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Kitchen Design: Is real marble really worth it?

When it comes to kitchen design, it’s safe to say why we’re all drawn to marble. I mean, the ancient Greeks knew it was stunning back in 438 BC and we haven’t looked back since! But how do you choose? And what are the options? With help from my friends at CDK Stone, I’ll answer these big questions.

The short answer is: Yes if your budget allows it. The long answer is: well, it depends on several factors and it’s worth bearing in mind that marble is not your only option.

Where to use marble in kitchen design

Let’s start by looking at where and how you can use stone in your home. The obvious one is your kitchen benchtop or island. The benchtop is where people often congregate, so it’s a great place to invest in a statement piece. You can also use it in custom vanity bench tops, wall cladding, and even the exterior of your home.

When using stone as a surface, and especially in the kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to consider who lives in the space and how it will be used. I caught up with the team at CDK Stone to hear what their thoughts are and discuss some options around kitchen design.

So, what’s the first thing CDK will always ask about? Colour! There is a myriad of colour options available in stone, so the best place to start is by identifying the colour you’d like. Is it a nice neutral bright white or off-white, something more in the black and grey realm, or a bit more left-field like a beautiful shade of green or pink? Knowing what colour range the stone needs to be in will help to narrow down the options.

Finishing Requirements

Next, CDK wants to understand what the client requires of the finish. Where will it be used? What’s the family structure (e.g. any young children)? Will it be an entertainer’s centre-piece? Do they mind a bit of maintenance, and does it need to look pristine all the time?

With this information CDK can then piece together a range of options to best suit the design of the kitchen.

For example, classic white Carrara marble will look timeless in most settings. It is a very durable marble, but it can acid etch if exposed to lemon juice. If left too long, red wine can stain it.

A quartzite material such as Mt Blanc will be a lot more durable and has a similar white base.

Selecting a ‘honed’ surface over polished can reduce the number of problems caused by acid etching. When coupled with a good sealer and cleaning products, the risk of staining can be minimised.

CDK believes that marble is a fantastic surface and you only need to look at the many white marble buildings in Europe to see that the stuff lasts a long time. Plus, it becomes more attractive as it ages.

So, with the knowledge that different stones have different properties (due to their molecular makeup) let’s look at marble and marble alternatives and to see what will be most suitable for your project.

Marble & Limestone

These stones form from calcium carbonate, which tends to be softer and reactive to acid. Marble comes in a range of colours from the traditional white through to shades of green, red, brown, grey, and black, to name a few. Marble has been used as cladding or feature stone for millennia. Best of all? Marble isn’t necessarily expensive – it looks expensive but many of CDK’s marbles very reasonably priced.

Granite

A granite bench ready to be used in a kitchen design

On the other hand, granite is composed of Feldspar and Quartz, making it very hard-wearing. Granite colours tend to be in the dark tones or occasionally white/off white, and it is available in many different surface finishes.  CDK notice that traditional absolute black granite in a leathered finish (to ‘soften’ the feel) is growing in popularity. For their customers on a budget, granite is often the way to go as their range falls into the lower end of the price bracket.

Quartzites 

An example of a marble bench top slab, prepared for a kitchen design

If you’re after something a bit more exotic, this one’s for you. Think shades of blue, green, red, and white. Being formed from Quartz, this option is very hard so sealing and maintenance are important to avoid staining. Quartzites are in the mid-upper price bracket, and CDK says that whilst they are stunning pieces of natural art, they aren’t for everyone.

Ultra-Compact Surfaces (UCS)

A chef using a marble topped bench and blowtorch to grill steak, a use that was specified in kitchen design

For some clients, durability and functionality is everything. For a surface that looks great, can take a beating, and doesn’t require any maintenance, it’s UCS. CDK carries a specific UCS brand called Neolith. Their materials are manufactured 100% from natural stone and clay, which is then sintered under extreme heat and pressure to form a thin product that is impervious to scratching, staining, heat, cold, and UV.

Sounds perfect, right? It gets better. The UCS range from Neolith comes in a vast range of colours and is so versatile. It can be used for anything from bathroom walls to joinery, or even exterior cladding. Anyone who is after a product that looks like stone but doesn’t want to worry about maintenance should consider UCS first.

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Aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and practicality all come into play when selecting the ‘right’ material. As noted here, there are many different options and what’s best depends on your project’s needs and requirements. The CDK Team is trained and experienced to understand what will work best in each situation, and with showrooms in Auckland and Christchurch, and with an Architectural Consultant on staff, they’re equipped to help you choose the right option for your home.

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