Focus on Marble: Durability

Focus on Marble: Durability

As you have probably seen, marble in the kitchen has officially been “in style” for quite some time now.  All of the latest design magazines, TV shows, and designers are showcasing gorgeous kitchens with the famed “Calacatta” marble gorgeously displayed on the countertop as the central focal point of the kitchen.  As much as everyone loves the look and style of these kitchens, we are always wondering if they are “practical”, or if I could ever use them in my kitchen.   To answer that question, NO, marble countertops are not as practical as other surfaces such as granite and quartz.  However, please, DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM CONSIDERING MARBLE! For certain people, marble will never be the right choice, but for a large selection of us there is nothing better.

Who is marble for, and who isn’t it for?

To begin with, I like to help homeowners decide if they are the right “type” of person for a marble countertop.  No matter how careful you are, marble will definitely scratch and etch (more on that later), so if you have to have your countertops PERFECT all of the time, please don’t buy a marble countertop.  One thing to keep in mind, small etch marks and scratches are typically seen when you look for them, but they don’t take away from the beauty of the stone.  So, if you are OK with sacrificing several small blemishes to get the gorgeous effect of a stunning marble kitchen, read on!

 Stunning Valley Gold Vein marble island after 1 year of use

Stunning Valley Gold Vein marble island after 1 year of use

Scratches, Stain, and Etch Marks

Most peoples first questions when considering a marble countertop is “isn’t it really soft, and won’t it stain?”.  The answer is yes, it will scratch, but if it is sealed properly, staining shouldn’t be an issue.  Impregnating sealers should be used on every marble installation and they will help keep your stone stain free. Also, because the sealers go into the surface of the stone and fill up all of the open pores, they will not change the look of your countertop. Whether polished or honed, your marble countertop will look the exact same after it is sealed as it did prior to sealing. Also, in the event that your countertop does stain, you can always use a poultice to draw the stain out of the stone.

As for scratches, the surface of your countertop will definitely scratch.  Some marbles are softer than others, but as a general rule, they will all scratch.  Luckily for us, marble looks the same throughout the depth of the stone, so scratches typically don’t show unless caught at just the right angle, or until you look for them. Also, if worst comes to worst, you can always have your countertop resurfaces by a restoration company for about $1,000.  Again, because the stone is the same throughout, when it’s restored it will look just like new.  You can’t do that with granite!

In my opinion, etching is the biggest problem with a marble surface.  Etching occurs when any acid substance gets on the surface of the stone.  Think: lemons, vinegar, ketchup, limes, etc.  When those acids make contact with the calcium in the stone it will immediately etch. It doesn’t matter how fast you wipe it up, the damage has already been done.  To combat etch marks, I always suggest homeowners use a honed marble rather than a polished marble. Honing the surface will make the etch marks more difficult to see.  Again, just like the scratches, refinishing the surface of your countertop will remove all etch marks. Also, just like scratches, you will probably only notice them when you are looking for them, but they won’t take away from the gorgeous look of your stunning marble.

 Close up of an etch mark on the gorgeous Valley Gold Vein countertop

Close up of an etch mark on the gorgeous Valley Gold Vein countertop

Long term durability and beauty

When thinking about marble, it is important to remember that it has been used for centuries.  It was around before granite, and I believe it will outlast granite.  Some of the most beautiful architecture in the world is clad in stunning white marble. A few examples: Taj Mahal, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, everything in Rome and Greece, and many more.  If all of these buildings can withstand the wear and tear of hundreds of years of weather, and thousands upon thousands of tourists, we think your countertop will be just fine! So, even though marble isn’t for everybody, we believe it is the best choice for those who want a stunning countertop that will never go out of style or cease to impress your guests.

Later we will discuss the different types of marble, pricing, and how to best care for your marble countertop.