Natural stone comes in so many types and colors that choosing the right natural stone for your kitchen can be a challenge. If you’ve never gone through this process before, you may not even be aware of the many variables to consider as you make your selection.
Often, stone slabs have unpredictable variations in color and patterns, which can make identifying the perfect slab (or slabs) quite a process. Most important to keep in mind is that when you’re choosing real stone from the earth, perfection can be found in the unexpected patterns and the unusual pops of color that makes each slab unique. The process of finding the right slab is a process of discovery, with some problem-solving and creative thinking required. These tips can help.
1. Bring Samples of Your Cabinet Doors, Paint, Floors
If you’re remodeling your entire kitchen, you probably have several samples of paint swatches, flooring material and cabinet finishes at your house. Bring your samples with you when you’re going to select countertops.
Hold samples up to each slab and remember that the color match doesn’t need to be exact – in fact, your cabinets, floors and paint are better off complimenting one another rather than matching each other exactly.
2. Know the Characteristics of Each Stone Type
A stone’s density and porousness impacts the way it’s maintained. Granite and marble, for example, are both porous stone types that can absorb liquid and thus can be stained by foodstuffs like wine and cooking oil. To prevent granite and marble from becoming stained, both stone types must be sealed periodically – an easy task you can do yourself if you choose this type of stone for your home.
How often your stone needs to be sealed depends on the sealer you use, how much wear and tear your countertops are subjected to, and other factors. If you choose marble or granite stone for your countertops, be prepared to maintain your counters in this way.
Soapstone, meanwhile, is a non-porous countertop material that’s also very soft. Soapstone needs to be protected from scratches, but does not need to be sealed.
As you’re making a selection, find out what kind of maintenance is necessary for each type you’re considering. Be prepared to take care of your countertops to ensure a long service life. Stone can last a lifetime, if you take good care of it.
3. Bring a Drawing of the Kitchen Layout With Measurements
After choosing the right type of stone for your kitchen, you’ll start to focus on specific slabs for your project. Knowing the exact dimensions of your counters and how your countertops are positioned relative to other fixtures will help you choose the slab that fits in each space. Note on the drawing important landmarks like the position of the sink and cooktop.
4. Spotlight Your Favorite Sections of the Slab
Every stone has individual markings to be appreciated and observed. Many slabs will feature a portion that you’d like to see placed prominently in your kitchen. The reverse is also true – there may be parts of a slab that are more appropriate for an out-of-the-way corner, maybe because of the colors or patterns in that area aren’t as interesting.
Show the fabricator what you like and don’t like about each slab, so your fabricator can help you arrange the selected slabs in your kitchen. Your fabricator will help you orient each slab to ensure that your favorite sections are in noticeable parts of the kitchen, while also ensuring seams are not prominently placed.
This is a balancing act, and is one of the reasons why it’s important to work with a creative and experienced stone fabricator. The map of your kitchen, which includes dimensions, will be helpful for this part.
5. Choose Which Direction Veins Will Go
Veining in your stone adds dynamism and visual interest, but can also complicate the slab selection process. Most homeowners choose a single direction or orientation for all veins. If you’re going to continue the slab onto the backsplash behind the counters, the orientation of the veins on the backsplash should likewise conform to the veins on the counters.
Again, your fabricator will help you determine which slabs to use to keep the veins moving all in one direction, while also ensuring that the seams between slabs are appropriately placed.
6. Accept (and Enjoy!) The Natural Irregularities
Natural stone is proof that nature is wild, unpredictable and beautiful. Any slab of natural stone is likely to have irregularities that don’t quite fit with your ideas for your kitchen. Embrace and appreciate these irregularities. These variances in patterns and colors are proof that the natural world is not ours to tame or control.
7. Consider All Possible Finishes
Stone comes in a variety of finishes. The finish you choose for your stone will impact the appearance and functionality of the countertop.
For example, a polished finish is buffed until it’s smooth and glossy. The polished surface calls attention to the beautiful textures and color within the stone. It’s also easy to clean. However, polished stone is unforgiving of scratches, which are easily noticed in the mirror-like surface.
A honed countertop, meanwhile, has a matte finish. The subtle details of the veining and colors in this stone can sometimes seem muted. At the same time, honed countertops are far more forgiving of scratches, which seem to blend easily with the matte surface.
Take time to look at each finish up front and discuss the options with your fabricator to find the best one for you.
8. Work With a Stone Fabricator You Can Trust
The best thing you can do when seeking a countertop is to start by shopping with the right fabricator. Seacoast Stone is proud to offer its clients a wide range of stone countertop options in Seabrook NH. We also employ a team of experts who can help you with the selection process. Stop in at our showroom to see the options available.