A comparison: natural & man made benchtop surfaces

As kitchen designers, we have completed countless renovations with a variety of both natural stone & marble bench tops and engineered solid surfaces. Here we thought we’d give you a simple comparison of the different products available for your next kitchen or bathroom project //


Marble, Granite or Stone

Natural marble is a high end product with a beautiful, one of a kind finish. Clients can choose a specific slab with a variety of colour and veining options. Depending on the finish, marble can be very expensive and also rare. It is a high maintenance product that is more porous and softer than reconstituted stones and can therefore stain easily. Care must be taken to clean up spills immediately and it suggested the marble is sealed every 6 months. Granite on the hand is a far more durable & resilient material. Natural marbles and stones are considered more luxurious than man made products and add a certain wow factor to the design. Marble, granite and stone are generally supplied in 20mm thick slabs and can be built up at the edges to give a thicker bench top appearance. Suppliers can provide the material with a polished, honed, flamed or brushed finish depending on the look you are trying to achieve. Our favourite products to use in our kitchen projects include Statuario Venato and Calacatta marbles.



Engineered solid surfaces such as Caesarstone, Smartstone, QStone, Silestone, Quantum Quartz etc

Available in 12mm, 20mm & 30mm thick slabs, the range of engineered solid surfaces is vast and impressive. Made using a mix of ground stone/quartz, polymers and pigments, solid surfaces can look very realistic whilst having the added advantage of being a lot easier to maintain. Engineered stones offer a non-porous surface material that is stain, scratch and heat resistant. A more uniform and perfect finish can be achieved at a cost which is typically more affordable than natural marble. Advances in technology have allowed for the development of engineered stone surfaces that have veins and colouring that is very similar to natural marble at a fraction of the price. Due to the nature of the product, sinks and basins can be moulded out of the engineered stone product for a seamless look. We produce a lot of kitchens using Caesarstone bench tops and splash backs which have a beautiful high end finish.


Large format compact surfaces such as Dekton, Neolith, Lapitec & Laminam

Retreat Design is championing the use of a new technology in bench top and cladding material that provides large format compact surfaces (porcelain) which are perfect for the kitchen. The slimline composite material comes in large sheets which allows for greater design scope and installation without cuts or joins. Available in a wide range of finishes and colours which mimic natural stones and marble, it has near-zero porosity, making the product hygienic, stain resistant & easy to clean. It is also wear, scratch & heat resistant. Available in thicknesses of 6mm, 12mm and 20mm.



Calacatta marble - Zucchari Stone

Calacatta marble – Zuccari Stone

Neolith compact surface

Neolith compact surface

Statuario Nuvo - Caesarstone

Caesarstone ‘Statuario Nuvo’

Balsam Grey Polished Granite - Zucchari

Balsam Grey Polished Granite – Zuccari

Caesarstone Raven bench top

Caesarstone ‘Raven’

Caesarstone Fresh Concrete

Caesarstone ‘Fresh Concrete’

Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo

Caesarstone ‘Calacatta Nuvo’

Caesarstone 'Piatra Grey'

Caesarstone ‘Piatra Grey’



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About the Design Blog

Welcome to the Design Blog. Here we're sharing the latest kitchen and bathroom products from our Italian manufacturers. We'll also bring you inspiring kitchen renovations and beautiful bathrooms. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.