Polished concrete vs natural stone worktops
Natural stones such as granite and Marble are perfect to create that luxurious finishing touch to our homes in the form of solid and robust kitchen worktops.
With growing awareness of the environmental problems resulting from opencast mineral and stone mining in recent years people have looked to homegrown and man-made alternatives to provide that same deluxe finish and top of the list in our opinion is our old building companion; concrete.
So we wanted to make your decision a little easier by wading through the facts. We are leaving the aesthetics to one side today whilst we drill into the practicalities.
Which one is more environmentally friendly?
The first and most confusing question for comparison: Which material is the most environmentally friendly? Both concrete and natural stone worktops can mildly pollute water and air through their manufacture. Although we can manage and monitor the pollution caused by concrete production in the UK better than we can granite mining in somewhere like Brazil.
What about CO2? Concrete requires a lot of heat and therefore produces a lot of CO2 during its manufacture. Granites carbon footprint is largely due to its transportation. For every 1 ton of concrete produced, 100KG of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. During its lifetime it re-absorbs up to 50%. So taking the long view; 1 ton of concrete produces 50kg of CO2. Emissions through transporting freight are much more difficult to calculate. But according to a study by the Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University; transporting 1 ton of waterborne freight 1 mile emits 56g of CO2. So transporting your 1 ton of stone 890 miles would produce the same CO2 as manufacturing 1 ton of concrete.
When compared to stone imported from outside the British Isles then it is fair to say that concrete is the most environmentally friendly material. This difference becomes more pronounced when you consider that concrete worktops can be cast around a foam or similar core. This reduces the amount of concrete and makes them easier and cheaper to transport.
Which material is more durable?
The next major consideration when deciding between these two materials is that of durability and maintenance. Concrete is a naturally porous material and needs to be sealed during the polishing process, this protective layer is susceptible to corrosion from mild acid such as lemon juice and also staining, so care needs to be taken to mop up any spillages after they happen.
The same goes for sedimentary and Carboniferous stones such as sandstones and marbles all of which have to be sealed due to their porous qualities. In the case of Marble, it can very easily stain. The clear winner here is the igneous rocks: granites. Granite is non-porous, incredibly hard and resilient to marking. Whilst you still need to be wary with hot pans and red wine, if durability is top of your priority list then Granite must be a consideration.