Limestone Worktop – Pros, Cons & Everything Explained
Nestled amongst the natural stone family, the limestone worktop is beginning to appear more in the kitchen design world. Not as popular as marble or granite and certainly nowhere near as in demand as quartz. Still, a limestone worktop is a beautiful and natural option you might want to take a look at. (I certainly love them)
In this post, I’ll explain what a limestone worktop (countertop) is, the types available, its pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.
Let’s dive in!
What Is A Limestone Kitchen Worktop?
Limestone (a limestone worktop) is a soft sedimentary rock and natural material composed mainly of calcite, from shells, coral and other debris.
Most limestone comes in varying shades of white, beige, grey and tan with specks of white calcium, shells, fossils and mineral deposits still evident evenly distributed throughout the surface and material.
Everybody loves to visit the white cliffs of Dover and marvel at their sparkling beauty. The cliffs are vast examples of limestone. This sedimentary rock forms over millions of years resulting in a stone with a consistent graining.
Limestone worktops are starting to become a more popular option for kitchen worktops. Due to their natural beauty and unique composition. Many designers like the look and feel of limestone worktops, especially when pairing them with neutral tones and other natural materials within the kitchen.
However, it is one of the softest stones sold for use in worktops. So caution and research should be applied before opting for a limestone worktop.
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Limestone For Countertops
Architects and sculptors have used limestone for millennia to create decorative accents and art since it can easily be shaped using a chisel and hammer. The Great Pyramids are constructed out of massive limestone blocks. Many decorative pillars on historic buildings also use limestone.
Most often you can choose your limestone worktop by visiting a custom countertop fabricator shop or stone yard. Pick out the exact slab of stone you want to be used in your kitchen. The stone is cut precisely to your measurements using computer-guided robotic saws with any edging or cut-outs carved into the stone during the cutting process.
It is installed on your base cabinets using an adhesive to keep it from shifting over time.
A sealant is typically applied to the limestone worktop at the factory that helps it to resist scratches and staining. Otherwise, it will need to be sealed on-site during its installation.
Over time, it will inevitably build a patina as daily use will slowly dull its original polish. You can restore its shine and beauty by having a qualified technician buff away deep scratches.
As with any type of stone, limestone is available in a variety of colours. The hues are created by different minerals that are introduced into the mostly calcium-carbonite mix during the sedimentary process.
Generally, if you ask for a limestone sample at the DIY store, it will look a lot like sand. However, you can find limestones such as travertine, dolomitic, and crystalline that may appear as dark grey, grainy beige, rich brown, or sparkling white.
Each slab of limestone will be unique. The only way to know exactly which limestone will look best in your kitchen is to visit a custom worktop showroom or stonemasons that stocks full slabs of limestone.
Some popular limestone colours include Jura Grey Limestone, Jura Beige Limestone, Verde Ardesia Limestone and Crema Perola Limestone. You can get your limestone slabs in a polished or honed finish.
Limestone does need a little more maintenance and care than granite, quartzite or quartz but is very similar to marble. It can be easily etched by acidic foods and cleaners or scratched by chopping directly on its surface.
Daily spills should be wiped up using a soft cloth and a pH balanced cleaner approved for use on stone. Avoid any cleaner that features citrus scents or juice. Do not use vinegar. Leave your scrubbing sponges in the sink. If it feels rough against your skin, it can scratch a limestone worktop. You will need to use trivets, hot pads and cutting boards.
The worktop will be sealed at the factory before installation. You will need to repeat the sealing process at least once a year to help avoid scratches and stains. Some pH neutral cleaners include a sealer to help maintain their protective barrier.
Price makes limestone an attractive option if you want a stone counter but don’t want to spring for the expense of granite. Limestone can cost around £30 to £70 per sq. ft. The average worktop runs around £3,000 installed, but you can pay upwards of £5,000 depending on the stone, the amount needed and the installer.
The labour for installing limestone is the same as more expensive types of stone and is generally included in the cost of cutting the worktop.
In comparison, a granite or marble worktop can cost up to twice that of a limestone worktop.
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Limestone Countertop Pros
- Durable Material (ish): Even this soft stone will stand up to daily wear and tear as a worktop in your bathroom or kitchen if treated properly. After all, the Cliffs of Dover have stood for millions of years. You can expect a limestone worktop to last for 20 years or more.
- Consistent Appearance: Limestone is known for its even appearance. It often resembles sand with even grains or striations in shades of off-white, beige and grey.
- Upscale Look without Exorbitant Expense: Limestone gives you a more affordable option compared to marble, granite, or quartzite. Pay half as much for the stone while still getting that stone worktop appeal.
Limestone Countertop Cons
- Shows Scratches and Scrapes: Even a well-maintained limestone worktop will show scuffs and scratches created by careful daily use. It will not perform well if you are looking for a surface with a high gloss polish.
- Susceptible to Stains: The porous nature of limestone means that liquids will seep into the stone, leaving behind stains that are hard to remove. Even the oils from your hands will darken the surface over time.
- Must Avoid Abrasive Cleaners and Surfaces: Traditional kitchen cleaners, scrubbing sponges, and acidic liquids will scratch and dull a limestone worktop. Use sealers and neutral pH cleaners designed for soft stone to preserve its like-new appearance.
Can You Put A Hot Pan On A Limestone Worktop?
Limestone is a natural stone and therefore is quite resistant to heat. While it will likely not crack or discolour from a hot pot, it is still possible. As with any worktop, it is wise to use a trivet or hot pad to protect the finish of your limestone worktop.
Does A Limestone Worktop Scratch Easily?
Limestone is one of the softest stones used to fabricate worktops. It will scratch if you use a knife to chop your vegetables. Even abrasive scrubbing sponges may leave behind scratches that dull their polish. It is recommended that you use cutting boards, protective trivets, and soft cleaning cloths on limestone worktops.
At the same time, some users see a worn and scratched kitchen worktop as a sign of a happy home. A slight patina shows that you have a busy kitchen that cares for your family.
Does A Limestone Worktop Stain?
As with many natural stones, limestone is naturally porous and easily stains. Whether you spill a glass of wine or leave a puddle of water to dry, it will show spots and stains. Stone sealant will help your limestone counters resist staining from oil and fluids.
The sealant should be applied at least once a year. Some cleaners include the sealant to help maintain the stain-blocking barrier during daily use.
Is Limestone A Hard Stone?
Limestone is generally considered a soft stone with a Mohs hardness score of 3. With 1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest material on the scale.
Here is a general guide to countertop hardness using the Mohs scale.
- Soapstone – 1
- Limestone – 3-5
- Marble – 3-5
- Sandstone – 6-7
- Granite – 6-8
- Quartz – 7-8
Can A Limestone Worktop Be Polished?
Yes, Limestone worktops can be polished. However, they typically don’t achieve the same kind of shine as a marble or granite worktop would. Polishing limestone can help to bring out the natural features of the stone.
Remember though, regardless of how well it has been polished, limestone worktops require regular cleaning, sealing and maintenance.
Is Limestone Cheaper Than Granite?
Yes, limestone is usually cheaper than granite, as well as other natural stone worktops.
However, although limestone is generally more affordable, a rare limestone that’s travelled a long way may be more expensive than a local marble or granite. With most stone worktops, the price is dictated by the rarity and accessibility of the product.
Is Limestone Good For Kitchen Worktops?
Limestone is becoming a popular option for kitchen worktops due to its warmth, beauty and consistent and neutral-colour appearance. Even though it is a soft stone, it is still much more durable than inexpensive laminates.
It nicely complements contemporary decor and can last up to 20 years with care. At the same time, if you need a pristine, gleaming surface that will not scratch or stain, this may not be the right fit for your kitchen renovation.
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There you have it! Everything you need to know if you’re considering having a limestone worktop as part of your new kitchen.
Natural, beautiful and unique, limestone can look stunning as a kitchen countertop and bring a real wow factor to your kitchen design. However, as a relatively soft and porous stone, you’ll need to be aware of its limitations and be prepared to give it a little bit more care and attention than you would other countertop materials.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for around 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.