Countertops 101: Marble

Marble countertops are a hot trend for kitchens and bathrooms.

Why? Because the unique patterns and colors bring a natural yet upscale feel to any space. The marble stone is also beneficial if you enjoy cooking or baking as the “always cool” surface is ideal for rolling out dough or other prep work.

To help you learn more, we put together this marble countertop guide that explains marble colors, finishes, how much marble countertop maintenance you should expect, and the average installation cost.

With choices for every budget and style, you can quickly transform your home with stunning marble countertops!

What colors do marble countertops come in?

Most marble is white, grey, tan, brown, green, black, or pink. Veins or flecks within the stone tend to feature these same colors along with unusual bits of golds, purples, blues, or silvers.

As marble is a natural product, each slab will have unique characteristics and veining. This “one-of-a-kind” feature is appealing to homeowners who want an exclusive look.

Image of various marble colors via TINO

What finishes are available for marble countertops?

Marble countertops are available in three unique finishes:

Polished: A polished countertop is buffed to a gorgeous sheen. The finish showcases the stone’s natural beauty by highlighting all the colors and veins. It also reduces the chance of staining, but the glass-like surface is easier to scratch.

Honed: A honed finish creates a matte texture. The soft finish hides imperfections but also mutes the color and veining. Sanding leaves the marble pores open and more susceptible to stains, so sealing is a must for long-lasting wear.

Leather look: A “leather” finish is a texture on top of a honed marble surface. This finish creates a bit of gloss, yet helps hide imperfections and fingerprints.

Do marble countertops need maintenance?

All countertops need maintenance, and marble is no exception. The real question is, “Do marble countertops stain easily?”

The answer is yes, it can, as marble is a porous stone. Depending on the finish you select, marble can scratch or show annoying fingerprints.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to keep your marble countertops looking elegant for years to come:

Sealing

You should seal marble countertops to prevent staining.

Topical sealers form a waterproof barrier on the marble surface, but the finish wears off with sliding dishes or cleaning. Hot items set on a topical coating can also cause scorching.

Penetrating sealers seep into the marble to fill gaps, so liquid spills can’t soak in and form stains. Penetrating sealers are not fully waterproof, but do allow time to wipe up messes.

Regardless of the sealing method you choose, both require yearly reapplication to keep the marble surface looking its best.

Cleaning

Clean up any spills immediately to prevent the chance of staining, especially wine or coffee.

Watch out for acidic cleaners, as it can cause surface marring. Avoid abrasive powdered cleansers or scouring pads to keep scratches to a minimum.

A spritz of warm water and liquid dish soap wiped off with a soft cloth is the best method to clean marble countertops. For tough messes, use a cleaner made specifically for marble or stone surfaces.

Protection

Use cutting boards when prepping food. When setting hot items on the countertop, use trivets to stop burns or discoloration.

We also recommend using placemats on marble eating areas, and adding felt pads on the underside of canisters or decor that sits on your countertops.

How much do marble countertops cost?

The average price for installed kitchen countertops in a mid-range marble is about $3,000, but costs can be as low as $1,200 or upwards of $15,000.

Here is a list of popular marble types and their average cost per square foot:

Calacatta – $180 per sq. ft. (due to its rarity)

Statuario – $150 per sq. ft. (another rare marble)

Bianco Venatino – $100 per sq. ft.

Danby – $80 per sq. ft. (quarried in Vermont)

Black marble/travertine – $75 per sq. ft.

Bardiglio – $60 per sq. ft.

Yule – $50 per sq. ft. (quarried in Colorado)

Carrerra – $40 per sq. ft. (most common marble type)

Pink – $30 per sq. ft. (quarried in India)

Is Marble For You?

Marble countertops can be a serious investment in terms of time and money. The benefit is that no matter which type or price point you choose, it can last a lifetime with proper sealing and maintenance.

Searching for the “perfect” marble countertop can be a fun experience that allows you to bring the astonishing artwork of mother nature into your home. Nothing makes a statement and improves resale value like beautiful marble in your kitchen or bath.

With so many colors, patterns, and finish options, you are sure to find the perfect marble countertop to enhance your space!

Inspiration gallery:

This Statuary marble countertop by West Chin Architects extends over the island to accommodate built-seating.
This kitchen design extends the marble countertop to the backsplash to create balance and uniformity. Image via Architectural Digest.
Waterfall countertops extend the beautiful marble top all the way to the floor in this kitchen design by Silver Marble & Granite.
Honed Statuary marble countertops and backsplashes bring elegance to this kitchen designed by Workshop/APD.

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