In a time when marble is everywhere — seriously, it’s even on our walls — it’s normal to want to hop onto a slab of nature’s finest and never let go, especially when you start crunching the numbers (it’s affordable!). If you’re going into a kitchen reno, though, you should know that marble’s pretty exterior is hiding a few dirty secrets. It’s not all bad, but when it comes to making an investment, we’re all about transparency (ha, rock jokes).
There are gazillions of kitchens with beautiful marble countertops on Instagram and Pinterest, making it easy to become obsessed with the natural material after scrolling your feeds. While there is no doubt marble is gorgeous, we would be remiss for not letting you know it is a bit high maintenance. First off, it is a lot softer than good old granite so instead of chopping directly on top of marble, grab a cutting board to avoid scratching. The stone is also porous, which means spills that are not immediately cleaned up can stain—hello red wine!
The good news? Marble has plenty of pros. Marble is heat resistant, but to help keep a marble countertop looking its best, experts say piping hot pots and pans should be placed on top of a kitchen towel, potholder, or trivet. Also, sealing a marble countertop every year will help it resist stains and light scratches. Another good to know, there are many different types of marble to choose from. Here we share our favourites.
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Qualities That Make Marble Countertops Essential in Every High-End Kitchen
Marble Countertops have a Timeless Beauty
Marble has an appearance no human-made surface, such as engineered quartz or solid surface, can match.
Many countertop brands try to imitate the look and feel of natural marble. Yet not one product comes close to the real thing. Engineered stones lack the texture and depth of the natural stone. They, too, fall short in showing an authentic marble’s innate beauty and elegance.
Technology may copy the swirls and veins of stone, but it can not genuinely imitate the texture, imperfections, and the irregular veining of real marble.
Therefore, marble’s striking appearance and natural warmth make it the obvious choice for many high-end residential and commercial projects. Most, if not all, luxury hotels use it in various applications. These include countertops, vanity tops, floor tiles, wall cladding, elevator casing, and tabletops. It beautifies reception areas, hallways, facades, kitchens, and even bathrooms.
Marble is also flexible. You can shape into curves, arches, squares, and ovals. Its edges can be custom-built to fit any design you require. Marble also works well with both traditional and modern interiors. It is a classic material that matches well, even with today’s modern elements. Whether you have a farmhouse, an industrial, or an ultra-modern kitchen, a marble countertop adapts the architectural style you apply to it.
If you are afraid that marble won’t match your kitchen’s colour scheme, do not worry. The stone comes in hues of milky white, chocolate brown, coal-black, salmon pink, and even emerald green. With this vast array of options, we are sure that you will find a countertop piece that blends well with your entire kitchen.
Despite the variety of marble colours available, however, white is the first choice for many kitchen countertops and vanity tops. Like a white button-down shirt, white marble, like the Carrara White (Italy) or the Volakas White (Greece), is adaptable. It complements any architectural style. It mixes well with a wide variety of materials such as stainless steel, wood, and tile. Furthermore, it accepts various surface finishes, be it polished or honed (matte).
Also, marble has natural variations in its patterns which you can not find in any engineered stone. Most slabs have prominent veins, while some have subtle lines throughout their surface. These variations, paired with the broad spectrum of available marble colours, create a virtually unlimited number of colour and pattern combinations. Hence, every marble slab sold on the market is unique. Veins, shade, specks, and swirls vary among each piece. You will never find the exact marble slab in your kitchen elsewhere in the world.
Engineered stones, on the contrary, are machine and mass-produced. Every pattern in every square inch of the surface looks equally the same between every slab.
Ultimately, many of history’s most iconic structures embody marble’s timeless beauty. The Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Washington Monument, for example, are a few of the testaments of the stone’s enduring appeal.
Marble Provides Great Functionality in the Kitchen
The stone may be known for its aesthetic charm, but do you know that it is also a great workhorse inside the kitchen?
Marble countertops provide a flat, smooth surface ideal for various kitchen preparations. It handles daily kitchen use effectively, especially when it is properly sealed.
In baking, having a marble surface, like a countertop or a pastry board, makes everything a lot easier. With a marble slab, you can effortlessly prepare various kitchen recipes. It provides a much-needed space to cut, knead, and roll nicely.
Furthermore, it absorbs heat naturally better than other materials. You can easily set down a dozen freshly baked cookies without having to worry about damaging your stone. It does so better than any other materials, such as plastic or wood, thanks to its high thermal conductivity. This characteristic allows the marble to create magic in the kitchen.
First, it keeps the dough relatively cool, preventing the butter from melting. It hinders flakiness and makes the dough hard to roll. Moreover, if you chill a marble board first, it functions even better.
Second, it allows you to temper chocolate adequately, which results in better-quality sweets. It produces chocolates with consistently small crystals and minimal white patches.
Lastly, it helps keep the ice cream cold while toppings are mixed in at your favourite creamery. This benefit encourages the customers to be creative with the flavours. In turn, it ultimately adds another level of fun to the experience.
Hence, pastry chefs, chocolate makers, and other food artisans love this particular natural stone. It is just impossible to think of preparing most goodies without it.
Do you know that it is easy to clean, too? All you need to do is to wipe off the area with a dry paper towel. However, if you need a thorough cleaning, rinse off your marble counter with mild soap and water.
Marble’s Beauty Enhances Over Time
Are you the type of person who wants everything always neat and perfect in the kitchen? If you answered “yes,” then marble may not be the best countertop material for you.
For all its elegant beauty, marble sure does have its weaknesses. Marble, like all other natural stones, may break or show the signs of wear and tear over time.
The stone’s crystalline structure makes it susceptible to stains and sensitive to acidic solutions (etching). Thus, any spills or drips need to be wiped off after every kitchen preparation. Prolonged exposure to liquid may cause your marble to dull or discolour. To prevent stains, we recommend applying a stone sealer on your marble’s surface once or twice a year.
Sealing, however, does not provide absolute impenetrable protection for your stone. It only prolongs the window period for the liquid to penetrate your marble’s surface. It allows you to wipe off easily any spill or drip on your marble countertop for a certain amount of time. Depending on your sealer’s brand, this could be between ten to thirty minutes. As such, ensure that your marble countertop is always clean and dry after every use. Never let any liquid, such as wine, juice, or coffee, sit on its surface overnight. Otherwise, you’d be surprised to see some nasty marks on your kitchen countertop when you wake up the next morning.
Are you the type of person who enjoys cooking in the kitchen? Are you comfortable with seeing some unavoidable smears and splatters from time to time? If you answered “yes” to both questions, then you might want to consider using marble for your kitchen.
Marble requires a little more upkeep compared to having granite or engineered quartz. But this little “inconvenience” is not as detailed as you think. First, sealing your marble countertop requires only some minutes of your time. Plus, you need to do it only twice, at most, each year. Second, keeping your countertop neat and dry does not require that much effort. By doing simple things, such as using coasters and trays, you can prevent liquids from staining your marble’s surface. Also, by cleaning your countertop after every use, you can ensure that the countertop stays beautiful for decades.
Marble, compared to other kitchen surfaces, is an expensive material. Thus, it is essential to take care of it properly to preserve its exceptional beauty and wide-ranging functionality.
You might notice that some areas of your marble may acquire some unwanted marks with your continued use over the years. Stains, for example, appear when liquids are left on the stone indefinitely. When left overnight, coloured liquids, like coffee and juice, seep into the marble countertop and leave the surface discoloured.
The stone is also prone to scratches and chips. Marble is softer than granite or engineered quartz due to its mineral composition. Therefore, never cut directly on your marble countertop. Instead, always use a cutting board during every kitchen preparation. Also, do not drag plates, trays, or other kitchen items across your marble as it may scratch the countertop’s surface.
Lastly, marble is sensitive to acidic substances. Hence, never let lemon juice, vinegar, or even tomato sauce sit on your marble countertop for too long. Any acid reacts to marble’s calcium carbonate composition. It eats away the surface of the stone, which, in turn, creates dull spots known as etches. Contrary to what most people think, etches are not stains. Instead, it is the effect of the chemical reaction between calcium carbonate and acid. It is more of a dulling, not staining.
Marble may be susceptible to stains, scratches, and etches. However, these superficial flaws do not affect your stone’s functionality as a kitchen countertop. You won’t notice these blemishes unless you look closely into the actual surface. These marks, in turn, become subtle layers of household stories imprinted on a slab.
Over time, marble develops a beautiful patina that hides all these imperfections from sight. Eventually, these scratches and etches blend and become part of the marble’s character. You’ll see them, not as flaws but, as pages of your life floating like an overlay above your counter.
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Marble Increases Your Home’s Value
Have you ever wondered why 5-star hotels and fancy restaurants use marble in their interiors? Can you imagine seeing these lavish structures use low-end ceramic tiles for their reception or bar counter?
Marble is a high-end material that provides both elegance and sophistication in any space. Despite its inherent flaws, it is the favourite of many architects and interior designers for various projects around the globe. It provides an upscale look that tops any other surface, like engineered quartz or solid surface.
You may not live in a 5-star hotel, but you can add value to your home by upgrading your kitchen with a beautiful marble slab. After all, your home is an investment. Should you plan to move out in the future, your marble countertop is an enhancement that can surely help you sell your house faster and at a better price. A beautiful kitchen always leaves a good impression not only to your visitors but also to potential buyers.
Marble countertop properties
The reason marble remains in heavy demand is its elegant good looks. This igneous stone comes in a wonderful display of colours and a variety of unique textures. There are no two marble countertops that look the same. Marble is divided into different grades based on how clean the stone is from veins, lines and spots. Usually, the lower grades of marble have more lines running through them. There is also a cheaper version of marble and is called cultured marble, which is made by mixing marble dust with plastic.
Seams will always technically be visible due to the texture of the stone. Veins uniquely run through each stone, so matching and joining two pieces of stone together without a visible seam is a tricky business.
One thing you can do with marble is to use a book matching technique for the seams, making a feature out of the seam.
Darker stones with smaller patterns will have less visible seams than lighter stones.
Marble countertops are porous, so proper sealing for the countertop is essential. Citrus juices, coffee, or alcohol (i.e. that red wine you love to sip while you’re cooking) will etch or dull the marble surface. Avoid ring marks left by drinking glasses by using coasters. Protect your marble countertop by using mats under hot dishes and wipe spills up immediately.
Marble has great heat resistant properties. It can stand up well to hot pans and pots won’t yellow due to the heat. Heat resistant properties make marble a great choice for kitchen countertops that will surely last a long time.
In itself, marble is not a strong material and being very porous as well makes it pretty fragile. Sealing is required to keep those scratches off the surface of the stone itself. Besides, corners of the countertop can be weaker areas as well and a cause for chipping and even cracking.
As already said, marble is very porous, so it has to be professionally sealed before use as it does stain easily. Once your countertop is sealed, it is relatively easy to keep clean. However, there are some simple guidelines that you should follow to prolong the glowing look of your marble. Clean marble surfaces with marble soap or a mild dishwashing liquid soap with warm water; also, thoroughly rinse and dry marble countertop after washing. Do not use vinegar, lemon juice, bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or tile cleaners on marble surfaces, as this will dull the natural stone.
Concerns about Marble
There are two primary reasons that marble countertop installation is not recommended for the kitchen. These concerns are severe enough that some marble countertop manufacturers won’t warranty their counters if they are installed in the kitchen.
The first concern is the porous nature of marble. It’s more porous than granite, so it more readily absorbs liquids. That means that oil, wine, juice and other spills penetrate deeper into the stone very quickly, and they are hard, if not impossible, to get out. Even in the bathroom, be cautious with things like nail polish, liquid makeup or remover that can stain the tops. Marble’s natural beauty often leaves people undeterred by this eventuality. Still, fortunately there are sealers which are commercially available for the do-it-yourselfer, as well as professionals who can help.
Marble can and should be sealed when installed and again every few years. However, if it is not done properly or often enough, staining is a “not if, but when” proposition. While no products available on the market today offer a panacea, if you do accidentally stain or scratch your marble countertops, you do have some options.
The second reason to be concerned about marble kitchen counters is that the material isn’t sturdy enough for the kitchen. Sharp knives can scratch the surface. Heavy pots or mugs may chip the marble or even break off a corner.
These are the primary reasons some manufacturers won’t warranty marble countertops if used in kitchens and many countertop installers won’t install them. There are too many complaints from homeowners when their marble kitchen countertops stain, scratch, chip or crack.
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Should you buy marble for your kitchen?
Marble may require extra maintenance and upkeep compared to other countertop materials, but this does not mean that you should not consider it in your home. Many of our customers do. It just means taking a little more care of your countertop for every use.
If you love the look and if you think you can handle the extra upkeep marble requires, you do not have to think twice about having it inside your home. Make your kitchen as elegant and sophisticated as those in your Pinterest board.