Do You Really Want Marble Countertops?
Do you really want marble countertops in the kitchen?
It’s a well-known story. You fell in love with a Calacatta Gold Marble slab in the stone yard. Or you saw pictures in Architectural Digest, Pinterest or Houzz. Now, you can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it and imagining how marble countertops will look in the kitchen you’re remodeling.
From the time of the ancient Greeks, we’ve had a love for marble. Today, being able to have stunning marble countertops in the kitchen is no longer reserved for wealthy people only. Slab marble is cheaper than it was in in the past, thanks to improved quarrying and shipping methods.
However, you should know that installing marble countertops in the kitchen is like dating a super model: both are beautiful, elegant and enticing with gorgeous good looks. However, beware: both are high maintenance and so very expensive.
Advantages of Choosing Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
Marble has many excellent qualities, beyond its handsome appearance.
1. One of the best advantages is its variety of color and veining, the result of impurities in the original limestone. Nothing comes close to the three-dimensional depth, richness and veining of real stone.
2. It’s extremely durable and can withstand hard use. That’s why it’s used as walkway stones in public spaces, like courthouses and museums.
3. It always feels cool, making it the perfect surface for rolling pastry dough.
4. Marble maintains its value and adds equity to your home
Disadvantages of Installing Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
1. Marble costs more than granite or quartz.
2. New marble countertops need to be sealed when they ae installed.
3. You will need to be cautious when working with anything acidic (tomatoes, wine, vinegar, ketchup, lemons and limes) because of staining and etching, where the acid eats into the stone.
Is Marble a Popular Countertop Material?
The National Kitchen + Bath Association (NKBA) is the trade group for kitchen design pros that promotes professionalism in the kitchen and bath industry. Every year they release the results of a survey from thousands of designers and other industry professionals, and in this year’s (2023) report, research indicates that marble countertops are being specified by only 11% of surveyed respondents. Quartz and quartzite continue to be the most popular countertop surfaces.
This result can be interpreted several ways – see “Disadvantages of Marble Countertops” above. However, we believe it’s because there are many, many look-alike materials on the market now. As a result, homeowners can get the look of marble without the need for sealing. And the price tag.
Sealing Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
Your stone fabricator will tell you that an impregnating sealer must be applied to the your new marble countertops right after they are installed. Marble sealers penetrate into the marble and create a protective, invisible barrier that prevents water and other liquids from soaking into the porous stone. Don’t worry – applying a sealer will not change the color or shine of the marble.
Sealing marble countertops in the kitchen does not make them stain-proof, but stain-resistant. By sealing the marble, it gives you some time to wipe up any spills. So, if you spill red wine and wipe it up within thirty minutes, the marble would be fine. If you left it there all night, you would probably have a stain.
How Often Does Marble Need to Be Sealed?
That depends on the product. Many sealers will protect marble for as long as 5 years. Others require more frequent applications.
To learn more about marble sealers, the Bob Vila website has a list of their top picks.
Care and Maintenance of Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
Although marble is a beautiful and durable stone for countertops, it is softer and more porous than granite. As a result, you will see more scratches, pitting and stains.
Marble’s calcium carbonate composition makes it susceptible to etching by acidic foods and drinks like tomatoes, citrus fruits, sodas, coffee, wine, fruit juice and vinegar. Experts recommend that you put down a protective silicone or plastic sheet or use a cutting board while working on a marble countertop.
Marble is heat resistant, but to keep you marble countertops looking their best, recommendations say you should place hot pots and pans on a kitchen towel or trivet. Using placemats and coasters under plates and glasses when serving on a marble countertop will also help to keep the marble surface scratch-free. Clean the marble countertop with mild dish soap and water on a soft microfiber cloth after each meal.
The Spruce, a website that knows all about cleaning anything and everything, has a list of recommended products for cleaning marble.
Know About Etching on Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
Marble is composed of calcium carbonate, which reacts to acidic substances, causing etching. Etching will appear as dull spots in your beautiful shiny marble. Wine, tomato sauce, citrus juice and vinegar in salad dressing will etch marble if left to sit for a while.
FYI: Honed marble will not show etch marks as badly as polished marble.
No impregnating sealer can protect against etching. To prevent etching, always use coasters, trivets, place mats, cutting boards and only cleaning products specifically formulated to be safe on marble.
All marble countertops that are used regularly will eventually get etch marks. The first one or two will be noticeable and make you unhappy. However, after a while you won’t notice them.
Some people look at the etch marks as part of a countertop’s character, while others call the fabricators to grind down the top layer and re-polish the surface when etches accumulate.
What are Some of the Most Popular Marble Varieties?
Snow White Thassos Marble. “The whitest marble on earth.”
Carrera Marble. “An iconic luxury Italian marble.”
White Himalaya Marble. White with gray veins. Imported from China.
Black Marble. Created by sediments and organic matter during the Mesozoic era.
Crema Marfil Marble. Elegant creamy beige stone with veins of yellow, cinnamon and white.
Calacatta Gold Marble. A “distinctive white Italian marble with gray and gold veining”. You know it’s popular when you can buy it at Home Depot.
If you can live with marble countertops’ potential negatives, then you can look at Mother Nature’s spectacular handiwork every time you come into your kitchen.
However, if having marble countertops in the kitchen will stop you from actually using and enjoying your beautiful countertop for fear of ruining it, then your should choose a different material.
Quartzite is one you should consider. (This is different from the engineered material called “Quartz.”) Quartzite is natural stone. Plus, it has a lot of the same beauty and veining as marble. To make it even more attractive, it doesn’t etch. It does, however, need to be protected with a sealer to prevent staining. It is perfect for busy kitchens that get used every day.
But we know if you have fallen in love with marble, there can be no substitute. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you host your first margarita party complete with lots of lime juice to show off your new marble countertops in the kitchen.
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.