Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shades of Grey - How Hard Are You?

We encountered an unexpected requirement when it came to choosing the stone for our benchtops in the kitchen. We had our hearts set on having Carrara marble for the benchtops, but were strongly advised against this. Why? - I have seen hundred of beautiful counter tops in Carrara in interior design magazines, most in very well spec'd homes where they looked oh so glamorous. 

It transpires that marble is just not hard enough for kitchens. You can't put hot pans down on it or it might crack, if you spill your red wine on it it will stain, even if treated to prevent fluid uptake, and it will inevitably develop a pitted surface over time loosing its sheen becoming drab. 

What's a boy to do? It was time to get scientific. After some research I found a universal scale called Moh's Scale, used to grade how hard various stones are. We needed a stone which was much harder than marble, but still gave us that timeless Carrara look.

Moh's Scale:

For a kitchen surface to be usable it really should score a 6 or above. In term of absolute hardness Talc scores a 1, Calcite (most marbles) a 9, while Quartz scores a 100 (10 x harder than marble). Diamond scores a 1500! In practical terms you can easily scratch marble with a copper coin, but not quartz.

So, not wanting a granite top (our hearts really set on a particular look) we found some quartzite stones that resembled Carrara marble. We settled on this top stone, with its undulating waves of grey coursing through an off white stone (paler than it appears in this photo)...

Other choices included this stone, which had a whiter background colour, but the seams of grey, although completely natural, seemed to look like a man-made Corian top with an almost printed look...

Then there was this one, which was completely white with no grey to it, which almost had a milky appearance. Not marblesque enough...

So, now having settled on the stone, we have sent the templates for our bench tops and centre island off to the quarry in Greece where they will LASER-cut the stone to the exact shape required, including the nosing profile...


  1. ....and this is exactly why I would never get Grumpy MOTH involved in any similar decision! xx

  2. I am surprised to learn that the stone cannot be cut to your specifications within your country. I'm sure this makes things a lot more difficult, time consuming, and costly for you.

    1. They could do the cutting in NZ, but as they would have to import it from overseas (at a premium), sell it to us retail after mark-up (at a premium) and then charge us for the cutting (at a premium), it is much cheaper for us to buy directly from the quarry without middleman or retailer, and have them cut it on site for a minimal cost. We are very happy to be supporting the Greek economy!

    2. That is wonderful to hear as this is not an option in my area (always a middle man involved!). The Greeks need as much help as you can provide so well done! Looking forward to seeing the stone in a future post.


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