Choosing a worktop often revolves around how practical it is over and above how beautiful, but with real stone, there’s no need to compromise. A timeless kitchen material, stone is incredibly versatile in terms of design, with built-up edges or ornate edge profiles showcasing traditional craftsmanship and different levels of polishing to display its unique variations.
Types of stone
Each piece of stone will be different, so it’s a good idea to choose your own slab from the supplier. Some will need joins on long runs or islands as while it’s possible to install large pieces, they can crack as they’re being fitted. However, once the stone is in place, it will harden. Granite and basalt are the most common varieties of stone worktop as they’re resistant to heat (though to protect the finish you should always use a trivet for hot pans), staining, water and citric acid. Thanks to improved sealants, marble, slate, sandstone and limestone are also becoming more popular. They’re not as resistant to some acids, so need a bit more care and regular resealing.
Image source: Lundhs Real Stone
Glossy, polished finishes (above) were often the default for granite, and ideal for enhancing the colour of the raw stone, but in the last few years, buffed, honed finishes or semi-matt, with a slight sheen, have been more in demand. Not only can they look more striking when contrasted with high-gloss cabinetry, matt stone worktops work well with the latest distressed or aged timbers, giving a more natural, pared-back feel. Honed finishes (sometimes known as such as silk or satin) are also a good choice for marble as it’s a softer stone. While even polished stone will need sealing, it’s the easiest to keep clean and free from stains, and the most effective for showing off individual inclusions and mineral grains. You can also find leathered finishes (below), which add extra texture to the surface and are great for hiding fingerprints and water spots.
Image source: Stone Age
Add a profile
Unlike pre-formed worktops that can be made with an edge as standard but not tailored to suit, stone is incredibly versatile and can have almost any kind of profile you like. They can be more practical, such as a rounded edge to prevent injury when young children bump into them, a raised waterfall edge to prevent liquids dripping off the surface or highly decorative, such as a built-up ogee. You may find them called by different names but between bullnose, pencil, chamfer, shark nose and bevelled, it’s a veritable trainspotter’s directory of terms and styles. This scotia and ogee 60mm edge on Gemini Titanium granite is a beautiful way to showcase the veining and add an additional layer of elegance to a painted kitchen.
Image source: J Rotherham
Stone lends itself well to a host of extras beyond finishes and edges. For example, if you’re using stone around a sink area, you can bypass a draining board by having draining grooves or a recessed drainer carved into the worktop. Similarly, it can be continued as a splashback, upstand or onto a windowsill for a seamless look. However, for real wow factor, opt for checkerboard-style insets, such as this bespoke Cosmarti marble worktop – made from more than 3,000 individual inlaid pieces.
Image source: J Rotherham
Need help installing stone worktops? Find a kitchen specialist to help.