The elegance and beauty of natural stone is a perfect fit for kitchens, baths, fireplaces and outdoor spaces. Whether you choose granite, marble, travertine, limestone, soapstone or quartz, these hardy surfaces will last a lifetime with minimal care. Natural stone offers a wide variety of color and grains, and you are guaranteed a countertop that is uniquely yours.
The most popular natural stone countertop is granite. Valued for its hardness and resistance to scratches, granite comes in many colors and no two slabs are ever identical. Granite comes from all over the world — Brazil, China, India — or right from your home state. It is also heat proof, up to 350 degrees, making it a very practical choice for the kitchen. A low-maintenance product, some granite only requires sealing every 3 to 5 years! Granite is also one of the most bacteria-resistant kitchen surfaces, and resists most substances that can stain, such as coffee, tea or wine. Granite can withstand almost all house cleaners, and its durability makes it a lifetime investment.
There’s nothing quite like the beauty of marble, with its smooth and polished surface and variety of colors. It’s not just for countertops in the kitchen and bath — marble is often a key architectural component in staircases, pillars and bars, just to name a few. The beautiful striations in marble are caused by impurities, usually when iron or carbon is trapped during formation. Because marble is not as durable or stain-resistant as granite, it is not recommended for high-use kitchen countertops. But its warm, earthy tones are a perfect accent in any kitchen. Marble is also a striking addition to any bathroom, and its ability to sustain heat makes marble an ideal choice for the fireplace.
Travertine is becoming a popular choice for kitchen and bath countertops. Its creamy hues and attractive striations are often compared to marble. And unlike marble, travertine is hardy enough for outdoor installation. Furthermore, it comes in a slab or as tiles, giving you maximum flexibility for your design. Easier to cut than porcelain tile, it allows you to get very creative in your bathroom spaces. Although travertine is heat and moisture resistant, it is reactive to acid — prolonged exposure to orange juice, and even some common household cleaners, will stain travertine. It is not recommended for heavy use kitchen countertops, unless you are very diligent about wiping it down.
Limestone is a beautiful stone that comes in all sorts of varieties. The softer kinds of limestone are easy to work with, particularly in areas where special fabrication is required. Cheaper than granite, limestone comes in a seemingly infinite array of colors, grains and patterns. Many folks choose limestone because of its unique story — it’s formed over time from the shells and the fossils of aquatic life and further shaped by sand. But its history is also its shortcoming for many uses — limestone is porous, stains quite easily and scratches. But there are denser forms of limestone more suited to the kitchen, and simple precautions and the right cleaners or sealers can keep your limestone countertop in very good condition for a long time.