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Jan 17, 2008 02:16 AM

Is a limestone countertop really a disaster in the kitchen?

I am finalzing a kitchen renovation and have selected a limestone that I LOVE -- but I have been given some negative feedback about it's durability. One salesperson is trying to convince me to go with a caesarstone (synthetic quartz) - but others say it is bland and uniform. I love to cook and am not always the neatest it the kitchen. Will the limestone really stain? Or I have heard that it absorbs the stains over time which gives it more depth and texture. I have selected white cabinets and a white carrera marble subway tile - so the countetop will be making a big statement. I'd love some help!

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  1. I think the carrera backsplash is already adding enough texture and interest to the kitchen. With that you want a quieter counter to let it shine. Most limestones are beige, which I can't see with the carrera. I would go with the Raven color of Caesarstone with that, or a black granite on the plainer side such as Andes black, or Atlantic black. The Raven color of the engineered stone though is more of a charcoal, and will be softer than the black granite.

    Limestone is very soft, and will stain, scratch and etch. If you don't mind that, and that it will look worn over time, then go with that, but in a black. Soapstone would also work, as will an antiqued or brushed black granite if you want more character.


      I discourage folks from even putting limestone in a guest bathroom as MANY soaps/skin cremes are going to stain/etch it. It

      I kitchen were you actually cook? NO WAY -- it is reactive AND absorbent -- stains don't just give it "character" they can destroy it. Wine, fruit juice, cleaners will turn limestone to dust. Remember those "stained denture" commercials -- tea, wine, cola RUIN limestone.

      I am not saying you have to go all the way to a synthetic, but I really can't fathom what kind of stone sellers try and market limestone for countertops. Traditionally limestone has been used as a decorative surface, often on the vertical. I suppose a variety with abundant fossils might look interesting but it WILL NOT hold up in a cook's kitchen!

      Personally I do not think "monochrome" looks very good in kitchens -- whether a client is considering ALL BLACK or ALL WHITE or ALL STAINLESS I think they ought to consider that in such an environment ANY tiny crumb/spill/food is going to stand out and need constant clean-up. If you really are committed to white you can find some granites in the "silk" or "cashmere" ranges that are quite pale and FAR more suited to a working kitchen.

      1. Firstly, everyone will have an opinion on ountertops, noone is right or wrong as this is probably the single most personal decision in the kitchen. So every opinion stated in this thread will be contrary to others. But choose what you love, it is a really special decision.

        jfood has been living with Jerusalem limestone for years and loves it. It has beautiful movements and the color is so natural (well it is natural) that it adds a great warmth to the space. Adding white carrera subway tiles is a nice idea and jfood thinks you are heading in the right direction. He is not into the dark horizontal countertop look (lives in the suburbs)/white vertical cabinet backsplash look. For a city townhouse or loft this look is nice, but not in the burbs. In choosing a color, jfood agrees with light. The ubatuba/verdi countertop with white backsplash just strikes jfood as a little overdone already. There are so many beautiful alternatives to these two colors that, if possible, go to the stone place warehouse and choose your EXACT slabs and have them place your name on the side.

        Durability? Yes it does pit a little but jfood would argue strenuously about the staining aspect. With all the beautiful fossils embedded in the stone seeing any stains is almost impossible. And even when jfood really looks, he sees none.

        Wrt Caesarstone and Soapstone. Jfood has seen it only once and was not impressed, very boring IHO. Plus any product that you need to sign a release on that you are aware that it will have maintenance issues is not something jfood would touch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jfood

          Jfood is wise. Again. Limestone is fabulous. Get what you love and never look back.
          My daughter redid her kitchen last year on a budget and that was the big decision that made a major difference between another look-alike and wow! I cook with her all the time and we're messy. The first few stains panicked us but they magically disappeared, taking their place among the ages-old fossils. The limestone looks more beautiful by the month. She used only a 4" high backsplash and painted above with a very high grade flat-finish enamel that is completely waterproof and it looks great. Very cost effective. Smart cookie who used her money well.
          My neighbor has had Jerusalem limestone for years and hers is drop-dead beautiful as well. Limestone is like having a work of art for a countertop. It changes constantly but you never see the imperfections. It just gets more warm and lovely. Like a living thing.

        2. It's just personal taste, of course, but I find the "uniformly random" patterning of most engineered stone to look so fake that I prefer the look of a genuinely fake surface (if that makes any sense).

          There is no perfect kitchen countertop surface. Indeed, the least troublesome surfaces are plastic laminate (some of the newest materials are unbelievably beautiful). Good materials won't stain, but they are easily burned. Seams can be a problem.

          Marble stains readily and badly. You will need to seal your backsplash thoroughly and reseal it several times a year. (I assume the carrera is your backsplash. PLEASE don't install a marble kitchen floor, which can be quite dangerous.) Be sure to use stain resistant grout, which many tile installers ignore.

          We have one countertop of marble tile. It is stunning to look at and was extremely cheap compared to a marble slab. Its a variegated dark pattern with dark stain-resistant grout. We find we still need to seal and polish it several times a year.

          Limestone might work if you clean it scrupulously, seal it regularly, and like the worn look it will develop over time (many people do). You'd probably want a dark colour. If you drop something heavy, it will likely crack. Thinking about it, the limestone might look lovely on your wall. As a countertop, not so much.

          Dark granite is currently the most "in" countertop surface in downtown Toronto. It will break anything fragile that falls on it. A few people we know learned that their granite countertops are somewhat radioactive, though I have no idea whether this is a real problem.

          Concrete is trendy right now, but it is heavy and both very hard and extremely fragile at the same time. It will almost always crack and also needs regular sealing.

          Solid surface plastics (e.g., Corian) pose very few problems, but are costly and obviously don't have a natural look.

          There's much objective information available about the advantages and disadvantages of the many possible surfaces. Although it's all on the web, it will likely be more convenient to go to a big box bookstore, have a coffee, and scan the kitchen planning books. Decide what deficiencies you can't live with, and start your material search from that point. Then you can introduce your taste and decide what you like and how it will look with your marble tiles.

          2 Replies
          1. re: embee

            A uniformly random surface comes in very handy when you have enough pattern and variation going on in the backsplash. It's often chosen by a designer for that very reason. For a carerra backsplash with all the veining and shading variations going on plus the brick pattern, you WANT a boring quiet counter, or it all becomes too much and chaotic.

            1. re: blondelle

              Tis true, but a solid colour (for example) does that also. And genuinely random is something else entirely. As I said in the post, personal opinion only - YMMV. To me, "uniformly random" engineered countertops don't look random.

          2. We liked it as well by my SO had the good sense to get a small piece and place it on the counter. We found it stained pretty quickly from the espresso machine and lemon juice. Now some people like the way the stone changes but we didn't want to have to worry about it. We actually ended up with a greenish granite that we love after ruling out the limestone and looked at the fake granite stuff.