Eight Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Shop for Stone

Stone is a popular material in kitchen design. It is used for countertops, flooring, backsplashes, and walls. When you are choosing wood, ceramic, or other materials, you can choose a finish and color and be pretty confident in what you’ll get. It’s different with stone. As a natural material, qualities such as appearance and durability can vary. At CJB Group Kitchens, we tell our clients to ask themselves these eight questions when they are considering purchasing stone.

1. How thick does your stone need to be?
Countertops are typically ¾ to 1 ¼ inches thick, while tiles for walls or floors are usually ⅜ of an inch thick. Pavers for patios or walkways are usually much thicker, at least 1 ½ inches. The variation in thickness can be a problem if you don’t take it into consideration early on. For countertops, it’s common to add a laminated edge to make the stone appear thicker. When using stone floor tiles, uneven thickness can be accommodated by a skilled installation, but it might take some time.

2. Are there fissures in the stone?
Any stone is going to have natural weak points, which show up as a hairline crack. The location of the fissures is important. Stone can break while being handled or cut, so you should have your fabricator look it over carefully. It’s important to make sure fissures aren’t located in spots where the stone needs to be the strongest, such as around the sink opening of a countertop.

3. What finish do you like?
Stone is usually honed or polished. A honed finish has less reflection, but both have a pleasing sheen. There are other finishes, however, such as antiqued, tumbled, and flamed. These are produced using acid washes, heat, and buffing on the stone. For the most part, the choice of finish is only a matter of taste. However, if you are choosing floor tiles, keep in mind that a highly polished floor is going to be more slippery when wet. Using smaller tiles, such as under 4 inches, can mitigate that problem.

4. How well do the samples match the product?
Stone can vary in pattern and color because of differences in the environment where it developed. When buying a large slab for countertops, such as granite or quartz, it is usually possible to go to the stone supplier and pick your own slab so you know what you’re getting. If you’re purchasing packaged tiles, ask if you can open the box before buying to see how consistent the tiles are.

5. Is it strong enough for your needs?
A countertop is often required to span a significant distance. The space for the dishwasher, breakfast bar, or other opening can be several feet wide. Manufactured materials have a specified maximum span, but for natural stone it can depend on factors such as thickness and defects in the stone. Your contractor might need to include a concealed brace or other support.

6. How durable is the stone?
Stones like marble and limestone are fairly porous, and they easily absorb spilled material like red wine or coffee and end up with permanent stains. Acids like lemon juice can etch into the stone, while softer materials like soapstone are easily scratched. You want to consider your lifestyle and how much use the stone will see. If you have large dogs, young children, or someone in your home uses a walker or wheelchair, you will probably want something more sturdy.

7. What kind of maintenance will it require?
Many types of stone should be sealed initially, and resealed periodically. Consider the cost and time that this will take. Some sealants also can darken the color or make it more shiny, so ask to see a sample before committing. You should also ask about cleaning, because some materials require special cleaning products.

8. What is the source?
Stone can come from quarries anywhere in the world. The source location affects the coloration, pattern, and strength of the stone. However, it also affects other things. Ask where the stone comes from. Is it produced in an ethical way? What is the environmental impact of transporting it to your location? You want to make sure your stone is something that you can be proud of.

Stone is both beautiful and functional, and it is a great material choice for kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and a wide range of other uses. At CJB Group Kitchens we love helping our clients finding the perfect stone for their project, one that matches their personality and style. If you are ready to make your designing dreams come true, schedule an appointment in our Reading showroom and let us see how we can help you. Call us at 978-337-7256 today!