled Impalas.
Marble is also available in an assortment of colours and patterns, making it ideal for anyone who wants a bathroom or kitchen with a unique, designer touch. If you prefer something more neutral, travertine may be more your speed. Marble is extremely porous and also must be sealed to prevent staining.
Manufactured Stone Benchtops
Years ago, manufactured stone was thought of as the poor alternative to granite or marble. Today, this is no longer the case. Made from more than 90 percent crushed quartz aggregate mixed with polyester resin, various stones or crystals are also added to manufactured stone for added sparkle or color. Popular brand names include SmartStone, Quantum Quartz, and CaesarStone. Manufactured stone benchtops have a uniform appearance and are easily found in trendy white and off-white colours, which is one reason for its popularity. Other reasons people tend to purchase manufactured stone include:
Better resistance to scratching: Stone benchtops can easily become scratched, which is often very noticeable, particularly when the benchtops has a uniform colour. Manufactured stone has a mottled texture and hard resins, which helps minimize scratching.
More resistant to staining: Though manufactured stone is more stain resistant that marble or granite, it isn’t completely stain proof. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately to help prevent stains from forming.
There are a few disadvantages to choosing manufactured stone. For example, most people say these benchtops become more brittle as they age, particularly when they are exposed to UV rays. If you have a kitchen that is in direct sunlight, this may not be the best option. It’s also important to know that the resin used in manufactured stone is flammable. As a result, it cannot be used as back splash if you have a gas stove.
Other Things to Consider
When choosing a stone benchtop, either natural or manufactured, you’ll be able to choose between a single or double-thick edge. Typically, a single slab is around 20mm thick. To create a double thickness, a narrow band of matching stone is added to the benchtop’s edge. This is entirely based on personal preference. However, some people do suggest opting for a double-thick edge with manufactured stone because of their tendency to become brittle.
There are multiple edge treatments to choose from. This includes beveled or pencil edged and half or full bullnosed. If you opt for a double edged stone benchtop, it is recommended that you stay away from a pencil edge, which usually makes the joint between the pieces of stone more visible.
Keep in mind that patterns and colours of natural stone frequently vary greatly. This, of course, is what appeals to most homeowners. If you prefer something that is more uniform in appearance, you may want to consider something else entirely.