STONE - NATURAL, MAN-MADE
One of the more expensive materials out there, natural stone (such as marble, granite, slate, etc.) is a material choice that generally oozes opulence and elegance, much like the bubbles in sparkling water!
Natural stone can be sourced from all corners of the globe and because of this, a type of marble quarried in Italy will be completely different to one quarried in Spain, even though it has the same name. Even batches in the same quarry can vary, so unless you’re happy to leave the final look to chance, ensure that you are asking for a sample of the current batch stock before you say yes to the product.
PROS: Natural stone is sexy. It’s the hands-down winner in the raw beauty stakes, straight from Mother Earth with a bit of help from the good old stonemason to polish it up!
CONS: Stone is a porous surface and will need to be sealed and maintained to protect against damages like staining. Coffee, beetroot, saffron, turmeric and red wine are some of the more serious offenders! Natural stone can also be damaged by certain chemicals in some household cleaners, so make sure you’re checking what is safe to use before wiping down your benchtop, to avoid any potential damage.
There is a debate about whether it’s okay to place hot pans on marble benchtops – personally, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing if only for a short time, just be aware that the stone will absorb the heat from pans and adjacent surfaces, which could be a potential burn spot for anyone who isn’t expecting the surface to be hot.
Engineered stone is made up of real stone bits crushed up and bound with acrylic resin to create a workable surface. These products are generally supplied in sheets with varying degrees of thickness, and are adhered to a substrate. This means your kitchen can be fabricated to create a natural stone look – without being natural stone, or weighing as much as it!
There are some engineered stones made to mimic the natural material – and some do it really well. Depending on your budget, this might be appropriate, but I’ll always suggest the real deal if you can justify it.
PROS: This is a considerably lighter product than its natural counterpart, making it easier to move around and work with in the factory.
CONS: Because engineered stone is manufactured in sheet sizes, there will be size limitations to what is achievable with this product.