Is a marble kitchen countertop really that bad?

QUESTION:

I really, really want a marble kitchen countertop. I have researched this to death and Although i am on the verge of being frightened off marble, i cannot get over one huge contradiction: if marble is so delicate and should be avoided, then why is it so prominent in Europe and why then is it found in homes that are 100 years old?

I have a hard time reconciling these facts. Maybe it's because north Americans have a thing about everything looking new and shiny all the time, whereas others can better appreciate the beauty that natural aging brings, with all it's flaws. Any comment?

ANSWER:

A marble kitchen countertop is a potential bad idea not because it cannot do the job, but because cleaning marble and the marble maintenance required will frustrate most owners to the point they regret installing marble in the kitchen.

As you correctly pointed out, marble countertops have been used for centuries. Very prevalent in Europe and you'll find marble countertops in many very old American homes because marble makes an excellent work top surface. But in these instances, it's all about function.... not looks, style or design, so who cares if it etches and scratches and sometimes stains?

But you hit the nail on the head regarding the reason for warning against installing a marble kitchen countertop....

Maybe it's because north Americans have a thing about everything looking new and shiny all the time, whereas others can better appreciate the beauty that natural aging brings, with all it's flaws.

People nowadays do care about the style and look first and foremost.

And if you employ the various methods to search this site you'll come across that exact explanation on many pages that address and answer this very question.

The reason most reputable/knowledgable stone installers will warn you against a marble kitchen countertop has nothing to do with durability.

It is all about the extra work involved with marble cleaning and maintenance compared to a granite or quartz countertop and... making an informed decision.


This was hardly considered if at all 100 years ago. Marble was readily available, soft enough to fabricate easily (compared to granite) and would last longer than anything else. Done deal.

But most of the marble cleaning and maintenance issue pertains to chemical etching.

You can't prevent etching marble in the kitchen and most people get tired of nearly always having etch marks on the surface.

Etching can be repaired and restored of course (See instructions in the Removing Etch Marks e-book), but it's just one more chore IF you want to keep the countertop in "like-new" condition.

If you don't really care about maintaining a pristine marble kitchen countertop OR if you are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it perfect without eventually hating your kitchen, then go for it!

That's the issue. People just don't know what they are getting. They think marble is a stone, therefore nothing can harm it, it's been used in homes forever, so what's to consider?

They see the pretty magazine pictures of marble kitchen countertops chosen only for the elegant look by a designer who most likely had no clue about the maintenance issues as many in the industry do not.

Clients want the kitchen in the magazine and they are then shocked and panicked when they get their first of many etch marks.

Most installers know that the countertop is the centerpiece of the kitchen and that most clients want it to always look that way. They don't want to spend the money on something that won't maintain it's new look without significantly more care than a granite countertop.

Hence the warning or recommendation against it serving as education and an urge to clients to consider your choice carefully.

And with so many colors and patterns of granite available, why hassle with marble? Put the marble in your bathroom where it is far less susceptible to damage.

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Marble countertops
by: Anonymous

I agree, Marble is more work. But the beauty of it may out weigh the extra work needed if you want to keep it looking "new and shiny" But in my opinion having the "worn/used" look of it will add character to your room. We currently install marble for a local builder. He wants the marble to look old and distressed to add distictive character to all of his new homes. His buyers love it!
Good Luck!
Julie
Spring, TX.

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