It's almost impossible to find any material better suited for the daily grind of food prep and cooking than stone. Stone is almost indestructible, is virtually maintenance-free, and has timeless quality that integrates well with any kitchen decor. Add the classy, clean elegance of natural stone to your space and you instantly upgrade your kitchen. One more plus: Each slab of stone is unique.
At the moment, granite is the reigning queen of stone options, most likely because of the array of colors and patterns. Marble's patina and cool-temp surface is the darling of bakers and professional cooks, while other stones such as soapstone and slate have become trendy, as well.
Stone can be honed to a matte finish or polished to high-gloss. Both finishes require a little TLC but nothing major in regard to maintenance.
Stone can still scratch, but unlike synthetic countertop materials, it can also withstand hot temperatures. Only on a very rare occasion will heat blemish a stone surface; still, always err on the side of caution.
Granite outperforms almost every other surface material. Smooth as glass, granite makes for easy cleanup. It is waterproof, heat-resistant, and low maintenance. Slate is impervious to water, heat, and stains. Marble, especially lighter tones, can show wear, and if you spill something dark such as red wine, it's likely to stain the surface. Over time, these imperfections will eventually blend into a rich patina.
Stone is an expensive countertop material, but there are several variables that cause fluctuations in cost. The stone's origin plays a big part since different parts of the world produce different stones -- and some are simply more desirable, either for color or pattern, by the consumer market. Thickness can cause the price of stone to rise, and interestingly, when oil and gas prices increase, so does the price of stone due to its transportation from the quarry.
On average, you can expect to pay $45 and more per linear foot for stone countertops. Watch for sales at home improvement centers; there are times when they offer certain granites for as low as $25 per linear foot.
Like the look of stone slabs but have sticker shock from the price? Consider stone tiles. If you don't mind the grid created by grout lines, tiles are an option for a fraction of the price.
- If you're handy, you can reduce the price of stone countertops by almost half simply by installing them yourself. Just note that stone slabs are extremely heavy and require solid, reinforced cabinetry for support.
- Use a mild detergent and water to clean stone. High-gloss finishes might require yearly treatments with a special polish; matte or honed finishes should be rubbed with mineral oil as needed to remove marks and scratches.