These worktops provide a cold, hard surface, deal for pastry making. However it can be easily stained by acids such as sugar, alcohol and lemon juice. Some marbles are more dense and less porous than others; always specify a honed finish. Alternatively use an inset slab of marble for kneading and combine with a different material elsewhere.
This stone tends to come in light, natural tones like honey, buff and pale cream, although rich blue/grey varieties are available. It has subtle textures and natural veining with a smooth, matt finish for even wear and tear. Most limestone is porous and should be protected with multiple layers of sealant to prevent staining and acid erosion. Again, limestone is not really recommended for full worktop use in a hardworking kitchen.
Less expensive than other stones, slate worktops can create a dramatic look in your kitchen. With a honed, velvety-smooth finish, slate is available in black and deep tones of blue, green and silvery grey. It is hardwearing, resistant to heat and wipes clean with a damp cloth. Make sure you choose a slate with a high silica content and add a protective sealant to reduce the porosity. More porous slates will absorb oils and stain easily. Surface scratches can be removed with gentle sandpapering.
This material ¡s made from volcanic lava stone that has been fired in the earth's own kiln, which means it can withstand the hottest temperatures that a busy domestic kitchen can inflict on it. It has a delicately crazed surface and resembles one large slab of ceramic tile, but without the grouting. Design, colour and texture can be applied to the surface.
These are also known as composite materials and should not be confused with solid, natural stone. Instead, composites are a man-made, non-porous material, made up of acrylic resins and natural minerals - hence the name 'composite'. The result is an extremely practical worktop which is stain-resistant, waterproof and very durable. It has a smooth, silky surface that is warm to the touch. The colour runs throughout the thickness of the material, making it renewable - any scratches, burns or dents can be gently sanded down and polished to create a new blemish-free surface. Composites like Conan and Paracor can be cut, carved, routed and sand-blasted into any curve or twisted into shape you want making it a highly desirable choice for complicated design ideas. Sheets of solid surface can be joined without any seams or gaps, creating a sleek worktop.