Granite vs. Quartz

Granite and quartz countertops are both derived from natural materials, although quartz countertops will contain manmade elements, and they’re both very popular choices. Maintaining quite a similar appearance and providing homes with the rich, timeless beauty that comes with any stone countertop, it isn’t hard to see why these materials are so widely utilized, but they do have their own separate benefits and drawbacks.


Though referred to simply as quartz, quartz countertops will actually be made using a mixture of 93% crushed quartz and 7% resin. The fact that quartz countertops aren’t completely natural turns many buyers away from them, but it is their artificial nature that presents the most compelling benefits.

Because quartz countertops can be manufactured with different colours of resin, you enjoy much greater flexibility when it comes to colouration. Additionally, there will be no imperfections to deal with. Quartz is also completely non-porous, will never require sealing, and is incredibly durable and stain-resistant.

However, quartz is a lot heavier than granite, so expect to pay more for professional installation. It also discolours over time when exposed to direct sunlight, which can be a real problem if only one section of your countertop will be regularly hit by sunlight. Furthermore, the seams between slabs are sometimes easier to see. However, this problem can be greatly mitigated by choosing slabs that are dark and very similar in colour and shading.


Granite, on the other hand, is a completely natural product that is taken directly from the ground in large chunks before being shaped into slabs. The expense associated with this quarrying and shaping process tends to push the price of granite slabs up compared to quartz, so granite countertops don’t often play well with tighter budgets.

That said, many people prefer the more natural appearance that granite countertops can provide. The stone itself is not quite as hard as quartz, and it will require resealing every two years or so, but it is certainly still durable enough to stand up to everyday use without any breaks or chips unless subjected to particularly heavy abuse.

However, one thing to remember is that it’s almost impossible to hide the seams between stones, although this simply reinforces the natural appearance of granite for many homeowners.

How to Clean Marble Countertops

Marble is used to create some of the most stunningly beautiful countertops around, but it does require a little extra TLC if you want it to remain free of dirt, scuffs, and stains. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the fact that some cleaning agents and methods can have a negative impact on their marble countertops. To make sure yours stay looking as wonderful as the day they were installed, keep the following points in mind.

Use the Right Cleaning Agents

Marble is closely related to limestone, so it is soft, porous, and quite sensitive to the acids found in wine, citrus fruits, and many everyday cleaning products. Spilling coffee on your marble countertop can cause staining, but using an acidic cleaner can do damage all by itself.

This means that you need to look for pH-neutral cleaning products, although it is easier to simply pick up a specialty marble cleaner. Make sure that it is resistant to grease and water, rinse-free, and able to provide a streak-free finish. Additionally, make sure you read the safety instructions carefully before you use it.

Keep it Regular

When dealing with marble, it is crucial that you clean regularly in order to prevent discoloration and staining. You don’t need to spend hours each day scrubbing away, but you should never let dirt build up.

The best thing to do is commit to a regular cleaning schedule. Take a mild, bleach-free detergent or speciality marble cleaner, then add it to water. Lightly wipe down your countertops, then rinse with clean water and dry them off quickly with a micro-fibre cloth.

Seal It Up

Your marble countertops will probably come pre-sealed, but that seal won’t last forever. This means that you’ll need to commit to resealing every six months or so to ensure that your surfaces remain free from damage. Since countertops are used to make food, you can’t use just any sealant; look for one that has been approved for food preparation areas.

Go Natural

If you need to clean a part of your marble countertop right away in order to avoid staining, just create a quick and easy cleaning product by mixing one-part baking soda to 20-parts water. Wet a cloth with the solution, then apply to the appropriate area. Instead of using an abrasive brush or cloth, simply use increased pressure across stained areas. Leave to dry for 1-2 hours, then rinse with water and dry off with a clean cotton cloth.

January Sale

View our January exclusive offers across a range of marble fireplaces and granite worktops.capture

How to Clean Granite Countertops and Worktops

Granite is an incredibly tough material that is able to last for decades when used for countertops and worktops. However, it isn’t invulnerable to damage, and even using the wrong kind of cleaning agent can have negative consequences. You’ll naturally want to keep your granite countertops looking their best. That doesn’t just mean cleaning– it also means knowing how to clean effectively.

Here are the three steps you need to take.

Step 1: Use the Correct Products

Don’t make the mistake of using abrasive materials or acidic chemicals when you’re cleaning your granite countertops. Granite might be tough, but the wrong products can do far more harm than good.

Luckily enough, there are plenty of specialist granite cleaners available. All you’ll need to do is find one, read the instructions, spray it across your granite countertops, and then wipe it off. Of course, you don’t need to use a specialist granite cleaner every time you use your countertops. A simple micro-fibre cloth and a small amount of water are good enough for everyday use – specialist cleaners only need to be used once or twice each week.

Step 2: Use a Sealer

Granite is a natural product, so it does come with some natural flaws. The most problematic property of granite is that it is slightly porous. It might seem odd to think of that hard, smooth surface as porous, but it contains tiny mineral channels that can be penetrated and stained.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by using a granite sealer. Just make sure you find one with a water-based formula. You’ll have to reseal every year or so, but this will go a long way towards keeping your granite countertops and worktops in like-new condition.

Step 3: Commit to Regular Cleaning

People often think that stone countertops and worktops are resilient enough towards staining and discolouration that they only need to be cleaned once in a blue moon, but this just isn’t the case. As with most other surfaces, the best way to keep granite looking its best is by committing to a regular cleaning schedule.

Taking the time to wipe down your granite countertops and worktops after each use and using a specialist cleaner on a regular basis will pay off in the long run, so make sure you develop a cleaning schedule and stick to it as closely as possible.

How to Clean a Marble Fireplace

Marble fireplaces form stunning centrepieces in living rooms all across the country, but they need to be properly maintained if they are to remain in pristine condition. Marble might be a glorious material with which to work, but it is also quite porous, meaning that dust and other contaminants can easily dull its appearance over time. Since even a misplaced mug of coffee can leave a nasty ring, you need to know exactly how to keep your marble fireplace looking its best.

Step One: Use the Right Materials

The fact that marble is extremely porous means that it will also absorb any liquids that you use to clean it. Many people only discover that certain cleaning agents should be avoided when it is already too late, so make sure you know what’s what before starting.

Conventional cleaning products and harsh chemicals should be avoided; they will damage the appearance of the stone when absorbed to its core, and they could even cause cracking across the surface.

In particular, make sure you avoid:

  • Baking Soda: Too abrasive – it could ruin the finish.
  • White Vinegar: Too Acidic – it can leave etches across the surface.
  • Limescale Remover: Another acidic product.

You’ll also want to avoid using any abrasive brushes and cloths. You don’t want to ruin the finish or damage the underlying material, so use a soft micro-fibre cloth to remove surface dust and dirt.

Step Two: Employ the Right Method

Now that you understand which products to use and which to avoid, you’ll need to know how to go about cleaning your marble fireplace. To start with, dip your cloth into some distilled water; you can distil some yourself by boiling it and then allowing it to cool, though you can also pick up distilled water from the supermarket.

Next, lightly wipe your cloth along the surface of the fireplace, paying special attention to any areas that have been stained. If you find that the water has not been effective, try using a specialist marble cleaning product. Read the label to familiarise yourself with the process before getting started, and make sure you conduct a test run on one small, out-of-the-way area of the fireplace to make sure no damage or discolouration occurs.


Cleaning a marble fireplace isn’t as tough as it sounds. In fact, you’ll find it easy as long as you know which products to use and how to use them.

2016 Kitchen Countertop Trends

Few rooms demand as much consideration during remodelling as the kitchen.

These rooms need to be comfortable enough for everyday dining, stylish enough to work as one of your main entertaining spaces, and constructed with fittings durable enough to withstand plenty of foot traffic and lots of work.

One of the most important areas to get right is the countertop. After all, your countertops will tend to set the tone for the rest of the room, and you’re going to end up using them pretty much every day you live in the property. With so many factors to consider, choosing a countertop can be tricky.

If you need a little inspiration, just take a look at some of the top trends that have emerged during 2016.

Natural and Engineered Stone 

Stone countertops have shown an increase in popularity during 2016, and you’ll have plenty of options from which to choose.

The biggest distinction between your various options will be whether you opt for a natural stone, such as marble, granite, or soapstone or slate, or an engineered stone, such as quartz, Silestone, Caesarstone, or IceStone. The former varieties will possess a more authentic appearance, and each option carries its own unique advantages:

  • Marble: Provides a sense of polished refinement and a cool, minimalist aesthetic. You’ll find it perfect for rolling dough and baking, though it does take stains and scratches more easily than other natural stones.
  • Granite: Incredibly durable, this is one of the most common countertop materials. It’s still pricey, but costs have noticeably decreased over the years.
  • Soapstone & Slate: These low-maintenance stones are incredibly durable, but you will have fewer colour and design options from which to choose.

Manufactured stones won’t look quite as natural as these, but they will be available in more colours and resist stains and cracks more successfully. No matter your choice, you’ll find that stone countertops are long-lasting and able to fit around any design style you could wish to foster.

Thinner is Better

You might think that thicker countertops would be preferable, but this hasn’t been the case during 2016. The trend towards kitchens possessing open floor plans and simpler designs have helped make thinner countertops a more desirable option, and using one of the stones listed above means that you won’t have to sacrifice durability.

Neutral Colour Palettes

During 2016, we’ve been seeing a lot of greys, blacks, and whites used for countertops. That might sound a little dull, but using neutrals means being able to shift styles later on without changing the countertops. In the meantime, you can add colour across other areas, such as the range hood, backsplash, cabinet, and exposed appliances.

Why You Should Think Twice About Granite Countertops

Granite and marble have long been viewed as the unrivalled options when you’re looking for high-end countertop materials. However, this has begun to change recently due to renewed interest in quartz.

The quartz renaissance has come about due to the natural benefits of this material, but recent advances in the manufacturing process have also played their part.
In fact, some sources are now naming quartz the leading countertop material. Just take a look at its advantages over materials like granite and you’re sure to appreciate why this shift has taken place all over the world.


Countertops, particularly those in the kitchen, tend to be some of the most hardworking surfaces in the home. Even high-traffic areas of flooring won’t have to put up with hot pans and slipped knives.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that consumers value durability, and quartz is one of the best choices in this regard. Naturally stain-repellent and completely invulnerable when faced with acidic foods, it also resists scratches and chips. In contrast, granite and marble both develop wear rather easily; they’re beautiful, yet fragile. Additionally, granite and marble require regular sealing, which quartz never needs.


Conventional opinion would have you believe that marble and granite are the most attractive countertop surfaces around, and, just a few short years ago, they probably would have been right.

Unlike quartz, marble and granite are mined directly from the ground before being reshaped. Quartz countertops are made from at least 90% quartz stone mixed with resin and colourant. That process used to produce slabs that were overly flecked and oddly uniform, but these shortcomings have been overcome. Nowadays, quartz countertops appear completely natural, and you can have them in any shade or colour you desire.


When it comes down to it, budget represents a bottom line that the vast majority of homeowners simply cannot afford to ignore. Quartz currently commands a respectable price point between granite and marble, and its reduced maintenance needs allow buyers to save over the life of their countertops.

Granite and marble countertops once firmly ruled the roost, but those days appear to be well and truly over. If you’ve already dismissed quartz, it might be time to reconsider; you’ll receive a strong, durable material that won’t break the bank.

Types of Granite Countertops

Granite is sourced for kitchen countertops from locations all over the world, so you can pick up a wide selection of colours to suit the exact style that you’re trying to foster.

The main types of granite used for countertops are Costa Esmeralda, Black Granite, and Bianco Romano.

To help you select the right variety, we’ve created this quick and easy rundown of each option’s properties and how best to utilize them within your current renovation project.

Costa Esmeralda

Costa Esmeralda granite offers homeowners a greater array of hues and colours than either Black Granite or Bianco Romano. Colours range from light grey to blue to green, with blended veins typically running across the surface.

Costa Esmeralda doesn’t provide the same prominent colour contrasts of other marbles, but it does have a charm of its own. Its light and welcoming appearance puts owners in mind of soft rocks rising out of the sea; in fact, it shares its name with a stretch of beaches running along the coast of Mexico. This type of marble tends to work well in kitchens that seek to appear inviting and open.

Black Granite

Black Granite, as the name implies, is pure, dark, and simple. Of course, no granite will ever achieve a complete, unbroken blackness; Black Granite carries shining flecks across its surface. Overall, this is the ideal option if you’re trying to cultivate a bold or minimalist aesthetic within your kitchen.

Black famously matches anything, but Black Granite countertops can seem overbearing if you don’t use them correctly. Complement their style with lots of silver and light grey metals, or contrast with white cabinets. If you run from the homely to embrace sophistication, Black Granite could be right up your alley.

Bianco Romano

Bianco Romano translates simply to Roman White, and the name is a perfect indication of what you will receive. Often mistaken for the lustrous white marble that so defined the ancient city, this is a light granite from Italy; true to its Mediterranean origin, Bianco Romano works well if you’d like your kitchen to appear warm, sunny, and bright. It also makes for easy food prep as ingredients stand out well against it.

For the best results, try combining Bianco Romano with warm-toned cabinets and features; this prevents the room from looking washed out. You can also include secondary colours, such as grey and black.


Things to Consider When Choosing a New Countertop Material

Your counter-tops will be some of the most hardworking parts of your home, and there are numerous materials and styles to choose from.

With this in mind, it’s clearly important for homeowners looking to renovate to keenly consider their needs before making a decision.

If you’re struggling, try asking yourself the following questions.

How Long Will You Be in the Home?

If you’re planning on staying in your home for more than a few years, it makes sense to spend more time going over the details for each room, and you should allow yourself more money when you’re choosing your countertops. If you expect to leave within a year or two, it doesn’t make sense to invest so heavily.

What Is Your Budget?

Your budget will influence almost every decision that you make when it comes to countertops, and you should get a rough number in your head right from the get-go to make sure you keep to what you can afford. Remember to take other renovation projects into account; you don’t want to overspend on countertops and then have to short-change yourself when it comes to appliances.

Are You Remodelling to Sell?

If you’re remodelling your property in order to appeal to potential buyers, instead of simply to appeal to your own tastes, it’s important to leave your personal likes and dislikes aside. You might love the idea of a certain colour, but it’s best to go with something neutral. Viewers will be able to imagine putting their own stamp on the place, and neutral styles are unlikely to put anybody off the property.

Are You Okay with Maintenance Work?

Certain materials require more maintenance work. For example, wooden countertops will need to be re-sealed, but quartz countertops will not require ongoing maintenance work. Remember to factor this into your decision. You’ll also want to consider how easy it is for certain materials to be damaged.

How Important is the Environmental Impact of Your Choice?

Some homeowners prefer using natural materials that will not have been manufactured in a factory; others will want to find something that has been sourced locally in order to cut down on the environmental costs of shipping.


Answering the questions listed above should provide you with a good idea of what kind of countertop material you should be looking for, so now you can get out there and find the right one.

The Top 6 Kitchen Trends for 2016

Kitchen trends have continued to evolve during 2016, and people naturally want to stay in the loop.

If you’re thinking of changing things around in your kitchen this year, try following the current swing of things by taking the following trends into account.

  1. Fewer Boundaries Between Kitchen and Living Spaces

Kitchens have always been a social hub within the home, and we’re becoming more and more casual in our arrangements. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that kitchen and living spaces are continuing to blend in 2016. Open plans are being embraced and kitchen styling is becoming more casual and homely.

  1. Colours Are Going Either Paler or Bolder

2016 does not seem like a year for compromises. Light tones and ceramic whites are being used more and more across walls and cabinets, but this doesn’t mean we’re getting boring. People complement those tones with bolder accents across areas such as splashbacks and shelves.

  1. New Materials Are Becoming Popular

Before you carry out your next set of kitchen renovations, make sure you ask about some of the newer materials on offer. Additions include Dekton and Neolith; both can be used externally as well as internally, so they’re perfect for transitioning between inside and outside spaces. They also come in a comprehensive range of colours.

  1. Pendant Lighting Picks Up Steam

Pendant lighting, which was extremely popular during the middle of the 20th century, has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance, with metallic, matte ceramic, and coloured glass finishes becoming most popular. In the kitchen, it’s a good idea to create a cluster arrangement to ensure that you still get plenty of light.

  1. Minimalism Falters

In 2015, we saw black, simplistic designs and glossy worktops enjoying a brief period in vogue, but these styles are now winding down as people begin to look for kookier and more eye-catching colour schemes.

  1. Greenery Enters the Kitchen

You probably already have some greenery in your kitchen in the guise of chopped herbs and a few lettuce leaves, but those items aren’t exactly there to brighten things up. During 2016, we’ve seen leafy plants and hangers making their way into different parts of the kitchen. One of the great things about this is that you can completely reinvent the appearance of your kitchen without having to spend very much money.