A quick guide to selecting countertops.
As you might now, Anna is renovating her house (catch up on her renovation diaries here!) and with a full house reno come some selections. She spent a few hours at a slab yard a couple of weeks ago picking out her countertops, and since then, we have received many questions about countertops - mostly to do with materials and how to select them.
When choosing countertops for both kitchens and bathrooms, we like to separate them in two categories: man-made and natural stone. Either option works for both modern and traditional kitchens and bathrooms, but they each have unique characteristics.
Man-made materials (like the ever popular quartz) are very uniform by design. Since they are man-made, designed and produced, they tend to have perfect color, veining and vein distribution.
This is very beneficial if you are looking for uniformity in a large kitchen - all the slabs will be the same color and there is no risk in this selection. In addition, man-made countertops are stain, scratch, heat and impact resistant and come in a large variety of colors. All in all, man-made countertops are practical, durable and easy to maintain, so they could be an ideal application for a busy kitchen.
In comparison, natural stone (marble, granite or soapstone, for example) is never perfect - variations exist - like in nature - and color and veining can be really different from slab to slab. In our opinion, this is what makes natural stone so beautiful!
When mining for natural stone, large pieces are removed from the mountain and are then sliced into slabs for different applications. Each slab is then numbered sequentially and transported to a local slab yard. The closer the numbers are to each other, the greater the chance that they’ll match - both in color and in veining. This is why there are no two slabs alike - the unique imperfections give them their beauty.
Marble in particular is a very porous material and it will absorb anything spilled on it, so be careful with your kitchen countertops! As a general rule, the lighter the color of the material, the more porous it is. That is why man-made materials - especially quartz- are so popular: you can have the marble look without the staining.
Natural stone comes in a number of finishes although we are seeing more man-made materials imitate these finishes in recent years. Polished - a very popular look - is soft to the touch and shiny to the eye. We can also find honed countertops - these are also soft to the touch but have a more matte look.
Another finish - and one we have been seeing a lot of lately - is leathered (and this is the finish that Anna chose!) During this process, a machine scratches the surface of the stone, and occasionally some pieces wear off – creating a textured matte surface, that looks organic and has a leather-like tactile feel.
Both man-made materials and natural stones are great for kitchens and bathrooms, depending on the look you are going for, and both can be very beautiful if you know how to choose. Tell us, what do you prefer? Comment below!