Counter Intelligence: What to Expect with Marble in the Kitchen

Prestige Marble and Granite kitchen

Always a classic, marble is certainly having a moment in interior design. It’s popping up in kitchen renovations everywhere, and for good reason. A beautiful marble countertop or backsplash will add a luxurious feel to a modern kitchen, and can produce an elegant note in a rustic one. The exquisite beauty of marble always makes for a stunning design statement that’s both complementary and bold.

You may have noticed that many stone salespeople and designers recommend granite for kitchens because they’re likely to stay in mint condition, even with sloppy housekeeping, while marble countertops can become scratched, stained, etched or dulled. Yet this hasn’t stopped cooks in Italy from rolling their dough on marble for centuries. And it certainly shouldn’t stop you from installing it in your own kitchen – provided you know what to expect.

Whatever the style of your kitchen, there’s sure to be a gorgeous marble that’s calling your name. If you’re considering taking the marble plunge, here’s what you need to know.

But first, a little history
When you know a bit about the underlying geology, the issues that can plague marble are a little easier to understand. Marble actually started out as limestone, which is basically calcium carbonate (mostly from shells) combined with silt from ocean floors. The buckling and shifting of the earth’s crust resulted in heat and pressure softening the limestone and causing it to recrystallize as a harder, denser material.

These crystals in marble are impervious to staining but the microscopic spaces between them can absorb watery and oily materials that can results in stains. By applying a penetrating sealer, you can narrow the voids and make them so small that liquids can’t flow through as quickly. The sealers made today gives you maybe 24 hours, versus 30 minutes, to wipe up spills before they lodge too deep for you to wipe them away.

Etching is physical damage to the marble that leaves a light and dull spot on the marble. It’s a corrosive action 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. There is no way to reverse this once it has occurred (although it may be technically possible to sand down a dull area and re-polish the marble), and since avoiding contact with acidic substances is nearly impossible in the kitchen, most people just accept there may be the occasional dull spot. You can think of a little etching here and there as “added character,” but to make etching less noticeable, consider buying marble with a honed surface rather than one that is highly polished. While honed marble isn’t quite as “formal” looking, it is exactly what you will find in most Italian kitchens!

When it comes to scratch resistance, your best bet is to deal with a company that really knows stone. The Marble Institute of America has a rating system that identifies which marbles are hardest and least porous, but you may find that much of what’s offered for countertops isn’t rated. Asking a knowledgeable and reputable vendor which of the available marbles are most suitable for kitchen countertops is your best defense.

Prestige Marble and Granite offers an array of designer marble and granite suitable for kitchen countertops. Our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you in the selection of the stone best suited to your lifestyle and personal taste. We welcome your visit to our showroom anytime!

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