As a designer, I often get questions from clients and followers about using marble in the kitchen. They want to know, is it OK to use marble in the kitchen? Which marble is best for kitchen benchtops? How do you take care of marble kitchen benchtops? Do you need to seal marble in the kitchen? Are there any really good alternatives?
If you dream of a luxury kitchen, you will no doubt be considering using marble along with other benchtop options for your kitchen. But is it the right choice?
Today I want to share with you marble benchtops pros and cons—why you might want to use marble, and why you might not. We’ll also take a look at some other natural stone alternatives to marble which can give you a beautiful, luxurious effect.
Marble Benchtops Pros and Cons
To best give you the pros and cons of marble benchtops, let’s start by going through the 10 most common questions that I’m often asked.
10 Answers to Your Questions About Marble Benchtops
In general, yes. The pros of marble benchtops are hard to go past.
Real marble benchtops are a luxurious addition to any new kitchen or bathroom. The beauty of marble is that it is such a unique surface, with its veining and patterning. And the fact that no two pieces of marble are ever exactly alike makes for stunning kitchen benchtops. This makes for a timeless elegance and beauty that is highly desirable.
Marble also comes in a range of colours. So, you are sure to find a benchtop that perfectly suits your style and taste.
Because of the uniqueness of marble, I highly recommended that you visit the stone mason to select your own marble as each slab is different.
Of course, there are some cons to using marble in the kitchen that can’t be ignored. Marble is expensive (more than many benchtop options but worth getting a quote to compare as prices vary), porous (marble can stain) and soft (marble can etch, scratch and chip). So, it will cost you more and need more care over time. If you use your kitchen very hard this might not be the product for you.
On the other hand, while marble is considered a soft stone when compared to other natural stone surfaces it’s still a very strong product. It’s important to remember that marble and other natural stones have been around for an eternity and well and truly stood the test of time.
When proper care and maintenance is adhered to marble can last many lifetimes. Even better, over time it develops a patina that adds to its beauty and unique nature, adding character to your benchtops (another pro!).
Overall, marble has a solid, smooth, cool, sophisticated stone feel. This is highlighted through the piece’s finish.
Marble benchtops are most commonly available in either a polished or a honed finish. Whichever you choose is purely a preference, although honed does tend to make etching appear less pronounced.
A polished finish makes marble appear slightly darker and richer. It brings out the full colour and character of the stone and has a smooth and shiny surface. When it comes to marble benchtops pros and cons, if you choose polished marble you will have a beautifully sleek surface (pro). But you will also need to be careful not to scratch or etch the surface as those imperfections will show up more readily (con).
Marble with a honed finish will have a smooth finish, low-shine appearance that can range from truly matte to a low sheen. Honing can also make the stone look lighter or slightly washed out, a feature that can sometimes look wonderful in your home. Honed marble is slightly more porous than polished marble so be sure to seal it properly and maintain as recommended.
A more recent trend, a leathered finish to your marble benchtop is like a honed finish but with more texture to the surface. Marble with a leathered finish is more durable than honed but not as stain resistant as polished marble.
You may prefer the look of one finish over the other or your choice can also be influenced by the style of your new kitchen or bathroom.
One of the greatest fears of using marble is that it will stain or etch. This is certainly a possibility if you don’t correctly care for and maintain your marble benchtops. Over time they can show signs of wear and tear.
When it comes to marble benchtops pros and cons, like timber floors, marble will inevitably get scratches from your daily use (con). But these won’t necessarily be noticed as you walk through the room. Over years marble forms a natural patina which adds to its unique beauty (pro).
Having said that, it’s important to remember that marble, like all types of natural stone will need to be sealed as it is a naturally porous surface. Using a sealer will prevent permanent staining, allowing you to wipe off any spills with no resulting damage. Polished, honed or leather finishes will all be protected equally as the absorption rate is the same on all three surfaces. I recommend Dry Treat STAIN PROOF for sealing natural stone.
Cleaning your marble benchtop is as simple as using a damp cloth. No abrasives or strong cleaners should be used.
Technically, yes you can put hot pans on marble. But is it recommended? No.
A huge benefit of marble (and one of the pros of marble benchtops) is that being a natural stone it is cool in temperature and won’t conduct heat. You can place hot trays and pans on marble and it will not affect the marble in any way.
This being said, I would still be mindful of placing hot items on any marble surface. Use a trivet for hot items and always use a cutting board when prepping food.
Marble comes in a variety of colours and patterns. The most popular varieties of white marble include:
- Carrara – popular especially with Hampton’s style kitchens and bathrooms. It has a subtle grey veining with a white background.
- Calacatta – classic Italian marble with a slightly more pronounced vein than Carrara. It contains a warmer coloured vein with a white background.
- Statuario – a striking marble that blends the best of Carrara and Calacatta marble.
- Emperador – a light to medium brown marble which has been traditionally used for flooring, but is now moving into other areas of the home. Well worth taking a look at!
When looking at natural stone it’s easy to confused alternatives with marble, as they can sometimes look similar. These other products include granite, quartzite and dolomite. However, each of these options has unique properties and a distinct appearance that make it differ from marble. And just like marble benchtops have pros and cons, each of these alternative products will as well.
While marble has an undeniable beauty, it’s good to know that there are some other natural stone alternatives that are more durable and perhaps more suited to your kitchen style.
When it comes to comparing the pros and cons of marble and granite, both products have things in their favour. Marble is a calcium-based stone while granite is an igneous rock known for being very hard. Marble stunning and sophisticated, while granite is a natural stone that suits both contemporary and classic kitchens.
Granite is probably the most durable of all kitchen bench top options. It resists staining and bacteria as well as heat and scratches. It can also be polished to a very high gloss level and is not affected by acidic products such as lemon juice and red wine. This is a big advantage over marble.
Granite doesn’t have the same pattern as the more commonly used marbles, and it isn’t considered quite as beautiful or classic. However, there are some types of granite that appear similar to Carrara marble and are definitely worth a look if you want the durability of granite.
Both need treatment to serve well in your kitchen. Like marble, granite should be sealed annually to keep it looking in good.
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made up almost entirely of quartz, the hardest material on earth. It is often mistaken for granite due to its similar properties and sometimes mistaken for the more classic marble.
However, quartzite is a much harder material than marble which decreases its wear and tear. Quartzites are also non-absorbent, heat proof and nearly impossible to scratch. It is susceptible to etching, however, and should be sealed annually to protect it from etching.
Super White Dolomite has been increasingly featured in luxurious kitchen and bathroom designs over the last few years. And it’s popularity is holding strong. This is down to its desirable white and grey marble-look, and its high functionality. It is harder and more durable than a typical marble. And its grey tones harmonise with both light and dark elements and create a dramatic statement in contrast.
Super White Dolomite is not marble, granite or quartzite. It’s a natural stone that’s quarried in the Bahia region of Brazil and is sort of in between marble and granite. It is important to note that dolomite countertop durability is slightly weaker than the durability of a quartzite countertop.
Super White Dolomite is a great alternative to marble kitchen benchtops and splashbacks but still requires care and maintenance. It should always be sealed by your fabricator or installer and re-sealing is recommended about once a year, depending on the usage and exposure to household products and sunlight. You should also clean it on a daily basis, wipe spills up as soon as possible and refrain from putting hot pots and pans straight onto the surface.
Ultimately, only you can make the decision as to whether marble or any other natural stone is right for your new kitchen. But it can be an absolutely stunning choice, and bring your home a luxurious, designer feel. And as long as you treat your marble with care, this unique product will stand the test of time and be around for years to come.
When it comes to choosing whether to use marble or not my philosophy is simple—if you love it and you can afford it, then yes, use it!
Share Your Thoughts Below
We’d love you to share your thoughts on using marble in your kitchen or bathroom. Did you use it, do you love it or if you chose an alternative, why?