New Treatments to Natural Stone Make Them More Accessible in Kitchens
Photos courtesy of Studio Stratton; Photography by Martin Mann Photography.
Homeowners looking for ways to update their kitchens are not always looking for a gut rehab job. With more natural stone options available on the market, and with recent advancements in sealing technology, choosing to install natural stone in busy household kitchens is an easier decision than ever.
“It’s very easy to change out countertops and backsplashes to give the kitchen a fresher look,” says Lance Stratton, president of Studio Stratton, a Southern California-based luxury kitchen and bath design firm.
“The look and color of a natural stone is paramount,” says Stratton. If the client doesn’t need to worry about whether the material will withstand normal wear and tear, the selection comes down to look, color and finish and available slab size.
Stratton and his firm tend to specify natural stone on most of their jobs. While he has five stone countertops on display in his showroom, he and his team typically accompany their clients to specific slab yards that they work with.
Natural Stone Trends in Kitchens
Marble is still king when it comes to kitchens, and Stratton has noticed quartzite being requested more often due to its hardness. They also occasionally specify soapstone.
In three recent kitchen projects, Stratton and his team used Nacarado quartzite for the counters and Versailles Chiseled limestone on the floors. Another home used a stunning Mont Blanc quartzite on the countertops. For a third, he used Casablanca Super White marble.
“Each of the homeowners of the three kitchens had different aesthetics and needs,” says Stratton, who worked with the homeowners to choose the stone mostly based on aesthetics and at that time the durability of the particular stone. He often recommends to homeowners to consider how a stone moves them. If it doesn’t move them, move on.
Speaking of movement, there seems to be a movement towards stones with a lot of pattern to them. Another trend Stratton is seeing is a desire to make a strong statement by using the same stone for both the countertop and the backsplash.
Choosing Between Quartzite and Engineered Quartz
“Quite often, clients are confused between quartz and quartzite,” Stratton admits. “When we can share some quartzite options that are about the same price as a manmade quartz, the choice is obvious. They’ll go with the quartzite.”
It’s hard to beat the beauty, texture and movement natural stone provides. “Natural stone has beauty and depth that enlivens any new kitchen or remodel,” Stratton adds. “It’s original and one-of-a-kind. So why go with a manmade product? Not every edge detail can be made with quartz, where you can with natural stone.”
Caring for Natural Stone in Kitchens
Homeowners are often concerned about using natural stone in a space that gets a lot of activity, such as a busy kitchen. They may worry about staining white marble with red wine or pasta sauce, for example. Stratton shares maintenance tips with his customers to help minimize these concerns.
“We always let clients know that natural stone will need to be sealed after install,” Stratton says. He notes some impregnating sealers on the market need to be applied twice at install but last for years after that process.
Sealing is typically completed by the fabricator after install. In heavy use areas, Stratton recommends resealing periodically.
Being diligent when spills happen and cleaning them up immediately means they don’t get absorbed and stain the stone. Stratton reminds clients that natural stone countertops are much easier to maintain than they think because they aren’t having to clean porous grout on a regular basis. A simple wipe down is usually all you need.
For example, Stratton notes that quartzite is just as durable as manmade materials and a regular wipe down is all you need. Marble, he admits, requires a little more attention and if you spill wine on marble, you should wipe that up before it has a chance to set.
What about natural stone flooring in a kitchen? “Limestone floors can also have an impregnating sealer applied,” Stratton says. “They just need to be cleaned with soft soap and water on a regular basis, to remove excess dirt.”
Another option Stratton has found and has recommended to some clients is Italian-based Azerocare by Antolini.
“Azerocare is protected by an international patent,” says Stratton. “It’s a permanent treatment applied to polished marbles, onyxes, and soft quartzites [dolomitic marbles]. It gives full protection against etching and staining from lemon, red wine, coffee, tomato juice, vinegar, mustard, ketchup and oil, to name a few. It’s a permanent treatment that has been tested with the items above for at least 12 hours. It also has bacteriostatic treatment.”
At the end of the day, Stratton still reminds clients that any time wine, oils, or other items spill on natural stone, sealed or not, it should be wiped it up quickly. “Don’t leave overnight and expect the sealer to work,” he says.
There is an inherent beauty that comes with natural stone. While synthetic products might try to imitate its natural veining, they can’t compare. Stratton also shares with clients there is a natural patina that occurs with age.
There are many reasons homeowners choose natural stone in their kitchens and with new technology and resources that allow for more stress-free living, they have more options than ever to create a space they love.