If you are considering a kitchen or bathroom remodel, it’s important to think about a key element of that job: new countertops. Natural stone countertops may, in fact, be the best choice for you. Natural stone is as ancient as the earth itself, adding beauty and elegance to a kitchen or bathroom remodel. Natural stone has graced such ancient monuments as the Egyptian pyramids, a variety of Roman and Greek architectural beauties, and even majestic statues from the Indian and Chinese civilizations.

The Great Pyramids are thought to be the first natural stone monuments, built from massive granite blocks and limestone. Later, the Greeks built the Parthenon with its giant pillars made from marble. In India, fine sculptures and stone carvings made from natural stone adorned temples—think of the Taj Mahal, which was constructed entirely of marble. As improved methods of quarrying came into existence, Michelangelo created marble sculptures.

At some point, natural stone fell somewhat out of favor, in lieu of more functional architecture. The last decade or so has seen a return to using eco-friendly materials like natural stone, particularly for kitchen and bathroom countertops. While natural stone was once only seen in high-end homes, today many homeowners choose some form of natural stone countertops because of its aesthetic appeal, durability and competitive pricing.

You can now find natural stone countertops in a much larger variety of colors and patterns, bringing warmth and vibrancy into the décor. The Cincinnati design team of Countertops and Cabinetry by Design can help you choose the best natural stone countertop for your décor. There are many different types of natural stone, including the following:

Marble

Marble is perhaps the most well-known type of natural stone. Bakers love to knead dough on cold marble. On the other hand, though, it’s important for you to know that, despite the beauty of marble, it is a porous surface that requires a significant level of maintenance. Marble can be very vulnerable to stains, particularly wine, juices and oils. Since marble stains are almost impossible to reverse, it is imperative that a marble countertop be professionally sealed to help avoid stains. Even when a marble countertop is properly sealed, the process must be repeated about every six months if the surface is a high-traffic area. Marble is also susceptible to etching from any type of acid, like lemon juice. Any type of prolonged exposure to an acid can remove the sealer from the marble, dulling it and making it more vulnerable to scratches. But marble is also very heat-resistant—even so, you should never place a very hot pot on marble without benefit of a trivet or pot holder. What attracts most to marble is its classic beauty, so it could be a great choice if maintenance is not a primary concern.

Soapstone

Soapstone will naturally darken over the years, and because it is non-porous, it does not stain like marble, even without benefit of a sealer. If you want your soapstone countertop to darken, you can treat the surface with mineral oil. A great benefit of soapstone is that it is impervious to acids like lemon juice and is very heat resistant. The only real downside to soapstone is that it is softer than some other types of natural stone, making it more susceptible to nicks and scratches—although such blemishes can often be successfully buffed out with sandpaper. Since soapstone is a natural stone, there aren’t as many color options as manufactured countertop materials. Soapstone countertops come in an array of grays, greens and black tones. It’s also important to note that if your countertop is longer than seven feet, you will probably have seams since soapstone is typically quarried in smaller slabs than marble or granite.

Travertine

Travertine is a form of limestone that’s typically deposited by mineral hot springs, giving it a fibrous appearance. Travertine exists in white, tan, cream and rust colors, and homeowners often choose travertine because of its resemblance to marble. Those with light-colored wood cabinets might want to consider a cream-toned travertine countertop. When travertine countertops are properly sealed at the time of installation, maintenance is simple.

Limestone

Limestone countertops add a touch of elegance to the appearance of your kitchen or bath, with a delicate, almost ancient look. Limestone tends to cost less than granite or marble, coming in a variety of textures and soft colors. Limestone is a “sensitive” stone, meaning it must be treated carefully. Like marble, limestone can be damaged by acids, and due to its porosity, it may scratch and stain more easily.

Jerusalem Stone

Jerusalem Stone is the most popular building material in Israel, with the city of Jerusalem being built and rebuilt with this substance. Current laws in Jerusalem require that all structures be covered in Jerusalem stone, creating a unique look. There are a variety of finishes for Jerusalem stone, including brushed/antiqued, polished/honed, sandblasted and tumbled.

Onyx

Onyx is a fine-grained type of quartz, with color banding. Because onyx is translucent, the substance can be truly spectacular when backlit, and comes in a wide array of colors.

Quartzite

Quartzite is a strong material, resistant to heat, and stain-resistant. Quartzite is formed from quartz and sandstone under significant pressure and heat. The process used to manufacture quartzite makes it even harder than quartz.

What are the Advantages of Natural Stone Countertops?

Natural stone countertops can truly transform a kitchen or bathroom and are aesthetically pleasing to many. Natural stone countertops will usually last a lifetime with proper care. Since no two slabs of soapstone, marble or granite are exactly alike, your natural stone countertops will be one-of-a-kind. Natural stone countertops also never seem to go out of style and always add value to a home.

What are the Disadvantages of Natural Stone Countertops?

Most natural stone countertops are at least somewhat porous, meaning a sealant is necessary. If chips and scratches do occur, due to natural stone’s relative softness, a professional can often repair these blemishes. Natural stones tend to be very heavy, therefore some floors or cabinets might need at least some level of structural reinforcement prior to installing a natural stone countertop.

What Should I Consider Before Choosing My Natural Stone Countertops?

  • Budget—You may expect your natural stone countertops to range in price from $40-$150 per square foot, installed. Compare this to granite countertops which range from $50-$250 per square foot, and solid surface countertops beginning at $35 per square foot.
  • Dimensions—As noted, natural stone is quarried in smaller slabs than granite, therefore seams are likely in a natural stone countertop, although these seams might not always be readily apparent.

How Can We Help You?

The countertop in your kitchen or bath can truly set the tone for the entire room. Of all the countertop materials you can purchase, natural stone is considered a gold standard for looks and durability. Because each rock pulled from the earth has its own color, veining and speckles, your natural stone counter can be as distinctive as an original work of art. The design team at Countertops and Cabinetry by Design uses a different approach than that of our counterparts for installation so that it can be as simple for you as possible. Our unique business model allows for faster turnaround time and a higher degree of customization.

Our square footage model allows us to offer clients a more customized solution, using the leftover materials for other jobs, thereby offering our clients lower prices and more options. We want to ensure our clients have control over their remodel and have all their questions answered so you can have the best result you’re looking for. We want to minimize your frustration with the remodel, by getting in and out of your home in the most efficient manner. If you are in the greater Cincinnati area or the Mason, or West Chester area, contact Countertops and Cabinetry by Design for all your remodel needs today.