When you ask a countertop contractor about the wisdom of installing marble countertops, the typical answer is, “it depends on where you’re going to use them.” The general consensus is that marble makes a good surface for bathrooms, offices, fireplace surrounds and other locations where they don’t get heavy use. However, they are not recommended for the kitchen.
Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of marble countertops and see if the opening premise holds up.
Marble Countertops offer Spectacular Beauty
The reason marble remains in heavy demand for countertops is its elegant good looks. This igneous stone comes in a wonderful display of color. Your choice of hues includes solid white, solid black and a range of variety colors in the rose, yellow, gray, green, white and black spectrums. No two slabs are alike, so you’ll be assured of having a unique countertop for your home.
Marble Counters can Take the Heat
Marble is heat resistant. In the kitchen, it stands up well to hot pans and pots. In the bathroom, a styling tool won’t mar it unless left on it hot for some time. It’s become popular for fireplace surrounds because it won’t yellow due to the heat and can withstand the occasional spark on its surface.
Concerns about Marble
There are two primary reasons that marble countertop installation is not recommended for the kitchen. These concerns are severe enough that some marble countertop manufacturers won’t warranty their counters if they are installed in the kitchen.
The first concern is the porous nature of marble. It’s more porous than granite, so it more readily absorbs liquids. That means that oil, wine, juice and other spills penetrate deeper into the stone very quickly, and they are hard, if not impossible, to get out. Even in the bathroom, be cautious with things like nail polish, liquid makeup or remover that can stain the tops. Marble's natural beauty often leaves people undeterred by this eventuality, but fortunately there are sealers which are commercially available for the do-it-yourselfer, as well as professionals who can help.
Marble can and should be sealed when installed and again every few years. However, if it is not done properly or often enough, staining is a “not if, but when” proposition. While no products available on the market today offer a panacea, if you do accidentally stain or scratch your marble countertops, you do have some options.
The second reason to be concerned about marble kitchen counters is that the material isn’t sturdy enough for the kitchen. Sharp knives can scratch the surface. Heavy pots or mugs may chip the marble or even break off a corner.
These are the primary reasons some manufacturers won’t warranty marble countertops if used in kitchens and many countertop installers won’t install them. There are too many complaints from homeowners when their marble kitchen countertops stain, scratch, chip or crack.
If you love the look of marble – and it is beautiful – consider installing marble counters in locations other than the kitchen. They offer beauty and good longevity when they are treated with the care they require.