Post By: Camila da Paz | Source: Holly Mathys Interiors
Undeniably marble is one of the oldest and most beautiful Natural Stones on the market, used for a wide variety of structural and aesthetic purposes. It adds a touch of elegance to nearly everything and, is one of the longest-lasting materials available on the market. So I think to myself: How come there is this so-called "marble-phobia" entrenched in the American culture? I might be wrong here, but I don't think other markets fear having this amazing product in their house, au contraire, they desire it! So, let's address this issue, shall we?
There are many factors to consider when talking about marble for counters, for example. The main one seems to be does it stains? This is the big question many people renovating or building want to know. The whole marble versus granite, quartzite, limestone or quartz debate plus many more considerations that can be overwhelming. This is not to be an exhaustive study of each but I will give you some information on what I have learned recently working with clients and in my own home.
Isn’t marble super fancy? That's a misconception many people have to get over, marble is not really that fancy or formal. Yes, it’s beautiful but it’s not pretentious or overly dressy in my opinion. It’s actually a very natural and honest material. It works very well in both older and new homes. Think of the Old World! Think ice shops, charming bakeries and cute little restaurants. If you have travelled in Europe then you have seen marble in both art museums and in cafes. It’s used everywhere, from the elegant to the everyday, because it’s such a wonderful and pretty material.
Aren’t there different types of marble? Yes, there are so many different types of marbles in a wide range of colors, with heavy dramatic veins and with no vein at all! You really have to look at the slabs yourself and decide what look you want for your home, since it really varies. Granted it is a natural stone so it's never going to be uniform, so always try to see the slabs before you purchase and educate yourself before you invest.
Doesn't it stain? Yes, marble is a natural material, soft and porous and it can stain and chip, scratch and etch. In fact, polished marble is beautiful but does etch more than honed and sealed marble. Honed marble and wonderful new sealers prevent staining in most situations. Many companies even offer a 15 year guarantee on stains, but not etches. Everyone I talked to that has recently installed honed marble says “yes it etches some” and “yes I was nervous at first” but “I love it and would do it again.” I think it’s a personal decision. If you are a perfectionist and very type A, which I am not, then it’s probably not the ideal material for you. Maybe you should try other natural stone options ...
So what is itching? It’s just a dull looking watermark. Usually wiping down with a warm cloth they go away. It’s important to dry them as well if possible. You can’t see them or photograph them easily but can see sideways in the light. Water spots usually wipe away but acidic things like lemons, pickles, tomatoes and wine can etch more permanently. I haven’t had any major problems at all. I have several cutting boards in my kitchen and I'm a very neat and tidy person. My friends and family that drink lots of wine have coasters for their bottles and glasses. This may sound really troublesome to you but its worth it. Especially when it feels 120 degrees outside in Miami and you touch that cool soft marble. Bottom line, etching will happen, it's inherent to marble so be sure this isn’t something that is going to bother you down the road, and should it, really? Plus, there are anti-etch products that you can try!
What about quartz? If after some research you decide that marble isn't for you, your lifestyle or personality, remember there are other amazing natural stone options out there! You know granite will always be there for you, but if you love the marble looks, you can choose either dolomite or quartzite, which are way harder than marble making them perfect for countertop use! Some may say quartz is the best option 'cause it will never chip, stain nor etch but I must be real honest with you, that's not entirely true. Quartz can change color throughout the years, they do stain and they do etch and chip, but I mean, you know what works for you!
How do you clean it? Well not with bleach or lysol. This may freak some people out, those who want to disinfect their counters. Soap and water work best with marble. I have been using Mrs Meyers cleaner and I love it! With marble, most people use one or more chopping boards so that really helps with cleanup and the need to disinfect. Just make sure your cleaners are natural and with no vinegar.
Isn’t it pricey? When it comes to price you just have to shop around. It’s marble. It’s not cheap but you might be surprised when comparing it to other commonly used materials. Be sure and ask if the quoted price includes fabrication and installation. I will say I have been surprised more and more when working with clients to find out that simple Carrara is cheaper than some granite, and certainly less expensive than branded quartz and other man made products!
Edge seams and profile: Now here is an issue you need to be aware of edge seams. When marble is 2cm thick, is the least expensive. You can get 3cm thick slabs and if it’s in your budget I suggest it because it gives you a nice thick natural edge. A 2cm slab of marble can be mitered to give the look of a thick edge. Talk to your installer about this, how this turns out really depends on the installation, if you are really concerned, consider getting a 3cm slab. Of course that is more expensive. Another alternative to the edge seam is to get a decorative profile, that profile allows a place to hide the seam.
Is installation messy or time consuming? Speaking of installation, it should be fast. One day you can get everything done, but I am sure this depends on your project and your installers. It takes much longer to get tile work done on the backsplash, but you can also get stone slabs as a backsplash, it it gets gorgeous! Be sure and ask if they will seal it the same day.
Confession: I have to admit, I was a bit nervous with my marble counters at first. It’s kind of like bringing a new puppy home. You are in delighted, you want to play with it, but you want to be careful. Wiping and shining and staring. But slowly the new has worn off and I don’t yell at my husband when I see coffee spilled on the counter. It’s just that at the end of the day, counters are just stuff, so let’s don’t get wound too tight about it. But I will say, marble is a beautiful and honest material, and I'm glad I finally took the plunge and brought it into my home. I love all natural things, so wear and imperfections are a good fit!
What about you? Have you used marble while redoing a kitchen or bath? Is it honed or polished? How do you clean it? Would you install it again? Let me know in the comments!