Natural or Engineered: Choosing the Right StoneRebecca Hinshelwood
For a kitchen or bathroom refit, choosing stone surfaces over wood or laminate is just the initial decision. Once you’ve decided that a stone worktop is for you, it’s time to narrow down which stone best suits your needs. Granite, quartz, marble, limestone, or even dekton are popular materials that can all transform a kitchen or bathroom.
What better place, then, to start narrowing down your choices than looking at natural and engineered stones? Both have their benefits and attractions. However, in many ways, the materials are very similar. So how do you identify which is best for your circumstance? Essentially it comes down to these two factors:
Always the first element to be noticed upon entering a kitchen, the appearance of your stone worktop is an essential part of any room design. Colour range is vital here. If it is muted monochrome you seek, the range of natural white marbles out there are ideal. However, your scheme could place more of a priority on colour matching. Both modern and traditional kitchen designs can beautifully embrace colour across the elements of the room. This approach can be especially popular for bathrooms. In this case, perhaps quartz or dekton are the way to go. The manufactured element of these types of stone means that the colour range available is more varied and reliable. So for rose tones or green hints, engineered stone may be for you.
This aesthetic aspect of choosing stone is extremely subjective. Some people love the random grains and flecks of granite or marble. Others prefer the predictability of engineered stone. When you choose a quartz worktop, your space can appear more flawless and seamless: as the patterning and colour is so uniform, any joins in the surface are easier to disguise. Conversely, as natural stones are cut directly from the ground, the arbitrary aspect of nature is clearly present. This, for some, is the whole point of pursuing stone in the first place.
The beauty of any stone within a kitchen or bathroom is that whether you choose a natural or engineered variety, the maintenance level will be comparatively low. For bathrooms and wet areas, stone can endure prolonged contact with water without telltale staining. However, this is more true of engineered stones such as quartz than natural stones such as granite. As granite, marble and especially limestone are porous materials they must be sealed to prevent damage and staining. There will, therefore, eventually be a need to re-seal the surface in order to maintain the longevity of the stone. So for natural stone to be right for you, it is important to install it with this expectation. Converseley, a highly engineered stone like dekton does not ever require a sealing process so maintenance of your worktop is no issue.
Your realistic requirement of durability will depend on the frequency of use that you intend for your room. For a family of cooks, it is probably worth looking at a super durable engineered stone for a worktop. Your knives will need to be protected from the surface rather than the other way around. Hot pans and dishes can be placed directly on surfaces without impact, and these surfaces will take everything that you (and your teenagers) can throw at them. Or perhaps your situation is that of a more social kitchen. You want to benefit from the durability of stone but do not need it to be indestructible. In this case, natural stones are ideal. Once sealed, the surface can still withstand a lot of demand and if the use is light then there is no need for the longevity of the stone to be compromised.
When you have considered these two factors when choosing stone, you should be on the right path to identifying your perfect material. At Zenstone we love a chance to discuss stone in more depth, so for more detailed guidance just call!