Marble countertops, with their bold colors and smooth, flowing patterns have been used for centuries in just about every possible interior and exterior application, both traditional and artistic in design.
Consider using marble for more than just countertops. It can offer sophistication to any room and would make an excellent choice as a fire place hearth or a welcoming addition to a foyer.
Because it’s a natural stone, it can offer an element of warmth in areas like bathrooms which typically have a “cooler” look and feel because of the use of glass, tile, hardware and other metal fixtures. It is suitable for wet applications such as showers, tub surrounds and bathroom vanities where substances are more alkaline in nature and do not cause etching.
It’s more prone to etching than other natural stones, when exposed to acidic substances like those often placed on kitchen counters like lemons and wine. For this reason we do not suggest it for use in the kitchen. For more information about marble maintenance and our professional opinion on use of marble in the kitchen, please read our article below.
Contact IMEX Stone for ideas on how we can help you add the artistic and traditional styling of marble countertops to any room of your home. We offer free in home consultations. We will come to your home, discuss your ideas and offer design ideas and suggestions based on your preferences and our expertise. We’ll take measurements and provide a free estimate once you’ve made a stone selection.
Marble Countertops in the Kitchen
Marble countertops in the kitchen, to use or not to use, that is the question. Not to use, is the answer. 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 kitchen countertops.
Marble has been used as a kitchen countertop for centuries because it is readily available, easy to fabricate and very durable. Until recently, no one polished it and no one expected it to look brand new forever. It was all about function, they didn’t worry about how it looked, they simply used it. Over time that use showed up in the marble as stains and etch marks, which created a natural patina… that rustic Italian villa look.
In the US, the sentiment is completely opposite. We want a stone kitchen counter for a show piece that we can also cut tomatoes on. We expect this expensive showpiece to maintain a pristine “like new” look effortlessly and forever. This is not going to happen with marble and why we typically do not recommended it for the kitchen. It requires near constant attention.
Most people quickly realize that marble will etch (dull spots caused by surface corrosion) in seconds upon contact with any one of hundreds of acidic foods and drinks. It is simply impossible to avoid or prevent etching marble in the kitchen. Surface etching is not to be confused with staining.
A stain is a when a substance is absorbed into the pores discoloring the stone, but it doesn’t change the surface. Staining can happen, but it doesn’t happen as easily because marble isn’t that absorbent. It’s even less absorbent when polished marble and often doesn’t even need to be sealed when polished. However, once the surface is etched, the area is much more susceptible to stains and often you get a stain and etch mark in the same spot.
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. With honed marble there’s no product to quickly remove etch marks, the surface will need to be professionally re-honed. Expensive!
You could go real old school and have the marble rough honed, don’t seal it and use straight vinegar to clean it. That sounds easy and cheap, right? 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. However, since you are doing the whole countertop, individual etch marks simply don’t show up because the whole countertop is etched.
Keep in mind if you use this method, the marble would be much more prone to staining since you are constantly destroying the surface and exposing the marble pores. It will keep the surface looking relatively uniform, but it’s eating away your marble and it still won’t look “new”. Sealing won’t help, because as the vinegar eats away the marble and the stains, the sealer goes with it.
Do you see why you should not use vinegar to clean marble and why marble in the kitchen requires near constant maintenance?
Unless you are willing to let your marble age naturally with use and simply not worry about any etching, stains or maintenance, marble kitchen countertops just aren’t practical. They are a hassle especially when compared to granite and quartz, which are a breeze to take care of.
Installing marble kitchen countertops in a rental where it’s guaranteed to receive far less attentive care makes even less sense.
When asked about installing marble in the kitchen our recommendation is simply “trust us, don’t do it” for the above reasons. THE most common question we get, from people who were never warned, is how to remove etch marks on kitchen countertops. They are all frustrated.
Now that you understand more about marble countertops and you still want to install them, then we’d suggest installing Carrara Marble in a bathroom. It will still provide the “wow” factor, but will require far less effort and marble maintenance.