Natural stones have become an extremely popular choice in the domain of home designing over the last few decades. Their composition, whether man-made or naturally quarried, makes them so unique whilst converting any of their surroundings brilliantly. The stone and surface markets are filled with enriching experiences which contain the most popular composite and natural stones, such as Marble, Granite, Quartz, Dekton and Neolith. Most man-made products deliver high quality properties produced with a blend of the raw crystalline elements taken from the originally found natural stones that are the base of their production and manufacturing facilities.
Their aspect of lustre, durability and smoothness outlay a definition making them widely recommended for indoor applications- living room, bedroom, kitchen worktops, flooring, wall cladding, and staircase. Outdoor applications are not left behind either. You can add the newest man-made surfaces in backyards, pools and BBQ surroundings. Due to the vast spanning possible combinations, some doubts are bound to arise on which material to select for rebuilding your space in the most suitable manner.
Here you will read about the pros and cons of the popular surface choices in 2017- Marble, Granite, Dekton, Neolith, Quartz and Quartzite – as per specialist advice.
Pros: Marble is a natural stone where each selected slab is peculiar and unique. No two pieces of marble will ever be the same. This means it is impossible to find equal patterns on the surface. It is an excellent option to build creative projects for modern or traditional styles which aim to achieve a natural and organic feel to any space in which it is applied. It is also a unique piece of natural art that will only be found in the space in which it is installed.
Cons: The natural properties make some marble types a porous product. As a rule of thumb, we always mention that the lighter the marble, the more prone it would be to staining and/or etching. Extreme staining and etching creates, over time, a unique patina that shows the age, character and use of the material.
For those who prefer pristine surfaces at all times, the good news is that most stains can be combated with finishing keeping the luminous properties of marble. Most stone suppliers are not able offer warranty that protects the lustre as natural stones will stain according to unique mineral properties found on each slab which is beyond the scope of control of the fabricator. Reliable suppliers will seal marble when carrying out its installation. The coating period may vary from 12 to 18 months, depending on the place where marble is applied. Resealing marble is actually an easy and quick procedure to carry out and sealants can be purchased online at very economical prices.
The above image shows floorings in Marron Emperador marble from Spain, in a polished finish
Pros: It is highly durable with an artistic visual. Most granite is more affordable than marble and other stone types and varies widely both in terms of colours, finishes and sizes which allow it to adjust to any type of budget, property and architectural setting. Granite is also one of the strongest minerals on earth after Diamond and Ruby and is extremely impervious to accidental impact and scratching offering the possibility of having pristine surfaces for many decades to come.
Cons: It is recommended to purchase granite only from trusted suppliers since there are many Chinese imitations in the marketplace. Also due to the fact that granite comes in different quantities and even though you may be purchasing the same name of granite, the look of the stone would vary drastically between a good source and a cheap import. The stone is also subject to damages at transportation which is greatly increased from places such as Asia although the selling of the stone helps in ensuring final quality and stain resistance of the granite that has been installed. Granite is not affected by UV rays which makes it suitable for both indoors and outdoors applications.
The above image shows a kitchen island with wrap around downstands and worktops in Cheyenne Granite in a polished finish
Pros: Quartzite offers excellent density with a polished appearance. It is classified as one of the most luxurious stones in the world in comparison to other types, which also depend on the size of the design projection. Quartzite has gained most recognition over the last decade due to the fact it looks like marble but that it performs and has similar strength and characteristics of the toughest granite.
Most quartzite is quarried in South American countries such as Brazil where it is exported from to the rest of the world and the United Kingdom.
Quartzite requires low maintenance and it is highly resistant to hot and cold temperatures, scratches and impacts. Since it does not contain any calcium when compared to marble, quartzite does not etch on applications such as those for kitchen worktops and bar counters.
Cons: Sealing is necessary to ensure its quality and stain resistance properties through the years of usage.
Certain quartzite types have an intrinsic sugary constitution which don’t allow for milling down of surfaces from 30mm to 20mm for upstands, to name an example.
The above image shows a kitchen island with wrap around downstands in White Macaubas quartzite in a cross cut version, by MKW Surfaces in London
Pros: It is very practical material with abundant extravagance attributes. Quartz is also a proven material in the stone market with almost 30 years existence. Most leading brands of quartz warrant their products for defects and performance with warranties ranging between 2-30 years from installation date. The market competition is high when it comes to quartz products which have brought down prices making it suitable to all budgets and property types.
Quartz slabs come in standard sizes starting at 3040x1380mm all the way up to ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Giant’ slabs with dimensions of 3250x1600mm. It is also available in finishes such as Polished, Honed, Suede, Volcano, Concrete, Glace and many others which make it suitable to any design and architectural style.
Thicknesses start at 12mm and include the more traditional 20mm and 30mm.
Cons: The care with Quartz requires finishing due to its sensitivity to non-household chemicals. It isn’t recommended to place extremely hot pans and/or pots from the oven directly onto the surfaces. Quartz is sensitive to UV rays and it is not recommended for external applications as it would discolour over time.
The above image shows a kitchen island with wrap around downstands and worktops in Silestone Eternal Calacatta Gold quartz in a polished finish.
Pros: They are the new generation of surfaces that are completely immune to abrasion, heat and scratches.
Dekton is also suitable for both indoors and outdoors applications including kitchens, bathrooms, floorings, cladding, BBQ tops, terraces and balconies as it does not get affected by exposure to UV rays.
It is low maintenance, recyclable, and a non-porous material which it is ideal for all design and architectural styles with ultra-size slab dimensions with sizes ranging between 3170x1420mm on their whitest colours to 3200x1440mm on the rest of their collection.
Cons: It must be supplied by an experienced supplier and/or fabricator as with not everyone knows how to work on new materials. It is also handled differently to other stone types such as marble, granite and quartz which require an experienced team of installers. The machinery to fabricate also differs to the ones traditionally employed at stone masonry and not all Companies have adapted their facilities to work Dekton in an efficient and smooth manner in the UK which may result in breakages or bad finishes of the final product.
The above image shows a kitchen island with downstands in Dekton Trilium in a Smooth Mate finish
Pros: Its intrinsic extra strength resists most accidental impact, extreme heat, cold and exposure to UV rays, making it suitable for both internal and external applications. Some of these include kitchen worktops, vanity tops, floorings and wall cladding as well as patio surfaces, BBQ worktops and garden table tops. Its rich substances are made with zero resins and mostly raw materials from natural and recyclable sources. It is highly hygienic and does not harbour bacteria which provide peace of mind when working on food preparation areas as well as healthcare facilities including bars, restaurants, hospitals, schools and laboratories. Neolith is the utter luxury that stands out outdoors and indoors.
Neolith is available in slab sizes of 3200x1600mm as of 2017 which offer the possibility of having large pieces without any joints. It is available in Polished, Satin and Riverwashed finishes which will suit any taste and design style.
Cons: The material uses different tooling equipment to one traditionally employed by marble, quartz and granite stonemasons as well as to those involved in its installation so it is always recommended to purchase Neolith only from trusted and experienced suppliers of the material which will avoid delays and potential disappointment with poor finishes when receiving the final product.
The above image shows worktops in Neolith Bianco Carrara sintered porcelain