Natural stone countertops are never cheap because they are quite simply the most premium and exquisite products available. Natural stone is a very broad term as that still leaves us to choose from marble, granite, quartz, limestone, travertine, and onyx to name a just a few. While marble, granite, and quartz are the three most popular and well-established options that most homeowners prefer for countertops, they are not the only options.
Why Should You Look at Other Options?
High-quality natural stones are, by default, premium options for interior décor, but marble, granite, and quartz have become somewhat common these days. Nothing that a bit of custom stone cutting cannot fix of course, but what about the comparatively less used natural stones? Can the rarer minerals/stones such as onyx and travertine match or even surpass granite and marble countertops in some ways? Let’s find out.
Travertine: Luxurious and Exotic
Travertine is a form of limestone like no other and despite its cost and rarity, the limestone is gorgeous. Admittedly, travertine kitchen tops will cost a lot more compared to marble, quartz, or even granite. However, travertine is extremely strong and durable, despite being significantly lighter than most other natural stones used in construction. This naturally makes the limestone ideal for custom stone cutting jobs. Provided that you are working with experts, a well-polished travertine countertop can look downright amazing. Visit the World Stone Group website to see just how elegant custom stone cutting on travertine can be.
Make sure that your travertine countertop has been properly sealed post manufacturing and have the piece checked for resealing every few years. If the Roman Colosseums managed to stand for thousands of years, rest assured that your kitchen top will also remain beautiful for decades with occasional maintenance!
Onyx: Rare and Beautiful
Onyx or banded agate is rarer and more premium than any natural stone used in construction. It’s so rare that the ancient stone is used more often as a decorative gem than as a construction material.
True onyx is a rare silica-based oxide mineral which has a hardness rating of 6.5 – 7 on Moh’s scale and an average density of 2.65g/cm3. While hard minerals can be brittle, note that Onyx has almost the same average density as granite (2.6 – 2.7g/cm3) and it’s significantly denser than marble. Also, since onyx is essentially solidified silicon dioxide, it has extremely high resistance to fire, water, organic solvents, acids, salts, and even alkalis. Technically, onyx countertops should not only look stunning, but they should be highly durable as well.
Unfortunately, none of that matters because the “onyx” used in construction is essentially banded calcite. Calcites are polished to look like onyx, but they have none of the silica mineral’s toughness, durability, or resistance. As a result, any onyx countertop you are likely to find in the market may still look gorgeous, but they will be brittle and highly susceptible to chemical reactions.
In the off chance that you do find a genuine source, it’s better to use the semi-precious stone as a splash proofing layer on your kitchen and bathroom walls. Even genuine onyx does not come in thick slabs like marble, granite, or limestone; something that’s a practical necessity for kitchen tops.