Selecting stone countertops
There is nothing as beautiful as natural stone countertops – and there are almost as many options as there are kitchen renovations! Kitchen counters are one of the most important and perplexing decisions to make ... you must factor in look, feel, color and function ... and it is a decision you will likely live with for a long time.
Some things to keep in mind when selecting stone:
1. Choose a good fabricator
Most fabricators can get stone from a variety of sources for you – choose someone knowledgable who delivers good service and cares about what YOU want, not just what they need to sell.
2. Look at the actual slab(s) you are going to buy
Looking at samples in a showroom is a good start and is essential to narrow down the types of colors and ‘movement’ (how swirly, streaky, or speckled the stone is) that appeals to you. However, do not EVER plunk down your hard-earned money without seeing the actual piece of stone your counter will be made from. Stone is a product of nature and as such, the colors that are most pronounced and patterns inherent in the stone are dependent on the environment in which it was created and where in the quarry it was harvested. Every piece is unique so unless the sample came from the ground right beside the slab you are buying, it may look quite different. Uniqueness is part of the beauty of stone. If you want perfectly uniform pattern and color, either choose a more solid color stone or stop looking at stone altogether and choose a manmade product instead.
3. Consider your lifestyle and personality
Different varieties of stone have different properties and different maintenance requirements … the “patina” that a Carrera marble inevitably develops with use might be a highly desirable attribute for one personality type and a maintenance nightmare for another. There is something for just about everyone from limestone to quartzite depending on the look you want and the way you want to live with it.
4. Have someone oversee the templating
Once your stone is selected and purchased, the fabricator will come to the installation site and create templates of exactly the shape the stone will be cut. Back at the shop they arrange these templates on the slabs like a giant Tetris puzzle. If you have particular sections of the stone you wish to highlight or mitigate, be sure someone you trust is there when they decide what sections will be cut from what parts of the slab. You can buy a slab that has one place you really don’t care for in the midst of stone you love and template in such a way that the undesirable section gets removed for the sink cutout, for example.
This stone has a lot of variation and on the template shown above, these two sections were to meet at a seam on the center of the sink. The templates were laid out so that where the seams met, they would not have an obvious contrast. In addition, we were able to locate the sink cutout on an area that didn't have a part of the pattern we wanted to highlight. The installed pieces, shown below, look just beautiful!