If you're looking for a new countertop for your kitchen, you are most likely choosing from common materials like granite, laminate, or solid surface. While these are all durable and functional, you may also want to consider alternative materials which are just as good, but more environmentally friendly. One of the most interesting countertop materials is fossil stone, which has genuine fish fossils embedded in the surface.
Old is new
Fossil countertops may be made of marble or freshwater limestone. They are usually obtained from large freshwater lakes, where they were deposited some millions of years ago. Some of them date back to the cretaceous period, over 400 million years ago. They were previously sold as art pieces, but the early suppliers quickly realized their potential and started selling them to architects and interior designers. Eventually, countertop manufacturers joined the fossil stone market and began making some of the most attractive countertops today.
A typical fossil stone quarry has several layers of calcium carbonate shale. All layers yield usable stone, but each one produces a different shade and texture. Most samples range from beige to brown, but occasionally there are interesting colors such as black and bluish-gray. These are usually more expensive.
Fossil stone can be used for all sorts of home furnishings, from wall decors to island bars. As a countertop material, they work with any base material, including stone, metal, and wood.
A dramatic touch
Fish patterns aren't entirely new, but a genuine, 50-million-year-old fossil fish on your bar top easily makes it the focal point of your kitchen. It's just like having a piece of timeless art in your kitchen. Because the colors are neutral, they are sure to fit into any kitchen décor. It blends right in with a warm country kitchen and makes an interesting contrast against a sleek, contemporary one. The matte finish and subtle tones also make it very earthy, natural, and dramatic.
One of a kind
Each fossil countertop is selected from high-quality stone slabs, individually cut and hand-finished, and coated with a penetrative sealer. Designs are not limited to fish fossils – you can choose from all sorts of marine life, such as turtles, shells, ammonites, and starfish. No two samples are identical, so you can be sure your fossil countertop is unlike any other countertop in the world.
Fossil countertops may come in a solid slab similar to granite and marble countertops, or as individual tiles. A countertop slab is a great choice for heavy kitchen work and large, minimalist kitchens. You can choose from random patterns, or a plain surface with just a few fossils accenting the side.
If you're redoing your countertop surface, fossil tiles are a great choice. Each tile may have a random pattern of its own, or just a single fossil embedded at the center. Again, you can tile your entire counter with fossils, or accent a plain one with a few fossil tiles.
To add to the theme, try hanging fossil tiles from your wall or using them as splash guards. You can also use them on murals, tables, and other pieces of furniture. If you can afford it, get a smaller slab, place it on a corner, and use it as a coffee table.
Fossil countertops are designed for the upscale market. A 6x6-inch fossil tile can cost up to $180, and a square foot can go for $300 to $500. In comparison, high-end granite is worth about $250 per square foot, while laminates cost as little as $100.
They can also be expensive to maintain and repair. Liquid stains can quickly seep through the finish and damage the stone, and scratches can be hard to cover up. They also burn more easily than granite and marble, although they are more resilient than laminates. Even with a high-quality protective finish, the countertop must be cleaned regularly and protected from heat. Reapplying the matte finish regularly can help preserve the texture, although this can be expensive.