Friday, August 20, 2010

Granite and Marble - Certain Stone Materials Not Recommended For Kitchens, But the Rest of the Home

There are a wide variety of natural stone which are used in homes. Not all stones, such as marble, will be as durable and stain resistant as granite would be and therefore is not best suited for high traffic areas like the kitchen. Soapstone, onyx and limestone are also available for home remodels. However, due to the composition and softer nature of these stones in relation to granite, are better suited to bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds and lower traffic areas. With these differences from one natural stone to another each require specific treatments for proper maintenance and in order to maintain the natural beauty for generations to come.

One commonality among all natural stone is that, despite some being heat resistant and stain resistant, the finish may not be indestructible. While heat and liquids may not be able to penetrate into a specific type of stone, the finish can be dulled with certain liquids. If liquids containing higher levels of acidity, such as lemon juice or vinegar, are left to sit without wiping them up, the finish of any stone may dull or develop haziness. For this reason, spills should be cleaned up immediately.

Heat is the second potential problem with many natural stone countertops. Placing a hot sauce pan or griddle directly on the stone surface may cause the finish to become other than desirable. Trivets and pot holders are useful for setting pots or pans on in order to preserve the beauty of the home owner's investment.

Beginning with granite, some fabricators will recommend sealing the granite every 3 to 5 years or so. Some fabricators will state that it is not necessary. Both statements can be correct. Even within the granite family can there be different densities from another type of granite. The individual fabricator will be able to inform the customer which treatment is best for the specific type of granite.

Every other type of natural stone will need to be treated and sealed in some form or another. Different stone materials can require different sealers. Again, deferring to the fabricator's recommendations for treating the countertop is the wisest course of action. Failure to do so can result in a poor performance and even damage the countertop.

Some stone countertops, such as soapstone and marble, are a perfect material to use to obtain that "old world" look. The natural veining appears to soften the look of the stone. Soapstone will naturally turn from a lighter color to a darker one due to oxidation when cut. Although these two stones are softer than granite and usually not used in high traffic areas, if the overall goal is to produce an "old world" feel, then it can be acceptable. The home owner should just be aware that soapstone and marble are more likely to chip or cut than granite. For this reason, these two stones are common for use in bathrooms or as fireplace surrounds and mantel pieces.

Other stones which can be utilized in bathrooms and even offices are onyx, limestone and travertine. Stone such as these are not as heavily used as granite or marble due to the softness of the stone. Although able to produce vivid depths of color and richness, these stones are best suited for low traffic areas and accent throughout the home.

For more information on granite and marble countertops or kitchen and bathroom remodels with stone, please visit

Article independently authored by Daniel Elliott. The content herein may or may not reflect the views and opinions of Universal Stone, Inc.

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