Carrara Marble Kitchen Benchtops

by Carmel
(South Australia)

QUESTION:

I am designing a new kitchen and have fallen in love with the Carrara marble.


Everywhere I look whether it be on the internet searching for new looks in kitchens or flipping through magazines I see the popularity and beauty of this stone especially in the kitchen and in particular the benchtops.

Yet all I seem to getting is negativity in regards to doing so. Not by the actual kitchen owners themselves but from the people that are selling it.

I have been so upset over the fact that it's just not practical to use and then another part of me says " well blow it, I love it and to hell with it- I am going to have it. And then I think (as much as I am a very fastidious person) about how tedious it's going to be just walking around it like on eggshells.

Can someone that actually has it and uses it in their kitchen please, please give me their honest opinions of what it is like on a daily basis working with it and admiring it????????

Should it be honed or can I have the glossy look?

If something does spill on it like the juices and wines will it mark if it is wiped immediately??

Your help would be fantastic!!

Thanks.........Carmel

ANSWER:

Carmel, you certainly aren't the first to fall in love with Carrara marble. In fact, I'd say more people love this stone than any other.

And it looks great in design magazines. But the way it looks and the way it performs are two different issues.

I can understand your frustration wanting to install it in your kitchen only to be warned about doing so by those in the stone industry.

Well, first you should be glad that professionals are trying to educate you about the issues with marble so you can make the best decision for yourself.

And if they are warning against using a product they sell... I'd think that lends some credibility.

Very often people put marble in their kitchen without getting any advice, education or knowledge about the particular characteristics of marble from their installer.

They find out the hard way of course, when they wonder why all these dull etch marks are showing up all over their marble countertop.

I have Carrara marble in my home, we've installed it in many other homes and I've answered hundreds of questions from other owners regarding staining, etching, yellowing, scratches, burns and just general Carrara marble maintenance.

So, if you think the "warnings" are all overblown... they aren't... BUT it all depends on you understanding marble maintenance, your expectations and where you install the marble.

Marble is not difficult to clean or maintain, but you can easily create a problem if you don't know about it, which is why we publish Cleaning Marble Secrets Guide, which will teach you everything about it.

Marble is not recommended in the kitchen or as a bar top because marble etches upon contact with acidic foods and drinks, which are many.

Marble in bathrooms, showers, on floors is great and presents few problems.

But, essentially it is impossible to avoid etching a marble kitchen countertop.

Staining is not an issue. Marble is not very absorbent despite the (bogus) info you hear and read that it is. People confuse etching with staining. These are two completely different and unrelated issues.

Stains occur when a substance absorbs into the marble. Polished marble is nearly impossible to stain and honed marble can be effectively protected by sealing.

So, you really don't have to worry about staining marble. And stains can be easily removed when they do occur.

Etching is corrosion... physical damage to the marble by an acid eating away the marble. This can occur in seconds.

So, when you spill wine, juice, soda, coffee, salad dressing, mustard, tomato sauce, etc., etc. you can get a dull and sometimes discolored etch mark even if you wipe it up right away.

People often call these "water spots" or "glass rings."

Etching also occurs when using most common brand-name cleaners that are too harsh for cleaning marble.

Polished marble will readily show etch marks because acid removes the shiny polished layer. Etching still occurs on honed marble, but it is less noticeable because honed marble is already has a non-reflective finish, so a dull spot doesn't stand out as much.

Etch marks can be removed on polished marble with ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing product. Removing them on honed marble requires a different procedure that typically is best left to a professional, but you'll find DIY techniques in the Removing Etch Marks Manual.

Plus, marble is softer than granite and will scratch much easier.

Add it up and most stone professionals warn against installing marble in the kitchen because we know that most people will get fed up constantly battling etch marks and scratches trying to keep their beautiful Carrara marble that they love and looked so great in the magazine looking perfect forever and always.

It just won't happen.... not without constant work at least.

In Europe marble has been used forever as a worktop. But traditionally they haven't installed marble as a design element. It's all about function. Marble is plentiful and durable. They install it honed and don't bother sealing it.

Eventually the marble gets etched, scratched and stained and the look changes. It develops a natural patina from use and age and they don't care. It's that warm and rustic look.

So, this is the crux of your dilemma. Are you willing to let your marble age naturally or do you want it to always look brand new?

If you are the latter, then you will have an ongoing, uphill marble maintenance battle. If you are the former then you'll love the surface.

And that is the point of the warnings from stone professionals. We're not trying to ruin your design dreams. We know that Carrara marble is quite possibly the most beautiful surface available.

Unfortunately, there are real draw backs that aren't a big deal when installed in a bathroom or on a floor, but as a kitchen benchtop marble quickly becomes a headache that everyone who has ever installed marble in the kitchen has experienced.

You will too. So, if you insist on installing a marble kitchen countertop be prepared for the hassle.

Most people in the stone industry agree that the extra hassle simple isn't worth it when a dense granite makes a perfect low-maintenance, virtually indestructible kitchen countertop that will continue to look good even if you neglect it.

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answer to marble or not for counter tops
by: Carmel

I would like to sincerely thank you for your prompt and informative reply to my question as to whether or not to have marble for my kitchen island bench.

I have done alot of shopping around and think I may have come across a natural quartz stone that has a beautiful marble look but is even stronger than granite and quite frankly as much as I love, love, love carrera I was concerned at the thought of the maintenance of it.

I also know what mean by the look of well used marble simple because I remember the look in the old Italian villas from years ago but I'm afraid that as Australians (eg my husband) some are not accustomed to that look and think that over years the surface may look damaged rather than having that old marble character as the Europeans know it - they love it and live by it!!! (I hope that does not come across the wrong way).


However in your reply you say that marble is quite suitable for vanities in your bathroom, so I am going to go with that option (if I can convince my husband that it will be ok). (I will get my own way).

Would you just let me know what to watch out for in this area with the marble and then I think I am done and can make a decision - one of which i will be very, very happy with.

Once again thank you for your informative response and your help.

Have a great day..........Carmel

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Carrara Marble for bathroom vanity
by: Ryan

Marble is fine for a bathroom. You'll love it even more. And that's what I usually recommend to people like you who love Carrara marble and want it in the kitchen (you are far from the first I've answered on this issue!).

You still need to be careful of etching and it's better to install in a second bath rather than a main bath unless it's only adults using it.

I suggest getting a decorative tray or shelf to store personal hygiene products on... some can be acidic (perfume, mouthwash, shave cream) rather than right on the marble surface.

You can hone it if you like that look. You'll want to seal it when honed. Or polished will be fine too. Probably won't need to seal and you can easily remove etch marks with SCP: Marble Polishing Paste.

But you won't get nearly as many etch marks as in a kitchen and you may not get any depending on the types of products you use and how you store them.

My Carrara marble is in a guest bath that gets regular use from many different people (including kids) with different habits and heavy use during parties... in six years I've had two minor etch marks that I removed in about 30 seconds with the paste.

The biggest threat for etching a marble bathroom vanity is bringing something to drink like coffee, soda, wine, alcohol in there. Minimize that or put a coaster in there, use the right right products for cleaning marble and you'll rarely if ever have a marble maintenance issue.

You don't have to walk on eggshells. Now you know a bit more how to treat marble. So, just prepare to do it right from the start and you'll never give it another thought after you're in the habit.

Good luck and have fun with your project!

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