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Caring for a stone worktop

If you have invested in a natural stone worktop then you owe it to yourself to take care of it. A stone worktop is a serious investment and you want it to look as good in years to come as it does right now. For that to happen, you need to treat it well, so here is a simple guide to taking care of your worktop.

Caring for quartz

Quartz is the easiest stone to take care of, thanks to its low-absorbent surface material, but like any form of stone it has its own requirements. First of all, don’t put hot pans on it for any length of time and you should really use a heat resistant pad or a trivet to keep pans off the surface. That’s because the resin can melt and pans can easily leave an impression on the surface.

Quartz can also be damaged by strong solvents such as chlorides, triclorethane, paint, permanent inks, nail polish removers and even bleach can damage a quartz worktop. So don’t get too aggressive with the cleaning products.

In fact to clean quartz, a damp cloth will usually do the job and for serious sticky spots you can use a general cleaning solvent. Washing up liquid is normally sufficient, but for extremely stubborn spots you can opt for a non-metallic scouring pad or a steam cleaner.

You can use a blade or putty knife to remove dried on stains, but it’s better to simply deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from leaving serious marks.

Try to avoid serious impacts on the surface, too, as quartz is essentially a powder held together by resin and it can chip or fracture.

Caring for Granite and Marble

Granite and marble are, naturally, exceptionally hard and resilient surfaces that will withstand a good deal of mistreatment. Considering the investment you have made in your worktop, though, it is better not to mistreat it at all.

To clean general marks you can simply use a sponge and washing up liquid, but the trick to maintaining the shine is to dry it properly and to treat it like glass. That does not mean you should clean it with vinegar, though, as the acid can attack the surface and dull your surface. The same goes for lemon juice, wine and even the likes of nail polish remover. Keep them away from your surfaces.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, either. That goes for the cleaning fluids themselves and the pads you might use to clean a worktop. These can leave a permanent impression on the sealant that is used on most granite worktops and kill the shine altogether.

If you encounter a strong dried on stain then you can use fine, 000-grade steel wool, but there are better options. Soapy water and a little elbow grease will break down most dried on strains and a steam mop is another option that will remove almost any stain without opting for the abrasive extensions.

While a granite and marble worktop is resilient to hot pans, it’s still not a good idea to repetitively put hot pans on the same spot. This is the way it works in a kitchen, though, so you would be well-advised to use a heat resistant plate or trivet in any case.

Do not chop food on the granite worktop, too. Technically it works, but the granite can scratch and you will blunt your knives. Even china can scratch the granite if you drag plates across the surface, so be careful.

Choosing a high end worktop. Decisions, Decisions…

If you’ve opted for a high end kitchen then you can find yourself agonising over the little things, because this kitchen could be with you for many years and it is important to get it right. The worktop, too, is not a little thing. So what do you go for? Granite? Marble? Quartz? They are all stunning in their own right and they are all very different, so if you’re unsure then read on.

Granite

This natural stone has become the default choice for high end kitchens in recent years, thanks to its organic look, ease of maintenance and the fact that it is so durable. When you opt for granite you know that you’re choosing a substance that resulted from a volcanic explosion, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years ago. It will probably survive if you drop a plate on it.

There are all sorts of granite and all manner of different colourations that can give your kitchen an organic and natural character to go with all the clean, white surfaces. You can find granite with great swirls of colour or glitter-like specks of metal running through it that elegantly reflect your downlighters. There are often imperfections in a granite worktop, but they form part of the charm.

Granite is perfectly resistant to hot and cold, so it’s a great option for a worktop, but it can stain. It’s a porous rock, so light granite especially should be treated and there is still a chance that it can absorb the colours of the kitchen’s daily life. Some people like this, others rigorously clean their surfaces to keep them looking pristine.

With darker granite, you shouldn’t have to do anything more taxing than wiping them down with a cloth.

Quartz

Some people prefer the man-made alternative to granite. Quartz contains 93% natural minerals as a rule, bound with resin and colorants to create a more uniform structure that is free from all imperfections, unless they’re engineered in.

Unlike granite, quartz offers a near infinite choice of colours that allows you to totally personalise your kitchen and you can even get it in pure white, while there is no absolutely pure white natural stone.

This man-made alternative is also kinder to the environment, as the carbon footprint associated with a granite worktop is substantially higher in terms of mining the granite, transporting it and cutting it to shape.

As far as daily use goes, there are very few differences. Quartz is exceptionally strong and advances in technology mean it is durable. It is not 100% heat resistant, though, and there is a risk of cracking, however slight, and it can mark if you leave a searing hot pan on it for any length of time thanks to the resin melting. On the plus side it is non-porous and so is more hygienic than granite.

Maintain it and keep hot pans away from it, though, and quartz will maintain its perfect look for decades.

Marble

The other natural stone in this selection, marble is well loved and has been used in kitchens and bathrooms for hundreds of years. Ask any baker and they’ll tell you that marble is the only surface they’ll work on, but it comes with caveats.

Natural marble is a wondrous thing to look at, thanks to its deep veins and vibrant colours that range from pink to green. MichaelAngelo used marble to sculpt with for a reason, it is just that elegant.

It is also soft, though, as rock goes, and much more porous than granite. That means a marble worktop will show signs of abuse much more readily. If your kitchen earns its keep, then you might want to think about granite instead as marble does scratch and will stain, even when you spill red wine, fruit juice or oil on it.

Marble must be lovingly maintained and cared for, to the extent that you use coasters and protective mats when preparing food. For some it’s a price worth paying, others choose to opt for a more forgiving surface.

So that’s an introduction to the high end worktops you can choose from and some helpful pointers that might swing your decision.