Not only is the countertop material one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen, it is one of, if not the most touched surfaces in the home, and choosing the wrong material could be a costly mistake. Of course, there is not one right choice, and it largely has to do with your own tolerance for maintenance and patina. Today we're sharing everything you need to know about our three favorites.
If you love the look of a Parisian cafe table worn by years of people enjoying their day as much as we do, you're probably already enamored with marble. It brings a timeless note of luxury to any space, and is equally at home in the bath as the kitchen. Because it is a natural material, no two slabs are exactly alike and the organic nature of the movement of the veining and the subtle color variations simply cannot be replicated with synthetic material.
The types of marble actually vary greatly in color, movement, and cost, with the most widely available type, Carrara, actually being quite affordable. Our favorite is Calacatta Gold for its special veining to add warmth to the space. Some types are more resistant to stains than others, and the way it is finished will also make a difference in durability. A polished -- or shiny -- finish will stain less, while a honed matte finish will stain more easily but etch less. If you choose marble, be prepared to wipe any stains immediately, always use a cutting board, and reseal it often and even still, you may need to overlook imperfections as patina. If you're a perfectionist, this stone is probably not for you.
Pros: Marble is heat-resistant and ideal for rolling out dough, which is why it is synonymous with bakeries. If sealed properly, it can actually be cleaned up quite easily, and if you appreciate patina, you will find that it ages beautifully.
Cons: It is not known for being low maintenance and it will stain or etch when it comes in contact with acidic liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato sauce. Because it is porous, it requires frequent re-sealing, especially around a sink or stove.
If you love the look of marble but can't stomach the wear or required maintenance, this is a great substitute. This man-made material is designed to mimic natural stone but is more durable and requires less maintenance. We often specify Quartz in busy households (like our #ProjectSuburbsGoBeachy above) where the children will be taking meals or doing art projects at the island because we can get that clean, classic marble-inspired look with a lot less trouble.
Pros: Quartz is stain-, scratch-, and heat-resistant, and doesn't require resealing to keep it that way. It is non-porous, making it easily cleaned and sanitized, and is harder than marble or even granite, so it can really take a beating.
Cons: Nothing can take the place of natural stone, and it will not likely be mistaken for real marble, though many versions are quite pretty in their own right. Because it is manufactured, it cannot be easily repaired in the event that it does crack or chip.
A natural stone that cannot stain, burn, or be harmed by acids, it's no wonder that soapstone is often found in science laboratories. While we often think about it being dark, it naturally occurs in light-to-mid-gray colors -- often with green undertones -- and is darkened by using wax, oil, or aging products designed for that purpose.
Soapstone's naturally leathery finish adds the perfect visual element to any kitchen, whether modern or traditional, and we especially love it in a white kitchen. You have the option to either allow the natural patina to develop over time or oil the surface for a darkened sheen.
Pros: The non-porous surface is dense, making it easier to keep clean and sanitize than other natural stones. Because it doesn't react with acids, staining is not an issue and hot pans can be placed directly on it.
Cons: While it varies in degrees of hardness, soapstone is generally considered soft and can scratch easily, though shallow nicks can often be sanded down or filled in with wax. It does chip easily, so care should be take with heavy cookware, especially at the edges. Because it will react to the oils on your hands, heavily-used areas will darken more quickly than other areas making it wear unevenly. And of course, if you want to keep that rich, dark appearance that it is known for, it will require regular application of an oil or wax.
As we said that the beginning, there is no one perfect material, but it is our job to parse out the perfect material for our clients based on their aesthetic preferences and practical needs. If you'd like our help with an upcoming project, please get in touch by filling out a design inquiry and a member of our staff will be in touch soon!