Whether your kitchen benchtop is made of engineered stone or natural stone, chips and cracks can occur, and when they do, they sure can be an eyesore! Today’s post covers how and why chipping and cracking in your stone benchtop can happen and what steps you can take to tidy up the damage.
What causes cracks in stone benchtops?
Cracks in stone benchtops can occur as a result of several things, such as:
Temperature: Temperature shock in stone is caused by sudden, extreme changes in the surface temperature. This can happen when placing a piping hot tray directly on the surface that’s just been taken out of the oven, for example. Another way this can happen is when the stone top is exposed to sources of constant heat such as a crock pot left on all day or harsh sun hitting the stone’s surface; over time, this can cause your stone benchtop to crack.
Incorrect Installation: Now this one can be a little tricky in the sense that no one wants to take the blame (nor foot the bill!) of repairing a stone benchtop that has cracked due to incorrect installation however, there are a few things you can do during the design phase of your project to ensure this doesn’t become an issue down the track – and this is where your designer (hint, hint!) comes in!
Some general rules of thumb include:
Avoid installing a stone benchtop that has been cut into an ‘L’ shape, over a kitchen corner for example, as this creates a weak point in your stone (and is also not usually covered by your stone manufacturer’s warranty!) Instead, keep each of the slabs that make up your benchtop in square or rectangular pieces with joins running where needed.
If you’re opting for an undermount, double bowl sink, there will often be a narrow strip of stone installed in between the two sink bowls. This, again, creates a weak point in the surface and can also lead to cracking (also not covered by most warranties!)
If your new stone benchtop will be installed directly over underbench appliances (such as a dishwasher, bar fridge or washer and dryer in the laundry) these areas too can create weak points in the stone if not properly supported from beneath. A substrate should always be installed over cabinetry and this will support your benchtop however, a stone benchtop running over a long span of appliances (such as a washer and dryer installed side by side where the stone will sit across an opening of over 600mm in width) usually needs a bit of extra support in order to maintain it’s structural integrity. If this is the case in your home, make sure to speak with your installer for their best solution; usually a stainless steel support beneath your stone will do the trick.
Excessive Weight: Although fairly obvious, it’s a good one to point out! Any excessive weight on your stone benchtop can also lead to surface cracks; this includes sitting or standing on the benchtop (we recommend the use of a small step ladder to get to those pesky high shelves!).
Building Movement: Sometimes structural issues in your home can also lead to cracks in stone benchtops. Foundation issues can cause the flooring to sag in places and this movement can lead to cracking in your stone.
What causes chips in stone benchtops?
Exposed Edges: The exposed edges of your benchtop are of course, the most sensitive and any excessive force or shock (such as dropping that fancy but oh so heavy cast iron pan on the edge of your benchtop!) can cause a chip. Once again, this is something that can be helped during the design phase: Avoid sharp squared edges on your stone benchtop and instead, ensure the manufacturer’s minimum edge radius requirements are met to help decrease the likelihood of chipping.
Undermounted Sinks: Undermount sinks in the kitchen look sleek and stylish however, these leave yet more edges of stone exposed, increasing the likelihood of chipping.
How to mend chips or cracks in your stone benchtop
It is important to note here that some DIY repairs can void your warranty so always seek professional advice first before scouring the web for magic techniques on repairing the damage yourself! We recommend contacting the manufacturer of your engineered stone product to seek their advice for products such as Caesarstone, Quantum Quartz or Silestone for example. For natural stone products, get in touch with your stonemason to arrange a visit!
After having sought professional advice, you may have the option of repairing a minor chip yourself using a DIY repair kit which you can find at all good hardware stores.
Cracks in your stone benchtop on the other hand, will always require professional attention. Run through our list above to help narrow down the possible cause of the crack as this will determine your plan of action. Cracking is generally not covered under a stone manufacturer’s warranty as it is not a fault in the stone but usually caused by faulty installation, structural movement of your home, or improper use of the benchtop itself. Speak with your benchtop installer for their advice and you should also consider obtaining the advice and quote of another professional who can help you pinpoint the cause and also repair the damage where possible.
How to look after your stone benchtop
Engineered Stone Benchtops
For general daily cleaning, a simple damp soft cloth is more than sufficient. For a deeper clean, a non alcohol based and non acidic natural cleaning solution is recommended to maintain the stone’s sheen. Caesarstone also sells their own range of cleaning products you can find available online here.
For more information on maintaining your engineered stone product, Caesarstone has some excellent information available in their FAQ section.
Natural Stone Benchtops
Natural stone benchtops will require sealing upon installation and every few years thereafter. Sealing the stone ensures minimal staining and damage to your natural stone product so it is important to stay on top of this!
A great little trick you can try out to see if your natural stone benchtop needs sealing is to leave a few drops of water on the surface for a few minutes. If it starts to absorb into the stone, it’s time to re-seal! If not then you’re good to go!
A simple wipe down with a soft damp cloth is best for daily cleaning of natural stone products. For a deeper clean, consider using specialised natural stone cleaning products; you can find excellent cleaners available from most tile or hardware stores, as well as some supermarkets. You’ll want to keep an eye out for products that contain sealant within them as these will help reduce the amount of time needed between a professional clean and seal!
Both engineered and natural stone benchtops can look fantastic however, it is crucial to seek professional advice when making your choices! Always use a qualified kitchen designer to help with your plans (ensuring there are no costly issues down the track!) and a professional, licensed installer for your kitchen and stone benchtop.
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