Can you Live with Marble Countertops?

Can you Live with Marble Countertops?

Hello, friends!  We have a burning question for you, one that may reveal an important aspect of your personality.  Here goes.  Can you live with marble?  Not marble look-alikes, but the real deal.  Many of you will already know what we mean when we ask this question, but for those of you who are new to the marble vs. quartz look-alike debate, most people have a very definite opinion about marble.  Call it a love/hate relationship.  We personally love the look, but hate the “problems” associated with marble.  Curious?  Read on.

What is Marble?  

Marble is a metamorphic rock.  Technically speaking, marble comes from limestone, is mostly composed of calcite, and has been naturally exposed to intense heat and pressure.  The result is a beautiful natural stone that comes in a surprising array of colors from pink to black; however, most people think of marble as white.  For our purpose, we will focus on white marble.

Is Marble a Hard or Soft Stone?  

Marble is a relatively soft stone, and ranks at a 3-4 on the Mohs Scale.  The Mohs Scale is a rating system that classifies minerals according to their hardness.  For a little perspective, talc (as in talcum powder) is a 1 (very soft) on the Mohs Scale and a diamond is a 10 (very hard).

Where Does Marble Come From?

Marble is found all over the world, but is most commonly found in Italy, Spain, China, and India.  Known for its elegance and beauty, marble is a quintessential classic, but it is not for everyone.  Let’s explore why.

Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops

What one person sees as a “problem” with marble, another may view as a benefit.  Are you a type A personality or a type B?  Type A-er’s tend to be high strung perfectionists.  If this is you, you really should think hard before you make the leap to marble, and instead consider one of the beautiful quartz look-alikes.  If you are a type B, you may love all of the “flaws” you see over time and use.  

Pros of Having Marble Countertops

  • While not heat-proof, marble is heat-resistant.  Yes, you can sit a hot pot on marble, but don’t take a scorching pan out of the broiler and sit it on your marble counter.
  • Marble is ideal for bakers.  Because the surface stays cool to the touch, rolling out dough is a dream.
  • Marble comes in a variety of white shades and veining patterns.
  • Marble is classic and beautiful and never goes out of style.
  • Marble is versatile and compliments a variety of styles from chic contemporary to cozy cottage to rustic farmhouse.
  • Because marble is softer than other stones, it is easier to work with than harder stones such as granite.  A skilled craftsman can more easily create detailed edge profiles.
  • You can simply clean marble with mild dish soap.

Cons of Having Marble Countertops

  • Marble requires considerable maintenance.  It must be sealed regularly.
  • Marble is porous and can stain pretty easily.  Yes, it does, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Marble shows wear and tear over time.
  • Marble etches.  Yes, it does, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  More on etching in a moment.
  • Marble will have a lived-in look over time and will develop a patina.  This is not a problem whatsoever in European kitchens, but here in the U.S. most people want everything to look brand-new and perfect.  If this is you, you should avoid marble.
  • You can’t just spray some 409 on marble because you will strip the sealant.  You need to be careful and clean with a mild dish soap and soft cloth.
  • Marble isn’t inexpensive, and depending on the type, can be pretty darn expensive.
  • Marble stains and etches.
  • Marble stains and etches.  
  • See above about staining and etching.
Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops

Can you Handle Etched Marble?

So what is etching?  Etching is a wearing away of the surface of the marble when it comes in contact with acid.  Avoiding acid in your kitchen is impossible!  Think of ketchup (which stains too), lemon juice, citrus fruits, tomato sauce, vinegar, etc.  There are ways to remove light etching, but such procedures also remove the sealant.  A professional can help to maintain your marble every few years, but this can be pricey.

etched marble
Example of Etched Marble | Photo Credit: Faith Durand

We promise we are not trying to talk you out of using real marble in your kitchen, but we do want to present the facts.  I (Monica) had marble in the kitchen of one of my previous homes, and out it came after three months.  I simply could not live with it, but it was absolutely beautiful. My marble etched immediately and stained yellow after I left a pear sitting out overnight.  This absolutely would not bother many of you, but it sure bothered me.  I guess I’m one of those people who like things to look new.  What I see as damage, others see as character.  I wish I could be more relaxed that way!  Stay tuned for a future post about quartz if you know marble isn’t for you.

Most Popular Marbles for Countertops

As we mentioned earlier, marble comes in a variety of colors.  The most popular white marbles for kitchens are carrara, statuary, and calacatta.  

  • Carrara:  the most popular marble for residential use.  Available in shades of white to gray/white.  Has a soft blue-gray vein pattern.
  • Statuary:  has a bright white background and a bold gray vein pattern.  This marble is a good choice for someone looking for more contrast and pattern.
  • Calacatta:  also has a bright white background, but the veins tend to be thick with more color variation.  Good choice for people who prefer gold/brown tones rather than light gray.

If you love the look of marble but are afraid of using it in the kitchen, perhaps consider using it in the bathroom, where it is less likely to stain or etch.  Just be careful not to use harsh cleaners.

marble countertops in a bathroom
Carrara Marble countertops in Monica’s Previous Home

What Are Some Alternatives to Real Marble?

If you’re like me and just can’t commit to real marble, but still love the look, consider using a quartz look-alike.  Below are a few suggestions.

MarbleQuartz Look-Alike
CarraraCaesarstone Frosty Carrina
 Vena Carrara
 Carrara Morro
StatuaryStatuary Classique
CalacuttaCalacatta Laza
Calacatta Verona

Where Can I Find Marble and Quartz?

Choose a reputable marble/granite shop with a great selection and top-notch installation. Most dealers sell granite, marble, quartz, and a variety of other stone options. Our very favorite place is Frank’s Marble and Granite in Red Lion, PA.  A family-run business from Italy, they not only know their stone, but they are fantastic installers, and are wonderful to work with.

Because I wanted my countertops to look beautiful and very simple, I chose a plain white quartz this time around (Caesarstone Pure White).  I absolutely love the quartz marble look-alikes, but I wanted my island and accessories to take center stage.  There is no right or wrong in choosing plain vs. marble countertops; it was simply my preference.  

Tips for Choosing Quartz Marble Look-Alikes

Tips for Choosing Quartz Marble Look-Alikes

One tip I will give when choosing a quartz marble look-alike is to always choose your slabs before purchasing.  The marble look-alikes have come quite a long way over the last few years, and look much more authentic than in the past.  The older marble look-alikes tended to have noticeable pixelation (a dot-matrix pattern).  Also be sure to inspect your slabs for ink blobs, which is a pooling of ink in the quartz.  

What Type of Countertops will you Choose?

Whether you choose a natural marble or a quartz look-alike, you will no doubt have a stunning kitchen.  Do your research, talk to homeowners who have marble and those who have quartz, and get an honest opinion so you can make an informed decision.  Finally, take a good hard look at yourself and decide what you can and can’t live with.  Be honest!  It’s better to be truthful than to try to convince yourself that the blemishes you will invariably have with real marble will not bother you.  While quartz marble look-alikes are a great option for people like me, at the end of the day, quartz is still a partially man-made product and not a natural stone.  Marble is  beautiful, timeless, and classic.  Need more convincing?  What did the famous sculptor Michelangelo use for his masterpiece, David?  Yep.  You guessed it…luminous carrara marble.

Happy decorating, and until next time…

From the HartLand with Love,

Monica, Cheyenne & Brittany

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