marble countertop

How to choose marble for countertops?

Marble surfaces are everywhere lately, and it’s not hard to see why. This choice is a classic that never seems to go out of style, and it makes any room look expensive, instantly. But like any big decision, you should weigh the pros and the cons before you run the plastic.

When it comes to picking a stone to finish off any space, you want to know what you’re investing in and whether it’s a true fit for your lifestyle. You also want to get cozy with the idea of the many different types (and price ranges) marble comes in. Well, consider this your official (and foolproof) guide to choosing the right marble countertop for you. Read on, and soon you’ll be well-versed and ready to pull the trigger.

Yes, we know other materials have been rage recently, and this beauty has passed some years away from the limelight after reigning in the last century. But it’s back with a bang!

Not unlike many trends that have been revived this year (like the victorian look in a bathroom), marble has been brought back but with a new twist. There were previously some limitations to its usage, including excessive usage of its white variety among many others, but those are the things of the past. The modern home is all about novelty and convenience, and marble is not far off from providing just that.

Homeowners are going all gaga over marble countertops this year. And why not? The wonderful display of its elegance in a variety of white, black, grey, green and rose colours adds a spectacular edge to your kitchen and bathroom landscape. And it’s a hit with prospective buyers too.

All right. We’ll get to the point. You’re not reading this for us to tell you why marble countertop is a great idea — No, you already know that. If you’re reading this, you are already quite obsessed with the material and have definite plans to make it a part of your kitchen and bathroom renovation. But you’re not sure how to make the right purchase. And we get it.

There are lots of unique natural stones to choose from when designing your kitchen. Natural stone has lots of advantages for your kitchen countertops, and each material is slightly different. As well as stones like granite and quartz, marble is a very popular choice for kitchen countertops. Let’s look at some of the main reasons people choose marble for their kitchen countertops.

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The Basics

According to Wikipedia “Marble is a rock resulting from metamorphism of sedimentary carbonate rocks, most commonly limestone or dolomite rock.”

Carrara marble is one of the most commonly used marbles, and it’s what we chose in our kitchen. With a pretty grey veining, it was just what we were looking for aesthetically! It’s named for Carrara, Tuscany in Italy where it’s quarried. We chose to install honed Carrara marble on both our kitchen island and back countertops!

marble countertop

It can be sealed to add stain protection.

One of the main concerns that homeowners have about choosing real marble for kitchen countertops is that it will stain. While marble can be more susceptible to stains or etches from acidic foods and beverages (such as red wine and tomato sauce), there are precautions that can be taken to help avoid this. Your countertop fabricator can ward off stains by applying an impregnating sealer that fills the pores just below the stone’s surface to slow the absorption of liquids, allowing more time to clean up spills. Today’s sealers are highly effective at preventing staining, without altering the look of the stone itself.

While no sealer can prevent etching, which is a dulling of the stone when it comes into contact with acidic materials, a high-quality sealer can go a long way in shielding your new marble from stains for years, or even decades. Ask your fabricator if they offer a multi-year stain warranty to help put your mind at ease.

Honed marble is just as gorgeous as polished, and you won’t have to worry about etching nearly as much.

Honed marble has a more matte surface finish, meaning any dullness that may occur from a rogue lemon slice will be much less noticeable than it would be on a highly polished surface. Honed marble has a soft, satin finish rather than a glossy shine – a look that many homeowners prefer.

Every slab is unique.

Some homeowners choose to install manufactured quartz countertops that look like marble products, which can be made to mimic natural stones like marble, believing that they will be easier to maintain. While an engineered material might be lower maintenance than marble, it will never have the same depth, unique patterns, and range of colours as natural stone.

Plus, when you install a true marble countertop or vanity, you have the opportunity to select a 100% unique slab. No other kitchen will have the same veining and characteristics that you have in yours.

Marble is naturally heat resistant.

If you’re a baker, you’ll be happy to learn that marble is one of the most heat resistant stones out there, and is much more heat resistant than a common competitor – resin-based engineered quartz. This quality makes marble a popular choice for fireplace surrounds as well as counters, islands, and vanities.

Natural stone increases the value of your home.

Stone countertops will increase the value of your home and appeal to potential buyers, if and when you’re ready to sell. Updated countertops made of natural stone are aesthetically beautiful and show that you’ve invested and cared for your home.

Still on the fence? Talk to your countertop fabricator before you make a final decision. Most will be more than happy to give you a sample of the marble colour you’re eyeing so you can take it home for a field test. Pour some lemonade on it, leave a coffee ring, drop a tomato slice – put your sample to the test to see how it reacts. Better yet, try a sample of both polished and honed marble to see the difference in performance.

Every homeowner should take their time to make sure they’re choosing a material that’s perfect for both their lifestyle and aesthetic. A Natural Stone Institute Accredited fabricator would be happy to answer any questions you might have about marble or any other stone material so you can feel confident in your final decision.

You get an amazing, unique appearance.

One of the main draws of marble is its elegant, timeless appearance. Not only does it look great, but you also get a unique appearance for your countertops because each slab is slightly different. The colour tones, patterns, and veinings vary from one piece of marble to the next, giving it that uniqueness.

It’s heat resistant.

You don’t have to worry about putting a hot plate or pan down on your marble countertops, because marble is completely heat resistant. This is a big advantage if you love to cook and bake a lot. Marble is one of the best choices when it comes to heat-resistance. As a bonus, this also makes it a solid choice if you’re looking for a natural stone surround for your fireplace.

It’s incredibly durable.

Marble is an impressively durable material, meaning it is resistant against scratches and will last a long time in good condition. Although it takes a little more maintenance than granite countertops, it is still a great choice for its toughness. Just look at all the old buildings and statues made from marble as a testament to its durability. So, you don’t have to worry too much about scratches and chips if you accidentally drop something on your countertops.

You can seal marble countertops for extra resilience.

One downside to marble as a material in the kitchen is that it can be prone to staining and etching if acidic liquids are spilled on it. The good news is that this can be prevented effectively by sealing your countertops. Doing this fills the pores at the surface of the stone to prevent liquids from being absorbed so quickly. As long as you clean up spills quickly, your sealed marble countertops should be safe from stains.

Is Marble Right for You?

Not All Marble Is Made Equal

Is it just us or is marble the ultimate “adult” addition to your home? Not just because it adds a polished, sophisticated feel, but because you will never set another glass down without a coaster again, slice a lemon without a cutting board, and you better hope no one gets clumsy with the red wine. The first question you need to ask when looking for the right marble surface for you is how porous the stone is. Different marbles have different attributes and choosing less porous one can save you a lot of money, and anxieties, in the long run. Opting for a marble such as Carrara, which is less porous, could have the longevity you’re seeking.

Beauty Is in the Imperfections

Marble is a material made by Mother Earth herself (minerals fused by heat over time, building into the strong rock face we know and love). Naturally, it comes with its quirks and characteristics, and no two slabs will ever look the same. Calacatta tends to be more white (and pricier) while Carrara can contain more greys and blues in its veining. When it comes to the veins—one of marble’s most charming traits—having a professional who knows how to cut and place each slab, then work those quirks to your advantage may be as close as you will get to perfection.

Know Your Cuts

So how do you cut to ensure you get the look you want? There are two types of cuts: Crosscut and vein cut. The former allows for the veins to be displayed more at random in an open-flower-like pattern while the latter has a linear appearance. When it comes time to lay your stone, make sure you communicate thoroughly with your contractor about how you want the seams (where two pieces of the stone meet) and veins to match up.

Caring for Your Marble

Once you’ve done your research, picked your marble, confirmed a cut, you should get familiar with what the upkeep might look like. Acidic or oily substances like citrus, vinegar or cleaning products can leave markings on your marble called etching. This can dull the surface of your countertops and can be difficult to get out without professional assistance. To avoid this, you will want to use a sealant from the get-go and should be aware that over the years you may have to reapply to keep up its attractiveness.

Pick Your Finish

Okay, so maybe your marble countertops coincide with one of the busiest rooms in your abode — not all hope is lost. The finish you choose can play a big part in the upkeep. While a polished finish may be more likely to show wear and etching, a duller finish will take the years a lot more gracefully. The same can be said for the way the corners are finished: narrow-cut corners may be more likely to chip than a rounded-off one.

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You Don’t Have to Go International for Good Marble.

While Italy, Greece, and Spain have long been a go-to source for high-end marble, getting a little more local can still generate quality at a friendlier price. Quarries in Vermont and Colorado are not to be overlooked.

Selecting The Right Marble Slab

Selecting the right marble slab is like choosing different pieces to complete a painting.

That’s because every stone slab is different. It’s a natural stone; so different slabs will have different veining patterns. Essentially, you have to pick up the exact slab that you want for your countertop. You will need to get the veining located on the countertop in a pattern that makes it look like a piece of art.

It may help to know that the longer the piece without any seams, the better it is. The price for intricate patterns will be higher too. On the flip side, if you are on a budget, you can still make the best out of that situation. For instance, if you find one with seams, go in for identical pieces to get a mirrored look.

What Marble Is Right for You?

Now you’re a pro when it comes to these timeless surfaces. But don’t head to the store just yet, we want to get you familiarized with a few of the most common types of marble you might come face to face with so you know when you’ve found your perfect match. 

Carrara

Hailing from Carrara, Italy, this is possibly the most popular pick when it comes to putting the finishing touches on your home. Not only because it’s cost-effective and will stand the test of time (and dinner parties) but due to its beautiful attributes. A stark white stone with blue and grey veins that can hold its own amongst an all-white kitchen.

Calacatta

Also quarried in Carrara, Italy, Calacatta is known for being on the pricier end. It brings a distinct look—most commonly white with thick dark veining but can also be found in Calacatta Gold (a golden yellow undertone to the vein) and Calacatta Michelangelo (which can be identified with its abundance of natural grey details).

Statuary

This marble contains a lot of similarities to Carrara in colour, however, it’s often identified by its natural glossy appearance. An elegant choice.

Levadia Black Marble

Also known as Titanium Black Marble, this Greek stone is a contrast to the many milky options we see so frequently. Its smoky white veins make it a stand-out choice.

Yule

Yule marble can only be extracted from Yule Creek, Colorado and has all the charm of a classic white stone. Being that it is more local, the cost of installation can come down significantly.

Danby

Danby marble is another option local to the USA—Vermont to be exact. With its low absorption and multitude of details, it’s a top choice for those seeking that effortless, elevated finish to a room.

Marble Countertop Pros

  • Beauty – Marble has a classic, timeless beauty, with a white brightness not available in granite or soapstone.
  • Cold Temperature – Marble is wonderful for working with pastry since it is naturally cool; it doesn’t heat very well.
  • Cost – While some rarer types of marble are very expensive, and the more common Carrera marble is one of the least expensive natural countertops.
  • Widely available – Unlike some quartzes and the hard-to-find quartzite, marble is available from nearly any stone fabricator or stone yard.

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Marble Countertop Cons

  • Scratching – Marble can scratch easily, especially when touched for a long period of time by something acidic. A slice of lemon laid down on a polished countertop overnight can leave a mark in the shape of the lemon slice, duller than the surface around it.
  • Staining – Marble can also stain; red wine and some fruits are infamous for leaving indelible stains on the marble. ( Note: good sealer = less staining; prompt cleanup= less staining )

If you are okay with countertops looking a bit scratched up, and developing a patina of use over the years, then marble may be for you. If you want them perfectly glossy all the time, then perhaps not.

If it’s a smaller project, you may be able to take this up yourself without blowing money on professionals. On the other hand, if you are planning a renovation on a big scale, it is better to hire the experts for the job. They will be able to deliver the type of expertise that may be beyond your scope of knowledge.

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