One of the biggest changes we have seen over the last five years in the kitchen industry has been the growth in popularity of lighter-coloured worktops. For many years, black and dark browns dominated the UK market completely, but all this has changed.
Some light-coloured natural stones have disadvantages, of course. Lighter stones for worktops tend not to be true granites; many are high-grade metamorphic rocks – volcanic material that has been broken down and then stuck back together under the earth’s surface over long periods and with massive pressures and temperatures. They are not nearly as soft as, say, marble, but are relatively porous compared to black granites, and, of course, being lighter, are more prone to show any stain than their darker cousins. The porosity issue can be dealt with through occasional (probably annual) resealing, but, depending on lifestyle, this may not suit everyone.
This is where the plethora of light-coloured engineered stones (quartz) now available has really scored. From very smooth, pure colours (like Silestone Kensho, or Samsung Radianz Diamond White) to granular quartz for worktops (eg. Cimstone Arcadia, or Silestone Gris Expo) to larger-grained “pebbly” stones (e.g. Arenastone Grigio Platino or Quantra Giallo Antico) to sparkly mirror quartz (e.g. Cimstone Sines or Silestone Blanco Stellar) and the marble and limestone emulators (e.g. Silestone Lyra and Caesarstone London Grey) we now have a huge range of man-made stones to choose from, all of them non-porous due to their resin content, and almost as durable as natural stone. In fact, compared to the dark engineered stones, the lighter quartz seems to scratch less, or at least more invisibly.
But there is one thing that the man-made stones still cannot give – the wild randomness of natural stone. The metamorphic rocks often have particularly strong large-scale patterns – the very geological mechanisms that make for the porosity produce some of the most striking and beautiful colour and shape effects. For customers who are looking for something eye-catching, bold and different, these stones have something that neither quartz nor black granite can offer.
In the images here you can see just some of the exciting, wild stones from which we have manufactured granite worktops over recent months.
A slab of Paisley Gold, en route to Betchworth, between Reigate and Dorking, Surrey.
Juparana Persa for Ashtead, Leatherhead, Surrey
Glancing through the destinations for these three, it looks as if Surrey is the home of boldness in kitchen worktops!