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Looking For Something Different For Christmas?

It can be a complete nightmare matching tricky colours when planning a kitchen, lets face it; it’s another dilemma you could probably just about do without. Granite countertops can help add the finishing touch to a new design, but it can sometimes be a struggle to find something that’s both affordable and unique.

At Chiltern Marble we take pride in hunting down new materials exclusive to the UK market and we are proud to introduce Namibian Green. This stunning material has an impressive white background, with areas of green and black sporadically placed throughout. The multiple colours and tones within the stone make it relatively easy to match kitchen cabinets, flooring or wallpaper. As a trusted granite supplier, we have sold this material to customers with cream, white, green and brown kitchens, all of which particularly liked this product as it brings a warmth and light presence to a kitchen.

Namibian green is a rare material sourced in Africa. It’s a unique surface choice that’s completely different from other materials on the market. This material is a popular choice in classic, shaker or traditional style kitchens. The photo below was taken at a recent installation in September 2014. This stunning kitchen has multiple ovens enclosed in large kitchen unit as well as a traditional range cooker and butler sink. Namibian green lends itself to having a double edge profile, which is what was used in this kitchen to give a grand appearance.

As a trusted UK granite supplier we are proud to be able to offer this material at exceptional value as we have stock in our factory showroom in Bedford. To obtain a quote, a sample, or for more information, click here.

 

Can you put hot pans on Granite Countertops?

One of the most common questions that granite fabricators here is ‘can hot pans be placed onto a granite surface without causing any damage’? The answer needs a little explaining to fully inform you of the potential risks involved of putting a hot pan from the hob directly onto the surface.

Granite countertops are very tolerable to heat, more so than quartz surfaces as granite is a completely natural material generally consisting of feldspar, quartz, mica, and amphibole minerals. Granite has a melting temperature of around 1215–1260°C which means that any hot pan placed onto the surface has no chance of melting the granite countertop, unless you happen to be running some sort of science laboratory in your kitchen. Despite this, a small risk to the granite tops still exists in the form of the stone cracking. All motorists are advised that when defrosting a cold icy car windscreen not to use boiling water for risk of cracking the screen, well a similar theory is applied to those with natural stone worktops. Placing a hot pan onto a potentially cold surface does run the risk of cracking the surface. In balance to this factor it’s worth identifying the low probability of this occurrence as granite occurs naturally in extremely high temperatures beneath the earth’s crust, making it very tolerable to heat. As a UK granite fabricator we never advise anyone to put pans directly onto a granite surface, however if it happens by accident the likelihood of anything actually happening as a result is minimal.

What precautions can I take to protect my granite countertop to heat?

If you happen to be someone that cooks a lot and is always running out of room to put hot cooking pans down, then we recommend having pan-stands fitted into your countertop. Pan stands are the smart way of protecting a worktop from potential cracks, as explained above. They are generally 5 groves that are built into a worktop containing metal inserts that rise above the surface.

The images below show what a pan-stand area looks like. The metal inserts are removable for cleaning purposes and fit snuggly into the bespoke holes cut into the granite countertop. These holes are often left unpolished as they are cut by a machine and hand polishing affects the fit of the inserts into the worktop. The only real disadvantage of having pan stands is they do take up a degree of space so if ones kitchen is on the smaller side, it can leave let usable kitchen tops for other activities such as preparing meals.

Granite worktop with metal insertsGranite worktop with some metal inserts removedCompleted granite worktop with metal inserts.

The alternative solution is to have removable chopping board/worktop saver areas. These can be created from the same natural stone as the countertop by the granite fabricator; often at minimal extra charge, providing there is enough material available from the slab. The granite fabricator will often rib the material down to 10mm or 20mm and attach rubber feet to the worktop saver in order to avoid scratching. Because these are not attached to the worktop they can be lifted off and placed into a kitchen cupboard when not required, keeping the kitchen surface clear.

Removable natural stone chopping board. Chopping board in black natural stone

When opting for a granite countertop it’s important to be cautious of the potential issues that come from placing hot pans directly onto a surface, however it’s also worth remembering that granite is extremely tolerable more so that Quartz, Marble and Corian, so the likelihood of anything actually happening is extremely minimal.

There are options available for those who are worried about hot pans, we recommend speaking to your granite or stone supplier for more details.

September 18, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

What is the difference between Marble Worktops
and Granite Worktops?

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There’s much confusion over the differences between Marble and Granite. You don’t have to be a geologist to know that they are both natural stones but you may be surprised to hear they actually are rather different when it comes to being installed as a worktop.

Both materials have strong characteristics and properties but also have some weaknesses.

What is Granite?

Granite is an igneous rock with an average density of between 2.65 and 2.75 g/cm3, which in layman's terms means it has a pretty dense grain structure. What does this mean for a worktop though? Well the material is extremely tough however it still is possible to crack. Most granites are made up of at least 20% quartz and up to 65% alkali feldspar with the minerals of the stone affecting the colour, strength and appearance of the material.

What is marble?

Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from the metamorphism of sedimentary carbonate rocks in high temperatures deep underground. The material is composed primarily of the mineral calcite and in most circumstances contains certain other materials like clay minerals, iron oxides, quartz, pyrite, micas, and graphite. The density of Marble is approximately 2.76g/cm3, but tends not to be quite as strong as granite overall.

Why choose Granite for a kitchen worktop?

Granite makes a really popular kitchen worktop choice worldwide, especially here in the UK for many reasons. The choice of colours is a popular selling point. Unlike marble that is generally available in around 35 varieties, granite comes in around 80-100 different colours giving potential customers a better variety. Granite is available in plain colours but more often has a natural mottle effect or veining throughout.

Part of the popularity of granite comes from the stones reputation as a premium material, which is highly regarded by both the domestic and commercial market. Granite has been proven to add value to a property which is why many developers and landlords opt to have the stone installed in a kitchen before placing a property on the rental or property market.

Granite is strong, durable and difficult to scratch as well as boasting stain resistant providing the material is treated before installation. Because of the nature of the material, granite worktops stand the test of time in even the busiest kitchens which is great news for customers investing in their kitchen for the long term.

Granite Worktop supplied by Chiltern Marble

Why choose Marble for a worktop?

Marble is generally chosen as a worktop because of its striking appearance. The stone is instantly recognisable due to the magnificent veins that are typically found throughout. Marble is typically available in around 35 different colours; however some of these are quite rare, specialist and work out more expensive than equivalent granites. The most popular marbles tend to be Nero Marquina which is a black with a white vein sourced in Spain and Carrara which is a popular Italian Marble, white with subtle grey/black veining.

Marble is a material that needs to be installed as a worktop with an element of caution as it tends not to age as well as granite. The reasons why are fully explained below.

Marble is a stone that traditionally has been used in farmhouse style classic kitchens, but is still just as popular today as many London designers are including marble worktops to complement contemporary kitchen designs with wooden cabinets.

Marble Worktop supplied by Chiltern Marble

Can Granite scratch?

It is possible to scratch granite; however it is difficult to do so. Granite can scratch itself just like a diamond can, which is why when storing, we always place the polished side against another polished side and the backs next to each other. The easiest way to scratch granite is with the material itself which is why we always recommend that any granite chopping boards have protective feet on the bottom. Unlike with composite quartz, if granite does get scratched it is possible to polish the stone to remove it in most circumstances.

Can Marble scratch?

It is possible to scratch marble and being a softer material it is more likely to get scratched than granite. Marble also can etch giving a scuff mark type appearance. Before you completely disregard marble as an option because of this it’s worth mentioning that lighter marble varieties hide scratches rather well. Over time marble ages which can give the worktop a used look. In Europe Marble is a much more popular choice as a kitchen worktop option as people are generally prepared to allow the kitchen worktop to age over time. As a nation we tend to like our kitchen countertops pristine all the time which means that the potential of scratching of this stone makes it an unsuitable choice for some people.

Marble Surface supplied by Chiltern Marble

How well does Marble and Granite age?

Overall granite will age better as explained above; it has a better resistance to stains, scratches and etching. Marble will age with the kitchen so it's important to be aware of the facts before ordering a marble kitchen surface.

How do the colours vary from Marble to Granite?

It is possible to get very pure and plain colours with marble surfaces, something that’s not found particularly in granite. Marble is renowned for its veining, something that can also be found in granite as well. Marble is instantly recognisable and a popular choice for kitchen worktop customers seeking lighter materials because the whites and cream marbles tend to be lighter than what’s available in the granite range.

What is the price difference between Marble and Granite?

Putting a specific price on Marble and Granite is difficult. The reason is because there are so many different varieties it’s like comparing the price of cars with vans, where do you start? Carraramarble starts from around £200 a square metre and is generally priced on the purity of the colour for example, the whiter and clearer the stone, the higher the value. Granite approximately starts at around £180 a square metre with some rarer varieties fetching as much as £800 a square metre. The materials are relatively similar in price providing you select a regular standard granite or marble.

Granite surface supplied by Chiltern Marble Group

Our verdict and tips

All in all the process of selecting a kitchen worktop is a very personal thing. It’s a decision unique to each and every customer so there is no right or wrong option. It’s important to remember that Marble worktops are softer than Granite countertops, but by the same token both can be affected if not properly looked after.

Our recommendation is that if you looking for a worktop be sure to see a few different varieties. Don’t settle for viewing a few small samples; take the time to visit a showroom to see a full range of products so you can pick one best suited for your kitchen.

August 12, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

Lapitec certificate of excellence

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Chiltern Marble are proud to be an approved fabricator of the sintered stone product Lapitec. We are among the first fabricators in the UK to be presented with a certificate which acknowledges our commitment to the product and our skills in fabricating the stone to the highest standard. The certificate was awarded to company director Paul Mullee in June 2014 and directly reflects Chiltern Marbles’ commitment to quality kitchen worktop products that have respectable environmental credentials.

The award ceremony was hosted by the Marble and Granite Centre who operate as the UK importers of the product and are based in Rickmansworth, London. On the day the new colour Arabescato Perla Lux was unveiled to both press and the industry, after the presentation. This particular stone is made to emulate natural marble with unique grey veining; individual to each slab, and sits along with the other 10 products currently available in the range.

Whilst at the event the Chiltern Marble team got a glimpse at the copious uses sintered stone can have in both external and internal applications. Kitchen worktops are just one use for the material, but because of its extremely tight granular structure which allows for mitring, the material can also be used for eternal cladding, bathroom vanities, floor tiles or even to make a bespoke fireplace. We have uploaded some images below of the fireplace on display at the event, constructed entirely from the Lapitec stone. The material works well around heat sources as it has an incredibly high heat tolerance making it the perfect choice for fire surrounds or worktop areas around hobs. Because of the range of textures available in the stone, a fireplace can have a rustic or modern contemporary appearance. Grigio Piombo Satin was the material selected for this fireplace with the exception of four small areas which were made from new material, Arabescato Perla, in order to achieve a contrast against the grey.

With a market full of different kitchen worktop options such as Granite, Quartz and Marble why the need for this new product, after all what’s better than granite worktops? Well the truth is that Lapitec is a complete different product; it’s a manufactured stone similar to quartz but is much more resistant to stains and external conditions such as UV light and acid rain. Take a look at the photos below to see how the material reacts when vinegar, wine, lemon juice and oil were poured onto the surface at the event. The stains simply wipe off when a little cleaning solution is added with no permanent damage to the surface whatsoever. To further test the worktops durability our director Paul Mullee tried to scratch the surface with a knife and used permanent marker on the worktop only for it to be wiped away with some cleaning solution.

As a company we have found this material popular with a number of different types of customers. Some have been property landlords seeking a high quality kitchen worktop that will stand the test of time, looking as good as the day it was installed even after being used by the most careless of tenants. The material is more expensive than traditional quartz worktops but being so unique and durable; the extra initial outlay could save a significant amount of money long term. Another advantage of this material is the pure consistent colours available. These colours have been created based on the most popular London worktop trends combined with Italian excellence and superior design. Unlike many quartz kitchen worktop options available the colours are very pure without quartz chips in the stone. This minimal appearance works well for interior designers or kitchen customers trying to create a simple, minimal kitchen space.

To read more about the future of kitchen worktops or to see the number of different colours available click here.

June 29, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

Unique Irish Fossil Steps

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In May 2014 Chiltern Marble completed an exciting project using Ethical materials in a commercial / leisure environment. The Ibis hotel in Stevenage recently underwent a complete renovation and as a company we were exceptionally proud to be awarded the contract to supply the stone in several prominent public areas throughout the hotel. Perhaps the highlight of the job was the external staircase fitted in Irish Fossil Limestone which was cut to bespoke measurements to fit perfectly to the staircase structure. The material was suggested by our team and warmly received by the designers of the project who chose this natural ethically sourced material mined in Ireland for use as an external staircase. This was our first project using the material, which was only recently introduced into our range at the beginning of the year as part of our new ethically sourced selection. Irish Fossil is quarried responsibly respecting both the environmental and social impact.

Irish Fossil Limestone shares similar properties with marble; it’s a little softer than granite and quartz but perfect for external applications as its resilient to UV light and outdoor conditions once treated. It’s because of the stones resistance to external conditions that it was suggested to the designers working on this project. The exciting feature about this material is the natural fossils that appear naturally within the stone which are unique and exceptionally desirable, adding interested to the otherwise plain material. The 20mm flamed finish as used for this project offering a fantastic texture whilst making it slip resistant and therefore suitable for external flooring. The images below show exactly how beautiful the sporadically placed fossils appear when observing the full staircase.

The project took a team of two stone masons three days to complete the project, carefully fitting each bespoke piece of limestone, grouting the material and tiling the area above the staircase in matching stone. The dark grey material provides a premium finish and looks exceptional against the white external wall of the hotel. The complete job consisted of 57 pieces, 23 of those being 60cm x 60cm floor tiles cut bespoke for the area at the top of the stairs. After our team templated the site, each piece was cut to size in our factory in Bedfordshire.

In addition to the external stairs we also installed the quartz worktops in the bar area, tiles and worktops in the reception and tiled the public toilets within the vicinity. You can see more photos of our work on this particular project by viewing our past projects page. The fantastic selection of materials that were chosen radiate style, quality and beauty, so much more that just simple granite worktops.

For more details about this material or to view the range of alternative finishes click here.

May 27, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

Chiltern Marble at the KBB show 2014

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We had a fantastic time at the KBB show 2014. Our aim was to offer a range of ECO-friendly worktop materials and that we did with pride. The stand for this year was the biggest and most ambitious design in our history. We created an entirely bespoke stand from scratch, which was purpose built to show off our new range of materials for 2014.

Quartz, marble and granite worktops tend to be our best sellers throughout the year however our customer feedback shows a worktop's impact on the environment is of increasing importance to consumers when purchasing stone. Based on this feedback we have launched an exciting new range that's both ethically and socially responsible, ensuring minimal impact in order to help protect the earth's natural beauty.

Our new 2014 environmentally conscious range includes Lapitec, Glass Fusion, Italian Porphyry, Irish Fossil Limestone, Quartzforms and Etna Re-fired Lava Stone, all of which have impressive green credentials and are more Eco-friendly compared to traditional marble and granite worktops.

The highlight of the four day event was having celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli cook live on our stand. His cooking skills delighted the crowd who came to what the French culinary expert cook up a feast. Novelli was on top form throughout the exhibition and gave away signed copies of his latest book whilst posing for photographs with his many admiring fans.

Our aim; as the UK's number one fabricator, is to provide something more than just granite worktops, so if you didn't get the opportunity to view our exciting new selection at the KBB show in Birmingham, then come down to our showroom in Kemspton, Bedford or Islington, London where our staff will be more than happy to introduce you to the future of worktops.

March 30, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

Spring 2014 Worktop Trends

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The fantastic thing about kitchens and worktops is that different market and design trends inspire new concepts, styles and materials. In the UK much of the country is passive to the innovative styles that London has to offer, whether it is exciting granite worktop ideas or new extreme quartz materials, you can be sure that very soon the exciting innovations of 2014 will be coming to your local kitchen supplier.

There are some changes in styles within the worktop industry inspiring some very new and exciting styles. Granite worktops are still a popular way to add a touch of class and sophistication to any kitchen. Granite retains it s popularity as many of the colours available are timeless although there are some granite options that tend not to feature in the modern kitchen styles such as Blue Pearl and Azul Platino. Grey and black granite worktop colour options continue to be exceptionally popular with veined granite also being a popular worktop choice. You can view our stock granite range by clicking here.

Quartz tends to feature a little more than granite in the ultra modern kitchen designs due to its generally simple appearance and fanatic range of colour options. The most popular colours of 2014 are definitely white and grey with some quartz manufactures releasing new colours that incorporate brown tones into various greys. Compac are a company that have recently released some products based on customer demands, look out for the new colours Warm Grey, Dim Grey and Cool Grey.

Bigger is not always better, well not at the moment anyway! Some types of worktops are actually getting thinner in some new designs. Traditionally most worktops would be about 3cm thickness however many customers seeking the ultra modern look are actually having quartz at 12mm and 20mm thickness. It's a little different for granite customers, although granite worktops are available in 20mm thickness, being a natural stone the material tends to have weaker areas so may not be suitable in 20mm thickness.

Sintered stone and porcelain worktops are also a popular choice for 2014. The colours are very minimal meeting the requirements of leading designers and the material is super stone. You can view more on sintered stone products by clicking here.

March 8, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

100 worktops installed in Milton Keynes

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Chiltern Marble are proud to announce the installation of their 100th worktop in Milton Keynes. The company based in Kempston, just outside of Bedford in Bedfordshire, have built up an established reputation within the Buckinghamshire based town. Despite being a national granite supplier specialising in marble, quartz and granite worktops delivering throughout the UK, the company implemented a clear marketing strategy acknowledging Milton Keynes as a key local area to operate in thanks to its strong economy, sustained public and private investment and constantly increasing young and dynamic population.

Chiltern Marble have their main factory less than a 10 minute drive from Milton Keynes, just off junction 13 of the M1, but also own an office within the town. Company director Paul Mullee is pleased that trade in Milton Keynes is blooming. He said: "Despite being a national worktop company, Milton Keynes is a great place to operate and we will continue to offer fantastic worktops to the people of the town. As a company we recognise that Milton Keynes is a key area in the UK and a great place to have a presence in."

Chiltern Marble have a range of over 100 different granite worktop choices as well as a range of Quartz worktops from all the major suppliers including Silestone, Quartzforms, Cimstone, Casarstone and Compac.

February 22, 2014 | by Matthew Ray

Blogs from our industry

Please find here information from our industry partners regarding the latest developments in marble and granite, kitchen worktops and tiles.

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Chiltern Marble Factory Showroom, Bedford
15 Sunbeam Road
Kempston
Bedford Bedfordshire
MK42 7BY
Tel: 01234 851 469

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