Marble’s magic boasts beauty matching a Hawaii sunset and Paris in spring, but the Rolls-Royce of kitchen countertop options isn’t without its faults. Alas, marble’s gorgeous exterior hides more secrets than a deep cover CIA operative working in Moscow. Any homeowner considering choosing this stunning, but mysterious option for the centerpiece of their kitchen needs to know what marble is exactly hiding underneath its beautiful exterior.
The good news: Not all of marble’s secrets are bad.
Secret 1: Marble is a Porous, High-Maintenance Surface.
A hyperactive two-year-old isn’t as demanding as a marble countertop some days. Marble’s surface beauty is extremely thin-skinned. Staining agents like wine, juice and oil seep deep and quickly into the rock. Once inside, it’s difficult to reverse the damage these troublesome substances can quickly inflict.
The Solution: Quality Sealants. Resealing marble countertops every six months – especially if you are a prolific cook – can help marble maintain its shine. But marble will remain extremely vulnerable to acidic substances.
To combat potentially permanent stains, like wine, Carolyn Forte, the Home Care and Textiles Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, advises dipping a cloth into a few drops of ammonia and ½ cup hydrogen peroxide before wiping the stain. Forte suggests repeating the process until the mark is gone.
Again, marble countertops demand and require special attention and regular care.
Secret 2: Marble’s Gonna Scratch.
Marble weathers the elements as well as we do when we find ourselves surrounded in the woods without repellent by a thousand mosquitos. Simple daily household cooking exercises can disfigure marble’s face and leave scratches (don’t dare slice lemons on marble without a butcher’s block). Also, prolonged exposure to acids (known as etching) removes the polish and sealant from marble’s finish. Etching makes marble dull and vulnerable to scratches.
Why does marble scratch so easily? It is much softer than other durable stones like granite. Even grazing marble with a belt buckle or long metal necklace can scratch it.
The Solution: Honing. Honing makes etching less noticeable, but unfortunately, won’t stop it from happening again.
Secret 3: A Marble Kitchen Countertop is Both a Fashion Model and a Labor of Love.
If you don’t mind giving it the extra work and attention, marble is a stunning, glowing addition to your kitchen. It’s gleaming, polished and sophisticated look can shine with a variety of accenting, from gold and brass to chrome.
Marble’s greatest strength is its multifaceted ability to work with so many design styles.
The Caution: Marble is not the surface for a homeowner looking for an easy wipe-and-go countertop.
Secret 4. Marble Doesn’t Cost As Much As You Think.
Its natural beauty naturally leaves homeowners thinking it’s a high-price kitchen addition, but marble – in the right style – can be affordable.
For example, Italy’s Carrara marble is one of the least expensive natural countertop materials on the market and it’s readily available. In contrast, a rarer, luxury stone like Calacatta marble — which offers a whiter surface and more dramatic veining – is significantly more expensive. As The Marble Cleaner.com notes, Calacatta marble is “graded and priced like diamonds.”
The Caution: Improvenet.com pegs the average per square foot cost of marble at $60. Throughly research the pricing options and availability of the marble you are interested in. Never get just one quote on marble. Marble.com offers a full marble installation estimate tool for countertops.
Secret 5: Marble is Heat Resistant.
Marble takes sweltering humidity better than just about all of us. So if you’re baking in the middle of a miserable summer heat wave, you can count on marble staying as cool as central air. Marble is also heat resistant, making it an ideal option if your kitchen preps a lot of bake-offs.
The Caution: Alas, marble is not impervious to scorching temperatures. Never place a piping hot pot or pan on marble for risk of discoloring or burning its radiant surface. This is what potholders were created for.
An investment in a marble kitchen countertop is investing in a gorgeous, but imperfect surface that requires tender, loving care and attention. But if you are up for the work, marble countertops can make your kitchen come alive and shine like no other surface on the market.