As a designer I cannot count how many times I have been told by clients “I’m scared to do marble!” I saw a meme last week on IG that said something to the effect of “Everyone in Italy is not worried about wine stains on their marble” and it made me laugh. Marble has the reputation of being delicate, dainty, super difficult and expensive beyond belief. Now some of this is a tiny bit true (there are unbelievably expensive marbles, yes – they can stain, yes) but look at any bistro in Paris. Floors, stairs, sinks and mantles of old homes the world over.
Yes, it has marks. Yes, it may have some stains. If you leave a red wine glass with wine under the foot for hours on end in one spot will it leave a ring? You bet it will. But there is a reason marble has been used for thousands of years as a building material – it’s natural, it’s beautiful and it IS durable! A lot of your decision making about using it should be based on your own personality type – how messy you are, how ok you are with imperfections and what will/ will not make you nuts. You don’t want to spend money on countertops and then be regretful you did or did not do something due to misinformation, fear or being honest with yourself.
I am going to go into this much more in my next book, but this is a little warmup for that, as I really feel like marble gets such a bad rap and that rumor needs to END. So, here are my two cents as someone who has created so many kitchens over the last 16 years and lived in a few myself:
Patina is Beautiful
Marble is relatively porous but as long as you wipe things up and don’t let them sit, it will continue to look beautiful for years. Sure there will be some etching, scratching and maybe some staining- but I like to look at it as patina, not “damage”. All natural materials will show age- wood, stone, metal. It’s part of what makes it beautiful and rich.
Manmade Materials Can’t Really Compare
Sure, quartz is almost bulletproof, and in some spots that is exactly what you should use (kids bathrooms, basement areas – hard-working spots that are hard to keep clean because you aren’t in them everyday or they get real abuse from the littles). We use it ALL the time – it’s getting better and better looking – and it can make for a gorgeous space. However, if you LOVE the look of real marble, it will never compare. Sorry. I have had several clients say their biggest regret was not doing real marble in their kitchens out of fear. If you don’t have strong feelings about marble, then go with quartz! But if you truly love the natural flow, veining and feel of marble – you won’t be fooled.
Quartzite is NOT Indestructible
For a while I felt like stone yards were pushing quartzite (a natural stone- I know it’s confusing) as “the look of marble with the durability of granite. This is not true. Some types are harder than others but not all are the same (I had two kitchens need all their brand new quartzite counters ripped out and replaced because they were staining SO easily – easier than marble!) So just beware, these are NOT quartz!
Not All Granite is Ugly
When people think of granite they think of spotted, brown and black 90’s kitchens. But there are some varieties of granite that are really pretty- in my kitchen facelift I used honed Jurassic Grey (also called Silver Grey) and it looked just like soapstone. That said, honing it made it very easy to see stains on it (oil or water would turn the grey black, and while the water faded quickly – the oil not so much). So not even granite is impossible to stain! I also like using leathered Absolute Black.
You Can Seal Marble
There are some new sealers that are truly incredible you can apply to marble to make it insanely durable. They are pricey, but if you are really anxious about staining it may be worth the peace of mind. Check into how often they need to be redone though so you have a plan!
Not All Marble is Incredibly Expensive
Some Carrara marbles are quite a bit cheaper than quartz! Just look for the perfect one as there are SO many varieties out there! And if you need only a smaller piece for a vanity let’s say, ask about available remnants.
Honed Vs. Polished
I much prefer honed- not only for a softer look, but because it shows less wear and tear. Some anti-staining applications only work on polished marble though, so if you want to do one of those, ask first!
What do you guys think? Does marble get a bad rap or have you had bad experiences with it?