Countertops, countertops, countertops! What color? What look? What material? So many things to consider…and consider…and consider
There is engineered stone, concrete, various synthetics, AND THEN there’s STONE. It comes in a wide range of patterns – or crystal size and distribution, many colors, shades, tones, and sometimes in unexpected combinations of colors.
There’s stone that is very subtle, that quietly lays on the countertop secure in its own beauty, stone that is quite lively and has contrast and movement in it, and stone that is the super star of the whole room, no matter how large or what else is going on in it. Stone is a living, breathing beauty, with depth, character, and personal charm.
Stone will be found anywhere in the earth where there was once a volcano or a metamorphic process. Which means we can choose from stones that come from anywhere in the world, except Antarctica. Or undersea, at least currently.
Importers bring in slabs of it that are cut in sequential lots so that while no two slabs in a sequence are identical, those that are in the same lot will be very close to the same color and pattern. So when you choose it, you are choosing the slabs from the lot number you are identifying with your distributor as the stone that will e in your house. How’s that! From an ancient volcano to your house!
Why stone? Because it is the most durable and beautiful material out there. There are others who disagree, and it’s their prerogative to see it the way they do, since everyone sees differently. But, since synthetics will cost the same or more than stone, are not as durable, and have significant downsides in their production, why not consider stone?
Care of Stone? It’s sealed at the fabricator’s when they make your countertops out of your selected slabs. It is sealed by the installer after it is installed. So for you? Minimal. Wipe it down once a year if you feel like it with a sealant. But many of our clients have never resealed their stone because it just hasn’t been needed. It doesn’t burn from hot pans, it’s really hard to ding it (it has to be cut with diamond blades or laserjets), if it stains – granite rarely stains, marble a bit more easily – we have a compound that removes the stain. Check with your designer as to the appropriate type of stone for the use you are intending for it. Choose the one you really, really love. Design the rest of your space around the stone. And then just enjoy it. For a long, long time.
Countertops and usually back-splashes are often the most immediately noticed materials in a kitchen, though wall cabinets can also be a big part of the first impression. Depending on a kitchen’s design, the countertop may be the most noticed material. In any case, they play a major role in determining the aesthetic and psychological appeal in a kitchen space. So their selection deserves to be considered with care. Many people are afraid of making a mistake, so they settle for something they consider “safe” and end up with a kitchen that looks like everyone else’s, nice, but nothing that really interests the homeowner, the people who see it every day.
Sometimes people are guided in their choice of countertops because of concerns about the care of countertops. There is a lot of cautious advice out there, which, of course, always starts with the fully reasonable goal of avoiding a costly mistake. However, as with any caution, acknowledging the concern, but looking realistically at the entire scope of data is always a wise approach.
A good fabricator will seal the stone after fabrication, and then re-seal the stone upon installation. For many of our residential clients, that is the last time they every thing a about sealing the stone. The Marble Institute of America, in an abundance of caution, recommends sealing the stone once a year or more often. Since it is not hard to do, and not particularly inclined to fill your home with noxious odors, there is no harm in so doing. But, most people have busy lives, and minimal time for any upkeep on almost anything except their primary concerns – job, marriage, children, friends, pets, meals, laundry, errands, sleep, doctor, dentist, vet, garden, etc. Sealing the countertop usually sinks lower and lower on their list, with no harm to anyone. Sort of like washing windows – it happens once in a great while, and it’s great, and then life takes off again.
So, in the end, the most important question involves what happens every day – and since the kitchen is often where life happens, is this something that will speak joy and beauty to your soul every day?