Limestone countertops

MrsBradJanuary 3, 2014

I have fallen in love with a beautiful limestone while searching for countertops. I know most people do not recommend them but I'm wondering if there is anyone on here who have installed limestone and can tell me their experience. Are they harder to maintain than marble? We plan on putting granite on the island so the limestone would only be the perimeters. I am prepared to deal with etching and staining. I'm just really on the fence and want to know what those who have used it feel about it. My other curiosity is that it is a dark limestone and when I google the name I can't find anything. It is called Lagos Blue. Would a darker limestone hold up better? Thanks in advance for input/advice!

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It's about the worst countertop that exists for a kitchen that gets use other than a sponge. It has more in common with a sponge than it does something like granite.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 4:33PM
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But it is beautiful. Could you incorporate it into a back splash or something where it has a better chance of staying the way you love?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 4:43PM
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I have Jerusalem Limestone as a counter in my cleanup/scullery area. I have a photo of the sink surround handy to send, so you see it partially--it is about six feet long to the left. I use it many times as a bar/hors d'oeuvres area to keep people away from the kitchen before a party. I thought it would be a catastrophe after the first few wine stain rings, then coffee stains. But! They disappear! they get absorbed, somehow and after a relatively short time, you'd be hard pressed to find them. The color is so mottled, that a little change in color is truly un-noticeable. However, once I had a ring that persisted a few days. I took some barkeepers Friend and gently worked it around. All gone. I also have a polished marble countertop that equally hides stains. However, I'd never take BKF to that surface. Limestone is actually quite forgiving and I'd use it again. Just use trays, cutting boards, of course, and wine bottle holders to avoid stains. It is a beautiful stone.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Thank you for each of your input. Vedazu, it's nice to hear from someone who has it and has used it. Your countertops look beautiful in your kitchen! What kind of sealer did you use on it? I love your sink as well! This has definitely given me more to think about.

I read some limestones can act more like granites if they were quarried from certain places in Europe. Does anyone know if this may be true? This particular one is from Portugal.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:20AM
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As far as I know there are no limestones that act like granites. Don't let anyone tell you that!
If that were the case they wouldn't be limestones!!
Limestones will etch and can be pretty porous.
Sealing properly with the right products will reduce the porosity. Don't let anyone tell you an impregnating sealer is more than just a product that will temporarily inhibit the intrusion of staining agents into the stone. That is its only performance. A color enhancing sealer will darken the stone as well as temporarily protect it from staining.
They will do nothing to stop or prevent etching.
The only way to stop etching is to coat the surface with a topical coating. Something that is for another conversation.
Dark limestones will show etching like crazy if they are placed in areas where you will use the surfaces.
Incorporating it into a back splash is a better idea but it is possible you will still have issues.
The lighter limestones perform better in kitchen enviroments especially if they are honed to a deeper matte finish and sealed correctly.
Get a sample piece and bring it home-live with it for a week or so. Be informed.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:19AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I had a client who insisted on using a blue limestone in a bath for a counter. (Thank goodness I prevailed against it in the actual shower!) A year later, and she was ripping it out. Everything stained or etched it. Soaps, shampoos, shaving products, makeup, hairspray. Everything. Yeah, it was sealed. That only helped marginally when stuff sits forever on it. When you're trying to get ready in the morning, you don't want to have to put down a towel over the counter just to protect it from the hairspray or dropping the mascara wand. I physically shudder to think of it in a kitchen. You could never actually get it sanitized.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:32AM
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It has been six years since the installation of that stone, and although it was sealed at the beginning, I haven't done it for at least five years. Probably should. In any case, I think there are all kinds of limestones, and if you chose one that has more of the properties of, say, travertine, that's another story. My single regret in my renovation was using travertine in the family room floor--the fill begins to degrade, I have cracking--that's a very soft stone. I don't know anything about your specific quarrying question.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Yes-- Lagos Blue is absolutely gorgeous. But it is a terrible material for a kitchen counter. I had to prove this to myself so I got a sample and found that virtually every substance it came in contact with made it etch. Most granite yards will give you a small sample to "play" with. Give it a try.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:39AM
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You're getting accurate advice here, especially what Srosen said. All limestones are soft and will etch, but some are less porous than others. You'd definitely need to bring a sample home to see what you think.

One of my geologist friends has a dark colored limestone kitchen counter and she likes it a lot. Yes, there are etching marks but it's honed and it doesn't show up too badly. Personally I would not want limestone counters, but if you really take time to check it out you can make an informed decision.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:54PM
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" I physically shudder to think of it in a kitchen."

While livewireoaks comments made me smile, hollysprings quote above sent me in to laughter so hard I started coughing.

I know I'm sometimes a little too snarky here, but when those of us in this business tell customers something of which we are positive and they disregard our advice anyway, it's just a little more I-told-you-so than I can take.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:11PM
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On a more serious note, here are after and before pictures of 10-year-old limestone kitchen counters:

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 16:18

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:16PM
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MrsBrad - I believe you to be a newer member here...if so, welcome. Just to give you a heads up, you're receiving a lot of practical advice from people in the industry and in-the-know. I would not take their cautions lightly at all. Consider yourself extremely fortunate to have these people giving you advice to steer clear before you make an expensive mistake.

I know it's's kinda like the bad boy that you had a crush on in high school - you KNEW he would be bad for you, your parents tried to warn you, your friends tried to warn you, but still...he was the one you yearned for. Think of this "countertop" as the bad boy. Steer clear...he's going to cause you heartbreak.

You say that you're "only putting limestone in the perimeters", in other words, the areas where you will probably have your cooktop and your sink and other things that are typically heavily used in a kitchen. Trust me, even if you plan on most of your prep being at the island, you WILL use the perimeter counters as well.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:38PM
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I agree, I am getting great advice here. I feel fortunate to have found this forum. Thank you all for helping me make an informed decision. Andreak, thank you for the warm welcome. I love your bad boy description. And you are probably right, I'm looking at something that, if I choose it, may cause heartache in the end.

Trebruchet: Thanks for sharing those pics. That really puts it into perspective.

I will heed the advice several gave me, and bring home a sample to test before I make a final decision.

Karin: I have been reading your rock threads. Very informative. My question to you, is it possible this could be a marble that was mislabeled like so many other slabs you say or mislabeled? I ask because when I research limestone I can't find a single slab that looks like this one. But if I search blue gray marbles I find very similar slabs. Maybe it's wishful thinking but I thought I'd ask!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:58AM
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So I'm going to ask the dumb question here, does a good place to use a stone like this even exist?? If so where? I can't think of anyplace that wouldn't have exposure to elements that cause it to wear hard.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:49AM
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One more picture now that I'm at home. This picture is quite accurate. This is six years of use with mostly the following activities: coffee pot, wine, beverages, and clean up after dinner (dishwashers are below.) I can't see much (any) difference from the day it was installed. I have not sealed it since Year one. I repeat that wine stains and coffee are the two culprits that stain this stone, and they just don't seem to stay. I can't speak for all limestone, but this one is holding up just fine.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Thanks for the additional picture vedazu. I love how your countertops look!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:29PM
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Mrs Brad, you are correct that the slab does look a little more like marble with the swirly parts. Marble and limestone are made of the exact same ingredients so it doesn't change the etching problem. The porosity is the bigger factor, with most marbles being less porous and more dense. But with both limestone and marble there is a range of porosities, so you really need to test it. Also you might ask the dealer if they know the porosity or if it goes by any other names so you can find more info.

Autumn, one could use limestone on a mantel or windowsill with no trouble. It's a super useful rock for landscaping as well; I've built dry stack walls with limestone slabs. And honestly, the right rock could work in lots of places.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:20AM
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Ahhh, okay. Thanks Karen. It is so beautiful it'd be a shame to not have a good application for it. :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:29AM
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Thanks for the info Karin. I agree with you Autumn, it seems too pretty to not be used somewhere!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 10:28AM
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MrsBrad, I am a stone restoration specialist with all kinds of letters in my title to impress people, sarcasm. If you like the limestone get the limestone. Just talk with a mechanic about the car you want to buy. Meaning, find a stone restoration company nearby and find out what to expect as far as maintenance goes. I have regular clients that love the craziest stones in the worst places but they knew in advance what to expect because I educated them. And they came to the conclusion that the maintenance was well worth it. So this forum is a great ace to start but find a local company. Start with contacting the Marble Institute of America for a qualified company. Be happy!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Stoneguy, thank you for your vote of confidence. I have talked to several people who have been happy with their limestones. But like you said, they were aware of the maintenance and upkeep ahead of time. It's great to hear from a restoration specialist. And I do plan to be happy! :)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:22PM
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I think you received some very good advice. The best advice was to get a piece of the stone being considered and test it yourself. I commonly hear people inquire about the general characteristics of marble, limestone and even granite. At the end of the day, they simply want to know if the stone will scratch or stain, and will it hold up over time? But I caution my customers to be careful not to categorize all limestones, marbles or granites the same. Its true that limestone and marble are primarily made up of Calcium Carbonate, so they will etch when they come in contact with acids. But it is important to know, that many limestones are in fact harder than some granites. (Jura Limestone - from Germany is one, Jerusalem Limestone another) Some granites stain more easily than some limestones, and some marbles are very hard and some very soft, the same with limestone. Geologically, most marbles as we know them are actually limestones and most granites (especially ones with movement) aren't really true granites. No need to be confused. From a supplier standpoint, these are general classifications only. So keep asking questions, do your research, test the stone and have realistic expectations about the stone you select...... you may just be able to locate that "bad boy" countertop after all. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Avanti Marble & Granite Inc.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:45PM
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Thanks for the advice Bwerder - I totally agree with your points but wanted to straighten out a couple of misconceptions.

But it is important to know, that many limestones are in fact harder than some granites.
No - limestone isn't harder than granite, it's just not possible. If a limestone is harder than granite then one or both of them are mis-classified.

Geologically, most marbles as we know them are actually limestones and most granites (especially ones with movement) aren't really true granites.
True about the granites, the commercial use of the term "granite" is all over the map, but usually applies to igneous and metamorphic rocks that all have similar properties.
But for marbles/limestones I don't agree. Most of the rocks labeled as marble are marble, not limestone.

But the bottom line remains the same - always bring home a sample and check out the properties for yourself!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:20PM
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