Marble Countertops |
Everything You Need to Know

By: Beth Krietsch and Kealia Reynolds

Marble countertops are one of the most popular countertop style choices of late—they’re luxurious statement pieces that come at a variety of price points and make a room more visually appealing. If you’re planning on installing marble countertops in your kitchen or bathroom, you can choose from various colors and grains to find a style that suits your taste.

Here’s everything you need to know about marble countertops, from heat resistance and durability to price and maintenance.

Pros of marble countertops

1. Heat resistance

Marble countertops are heat resistant, making them a delightful surface for people who bake and cook frequently. Though this stone countertop is heat resistant, note that it’s not extreme-temperature resistant. Avoid setting down hot pots and pans on its surface since they could burn or scratch the marble; always use a pot holder to reduce the risk of discoloring or burning the surface.

2. Sealing process

As long as you seal your marble, your countertop won’t stain that easily. Marble countertops should be sealed to protect them from stains, scratches, and other damage. If you seal your marble countertops upon installation, and then every six months thereafter, they’ll be less susceptible to stains and damage.

We recommend sealing white and light-colored marble more frequently, somewhere around once every three months. Many people seal their own countertops as a way of saving on upfront costs, whereas others hire professional help.

3. Durability

Marble maintains its timeless and beautiful look fairly well over time, even with regular use. It’s a great surface for disguising wear and tear. You’ll want to avoid putting excess weight on the countertop though, as this could lead to cracks in the marble. As long as you properly seal, protect, spot treat, and maintain your marble countertop, it could last a lifetime.

4. Easy to cut

Marble is easy to cut compared to many other types of stone, making it a good option for people looking to get creative and design a countertop with a complex shape, size, or edge.

5. Wide availability

Marble is easy to find. You can purchase marble from home improvement stores, specialty marble businesses, online, or directly from a quarry.

6. Naturally beautiful

One major benefit of marble countertops is their timeless beauty that never seems to go out of style. Most types of marble stand out because of their beautiful veining. In many cases, the veining pattern is determined by the way the marble is cut.

Since marble can work with a variety of design styles, it makes sense that this natural stone is a huge trend in kitchens, with homeowners typically installing a marble backsplash and smaller, marble accents to complement the countertops in the space.

Cons of marble countertops

1. Porosity

Marble is extremely porous, making it vulnerable to spills and stains. Liquids can seep into marble fairly easily, quickly turning a spilled glass of juice from a small mistake into a huge headache. Besides liquids, acidic items and color-saturated spices like turmeric can also be problematic for marble countertops. Fortunately, some stains will fade over time and many can be removed with typical household cleaning products.

Marble is susceptible to many stains, including red wine, juices, and oils, so you may find yourself frequently wiping up spills as soon as they occur. If you find yourself dealing with lightly-colored stains, pour a few drops of ammonia and ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide onto a clean cloth and wipe up the stain.

Avoid abrasive and acidic cleaning products like bleach, as these can damage and dull the marble and make the sealant less effective. For smaller stains, create a paste made up of one part baking soda and one part water and leave it on the affected area overnight, wiping up the residue in the morning.

2. Etching

Acidic foods, like lemons and tomatoes, react with the calcium found in marble and remove the sealant from the marble finish (a process known as etching), making it dull and more vulnerable to scratches. Etching results in the marble looking a different color when the light hits it a certain way. When handling or cutting acidic foods, be sure to use a cutting board or butcher’s block to reduce the risk of etching.

If you’re concerned about scratches, a honed finish could be a better option for you than a polished finish. Honed marble countertops creates a more matte surface, making etching less noticeable.

3. Cost

People are drawn to marble for its beauty, but it can be very expensive. High-end shoppers can choose the revered Calacatta marble (a white marble with thick, dramatic veining that ranges in color from gold to beige to dark grey) and shoppers on a tighter budget can choose Carrara marble (a softer, bluish-gray marble with gray veining from Carrara, Italy) or Statuario marble (a marble with bold gray and gold veins).

Luxury Calacatta marble, while beautiful, can cost up to $200 per square foot. However, there are less expensive marbles, like Carrara, that can run $30–$40 per square foot. Carrara is typically more affordable because more of it is quarried. Save money on your marble countertops by choosing tiled marble rather than slab marble.

What to consider before installing marble countertops

Before installing marble countertops, consider the following factors.

  • Edge thickness—Marble edge thickness can range from ¾ of an inch to 1 ½ inches. Determine what type of thickness would be best for your space.
  • Type of marble—Choose between Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario. Since each marble slab is unique, you’ll want to look at the actual pieces before deciding which would look best in your home.
  • Marble forms—Marble comes in two forms: slab or tile. Slabs are more expensive, but offer a solid, seamless look. Tiles, on the other hand, are more affordable. You can also use leftover tiles to replace existing tiles that crack or receive damage.
  • Maintenance—A little prevention goes a long way in keeping your countertops looking like new. You’ll want to wipe the countertops with a soft cloth and warm water daily and consider sealing the surface to prevent stains. If you don’t have time for this type of upkeep, consider more maintenance-friendly countertop options like granite or soapstone.

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