How to Choose Natural Stone That’s Right for Your Home

NATURAL STONE LGN

I get asked so often about my favorite materials to use for countertops. I love using natural stone whenever possible! It’s so great to have something one of a kind and unique in the way only mother nature can produce!

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I know it can be overwhelming to show up to a slab yard and have no idea what you REALLY want. Stone is an investment, yes, but it’s one that can last a lifetime so it’s a great idea to make a classic choice. I find myself drawn to using a few natural stone favorites over and over again, so I thought I’d share with you the stones I love the most and how to best care for your natural stone!

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I partnered with usenaturalstone.com on this post and their site has been a HUGE source of information for me over the years as I’ve branched out and selected new types of stone for projects in my own home and in client’s homes. Their articles and the information they share about the pros and cons of each type of stone have helped me feel confident in my purchases and recommendations!

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(we used a gray soapstone in this client’s cabin kitchen)

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Here are my top four favorite specific stones to use and some great ways to use them. If you’re thinking of a stone not listed here though, check out this AWESOME chart from UseNaturalStone.com that gives a highlight reel of all the pros and cons of every countertop material out there!

LGN QUARTZITE

Quartzite, which is different than Quartz composite (a man-made material), is definitely having a moment. It looks more like a marble and acts like a granite. It doesn’t stain, etch or scratch the way marble can and you can place hot items directly on the surface of the stone! It’s a great marriage of practical and pretty, though it is on the pricier side compared to some of the marble and granite options.

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Just like other stones, there are MANY variations of quartzite. The ones I use most often have a light gray background (quartzite doesn’t really come in a pure, bright white) and veining in other tones of grays, golds and greens. Calacatta Quartzite has the most marble-like veining.

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Macaubus and Sea Pearl quartzite can have more jagged veining that almost looks like a chevron pattern sometimes, but these slabs are usually a little less expensive.

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We found a really pretty Macaubus quartzite for my parents’ kitchen that had softer veins and a lighter gray background that looks so pretty against the white cabinets.

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LGN Quartzite 5

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Next up –

LGN SOAPSTONE

Remember the kitchen from the Something’s Gotta Give movie set? The kitchen had soapstone counters and everyone has been talking about soapstone since. And for good reason! Soapstone is warm and chalky and beautiful! It can’t scorch or etch, but because it’s a little softer, it can scratch. Though the scratches can be buffed out using 0000 steel wool without a problem, and just like with marble, some of the appeal of soapstone is that it will wear and soften and have a sort of lived in, antiqued look. I love the softness of worn down marbles and soapstones!! Allllll the heart eyes!!

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Soapstone comes in green, gray and black and if you use a mineral oil on the stone the color will sharpen and darken. The dark black with soft white veining is probably my favorite!

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LGN Soaptone Cabin

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Because soapstone only has a bit of veining, it plays really well with other stones like marble and quartzite. I love this combo here in this (unfinished!) client’s kitchen.

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Up next is –

LGN GRANITE

Granite is INCREDIBLY durable and hard-wearing! It won’t easily etch or scratch and it won’t scorch. Also it is generally the most affordable of the natural stone counter top options. And while most granites are not anywhere near my first choice, I have to admit that honed black granite is quickly becoming one of my go-to stone selections! It is super affordable and the satin or leathered slabs like quite a bit like soapstone for about 1/3 the price!!

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This photo here shows what a HUGE difference there is in the way the exact same stone looks in a polished finish vs a honed finish. I always choose honed, satin or leathered over polished if at all possible. It makes no difference in the durability of a stone, but makes a very big impact on the overall look and feel of a space.

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We used satin absolute black granite in this client’s kitchen and wouldn’t you guess it was soapstone? I LOVE IT.

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LGN Black Granite

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And last, but DEFINITELY not least! –

LGN MARBLE

Marble will always and forever be my favorite natural stone. It’s just SO BEAUTIFUL. I love the bright white color and the striking, organic pattern of the veining. It’s just such a classic choice! I know it’s not for every homeowner, though I maintain that everyone should be fine with marble for bathroom counters (if not in the kitchen!). Marble is more porous than granite, but it gets a bad reputation for being hard to keep up. I disagree! Marble is very hard-wearing and durable!

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Again, I strongly prefer a honed finish in any stone, but especially with marble, and I think the honed finish helps any scratches that will happen over the years to be less noticeable. If you choose to go with marble in your home, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of wiping up spills and stains as they happen. If you don’t let you spills sit for hours and hours on end, and you use a cleaner with a built-in sealer, there won’t be issues with stains or bad etching.

I would honestly be happy with most any type of white marble, but the ones I’m usually drawn to are pictured here. If a client has a big budget, I always pitch Calacatta Gold or a Borghese marble. But if a client would like to keep the budget down, I usually recommend Mountain White or  Montclair or sometimes an extra honed Cararra (those swing more gray though). Some of the white marbles are as cheap as black granite!

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There’s just NOTHING like the beautiful veining of a great white marble! I found a piece of polished Mountain White in a fabricators remnant yard for a really great price and had it made into a sink I designed. They sanded the stone down to a honed finish and now the stone has that fuzzy, warm glow that only honed stones have!

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Marble is my favorite stone to use in bathrooms!
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I usually use darker marbles on fireplace surrounds (which I love!), but we’re working on a bathroom project using black marble right now too that I’m super excited about!

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I’d LOVE to hear all about your favorite stones to use for your counter tops! What have you used and loved? Are you a marble person? And if so, what are you favorite ways to care for your stone?

This post was in partnership with usenaturalstone.com. Don’t forget to check out all the resources on usenaturalstone.com if you’re in the market for any project using stone!

 

  1. Trisha

    I know you work on higher end projects- but for those of us trying to do an update without spending too much, the laminate versions of marble/granite/quartz and even butcher block are SO much better looking than they used to be.
    I can see why you like the black- it just has a warm feel to it.
    And the high gloss/polish- eek, I can’t stand it. You can never get it looking perfectly clean! :)

    • Jenny

      Yes, the black granite is surprisingly affordable! 1/3 the cost of quartz!

      Thanks for stopping by Trisha! xo

  2. Kayla

    Those last pictures of black marble slabs legit made my heart start racing. Also, more pictures of the cabin kitchen please!!! It is beautiful!!!

  3. Amanda

    I would be most concerned about staining – I’m constantly bleaching red wine, coffee, or berry juice out of my countertop (some kind of cheap laminate). Is quartzite the most stain proof?

    • laura

      Amanda, I have a white quartzite (white moon?? Something like that), and have had zero stains with red wine, coffee, berries, food coloring, beets, etc. I’ve been so happy.

      • Jasmine

        Laura, do you know what kind of sealer is on your quartzite? I have lovely quartzite counters that are totally stainproof EXCEPT with oil. Even a small cake crumb that sits for a few hours unnoticed will leave a stain. It drives me nuts!

    • Jenny

      Completely stain proof!! I think you’ll love quartzite!

    • KL

      True quartzite is absolutely bulletproof; however, sadly some stoneyards incorrectly label MARBLES as quartzite. Always perform the “quartzite” tests before plunking down your cash.

  4. Molly

    PLEASE tell me where the stools are from in your parent’s kitchen! And did they come in that amazing blue, or did you have them painted?

  5. Lynn Sturdivant Baker

    I have black honed granit counter tops and they are very hard to keep looking good. What is the best cleanser/spot remover for honed granite?

  6. Ring

    I love the backsplash in your parents’ kitchen! Where is it from? We have a similar quartzite slab and I’ve been trying to find a nice backsplash to go with it.

    • Jenny

      The marble herringbone in my parents’ kitchen is from Floor & Decor! We love it.

  7. rebekah

    That black granite though! Love it! What are your thoughts on wood countertops? I feel like maybe you’ve posted about that before…
    Would also love to know if your parents cabinets are custom or where they are from!
    Congrats on your beautiful storefront!!

    • Jenny

      I love wood countertops, especially for an island!

      My parents used a local custom cabinet maker. Feel free to email me if you would like his info!

  8. Jay

    I like your blog but am really disappointed in this post. These are not sustainable products–quarrying stone is incredibly destructive to the environment. Quartz, butcherblock, recycled glass are all better options and beautiful ones.
    This line made me wince– “It’s so great to have something one of a kind and unique in the way only mother nature can produce!”
    How about a follow up, with sustainable options–

    • Lisa

      My thoughts exactly.
      Otherwise love your Blog Jenny!
      <3

      • Jay

        Hi Jenny,
        The links you’ve posted here all come from inside the stone industry–surely not the most reliable or unbiased sources! Natural stone is mined–there’s no way around that fact (unless you have a local ‘reuse’ store from which you can find and repurpose a used countertop), and the quarries from which products like granite come ravage the landscape around and produce waste products that cannot safely be disposed of. Would love to see a ‘green kitchen’ feature on your blog–

    • nancy

      I KNOW IT, I don’t know why I read this post far (except I really love white marble which is all over Italy from BC days and looks beautiful) but I won’t get it. I have even read child labor is involved with mining all this beauty.

    • tracie sullivan

      One thing to think about though is the longevity of these products. We are looking at buying a house built in the 60’s. The entry way has the original marble flooring. For this part of the house all we will do is get it steamed or worst case slightly buffed and it should be back to looking great. I think its durability makes it a relatively green option. .

  9. Dani

    I chose quartzite (Super White) when I did my kitchen 3 years ago because I was told, just as you describe, that it’s very durable. But mine is NOT!! It stains and chips and basically behaves like marble, and I am stumped. It makes me wonder if I was scammed . . . ? It IS beautiful, but I have several chips just from knocking plates or cups (the cup/plate didn’t get damaged, just the counter top). I can deal with some scratches and even etching, but having it easily chipped is too much.. The experience has pushed me over to look for quartz option as I am planning another kitchen renovation in our new house. Do different types of quartzite vary in durability?

    This is a great post, though; so helpful and I love your designs.

    • Jenny

      Dani, this is very strange! I’ve never heard of a quartzite doing this! I would definitely talk with your fabricator. Part of the fabrication process is a super hardcore sealer. I wonder if they skipped that step?

    • Sarah

      I was actually a little surprised when I saw the description of quartzite in this post because I’m a designer for a Design+Build firm in D.C. and my suppliers and fabricators have always told me that different slabs of quartzite behave different ways. They explained the durability as ranging quite a bit in-between marble and granite, with the ones that look most similar to marble having some of the same porous and soft properties of marble. On the flip side, there are also some that are super durable and more like granite. I thought that was why the quartz industry has spent so much effort attempting to recreate a marble look–because there wasn’t a durable alternative available in natural stone. Maybe some fabricators are using quartzite to describe things that aren’t quartzite? I’m not sure what the deal is with the differing descriptions of it. I would definitely let your fabricator know you’re unhappy and see if they can help remedy the problem.

    • Christy

      If you read through the Gardenweb Kitchens forums, you will find a lot of information on this topic. Basically, yes – quartzite varies in durability, AND stone yards are scamming customers with non-quartzite products.

  10. Coleen

    Can you hone a glossy granite after it’s already on? We purchased a house a year ago that is perfect but needs updating!

    • Jenny

      Yes you can! It’s a sort of messy process but most stone fabricators offer this service! :)

  11. Meghan

    As someone who just recently completed a complete kitchen reno, glad to hear your love of marble! We chose to do dark navy cabinets with brass fixtures, and everyone tried to sway me away from marble due to its finicky nature. But my thought was, if it can survive in Italy with all their acids (tomatoes! citrus!) then it can easily survive my kitchen. I know that it will age beautifully, even it requires more love on my end.

  12. Nancy F Lambert

    Soap stone has always been my favorite stone, I do not know what that movie is about, never heard of it. I also love the old soapstone sinks

  13. Shirley Vastine.

    Is there a way to remove rust stains from honed marble? Unfortunately the stains were on the countertop when we moved in.

    • Jenny

      Hi Shirley!

      I know there are rust removing poultice products on Amazon, but I don’t have any first hand experience with these. I would call a stone fabricator and have them come down and give you a professional opinion!

      Good luck!!

  14. Faith

    Do you have to buy an entire slab?
    Loved this info, thanks.

  15. Amber

    I love all the runner rugs! Where do you purchase them?

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  17. Jake

    I love the look of marble with brass cabinet handles. I know marble is very in right now but for me it will never go out of style.

  18. Ali

    I’m not a fan of the crushed granite look, but found a granite that has similar striations found in marble and quartzite, Thunder White Granite. The price is right and looks pretty polished and honed. I also love the light color, grays and the flecks of purple in it. Highly recommended checking it out if you are looking for a pocket friendly option. We remodeled the kitchen in our old house and used this stone with white cabinets and it was gorgeous. Moved shortly after our remodel and liked what we did so much, we gutted another kitchen and used the same stone again, this time with peppercorn gray cabinets and it is GORGEOUS.

  19. Well that was a great thing to know, Keep it up because these piece of information with this great way to describe isn’t that to easy.
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  21. Christy

    I love the look of marble, but the maintenance just doesn’t work for me. Don’t let spills sit? Good luck getting your little ones to wipe up every spill! And the etching in the kitchen – eek! I actually love a vintage slab with loads of built-in etching, but that “patina” on a brand new slab just looks messy.
    I’ve been looking into the new porcelain options like Neolith and Dekton. They look MUCH more convincing as a marble dupe than basically anything else, and they are freaking bulletproof. But from what I have read, my biggest risk is the edge and the fabricator. A bad fabricator can really destroy the installation.

  22. Kathy

    I love, love, love stone counter tops in the kitchen, but I’ve noticed I get small holes in my tee-shirts from leaning against our quartz counter when I cook/do dishes/etc. over time.

    Apparently, this is a thing. We have polished quartz and I end up having to replace 6-10 tee shirts a year because I don’t always remember to put on an apron.

    Does anyone have issues with this? Are there stone options out there that won’t do this?

  23. Jacquelyn

    it needs to be mentioned again that your info on quarztite is inaccurate.
    this stone is not aways as durable as you state, sealer or not. stones being sold as quartzite can in fact scratch and many times etch. this is because these stones are not absolute. most stoneyards seem to be uninformed of this as well. as someone mentioned above go to garden web.com and read very informative posts from a geologist. Being that is it so expensive it’s important to understand what you getting and not be disappointed. it is after all made by mother nature.

    • Jenny

      Thanks for your feedback! I’ve found that my stone fabricator is a GREAT resource when I’m buying stone for my projects. If I have any questions or concerns he is always willing to give specific input on the stone in relation to it’s intended use/installation.

      I’ve used quartzite a few times, and in every instance I’ve been very impressed with the way it performs over time! :)

      Thanks!

  24. Katie

    Thank you for this! I have been trying to figure out what types of counters I want to do when someday I can renovate my kitchen! Granite is huge in my area but its the browns and they are all polished. Completely out of style but black honed granite would be beautiful.

  25. I’ve wanted to get some new countertops for our kitchen, and I think that finding a stone slab supplier would be helpful for us. I haven’t decided on what kind of stone we want to get for our counter, but I think that quartzite is something my wife and I could talk about. I know she really likes the look of marble, but I think that we’d be able to find something that we agree on before we find the stone slab suppliers that we’ll get them from! thanks for the help!

  26. MIRANDA

    Would you please share the flooring used in the black granite kitchen? It’s lovely! Love your blog.

  27. ahg

    Thanks for finally talking about >How to Choose Natural Stone
    That’s Right for Your Home – Little Green Notebook <Liked it!

  28. My husband and I are looking to remodel our kitchen, and I want to start with the countertops. We have laminate right now, and I’d just like something more timeless. So I like how you mention that marble is a classic because of its organic patterns and that it’s durable. We’ll have to find somewhere to get natural stone countertops preferably marble.

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