Marble countertops: pluses and minuses

2 August 2015 |

Marble takes the leading place among time tested materials for countertops – this is the classic that looks good in the kitchens of all styles.

But everything has its disadvantages and marble isn’t an exception. Susceptible to staining and scratches, marble is a natural material that is covered by patina during operation. But while one people like when the whole history of their work in the kitchen is told on their countertops, others are not happy about this. Read this article and think about whether you need this material or don’t.


What is marble?

Marble is a metamorphic stone extracted in the mountain regions of North America, South America, Asia and Europe – from Colorado to Brazil and Italy. It is formed by means of physical or chemical compression of sedimentary rock under influence of warmth and pressure. The stone has a cristallic structure that can be polished. Marble also has veins of mineral sediments that are different on each stone.

Marble is one of the most porous metamorphic stones. That’s why it is so susceptible to staining. Owing to its soft structure, marble is esily scratched. Chemical  composition of marble (calcium carbonate) makes it especially sensitive to acid solution that erode its surface. However marble is durable, heat-resistant and is not subject to splits.


What are colors of marble?

One of undoubtful advantages of marble is that it is extracted in a variety of natural colors. It can be black, white, grey, green, yellow and pink, with dark sharp veins or a soft faint pattern. According to architect Elisabeth Roberts, uneven veins perfectly contrast with even lines in kitchen interior.


Despite a huge selection of colors, the most used and classic is white marble. It is perfectly adapted to any style and looks great with any material, can be mat or glossy. The advantage is that scratches are not visible of a white surface.


What coatings does marble have?

The most widespread coatings for marble are mat, glossy and so called antique.


  • Mat coating. Is made by grit blasting – this makes surface silky and soft and scratches are not so visible on it than on a polished one. Besides, this type of coating slightly muffle the color of stone. Warning: grit blasting opens the pores of marble making it more susceptible to staining
  • Glossy coating. Is made by polishing process resulting a glossy smooth surface that emphasize the color details, veins and character. As glossy marble is the least porous, it is not too susceptible to damages
  • Antique coating. A surface that is made by adding leather resembling texture onto the mat coating. Antique coating has a slight shimmer, and is mostly used on dark marble. This texture efficiently hides the finger prints and other imperfections. We should note that intensity of texture varies from stone to stone


Does marble require special topping?

Yes, it does. Because marble has a porous structure and is susceptible to acids. There are two types of topping: exposed and deep.

  • Exposed topping. This topping slightly changes appearance of marble and at the same time protects the surface from damages. Disadvantages: exposed topping is worn out and can be physically damaged
  • Deep topping. This topping gets deep to the pores of marble. It protects the surface from spills and makes it waterproof, but doesn’t protect from acids. This type of topping also requires periodical refresh – at least once a year. How do you know about that? If water slides from the surface – the topping still works, but if it starts sinking – it is time to make refresh


How to take care about marble?

To maintain marble you need to do a couple of simple actions (however, they don’t prevent patina formation):

  • Wipe all spills immediately – don’t let them sink into the stone
  • To clean marble surfaces remember one simple rule: never use that you’ll never use for your hands. Avoid powders, agents for baths and ovens, abrasive materials and even multifunctional agents that can include acids
  • Soft solution of dishwashing agents (or any other similar soap) and warm water, as well as a soft rag or loofah are the best ways to maintain marble every day
  • Use neutral agent for stone to make more profound cleaning
  • Protect the surface from knifes – use carving boards
  • Refresh coating at least once a year



So, what are pluses and minuses of marble?


  • Natural material
  • Uniqueness of each slab
  • Great variety of shades and patterns
  • High heat-resistance
  • Historical favorite for kitchens
  • Forming of patina during operation
  • Great aesthetic flexibility


  • Porouse material, subject to staining
  • Low wear resistance causing scratches
  • Necessity of regular maintenance
  • Susceptibility to acids
  • High price
  • Forming of patina during operation
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