Marble vs. Granite Kitchen Countertop

Kitchen Countertop Materials Comparison

Kitchen Countertop Materials Comparison


I'm in the process of making the decision on kitchen countertops.

I love the look of marble, but I'm worried about the maintenance.

We currently have granite, but it's not the look I want for our remodel.

I keep hearing about staining on marble, but I want to know more about these possible stains.
  • Is it only going to stain if I leave a something on the counter for a long time?

  • Or is this something if it spills on the counter, I 'm getting a stain no matter what?
Thanks for your help. This site is very helpful. Elissa


Comparing marble vs. granite kitchen countertops is common. Many want the easy maintenance of granite countertops, but prefer the color and pattern of marble.

And understandably so... marble can be absolutely gorgeous. Which is why you see plenty of photos online showcasing kitchen designs with marble countertops.

Unfortunately, a marble kitchen countertop can be difficult to maintain.

Designers don't shy away from installing it. But I fear many aren't truly aware of marble characteristics or are just sacrificing function to achieve the "look". Good design serves both needs.

Well, enough performance or functional differences exist between granite and marble to significantly impact your decision on which countertop material to install in a kitchen.

Let me explain....

Let's discuss marble countertop stains for a minute...

I know you've heard and read that marble "stains easy". However, this is not true... let me explain.

There are two types of marble "stains". One is a true stain where a substance is absorbed into the pores of the marble.

A true "stain" will make a dark spot on the marble. But true stains are not a big problem with marble. Yes, they can happen when a substance remains on the surface for an extended time, however, marble is typically not very absorbent and does not stain easy.

In fact, polished marble is nearly stain-proof (polishing closes down the pores) and usually cannot even be sealed since the sealer itself won't even absorb.

The second kind of "stain" is called "etching". It is not actually a stain, but physical damage to the marble that leaves a light and dull spot on the marble.

Etching is a corrosive reaction (like a burn) that occurs on all calcite-based stones (marble, travertine, limestone) upon contact with acidic substances like coffee, juice, soda, salad dressing, tomato sauce, vinegar, etc.

Etching also can occur upon contact with harsh alkaline cleaners like nearly all common and brand-name household cleaners available in stores, which is why you must use only products safe for cleaning marble.

The corrosive reaction eats into the marble actually destroying the marble removing the surface layer revealing the more raw marble underneath, which is more dull and lighter in color than the polished or high-honed surface.

Seems weird I know, but polishing stone brings out the color making it deeper and richer.

People often call these etch marks "water spots" or "glass rings" since they often occur from acidic drinks and leave rings.

So, people mistakenly call an etch mark a "stain" and thus arises the false reputation that marble stains easy.

Now, you may say what does it matter... stain, etch mark.

Well, etching and staining are completely different problems, but people think they understand the issue and solutions... that all you have to do is seal the surface and clean well.... not the case. Click here for more on stains vs. etching.

People understand stains... but are clueless about marble etching. This includes (unfortunately) many in the stone industry.

As noted marble staining is not much an issue and can often be made even less so by applying an impregnating sealer.

Etching cannot be prevented except by avoiding contact with acidic substances and this is IMPOSSIBLE in the kitchen no matter how cautious or how much a neat freak anyone may be.

And even if you are this person, is that how you really want to spend
your time and energy?

Anyone who installs marble vs. granite countertops will get etch marks regularly.

Now, marble etching can be repaired rather easily on polished marble using the Marble Polishing and Etch Remover product, but it will be a constant project, and it may drive you nuts.

Many people who insist on installing a marble kitchen countertop, despite warnings against it, will opt to have the surface "honed". This finish is a more matte or some say "dull" finish compared to a shiny "polished" finish.

The advantage here is that etch marks are not nearly as visible on a honed marble countertop. Some mistakenly believe honing prevents etching. No, etching still occurs, just not as noticeable.

Why? ... because a honed surface is already a bit dull so the color is not as deep and when an acidic substance etches a honed surface the difference or contrast in color and texture of the etch mark vs. the rest of the marble countertop is not as severe or noticeable as it is with a polished surface.

So, they hone the marble countertop and seal it since a honed surface is more absorbent than a polished surface.

However, when you do get an etch mark on a honed surface that is noticeable enough to repair, the process is a bit more involved than on a polished surface.

Repairing etch marks on a polished marble countertop can be done by you or anyone using the Etch Remover Polish.

Marble etching repair on a honed countertop used to be a professional job requiring refinishing of the surface.

However, with this new Marble Polishing Pads - Drill Kit you can do it well DIY-style and avoid the expense of a pro.

So, that is the story on marble kitchen countertops...

Marble vs. Granite Kitchen Countertops

All the above is a thorough explanation of why marble countertops are not the best choice for the kitchen.

Marble kitchen flooring is fine and anywhere else in the home (except a wet bar... alcoholic drinks, sodas, juices etch) is great for marble.

I encourage people to put the marble in their bathroom instead of the kitchen.

Protection, care and cleaning of a granite countertop is sooo much easier than a marble kitchen countertop.
  • Granite does not etch... (well in rare instances it can, but for all intents and purposes... it does not).

  • Most granite countertops can be well-protected from staining with the easy application of a sealer like these recommended marble & granite sealers, however.....

  • Many granite countertop colors don't need sealing at all, since they are naturally dense and non-absorbent.

  • Granite does not scratch. It is much harder than marble. Marble kitchen countertops will get scratched.

  • Granite is the most heat-tolerant of any countertop material. Virtually impossible to damage from hot pans.

A granite countertop is simply more durable and less hassle to clean and maintain than a marble countertop and that's what you want in a kitchen.

A marble bathroom countertop is rarely a problem.

Certainly, marble and granite present different looks or styles and in some instances the look is the most important element.

However, in certain areas of the home, like the kitchen countertop, function is much more important.

Even people who love wall-to-wall carpet would probably choose not to put carpet in a bathroom.... just doesn't make much sense when you have far better choices.

Given that you have 2500+ colors of granite to choose from including many granites that look like marble you should be able to find a few choices that will satisfy your style requirements without sacrificing function.


The whole "marble vs. granite kitchen countertop" debate gets a lot of attention. Marble is lovely, but once you consider the everyday reality of marble maintenance it's apparent that you should think twice before installing this countertop material in the kitchen.

Still some people just gotta have it. If this is you, at least now you can make an educated decision and know what you're in for instead of the frustrating surprise a marble kitchen countertop is for most people that install it based on looks alone.

Comments for Marble vs. Granite Kitchen Countertop

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Great info!
by: Liz

We chose polished marble for our kitchen, as it is beautiful and adds to the old world charm of our house.

Marble has been used for centuries in Europe! When I lived in NYC our door stoop was marble!

I had been warned by literally everyone that I would be sorry, but thanks to your article I have a better understanding of how to repair etching and that has been the big key to keeping my marble beautiful.

If you are a person who fell in love with marble, as I did, don't be discouraged from getting it.

We have three kids and my husband and I are normal people who don't baby our kitchen. I do make sure that all dirty dishes go in our large sink and I wipe down the counters after every meal prep, which I would do no matter what countertops I had.

I have a large wooden cutting board that the kids use for their food prep, because kids are messy but they need to live too. They aren't reliable to wipe up the peanut butter and jelly but they don't mind using the cutting board. And in the end, a stain or two is not a big deal.

When we have a party I lay down a clear piece of plastic under the drink making area (blender etc.) and that has been fine. We use lots of trivets or pads or we use the side board in the dining room for a buffet instead of the kitchen and that works great too.

I do have to use the etch remover on occasion, but it is totally worth walking into my kitchen every morning and being greeted by the beauty of marble.

The way I look at it, is marble has actually lessened me trying to keep perfect countertops, because any chips, scratches or stains tells the story of our family. It is aging with us and I love that.

I would/will definitely choose marble again!

So we got both!
by: Sharon

Thanks for a factual, brief and unbiased discussion on this topic. One of the most important points you made was that honed marble is not a cure for etching, and removing the etch marks can be trickier with honed.

We replaced laminate countertops in our dream house last year as part of our upgrading to dream finishes.

And yes, I had always dreamed of marble. Fortunately for me, I had once lived in an apartment with old marble counters that had seen much abuse, but were still lovely, despite their patina, so I was prepped for what marble will do.

But we're passionate and sometimes messy cooks, so we decided to put brushed black granite on our perimeter counters and Bianco Venato marble on our island.

We live our lives, which means the marble will etch, but we don't have any dramatic etching. And we did go with polished marble for the very reasons you mentioned.

Mixed countertops are not for everyone, but I just wanted to mention that if you've always dreamed of marble, putting it on one surface allows you to use a hardier countertop as your workhorse.

You saved me!
by: Anonymous

Found the most beautiful marble slab today and was ready to email my builder with the selection info...and then I read this investigation.

Definitely going back to the drawing board to look for a granite that will look beautiful and not be nearly the pain in the tush that marble would be!!

Thank you for saving me the headache!!!

This article has made my mind
by: Trevor White

Was a little unsure of which to use but was leaning towards Granite. This article has made my mind up for me. Granite it is in my kitchen.

Do I have marble or granite countertops?
by: Tricia

Bought a home recently with what I am told were granite countertops.

However, how do I know if I have granite or marble when the countertop is already installed?

Your article definitely decided me to choose granite given a choice. Very informative and helpful. Thank you.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

The definitive test to determine if you have marble countertops is to spill a small puddle of lemon juice (or other acidic juice) on a hidden area and leave for 2 minutes. Acids will corrode marble causing "etching" (dull, chalky spots).

If the lemon juice causes the dull spot, then it is marble. If not, it is some other stone... most probably granite.

But also granite and marble countertops have very different patterns in most cases.

Granite countertops have a speckled or pebbled pattern that may include a variety of different colors. The pattern can have waves or striations, can be dense or spread out, large or small spots.

Search "Santa Cecilia granite" to see what a typical granite looks like.

Marble is typically more solid in color with lines or "veins" of a different color. Patterns can also be mottled. Search "Carrara marble" to see a typical marble pattern.

Travertine and limestone are closely related to marble, but have a different look.

Travertine will have a mottled pattern in various shades of beige, brown, and yellow with various holes in the surface.

Limestone has a wider color palette than travertine but its defining feature is embedded shells and fossils in the stone.

Changed my mind
by: Nancy

My husband, who has built custom houses for 20 years, has been telling me I need to choose granite for my new countertops.

I found a marble that I love and it matches my new flooring. I was thinking about going with it no matter what he said.

I read your article and I am glad I did. Hubby never told me why I should choose a granite piece but you explained it nicely.

Now I will try a little harder to find a granite and there is peace in the house again. Thank you.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

You're most welcome Nancy!

Often it is white marble like Carrara marble that is desired. It's gorgeous but troublesome as a kitchen countertop.

If this is true for you, then know you have some alternatives choices among granite colors that look like white marble.

Great concise information
by: Anonymous

Nice article with great pictures!

great information
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the detailed information. I have finalized on white delicatus granite and now I am confident I made the right choice.

Great Info!
by: Helene

I can now start the debate with hubby who wants granite! And reply with smart answers.


Many Thanks!
by: Tabatha

Thank you so much for such an in-depth explanation! You have indeed saved many of us a ton of money and time! A very good read!

No marble in my kitchen!
by: Desola

Thank you so much for this article. I assure it will help a lot of people choose wisely their kitchen counter top material.

I am renovating my kitchen and my cousin handling the project insists on granite, I grudgingly agreed but was not totally convinced until I read this.

This article will save a lot of people a lot of money and disappointment. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to write this; so simple, so straight forward.

best information
by: mellisah nzisa

I am very grateful for this information... so I have the best knowledge to help advise my clients......

Great article.
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the excellent article. Very informative.

Granite vs marble
by: Kirk

Thanks so much for the detailed explanation. Now I have decided to choose granite for my kitchen countertop. Thanks

Granite Kitchen Countertop
by: Granite countertop

Thanks for this article! I found a lovely piece of marble today and wanted to put it in my kitchen.

I'll keep searching for the perfect granite countertop for my kitchen. But this marble sure was pretty. Thanks again for the article regarding marble and granite.

Countertop decision made!
by: Jennifer

Thanks for this article! I wasn't sure what kind of material to go with for a new countertop.

My current countertop is laminate, and I knew that I didn't want that at all. I wasn't sure what the difference would be granite vs. marble, but I'm sure now that I will definitely go with a granite countertop.

I totally agree with you that marble is best for the bathroom. Thanks!

by: Armymom*%)

I found a lovely piece of marble today and wanted to put it in my kitchen. After ready your article I found the information I needed.

No go for the kitchen. I'll keep searching for the perfect granite for my kitchen. But this marble sure was pretty.

Thanks again for the article regarding marble and granite.

Marble vs. Granite
by: lexi

Thank-you so much for taking the time to write this much-needed information. Excellent advice.

Most informative discussion of marble
by: Anonymous

I was debating marble vs. granite for my kitchen, but no longer. Thank you for the thorough, informative posting.

Good Advice
by: Karen

I truly love the look of marble and have been tossing this around for a while now, granite vs. marble in a kitchen.

But this really helped me to understand the reason I shouldn't use marble in the kitchen, no matter how beautiful it looks....thanks for the excellent advice.

I'm still looking for the granite that can come close to the look I want.

Great Info !!!
by: Ted

What an informative, detailed and enlightening answer, Ryan...A+!


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