What's The Best Type of Marble Kitchen Countertop

QUESTION:

I have seen the Venatino, Giola, and standard Carrara marble, honed slabs. Is one marble slab color better than the others for kitchen countertops?


Are there differences in the porosity of Carrara marble?

And what about a satin finish instead of honed for kitchen counters?

I have also heard of 15-year sealers or are they impregnators? Thanks for your help.


white carrara marble countertops on kitchen island

ANSWER:

No.... there's no significant difference in staining, scratching, etching, or performance between different marble colors or names (with a couple exceptions below).

Marble is marble meaning that every marble slab regardless of color or pattern or name will have similar characteristics with a few exceptions in the brown, black, and green marbles.

All marble slabs are relatively soft, so they will scratch much more easily than granite, which can be an issue for a kitchen countertop, but not a biggie.

Marble including Carrara marble is actually rather dense and does not stain easily, but every marble countertop slab has a different rate of absorption or porosity.

Determine the porosity of a particular marble slab by performing the water test for sealing on a sample taken off the slab.

Often Carrera marble does not need sealing since it can be very dense. This is especially true of polished marble since the process to polish marble closes down pores and makes the surface even less absorbent.

But if porous enough to take a sealer, then applying an impregnating sealer will control and minimize staining, so stains are rarely a major issue.

Durable, 15-year sealers are available, however, the only retail sealer of this sort is Stain-Proof Permanent Marble & Granite Sealer, which forms permanent bonds and comes in a DIY kit with complete instructions.

Sealing is not hard, but the couple of other long-term sealers are only available on "pre-sealed" granite or by professional application. Both are way more expensive than Stain-Proof for the same results, so we recommend using the DIY sealer.

The main problem with marble countertops in the kitchen is etching.

You'll often read or hear that "marble stains easy". NO... it etches easily, which
many confuse with a stain, but it is a completely different issue.

Most marbles are consistent in this regard. Meaning all marbles will etch, however, a difference in sensitivity does exist and some green marbles (actually serpentine sold as marble) may not etch easily.

But the catch is that etching on green marble is harder to repair as green marble is much harder than a standard marble. It is more like granite so etch repair usually requires professional repolishing vs. using one of our DIY kits.

You cannot prevent etching by sealing.

Sealing controls stains, not etching. You must simply avoid contact with acidic foods, drinks (impossible in a kitchen), and harsh cleaners.

DIY etch repair is easy using one of our Etch Remover Marble Polishing Kits.

The best kit for you depends on the surface finish type and the size or number of etch marks.

A satin finish won't make a difference. It will still etch, but like a honed finish etching just isn't as noticeable as on a shiny polished finish.

As long as you learn the do's & don'ts of cleaning marble and about marble repair issues with marble countertops in the kitchen and still want them, a honed or otherwise non-polished surface is recommended.

Again, not because a honed or satin countertop finish doesn't etch, but just that you don't notice many of the minor etch marks.

Eventually, you will see etch marks on any marble kitchen countertop. But again, easy to repair even on a polished finish.

And it's key to use only products safe for cleaning marble to avoid damage and extra wear.

So, the short answer is... no... one color or variety of marble or Carrara marble is not really any better or worse for a kitchen countertop.

The surface finish can make a small difference, but if you don't like the idea of constant marble maintenance to keep the surface looking new, then go with granite.

If you don't care about the extra work or letting marble "age" naturally, then no worries... marble countertops are very durable and functional.

Here's some more on marble polishing and etching.

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carrara marble chipping question
by: Mary Ann

I really love white marble. However, I've read where some people have chipping/cracking within months of install...yet others have no problems after 5 - 10 years.

I think I can live with etching...but chipping and cracking worries me. Are some slabs just softer than others?

One person said she's always banging pots on the counter and is a klutz, but has had no problem with chipping/cracking. Would love your input!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Yes, since marble and all stone are "natural" products the qualities can vary slab to slab. In general, all marbles will fall within a range of hardness / softness, but can vary.

Marble is much softer than granite and can scratch more easily, but chipping is really a rare problem that I wouldn't worry about.

And scratching isn't that big a deal either. You may notice surface scratches after some use, but typically nothing severe. It's softer than granite, but still stone.

Granite has more of a problem with cracking and pitting than marble does.

The main reason not to install a marble kitchen countertop is the etching issue. Yes, etching can be repaired easily enough, but it's this extra ongoing maintenance that can be a bother for many homeowners.

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Best Marble Kitchen Benchtops

QUESTION:

I am trying to decide about having a marble kitchen benchtop and have been told that some types of marble are better choices for kitchens then others.

Is it true that some types such as Elba and Grigio Cenere in a honed finish will be more practical to look after and avoid etching than a Carrara marble benchtop?

ANSWER:

The short answer is... no, but with explanation.... Most marble slabs will etch upon contact with acidic substances. You won't "avoid" it in a kitchen. But some marble colors and finishes will hide the etching better, so it theoretically reduces the maintenance needed to keep the marble countertops looking their best.

Now, it's a natural product of course, so etching can occur more quickly and more severely on one marble vs. another and some green stones sold as "marble" do not etch, but you won't find a significant difference in the stones you mention.

But the real question you should be asking yourself is if it's a wise decision to install any marble countertops in the kitchen.

I know marble is gorgeous and you are only one in a long line of visitors wanting marble kitchen countertops with the same basic question.

There is nothing preventing you from installing marble kitchen countertops. But nothing will prevent you from repeatedly etching them for as long as you own the tops.

There are just too many acidic foods and drinks to keep from etching marble kitchen countertops.

So, if you like a lot of extra maintenance and the frustration of unsightly etch marks, then go for it.

Yes, you can hone marble to make etching less noticeable, but it still occurs. This is a point of confusion among many marble slab salespeople and consumers.

Many believe that "honing" the marble slab somehow "prevents" etching. Not true as explained above.

You will still see it and repairing etching on a honed countertop is much more difficult than on a polished surface where you can simply use SCP: Marble Polishing Paste designed just for this purpose.

With so many beautiful and low-maintenance granites available, it just doesn't make sense to install marble. Most who do regret it.

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Best Sealer for Marble Backsplash
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your site and wisdom!

Am considering a marble backsplash (subway tiles).

Would they be at risk for etching as well?

And how long would the polish you recommend protect?

Would we need to seal it as well or is that a sealer, etch remover all-in-one.

Thanks in advance for your help!

-Marble lover

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

A marble kitchen backsplash is not nearly as troublesome as a marble kitchen countertop regarding etching.

Yes, marble is marble so a marble tile backsplash will or can be etched from acidic foods and drinks. But it is fairly rare for etching to occur on a backsplash.

You might get a small spot or two here and there from a splashy spill on the countertop.

The backsplash behind the cooktop is likely where you'll have the highest likelihood of stains from oils and cooking splatter.

Although, again, this is not often a big problem. Meaning you won't get a million little stains or spots as it's only when cooking gets a bit out of control that something gets too hot and splatters onto the backsplash.

So, overall the risk of stains on a backsplash is very low. And you can prevent stains by applying a sealer.

The best sealer is the Stain-Proof Permanent Marble & Granite Sealer.

However, sealers do not prevent etching (dull marks of corrosion from acidic foods, drinks, and harsh cleaners).

Etching is physical damage to the marble itself and must be refinished to remove the dull spot.

On polished marble the Etch Remover / Marble Polishing Powder is the best for small spots here and there on a backsplash.

On honed marble the Etch Remover Marble Polishing Pads - Drill Kit will restore your marble to a honed finish.

Actually, the "Drill Kit" can restore to either a honed or polished finish, but the process is a bit more involved so the first product is better and easier for a polished (shiny) finish.

Neither product will "prevent" etching. Etching cannot be prevented except by eliminating contact with acids.

Of course, that's not possible in the kitchen which is why I recommend thinking twice about installing a marble kitchen countertop.

However, a marble backsplash in the kitchen just doesn't get etched that much. Hardly ever so I wouldn't worry about installing a marble tile backsplash. It's very common to do so. Or a travertine tile backsplash.

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Vermont Marble Kitchen Island

QUESTION:

I am considering using marble from Vermont on my kitchen island. The island will have an induction cooktop. Can you tell me how use of this marble compares to the use of Italian marble? Vermont marble seems grainier so I'm wondering if it is as durable. Thank you.

ANSWER:

"Marble" is a geological classification denoting stone with essentially the same properties and characteristics.

So, no matter where it is quarried... Vermont or Italy... marble is marble. Different marble slab colors can have a differences, but like people when you get down to it there are far more similarities than differences.

So, any marble will more or less have the same qualities with a few exceptions with some green stones sold as "marble", but are not technically marble (serpentine).

Regarding durability... any marble will last longer than you or your house will, but the look of it can be affected depending on how it is used and the quality of marble cleaning & maintenance.

Compared to granite marble is softer and much easier to scratch.

And as stated above staining is not much a problem, but etching can be.

Marble is made of calcite crystals, which are reactive with acidic foods and drinks (coffee, juice, wine, salad dressing, much more) and with too akaline products like nearly every common and name-brand household cleaner.

So, just FYI... you need to use only products safe for cleaning marble & marble maintenance.

On polished marble etching can be repaired using SCP: Marble Polishing Paste.

Kitchen countertops receive too much use and abuse and exposure to acids to be able to prevent etching. And sealing is only for staining and does nothing to stop etching.

So, marble as a kitchen countertop or island is not recommended. Not because marble is not durable, but simply because most people these days want the marble to remain in like-new condition and that just won't happen in the kitchen without a lot of constant marble maintenance.

Now, some green "marble" (it's actually serpentine, but sold as marble because can look similar) has less calcite and is not as prone to etching.

You can perform the lemon juice test on samples of stone you are interested in to see how reactive and easily etched they are.

Any true marble will etch, but this test is useful if you are interested in a serpentine to check and see how reactive it is. Some are not at all.

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Why Not Marble Kitchen Countertops

QUESTION:

I am obsessed with Carrara marble (or similar) for my new kitchen counter tops.

I am being discouraged from using them due to the other options - granite and man-made surfaces - that hold up better in comparison.

However, my house is circa 1900s cottage and the marble fits this period and I prefer its looks.

Since being (temporarily) talked into another material for my kitchen counters, I have seen Carrara-type marble in use in commercial settings (kitchens, bars, eating counters, etc) and other high-use food and traffic areas.

I now feel even more justified in my opinion and preference of a Carrara marble surface for my new kitchen counters.

These counters will be in a second home with a relatively low-use kitchen except for the occasional weekend renter or potential long-termer.

The question remains: Shall I be scared away from using marble because it is truly a poor choice or does it only pale in comparison to more "modern" surfaces like granite or the Caesarstone, siltstones, Zodiacs of the world?

After all, marble has been used and lasted for centuries...right?

ANSWER:

You're right marble has been used forever as a kitchen countertop. It's very durable and Carrara marble is stunning, everyone loves it.

I get this same question about marble kitchen countertops (almost always about Carrara) with your same passion nearly once a week.

So you will see it in restaurants, design magazines, etc. But these people are just as naive and uninformed as most people about using marble in the kitchen. They love the look and only after installation realize what a pain cleaning marble is in the kitchen.

So, why not marble kitchen countertops?

It has nothing to do with the performance of marble vs. other surfaces. It's all about maintenance.

Granite and quartz countertops will require far less maintenance and will maintain their "like new" look easily and forever.

Not so with marble.

Understand, marble has been used as a kitchen countertop for centuries because it is readily available, easy to fabricate, and very durable.

But until recently no one polished it and no one expected it to look brand new forever. They simply used it. It was all about function.

They didn't worry about how it looked. And over time that use shows up in the marble as stains and etch marks, which create a natural patina... that rustic Italian villa look.

In the US, the sentiment is completely opposite.

We want the marble for a showpiece that we also cut tomatoes on. We expect this expensive showpiece to maintain a pristine "like new" look effortlessly and forever.

Not going to happen with marble. That's what you have to swallow and that's why marble is typically not recommended for the kitchen. It requires near-constant attention.

Most people quickly realize that marble will etch (dull spots caused by corrosion) in seconds upon contact with any one of hundreds of acidic foods and drinks.

Staining can happen but is not much an issue, especially with polished marble.

People confuse staining with etching, which does occur easily. It really isn't that absorbent and often doesn't even need to be sealed when polished.

It is simply impossible to avoid or prevent etching marble in the kitchen. And once etched, the etched area is much more susceptible to stains and often you get a stain and etch mark in the same spot.

But you can remove stains and etching rather easily with the DIY products mentioned in this article.

You could have the marble honed, which makes etch marks more difficult to see, but they still show up.

You'd most likely need to seal a honed marble kitchen countertop to guard against staining since honed marble is a bit more absorbent than polished.

To repair etching on honed marble you can use the Etch Remover Marble Polishing - Drill Kit or follow the DIY method as described in Removing Etch Marks Manual or have the surface professionally re-honed which is much more expensive!

Or you could go real old school and have the marble rough honed, don't seal it, and use straight vinegar to clean it.

Really? That sounds easy and cheap! Yeah? ... keep reading...

Vinegar is highly acidic and will etch (eat away and destroy the surface) of your marble each and every time you use it.

But since you are doing the whole countertop, individual etch marks simply don't show up... because the whole countertop is etched.

Now if you did this the marble would be much more prone to staining since you are constantly destroying the surface and exposing the marble pores as much as possible.

Sealing won't help, because as the vinegar eats away the marble the sealer goes with it as will stains, but do you see how this method would also require near-constant marble maintenance?

This is what happens in restaurants and bars, but they pay people to do these things.

And do you see why you should not use vinegar to clean marble?

It will keep the surface looking relatively uniform, but it's eating away your marble and it still won't look "new".

So, unless you are willing and in fact want to let your marble age naturally with use and simply not worry about any etching or stains or any maintenance, marble kitchen countertops just aren't practical.

They become a hassle, especially when compared to granite and quartz, which are a breeze to take care of.

And installing marble kitchen countertops in a rental where it's guaranteed to receive far less attentive care makes even less sense.

So, bottom line is that the common recommendation is simply "trust me, don't do it" for the above reasons.

I can tell you that THE most common question I get is about how to remove etch marks on kitchen countertops from people who were never warned. They are all frustrated.

But now that you understand what you are in for and if you still want to install marble kitchen countertops, then go ahead.

However, I'd say you'll regret it (unless you take the no-worry approach) and I'd suggest you install the Carrara marble in a bathroom where it will still provide the "wow" factor but will require far less effort and marble maintenance.

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