Stone benchtops are a beautiful inclusion in any kitchen or bathroom design. Dark granite with sparkly flecks creates a striking feature whereas softly veined marble is a classic choice giving both warmth and interest.
With great beauty comes great responsibility. Surfaces such as marble, granite, travertine and bluestone are of course, naturally occurring products that can easily be susceptible to surface damage.
One of the greatest features of stone benchtops such as marble is that over times it will develop a fantastic personality. With every passing week the stone will age and depending on the style of finish you are striving for, you will either fight the ageing process or embrace the patina.
Natural stone benchtops such as granite and marble can be either honed or polished. Traditionally, a polished benchtop with a shiny finish is popular, but recently the softer honed has come into its own. A honed finish is a softer to the touch, with a more satin or dull appearance. Both finishes have their advantages however, a polished top tends to scratch and show up stains more readily.
With the popularity of the honed look taking off, the manufactured surface suppliers such as Caesarstone have jumped on board releasing their own take on the honed and textured finishes.
Granite and Marble are porous products which could stain if sufficient care is not taken. Although most bench top manufacturers will seal the product prior to leaving the factory some substances, particularly oil, juices, sauces, wines and soft drinks could penetrate the surface of the bench tops leaving a stain. The best way to avoid this is to simply wipe down any spill that occur immediately.
It’s also wise not to leave sitting water on the surface for long as it can cause discolouration, particularly on honed marble. In the case of oily spills, these should be soaked up as much as possible at first with plain white paper towels. To remove excess water or oily marks, cover the dried spill with a layer of dry cornflour, bi-carb soda or talcum powder to draw it to the surface and dry it out.
Sealing is best left to the professionals if you’re not confident using the commercially available products. Provided the bench top is factory sealed you won’t need to worry about re-sealing for at least 2-5 years. If not, ensure it is sealed immediately after installation with a high-quality product suitable for your stone.
Ensure you invest in a good sized chopping board with a perimeter groove to catch stray food juices as well as a set of pot trivets. Marble does have the potential to scorch, so hot pots and pans should not be set directly on marble bench tops.
Do not place very hot items such as saucepans and oven pots straight from the heat directly on any stone bench top surface as this can cause thermal shock. Granite is heat resistant up to between 150 and 200 Celsius but damage may not be noticed immediately if this is done regularly. Over time hairline cracks may appear reducing the strength of the product.
On a daily basis you will only need a good microfibre cloth and some warm water. It is especially important to remember to never use acidic or caustic cleaning products. Marble is a calcareous stone and is very acid sensitive. If heavier soiling has occurred, neutral (pH-7) cleaners or “soap less” cleaners are preferred because they minimize sticking and filming. However, mild phosphate-free, biodegradable liquid dish soaps, soap flake or powders which contain no aromatics are acceptable if rinsing is thorough.