There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right stone for your home or project and if it’s your first time, chances are you’re not sure where to start or what the process will be like. From the exact slab you opt for to the finish and properties of the stone, here at Cullifords we’re happy to guide you through your options to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for.
To help with first-time qualms and worries, we’ve taken the time to speak to Cullifords Director Oliver Webb to cover the key dos and don’ts and general FAQs when it comes to buying stone.
What should be your first step when buying stone?
The most important starting point is making sure you use a reputable company for installation. Working with professionals who are experienced and knowledgeable will ensure your chosen stone is installed correctly, avoiding any costly changes further down the line. A reputable company will seal and install the stone properly and will have the honesty and knowledge to know when a material is not suitable for a particular design or use.
Secondly, you should relax. There are many myths created around looking after stone. The single greatest myth is that it should be bullet proof. Nobody has ever said this! We don’t expect wood to be impervious to everyday wear and tear, nor do we expect carpets or other surfaces to be bullet proof. All surfaces will wear in different ways and stone is no exception. There are some very hard stones, even some harder than porcelain, and there are some very soft ones, but each has its own characteristic. We advise anyone interested to go into the minute detail of product attributes about how different stones perform. We supply lots of marble for worktops, but it is not the ‘best’ material for worktops, but the majority of people choose it because of the look and they sacrifice the practicality side.
Make sure you don’t hold back. There is so much choice in natural stone; it is sometimes a shame when people opt for the safe choice. The stones we have are unique and beautiful, so you should indulge yourself.
Last but certainly not least, don’t buy without viewing the actual block you will be having cut, and don’t go home without a sample for testing it with a bit of wine, or lemon juice or tea if you are worried about product performance. We can even seal samples before you take them.
What is the best way to select stone for a project?
Simply put: come to our stone yard. There is nowhere in the UK with more choice of natural and man-made materials. You will see some of the most sought after stones in the world and most people are spoilt for choice. We have knowledgeable staff who can help you through the entire process. We can also reserve slabs for a short period of time before you take them for your project so you know you will be getting the slabs from the exact block of stone you have seen.
What if you don’t have the time to visit the yard?
Not everyone has the time to make a visit early on in their decision process, so we do urge people to take a look at our website which shows the majority of our current stock too, but seeing them in person before you buy is an absolutely must.
Can you source stone if you are shown an example and you don’t currently hold stock of anything similar?
We are more than happy to help people source stone if they are trying to match it to something existing or if they have seen something whilst on holiday or in a magazine or online. I’ve been asked to find the same stone that a client had in their suite at the Burj Al Arab before, I had to call the concierge to get a photo! So we’ll really do anything we can to help.
What happens when you visit the stone yard? What is the process?
Our offices have a great showroom for seeing the Quartz Composites and Porcelains and then there is the yard with over 3000 slabs. We have separate areas for Limestone, Granite and Quartzites, Marbles, and then the precious slabs are in our warehouse, we try to make sure all of our slabs are easily visible, rather than stacked on top of each other like in other wholesalers.
On arrival you will be taken by one of our knowledgeable staff who will get to understand your needs, and point you in the right direction. If you are close to the installation date (normally up to a month) and you know who is doing the work, either a kitchen company or fabricator, we can then reserve the slabs you need for your project. We will also give you samples to take away.
Any final tips for anyone choosing a surface for a project?
Once you have your layout of your kitchen or bathroom we would always recommend you start as early as possible with the stone. It’s easier to change paint or cupboard colours, but not so easy to find stones to match the other way round.
Don’t just think about colours as there are different textures available too, this can make the difference in making a modern feel versus something more traditional. Some of the satin finished stones offer much more for a toned down effect, which is proving popular at the moment. And many of the stones you see in our yard can be sourced in different finishes, so it’s always something worth considering.
Don’t get too hung up on price before you know the final cost, we have so many materials, and yes, some are really expensive, but the worktop is often the cherry on top, so don’t be scared to get something higher priced. It doesn’t cost anything for a quote. And better to go over budget on the showstopper rather than on something dull or unseen like the substrate or underfloor heating!