5 things no one told you about marble countertops
In a time when marble is everywhere — seriously, it’s even on our walls — it’s normal to want to hop onto a slab of nature’s finest and never let go, especially when you start crunching the numbers (it’s affordable!). If you’re going into a kitchen reno, though, you should know that marble’s pretty exterior is hiding a few dirty secrets. It’s not all bad, but when it comes to making an investment, we’re all about transparency (ha, rock jokes). Here’s everything you need to know.
- Marble is a porous, high-maintenance surface.
We could get into the geology of this, but the takeaway is that marble is vulnerable to staining agents (like wine, juice and oil) that seep deep into the rock. When this happens, it’s difficult to reverse, so professionally sealing the surface upon installation is essential to help prevent damage. The key word here is help. Unfortunately, you’ll need to repeat the sealing process (you can do this yourself, with a quality sealant) every six months if you’re a frequent cook.
If you do find yourself battling permanent “pops of color” due to red wine stains, Carolyn Forté, the Home Care and Textiles Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends dipping a cloth into a few drops of ammonia and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide before wiping the stain; repeat until the mark is gone.
- Be prepared to see some scratches
… And to slice lemons on a butcher’s block. Prolonged exposure to an acid (called etching) removes the polish or sealant from marble’s finish and makes it dull and more vulnerable to scratches. Honing your marble — a process that results in a matte, less polished effect – might make etching less noticeable, but won’t stop it from happening, unfortunately. Another reason for chips? Marble is much softer than other durable stones (think granite!). For this reason, avoid leaning up against your marble island wearing a belt or long metal necklaces.
- If you don’t mind the extra work, they are a beautiful addition
Search “marble kitchen” on Pinterest and scroll through — it’s hard not to pin every single image, right? The gleaming surface looks polished and feminine alongside gold or brass accenting or monochromatic and modern when paired with chrome. Considering marble’s multifaceted ability to work with so many different design styles, it makes sense that it’s trending right now. If you’re a homeowner looking for a wipe-and-go countertop, though, you’ll probably want to skip this one.
- It’s cost-effective, depending on the type of marble you buy
Carrara marble (a grayer version with softer veins from Carrara, Italy) is one of the least expensive natural countertop materials on the market, mainly because it’s readily available. Opt for a rarer, luxury stone like Calacatta marble, which offers a whiter surface and more dramatic veining, and the price tag goes up. Unfortunately, much of the marble you’re seeing all over the internet might not be the affordable stuff.
- Marble is heat-resistant — which is great — but you still need to be careful
If you’re baking in the middle of a heat wave, you can rely on marble countertops to stay as icy as central air. The stone is also heat-resistant, making it a good option if your kitchen sees a lot of bake-offs. Despite its ability to withstand high temps, you never want to place a piping hot pot on marble (or granite or quartz for that matter!), for risk of discoloring or burning the surface — always use a pot holder.