Is marble is a good material for bathroom vanity countertops?
Yes, for a bathroom marble countertops are fine. You still need to learn how to clean marble properly (which is not hard) and once you do you'll find it's no big deal and you'll have very few if any issues.
If you are careless and neglectful, then you'll have some problems with marble bathroom countertops or say if it is primarily used by young kids.
But marble is not very absorbent and does not stain easy like you may have read. And polished marble is nearly stain-proof. So, stains are not common.
The most common marble cleaning problem is etching, which can be easily prevented in the bathroom (unlike the kitchen where it is impossible to prevent).
You'll find comprehensive details including everything you need to know about sealing marble, protecting, cleaning marble and DIY solutions for any problem you may encounter in the Cleaning Marble Secrets ebook guide.
For example, we have a beautiful piece of Carrara marble in our pool/guest bath that gets a lot of use during parties and from numerous guests (all with different habits, etc.) and we've had one etch mark in 7 years, which I easily removed in about 30 seconds using Etch Remover Marble Polishing Paste.
A marble countertop in the bathroom simply does not get the use and abuse and isn't constantly exposed to acids like in the kitchen, so really a marble vanity top is pretty easy to care for.
I would like to install a marble vanity top in a hall bath that we are remodeling. However, the material providers indicate that they rarely, if ever, sell marble for bath vanities.
How careful will I have to be to avoid any stain when using soaps or lotions, or even make-up, that might spill on a marble bathroom countertop? This bathroom would be used daily. Would it be practical for a family with young children?
Staining marble is not the big issue you are led to believe by reading online or from many stone professionals.
Marble actually is not very porous and polished marble can be nearly non-absorbent and thus stain-proof.
Marble can stain, but it usually occurs from neglect or inappropriate use like leaving a planter or bottle of oil or burning a candle directly on the surface.
Typical daily use, spills, etc. are not a concern. Marble is very stain-resistant.
The major issue with a marble vanity top is etching.
Etching is corrosive damage from contact with acidic foods, drinks and products like mouth wash, perfume, some toothpaste and from using products not safe for cleaning marble.
Etching is the main reason it is commonly thought that marble is porous and stains easy. But etch marks are not stains.
I don't know why your material providers don't sell marble for bath vanities... very odd because marble vanity tops are very common. Not as common in the "pre-made" variety, but commonly used for bathroom countertops.
However, for a main bathroom used by kids... you could have some problems with etching. But it really depends on what products your family typically uses in the bathroom and if they are prone to spilling often.
We are in the process of renovating our bathroom. We ordered a marble top which we thought was polished marble, however once installed, realized it is not.
We were told the unpolished it better and easier to care for, however, we really like the appearance of the polished stone.
Which is actually better for wash basin area?
The advice you received about cleaning marble and surface finish is essentially true and/or good advice, however, there isn't really a "best" marble countertop finish. There are just differences when considering marble cleaning and maintenance.
The main consideration is etching, which is chemical corrosion of the marble by acidic food, drinks and harsh cleaning products (nearly all common/brand-name cleaners).
Which is why you should never store any liquids, oils, creams, foods or drinks directly on a marble bathroom countertop. Use decorative trays, shelves, coasters, etc.
Marble staining is actually not much an issue since marble is pretty dense. Marble can stain and a honed surface is more prone to staining than a polished surface, but the potential to stain can be virtually eliminated by applying on of these recommended impregnating sealers.
People confuse etching with staining... two different issues. Marble etches easy, but it doesn't stain easy.
Etching occurs on calcite-based stones like marble, travertine and limestone. It happens no matter what type of finish (polished, honed, tumbled) is created on the marble countertop surface.
Etching is most noticeable on a polished finish because etching creates dull spots that contrast sharply with the shiny surface.
On a honed surface etching still occurs, but it is less noticeable because a honed surface is more dull and therefore the dullness of etching doesn't stand out so much. Even less so o a tumbled finish.
Since etching eats into the marble and destroys the surface layer exposing more raw marble underneath, the more rough and textured the surface finish the less noticeable etching is.
However, etch marks can still be seen on any type of finish and the finish type will determine what can be done to repair or restore the finish.
With a shiny polished finish you can simply use the Marble Polish / Etch Remover, which will bring back the color and shine on all but severe etching (which is very rare).
With a honed or tumbled or really any other non-polished finish you either have to hire a marble cleaning and maintenance pro or you can often get very good results doing it yourself following the detailed instructions provided in the Removing Etch Marks e-book.
The common wisdom has traditionally been that marble countertops should not be installed in a kitchen (unless you were willing to let the tops etch and age without worry). But for those who insist on it, they should install honed marble to better hide etching.
But even with a honed surface etch marks will show up and need to be restored if you want to maintain a somewhat newish surface.
And even though etching readily shows on a polished surface it's typically easy to restore the surface so no blemish is noticeable using the above Etch Remover. It's just that it will be a continuous battle.
DIY restoration of etch marks on a honed surface, however, is usually a bit more challenging to get an exact match or blend.
So, it's a matter of trade-offs rather than "better or worse."
In a bathroom etching is not nearly as big an issue as a kitchen although many personal products can be acidic.
Thus, consideration of surface finish of honed vs polished marble is generally not that important for a bathroom marble countertop unless it's a heavily used bathroom, then it becomes more like a kitchen.
Personally, I lean a bit more toward a polished finish and keeping the Etch Remover on hand mainly because I find it easier to completely restore etching on a polished surface than a honed surface, but again... the generally accepted rule is to go with a honed finish if a marble countertop is installed in an area that would see a lot of etching.
So, if you prefer a polished finish, then that's what you should go with especially in a bathroom. In a kitchen a honed surface will for most people be the best choice mainly because noticing etch marks less is less frustrating.
The degree of marble cleaning and maintenance for either surface is going to be essentially the same although you often do not have to seal a polished marble countertop.