3 Questions To Ask Before Using Natural Stone In Your Kitchen
Natural stone plays a prominent role in many kitchen remodels. Here are three questions to consider when choosing a stone for your kitchen project.
1. How Will the Stone Perform?
When considering natural stone for a kitchen project, Tom “TK” Kenny, partner at
Scott Simpson Design + Build, an integrated design/build firm specializing in new home construction, historic renovations, and eco-conscious green building projects in the Chicagoland area feels the most important question to ask is about the porosity of the natural stone you want to use. “It is important to know this as it will dictate how easy the stone will be to maintain,” says Kenny.
Anna Gibson, AKBD, owner and chief designer of AKG Design Studio, a firm that provides curated kitchen and bathroom design services for the DC metro area, agrees that it’s important to know how a stone will perform. She recommends marble for bakers, since it is an ideal surface for rolling out dough. For busy families, she often recommends they consider natural stone such as granite or quartzite for its durability and low maintenance. “We had a client whose dog tends to jump on the counters,” Gibson said. “We went with quartzite.”
Buddy Ontra, owner of Ontra Stone in Bridgeport, Connecticut, always educates his customers on their stone. He created a document that provides maintenance instructions for the stone, covering everything from wear expectations to “do’s and don’ts” for the material to ensure that they understand how the stone will perform and how best to care for it. Be sure to talk to your fabricator about any cleaning, maintenance, and sealing questions you may have about your stone.
2. How Durable is the Stone?
Another important thing to consider is the stone’s durability. The type of natural stone you choose in a kitchen will dictate how you live in the space, says Kenny. He often recommends quartzite because it has many of the features homeowners want –it’s beautiful, but its durability also makes it relatively low maintenance.
“Quartzite is durable and easy to clean but also as beautiful as other more porous stones like marble,” he says.
Some homeowners may think the fact that they use their kitchens and are hard on their countertops mean that they shouldn’t choose natural stone. Our experts recommend not underestimating the durability of real stone. Kenny notes: “A natural stone offers depth that a synthetic material, no matter how well-made, can never mimic.” In addition to the durability of the material, Kenny appreciates that the craftsmanship of the quarrier, fabricator, and installer can shine through the material: “You can see the labor of love from someone who toiled over it to somehow make it even more beautiful.” That isn’t possible with a synthetic product.
3. How Thick is the Natural Stone Slab & What Type of Finish Is Preferred?
Finally, in addition to the density and strength of the stone you should consider the thickness of the slab, Kenny advises. “We can miter the stone to make it look thicker but it should still be a consideration if you want to avoid this additional labor,” he adds.
People should also think about what type of finish they prefer. Kenny is noticing many of his homeowner clients gravitating toward a leathered finish, which he says adds texture. Honed or leathered finishes are also growing in popularity for light colored stones because they tend to disguise etch marks.
Natural Stone As Art
In the end, many people are drawn to natural stone because it is unique and one of a kind. No slab is like the other which means you will always have a one-of-a-kind kitchen.
“Natural stone is like looking at art: you always find something else to look at, another detail that you may have missed when you wiped it down after breakfast,” says Gibson.
Kenny agrees. “No two pieces are alike,” he adds. “Some of the stones have explosions of color where you can almost see the violence of the creation, like when the volcano erupted. Yet sometimes that creation is a patient one that happened over millions of years of tectonic pressure.”