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Marble Countertops vs. Granite: Making the Right Choice

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Should you get marble countertops?

If you have expressed any interest at all in getting marble countertops, your idea may not have been very well received by those you have discussed it with.  Often, ideas about marble suggest that it is not the best material for countertops, and you would be much more suited to using a material like granite for your counters.  

This idea, based on the fact that granite is typically able to withstand more use without becoming damaged, is obviously shared by many, as the material is used much more often for countertops than marble.  

As it turns out, the properties of marble may make it a less logical choice for kitchen countertops when compared with granite countertops.  However, the material should not be completely excluded if marble countertops were what you had in mind for your kitchen.

Traditional Uses of Marble

The name for marble is most likely derived from a Greek word meaning “shining stone,” and it is naturally created from the metamorphism process of limestone.  The igneous stone can be comprised of a wide variety of ingredients, but the primary compound used in the process of creating marble is calcium carbonate.  As other compounds are added to reduce the purity of marble rock, variations of the stone occur naturally as well.  

Thus, high levels of purity in marble create the beautiful white material that most are familiar with, and stones lower in purity that include a mixture of added compounds result in pink, green, yellow, and even red marble.

Traditionally, marble has been used as a material for many things that do not include its role as a countertop ingredient.  Of course, it was an obvious favorite of artists who frequently used it to sculpt now-famous works of art like “David” by Michelangelo.  Then, marble was mostly chosen because it is a relatively soft stone and thus easy to sculpt and carve into shape.

Now, you are most likely to see marble used as a construction material for everything from bathroom vanities to fireplaces, and less often marble countertops.  For any use, it is an elegant and beautiful stone that can greatly enrich any home.

Granite vs. Marble Countertops

When it comes to appeal, it is truly difficult to beat the elegance and classic beauty of marble.  So, why are marble countertops so often vetoed in exchange for granite counters?

As a stone material, granite makes more sense as a kitchen countertop material because it is a tougher stone that can handle more wear than marble.  This durability means it can be used for much longer under harsher conditions without breaking, cracking, or becoming scratched as easily.

Additionally, granite is not as porous as marble, and countertops made from granite are much less likely to become stained than marble countertops.  Although the primary compound in marble, calcium carbonate, results in a beautiful natural stone, it is also highly vulnerable to damage and staining by acid, making it especially risky for use in the kitchen.

These properties do not add a lot of support to any campaign for marble countertops, and most will suggest that the very environment of a kitchen is likely to cause dozens of activities that could easily damage marble on a regular basis, leaving it scarred with stains, blemishes, cracks, and even breaks. Why choose such a material when granite may be so much more suited to countertops?

The truth is that many people in the United States simply don’t end up with marble countertops in their kitchen.  However, for others, the idea to go with marble works very well and is precisely what they had in mind for their kitchen.

Going for Marble Countertops

Although many in the U.S. have still decided against marble countertops, the practice of using marble has increased in some regions of the world, and using marble in counters has been going strong a tradition in Europe for many generations.

In fact, in many homes, marble is chosen for its rich beauty despite its imperfections, and a lot of homeowners prefer the way it looks.  Although granite is also a very beautiful stone and makes exceptionally beautiful countertops, marble stone contributes a very distinct look.  In contrast to the sturdy and often darker nature of granite, marble offers a lighter, translucent feel that many people think is warmer than that of granite.

For people who so love marble, it can work quite splendidly for a variety of reasons, the first being that some individuals are just prepared to deal with the required maintenance of marble countertops.  A person wholly dedicated to investing some energy into knowing how to properly clean and maintain their marble in the kitchen may have no problems whatsoever in keeping their counters looking flawless.

For others, marble works because they simply don’t spend as much time cooking in their kitchen or otherwise using their counters, and their surfaces just aren’t as subject to normal kitchen wear and tear.  Still, others include a small section of marble counters in their kitchen or use accents to satisfy their desire for the stone while using a more practical material for the bulk of their countertops.

Finally, some people especially those in Europe, actually love the way marble countertops age and feel that the use of marble in the kitchen gives it an appeal that keeps getting better over time.

Educating Yourself on Marble

If you truly have your mind set on marble, it is clear that you don’t have to sacrifice the look you want for your kitchen.  Although some of the properties of marble make it less suited for counters and it is often overlooked in favor of granite, it can work for surfaces in the kitchen and stronger variations of marble do exist that can function quite nicely as counters.

Additionally, if you do find yourself in the category of those who desire marble in the kitchen, most experts agree you will have much more luck with the stone if you have it honed rather than polished.  A honed finish on marble is much less susceptible to etching and other damage, thereby making it much more suitable for places like the kitchen.

Overall, educating yourself on the stone is the real key to maintaining marble countertops, and if you have made yourself aware of what it takes to keep them looking great, there is no reason that you can’t go with your desire for marble counters.


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