I love the clean, bright look of marble, as well as its inherent elegance and timelessness. It adds an element of dressiness to a kitchen, which I appreciate since in our new house the kitchen will be open to the dining room.
In spite of its classic looks, though, marble is also one of the less expensive choices in natural, hard-wearing countertop materials. Depending on the type of marble, it can be more affordable than granite, and certainly more so than quartz and stainless steel. Laminate and butcher block will always be among the cheaper options; I know there are less expensive ways to go. But we are making very economical choices in other areas (cabinets, appliances) and I would love to have hard-wearing, easy-cleaning countertops, and I have my heart set on something brilliantly white.
I like marble's natural color and variability, and while I also have looked into quartz, which also comes in those white shades, I have heard some issues with some white quartzes staining even worse than marble (plus quartz is generally more expensive).
So, what's the problem? Marble is softer and more porous than the nearly indestructible granite, and so it can etch (scratch) and stain in a way that granite usually won't.
After much research and browsing around home forums, here are the main pros and cons to marble countertops.
Marble Countertop PROS
• Beauty - Classic, timeless beauty, and a white brightness not available in granite or soapstone.
• Cool Temperature - Marble is wonderful for working with pastry, since it is naturally cool; it doesn't conduct heat very well.
• Cost - While some rarer types of marble are very expensive, the more common Carrara (also called Carrera) marble is one of the least expensive natural countertops.
• Widely available - Unlike some quartzes and the hard-to-find quartzite, marble is available from nearly any stone fabricator or stone yard.
Marble Countertop CONS
• Scratching - Marble can scratch easily, especially when touched for a long period of time by something acidic. A slice of lemon laid down on a polished countertop overnight can leave a mark in the shape of the lemon slice, duller than the surface around it.
• Staining - Marble can also stain; red wine and some fruits are infamous for leaving indelible stains on the marble.
My Takeaway So Far: If you are OK with countertops looking a bit scratched up, and developing a patina of use over the years, then marble may be for you. If you want them perfectly glossy all the time, then perhaps not.
Also, I discovered that honed countertops (the more matte, less shiny finish that comes from abrading the stone) can be much more kitchen-friendly.
What do you think? Do you have marble in your kitchen? Love it? Hate it? What tips and advice would you give someone thinking about installing it?
Related: Good Questions: Why Not Do White Marble Kitchen Countertops? at Apartment Therapy