Are you renovating your kitchen and trying to decide if marble countertops are worth it?
Countertops are the focal point of the kitchen and a hub of family life. We grab a quick bite at the counter, prepare meals, and even do homework on them.
So, the material you choose matters.
If you are considering a marble countertop, you’re in the right place.
In this guide, I provide a detailed and unbiased review of the pros and cons of marble countertops.
By the end, you’ll have the answers you need to confidently decide if marble is right for your kitchen.
Use the links below to navigate the article:
- What Is Marble?
- Pros of Marble Countertops
- Cons of Marble Countertops
- Bottom Line: Are Marble Countertops Worth It?
What Is Marble?
Before I get into the pros and cons, it’s important to understand the basics of marble.
Marble is actually limestone that has been transformed by intense pressure and heat. During the transformation, minerals begin to settle, creating the veins that give marble its unique look.
Marble can be found all over the world, but it is most prevalent in Italy, China, India, and Spain.
To make a countertop, artisans start with a large slab of marble. They use specialized saws to cut it to size. Then the marble is polished on the top and all around the edges.
During the polishing step, manufacturers use pads with varying levels of abrasive grits. Pads with finer grits give the stone a more polished and shiny look, while pads with larger grits provide a softer, more natural look.
Marble is a beautiful natural rock. Each piece is as unique as a snowflake. But its beauty comes with drawbacks to consider before deciding on your countertop material.
In the following sections, I explore the many pros and cons of marble countertops so you get the complete picture.
Let’s start with the good stuff.
Pros of Marble Countertops
If you’re wondering if you should choose marble over other popular choices like granite, quartz, or soapstone, check out these top benefits.
Pro: Timeless Look
Marble is always in style. It’s been a popular architectural choice for thousands of years, offering a timeless and classic look for any kitchen.
As stately as it appears, it still manages to fit in a variety of styles, from rustic farmhouse to modern or boho chic. It can be dressed up or casual and still make a statement.
According to Google trends, the popularity of marble countertops has steadily increased over the last decades. The surge in popularity of the early 2000s just kept climbing. Today, demand is at an all-time high.
By contrast, granite was also a popular search term during the same time frame. Yet, after peaking in 2010, the search trends have leveled off.
And while interests may continue to change, marble is not a fad material. It’s a solid material for countertops that never goes out of style.
Pro: Natural Material
If you want a natural countertop, choose marble over a manufactured quartz countertop.
With marble, you get a design formed in nature. Furthermore, most marble countertops have distinct veining. The veining is formed as minerals settle amongst the layers as limestone undergoes its metamorphosis and turns into marble.
It’s a natural process that gives the stone more variance in its appearance, making your kitchen unique.
With marble, you never have to worry about seeing your countertops anywhere else. Since no two marble slabs are exactly alike, your kitchen counters will be unique.
Quartz is a naturally-occurring mineral, but it is processed to form a slab. The minerals are ground into dust and fused with resin. Colors are added during the process.
Quartz mimics the look of marble, but since the colors are added during the manufacturing process, the veining doesn’t look as natural.
Pro: Long Lifespan
Even though marble countertops require maintenance, they can last a lifetime if you care for them properly.
In a study of life expectancy of home components, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that natural stones like marble or granite can last a lifetime.
By contrast, the report also found that “cultured marbles,” ones that are made from mixing stone with elements to hold them together (like quartz), tend to need replacement within 20 years.
Pro: Increase Property Value
If you’re planning to sell your home in the future, adding a marble countertop could increase the value.
According to Realtor Magazine, the National Association of Realtors chose countertops upgrades as one of the Top 5 Remodeling projects to Boost Resale Value.
Marble is a high-end material that offers a luxurious feel to your home. You can enjoy it now and also capture the value it adds later when you’re ready to sell.
Yet, it also makes sense to consider choosing the best materials that fit your home’s price range. For example, it’s widely accepted that remodeling costs should be no less than 5% and no more than 15% of your home’s total value.
Marble is an expensive countertop material, so factor that into the total project cost before deciding if it’s right for you.
Pro: Surface Stays Cool
Marble is naturally cool. It has a high thermal mass, meaning it can absorb and dissipate heat quickly. It also takes a while to heat up because it is thick and has a large surface area.
That’s important if you’re an avid baker and wish to roll out dough on a cool surface, especially in warm climates.
It’s the best material for rolling pastry dough because it absorbs the dough’s heat and keeps it cool. If the temperature of pastry dough increases, the butter can melt and impact its flakiness.
Pro: Simple Clean Up
Marble countertops require no special cleaning products. Daily use of a soft cloth with soap and water is sufficient.
Make sure the soap is mild and non-abrasive to avoid scratching the marble. And with soap, a little goes a long way. Too much can leave a film on your counter. Also, be sure to wipe all counters dry as standing water can impact the surface.
Avoid cleaning with acidic liquids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, as those can damage the marble’s finish.
Pro: Multiple Finishes
With marble, you can choose from different finishes:
- Polished: A high-gloss and highly reflective finish. The veining is amplified.
- Honed: A matte finish with a satin feel. It hides scratches well.
- Leather: Also called suede or antique, it’s a low-gloss finish with a leathery feel. It’s best for darker marble because it shows depth and texture instead of a flat finish like honing.
- Sandblasted: A roughly-textured finish. It gives the stone a weathered look.
Honed is the most popular finish because it is highly durable, subtly complements veining, and is scratch-resistant. And if it gets scratched, the low sheen of the finish hides the imperfection better.
These finishes can also be applied to natural stones like natural granite or limestone and manufactured quartz countertops.
Pro: Added Design Elements
With marble countertops, the edge profile can be shaped in various ways, from a multi-angled style to a cascading profile or squared.
The most popular edge profiles include eased, half round, round top and bottom, and 1/4″ bevel. Below is a complete list of options.
Pro: Readily Available
Marble countertops are easy to find. You can purchase them from most major home improvement stores.
Also, look for locally-sourced marble offered by smaller kitchen showrooms or specialty businesses that only focus on kitchens or countertops.
Shop around so you can get the best price on a unique marble countertop you like.
Cons of Marble Countertops
Marble countertops offer many benefits, but they come with several drawbacks, too.
In this section, I’ll share some reasons why marble might not be the best choice for your home remodeling project.
Con: High Maintenance
Like other natural stones, marble is porous, making it vulnerable to acidic household items like lemons, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, and tomato sauce.
Because of that, marble countertops are protected by a sealant that penetrates the porous surface and keeps liquid, such as wine or coffee, from seeping in.
You’ll need to reseal marble regularly. Fortunately, resealing marble is relatively easy with a quality product like Granite Gold Sealer. Just spray it on the counter, wipe it with a lint-free cloth immediately, and buff it dry.
Plan on resealing every six months, and your marble countertop will look as good as the day you had it installed.
Marble is one of the most expensive countertop materials. Pricing will depend on the source and type of marble but expect to pay quite a bit.
There are less expensive materials that still offer beautiful results. For example, granite is less costly than marble, depending on the size and quality.
Marble countertop material costs range between $40 and $180 per square foot. But that estimate doesn’t include labor costs or any additional supplies that might be necessary for installation.
The type of marble will also dictate the cost. For example, Carrara marble is the most common and costs roughly $40 per square foot. Calacatta marble is the most expensive at about $180 per square foot.
Let’s apply a scenario with marble and some other popular countertop choices to give you an idea of what the materials could cost. For this example, we will use an average cost per square foot.
For a 30-square foot countertop:
- Marble at $40 to $180 per square foot would cost $1,200 to $5,400.
- Granite at $40 to $60 per square foot would cost $1,200 to $1,800.
- Quartz at $50 to $200 per square foot would cost $1,500 to $6,000.
- Soapstone at $70 to $120 per square foot would cost $2,100 to $3,600.
- Limestone at $10 to $70 per square foot would cost $300 to $2,100.
- Wood at $20 to $70 per square foot would cost $600 to $2,100.
Keep in mind that these prices assume standard stone finishes, not high-end or rare options.
Installation costs vary, but typically you can expect to pay $10 to $30 per square foot for labor. For more exact information, you can check HomeAdvisor to see pricing estimates for countertop installation in your area.
Con: Difficult to Install
Marble countertops are heavy and require a team to install them. It’s not a project you can do by yourself.
So, what does a marble slab weigh?
Marble weighs around 17 pounds per square foot for a 1.25-inch thick slab, which is the typical thickness for kitchen countertops. So, a 30-square-foot countertop would weigh about 510 pounds.
Con: Easy to Scratch or Chip
The Mohs scale, created by mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, rates the hardness of stone and other minerals. When comparing marble, granite, and quartz, it ranks quartz as the hardest of the three, with granite coming in second and marble being the softest.
Since marble isn’t as hard as quartz or granite, it can scratch and chip if handled roughly. By contrast, quartz and granite are nearly indestructible.
Some homeowners choose marble for lower traffic areas, like the island or a small nook, to limit the risks of damage. Quartz and granite are better for areas where food prep takes place, such as next to the stove or sink.
Heavy pots and pans and sharp objects (like keys and knives) will scratch marble if you’re not careful.
Never use a marble countertop (or any countertop) as a cutting board. Use a trivet when placing cookware down, especially bulky items like a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.
Con: Stains Easily
Marble is highly porous. If it’s not sealed properly, it can absorb stains. And those stains will seep deep into the marble.
Be very careful with foods like beets or any liquids with color pigments like mustard, red wine, juices, and food coloring or dyes. Even cooking oil and colorless liquids like water can cause stains.
In general, you shouldn’t leave marble wet. Even a sweating water bottle or dripping colander of freshly washed food is enough moisture to stain the marble.
If something spills on marble, clean it up quickly with warm soapy water. If it is allowed to set in, it will be more difficult to remove. Rinse well, remove excess water, and wipe the counter dry.
For organic stains, such as from food, treat with a solution of 12% hydrogen peroxide and add a few drops of ammonia.
For oil-based stains, like a vinaigrette or cooking oil, apply a liquid cleanser that contains acetone, household detergent, or mineral spirits as the main ingredient. Rinse the area thoroughly and dry completely.
You can find more tips about cleaning stains on marble in this guide.
Even though some DIY sites might mention it, bleach is not recommended to remove stains from marble. It could end up causing more damage.
Also, keep in mind that these cleaning methods require a less is more approach. Refrain from pouring any cleaning solution onto the surface directly. Use gloves to protect your hands and dab it on with a microfiber cloth or even use a cotton swab.
Con: Difficult to Repair
Marble countertops are not easy to repair.
In some cases, you can buff out etching or minor scratches, but for chips, cracks, or deep stains, there is no way to restore marble to its original beauty on your own. That’s why stain and chip prevention is so important.
You might have to pay between $200 and $500 for a skilled professional repair.
If you want to go the DIY route, you can try adding epoxy to a chipped area, but it will be noticeable. Granite countertops are more friendly to DIY repairs
Over time, marble can develop a patina, which is a naturally-occurring color change due to oxidation. The patina gives the surface a softer, broken-in look.
While some people think the patina adds to the charm of the marble, others might not like the change in appearance.
Con: Visible Seams
Due to marble’s unique design, it will be easy to see the seam where the two slabs meet (assuming your counters are large enough to require two separate slabs). That might be undesirable if you want a uniform look.
It is much easier to match the seams with quartz because of the continuous, controlled nature of the veining. The patterns in granite also make it easier to hide the seams.
Bottom Line: Are Marble Countertops Worth It?
Now that you know the pros and cons of marble countertops, it’s time to decide if they are right for you.
Let’s quickly review the key points to keep in mind.
On the upside, marble countertops are all-natural; no synthetic materials (except for sealant) are used to make a finished countertop.
Marble is unique, highly durable, and comes in multiple finishes. Its timeless look increases the value of your home and never goes out of style.
If you love baking, the fact that marble stays cool to the touch will make it easier for you to roll out dough on its surface.
You don’t need any special cleanser for daily cleanup: mild soap and warm water will do.
On the downside, marble countertops are expensive. In general, it costs significantly more than granite, wood, soapstone, and limestone.
And even though marble countertops are durable, they’re not indestructible. If you’re not careful, they can get scratched or chipped.
They also stain easily and develop a patina that alters the original appearance over time. You’ll need to reseal the surface regularly to keep it looking new.
Bottom line — If you want a unique, timeless look and it fits your budget, marble is an excellent choice that can add to the value of your home. If you take good care of it, it can last a lifetime.
Consider quartz if you’re looking for a lower maintenance, more durable material. Or, look into granite if the cost of quartz is too high.
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