Here’s What You Need To Know Before You Install Marble Countertops

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

I’m a nervous wreck. I desperately want marble countertops in my kitchen but the guy at the stone place told me that I have rocks in my head if I put marble in. (yes, he really did say that).

My kitchen designer said, “NO WAY!”

She wants me to use this stuff that looks like marble… she says. I don’t think it’s the same look and feel. It looks fake to me.

But… every time I open up a magazine, there it is… That gorgeous Calacatta Gold or Carrara Bianco.

I’ve heard that it stains like mad, but can’t one just seal it like crazy and solve that problem?

Why is everyone putting the fear of God into me? Like, what is the worst that can happen? If all of those folks have it, can it be all that bad?

And what about those cute places in summer resort areas that make fudge? Isn’t that a marble countertop they are using to make the fudge on? I know that it is.

And if it does stain and I can’t get it out, will I be unhappy?

I hope very much that you can address these concerns on the blog and let us know what the real-deal is.

Bianca Gold

 

Hey everyone. I’ve had some requests for quite some time on this subject matter. And just in case you don’t realize, Bianca is a fictitious character based on every client who’s ever wanted marble countertops.

And to be truthful (which I always try to be unless it’s going to hurt somebody’s feelings), I can count on one hand, the number of clients who’ve gone with marble for their kitchen countertops.

In fact, I’m wracking my brain to come up with more than two.

Yes, two. Two clients.

In all fairness, the number of clients doing countertops where I had something to do with it, is probably only about a dozen, over the years.

And there’s a bloody good reason why more of them didn’t do marble.

Marble is like a young Paulina Porizkova on the first day of her period.

Oh, I don’t mean PAULINA PORIZKOVA. I don’t know her. (although she did come into an art gallery I was working in 30 years ago) But I mean like a young gorgeous woman who suddenly isn’t so gorgeous.

And that is because marble is a freaking bitch to maintain!

 

But first let me get some things straight.

 

This first one is just a little annoyance I see in print all the time.

The gorgeous white marble that EVERYONE wants to have is called CALACATTA, not CALCUTTA .

 

The second is to address the staining issue.

 

Marble does not actually stain all that easily in terms of say wine dyeing it reddish or coffee brownish, if it has a good stone sealer on it.

What it does is ETCH.

Etching occurs because there’s a lot of calcium in the marble and the surface will get eaten away by anything acidic touching it. Things like lemons, tomatoes, etc. The etching causes the marble to appear to be a different color when the light hits it a certain way. It is minimized a little if one does the honed version of the marble.

Life in Grace Blog

Here you can see what etching looks in Edie Wadsworth’s kitchen. But she adores her marble countertops!

 

Holly Mathis did a mega post about marble and linked to a bunch of other mega-posts about marble. Lots of examples and tons of advice.

One of my favorites is from blogger Edie Wadsworth of Life In Grace who explained what happens to marble after a year.

 

She used the Myers-Brigg Personality Test to have her readers decide if marble is for them.

 

Being too cheap to fork over 50 bucks (plus tax) to take the test, I decided to come up with my own personality test. ;]

 

It’s very short. Only three entries is enough to decide if you will be able to live with marble or not.

 

Here goes:

 

It’s bedtime and you have one dish sitting in the sink. You…

a. refuse to go to bed until the dish is washed and put away.

b. go to bed and three hours later realize that you need a Xanax to calm down because you forgot to take care of the one dish in the sink.

c. go to bed and crash because you’re exhausted from making dinner for 12 people, cleaning, shopping, cleaning, cooking, cleaning.

d. go to bed with a sink full of dishes because you’re planning on doing them in the A.M. after you’re feeling more rested

e. use paper and plastic for all meals which are take-out and you never entertain.

 

How often do you wash your hair?

a. Every day. I feel absolutely gross and can’t function unless I do.

b. Every other day is sufficient, unless I’m going out.

c. Every third day is okay and sometimes I use dry shampoo in between washings.  (or wear a hat)

d. Once a week (or longer) because washing and drying my hair is a bloody drag.

e. I’m supposed to wash my hair?

 

Your first child is about to enter his third year of high school. You…

a. do whatever it takes and spend however much it takes to ensure he gets into an Ivy League College.

b. freak out because his guidance counselor is on maternity leave and a new one got foisted on your son.

c. grab a Xanax before having to speak to your son’s guidance counselor about his poor grades.

d. drive your son to take his SAT exams and then go to the gym.

e. College? What college? My son dropped out of high school and joined the army.

 

How’d you do?

I’m a solid D

 

But, if you got As and Bs, sorry–you are not to do marble countertops under any circumstances or for that matter, marble anywhere in your home.

 

Cs– it’s probably okay, but screw the guidance counselor!

Ds and Es should be fine with marble. For Es, they will look like crap but you won’t notice unless someone points it out to you.

But seriously, if you are the type that freaks out over tiny scratches and imperfections, you will HATE marble because no matter how careful you are, some day that bottle of salad dressing is going to go toppling over and then life as you know it, is going to end.

Okay, this is a little off-topic but not.

 

I’ve started having fantasies about renovating my place.

 

I think I need a Xanax.

Oh wait. I don’t have any Xanax and have never taken one. It would probably put me to sleep.

It’s not anxiety I have, it’s more like

ABJECT TERROR at the thought.

Yes, I know, I know. I am like the neuro-seurgon who passes out when he has his own blood drawn.

 

Okay, okay, calm down!!!

 

I know that you guys would love me to renovate and then of course, write about it.

And yes, I would definitely do marble counters in the kitchen.

Honed marble.

I think.

I would.

hmmmm…

What gives me pause?

That’s a very good question and here’s my answer.

While I may be fine with washing my hair once a week whether it needs it or not, the next person that is looking at this place might run for the hills if they saw deeply etched counters.

Maybe.  But then again, this will make them run faster.

 

Well, Laurel, is there anything else that would work?

 

I was afraid that you were going to ask me that.

Geeeezzz, you’re making me work here.

Okay, well… yes, there is!

Let’s begin with natural stone.

What is closest to either Carrara or Calacatta Gold marble that is also not going to etch?

Above is carrara bianco.

 

This is Calacatta Gold from the Bronxville kitchen, not quite finished, but better than nothing.

 

Are there any white natural stone alternatives?

 

The closest that I have found in a granite is called River White Granite. I believe that it comes from India.

 

the white buffalo styling company

 

This is a really lovely kitchen and I think that the white granite suits the dark green cabinets. But it’s not the look I’m thinking of.

 

Another possibility is natural Quartzite

 

This does look a lot like white marble, but notice that the veining is more horizontal and that there are places that are very plain.

Quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock. It is created when sandstone is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. This stone is sometimes confused with the man-made quartz products which are made from Quartzite pieces and composite materials to bind. Here’s a more indepth explanation.

Both Quartz and Quartzite do not etch (or at least not very much) and quartzite is even harder than granite. They say.

A couple of things. You need to be sure that it is quartzite and not marble and you may need to rob a bank because this baby is probably going to run around $100/sq foot.  That’s not in my budget.

However, Quartz composite countertops aren’t cheap either, but I believe are less than that.

 

So, are there any good quartz options that look like marble countertops?

 

Yes, they’ve made a lot of headway in that arena but some are good and some, not-so-good.

I combed the marketplace and if I missed something that you think is fabulous, please let us know!

 

Let’s begin with the not-so-fabulous Quartz in terms of looks. That is— quartz that is trying to be something it’s not!

This is a Quartz by Pental that they brazenly are calling Calacatta. Sorry. I’m not buying it.

This is another Pental quartz product called Arabescato. The large veins are far too uniform to be believable. Maybe some folks like this, but I’m not one of them. There may be other Quartz countertops from Pental that are good. I’m not saying that the brand is bad, just that the design department needs to go back to the drawing board.

Caesarstone’s Calacatta Nuvo is better. In all fairness, I’ve seen better images of this product.


Here is another image of Caesarstone’s Calacatta Nuvo. I’d have to see it in person.

The above is Cambria Torquay which is really pretty. I don’t think it looks like natural stone so much, but it doesn’t look horribly fake either. I could definitely live with this.

Cambria Torquay on a kitchen counter by Cute & Company. Pretty!

More marble lookalikes from Cambria

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Above is a promising alternative for marble countertops by Dekton called Kairos. I like that it’s got a more subtle veining.

And another by Dekton which looks to be the most believable Calacatta Gold substitute, so far called Aura.

Hanstone Campina Quartz has a definite Carrera look.


The Campina done up. I could live very happily with this. (source unknown)

Neolith by Classtone might be the most believable Calacatta Gold lookalike of them all.

Here it is on a conference table. It does have a pretty heavy veining, but it is believable that it is real marble. Does it feel like real marble? Well, since it’s mostly quartzite mixed with a polymer (plastic, essentially), I would say not exactly.

But if one doesn’t want etching, then I would say that it would be best to go with a quartzite or a quartz engineered countertop.

By the way, if you are looking for excellent cleaning products for natural stone, this page is full of them.

 

Judy, a kind reader swears by these two products for marble countertops which I’ve linked to if interested:

 

 

Barkeepers Friend is excellent for getting out any stains. The most stubborn stains are from yellow flower centers and even they come completely out with a little paste made from Barkeepers Friend. I also use DuPont’s Stonetech Professional Revitalizer Cleaner and Protector. Since installation, 3 years ago, I have cleaned the marble with this anytime it needs it. It puts in a little extra sealing each time it’s used. Consequently I have not re-sealed it in 3 years!

 

And Maureen wrote in with this comment:

 

The installer that sealed it didn’t do it well, and even water was making marks. I instantly sealed it myself with DryTreat Plus, and now it really is very stain resistant.

Thanks for that Judy and Maureen!

So, what do you think? Do you have marble countertops in your kitchen? Would you consider putting them in, if you were renovating?

This brings me back to my fantasy of renovating my place. (and that is all it is, at this point) I’ve never had a really nice kitchen, or bathroom. I know… but instead of that, we spent a fortune on music lessons for our son. No regrets.

This is a little thing he composed for me, for my talk last weekend. It was played right after I said. “Time To Talk About Your Blog.”

So cute! Oops. you have to hit pause or it’ll keep repeating itself like those annoying instagram videos.

xo,

 

 

 

In case you’re wondering why this image is here it is because of a comment by Mia made on March 13, 2017.  It’s an image I made from my talk at the Design Blogger’s Conference.

 

  • Sharon AJJ - May 29, 2017 - 9:41 AM

    This is a timely discussion for me. We are about to put marble on our kitchen island (which includes a counter, backsplash and bar counter), with brushed jet mist granite on the remaining counters. I have been reading horror stories about both finishes and wondering if I’ve lost my mind! But we’re going to go ahead and embrace the patinas on each that will develop over time. I am the sort of person who takes care of her stuff, but I also let it be used and like how many natural things age. Our 130+-year-old oak dining table has an area of glitter on one corner from when our children were young and glitter featured heavily in their art projects. And I love that glitter, which just feels like part of a working table’s long and honourable history to me. Similarly, the wear on our hardwood floors and wool area rugs doesn’t bother me, but when our fake Berber was pilling and unravelling, I was beside myself. I’m certainly going to bookmark this entry with all the great tips from your readers…because I won’t stop cooking with citrus for the sake of a countertop, but will embrace the notion of a living surface!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 29, 2017 - 1:12 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      Perhaps you hit the uhhh nail on the head. Natural products age beautifully, but a faux beauty– never. Thanks for your lovely comment.ReplyCancel

      • Sharon Jessup Joyce - May 29, 2017 - 6:35 PM

        And thanks for making the point that it’s Calacatta, not Calcutta. As a copy-editor, errors in names bother me much more than the natural wear of natural surfaces. 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - May 29, 2017 - 6:44 PM

          Hi Sharon,

          Uh oh… I’m in trouble. lol, but I hear ya. It annoys me too, but mostly because I figure that people heard the name wrong or saw somebody else call it the wrong thing.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Bier - May 21, 2017 - 2:45 PM

    Hi Laurel!
    I just subscribed to your blog last week and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading all your stories! Love your wit and wisdom!

    I wanted to comment on the marble countertop debate since I’ve had Danby marble in my kitchen for almost 3 years now. You are absolutely correct in saying that no one should install marble in their kitchen or bath without being thoroughly informed of its properties, the good, the bad and the ugly. The good being its incredible beauty, luminous and waxy. The bad being its tendency to etch like crazy from anything remotely acidic, including hard water. The ugly truth however, is that I’m a type A personality, controlling and obsessed with perfection, BUT I love the marble with all its faults. It does NOT stain, meaning it doesn’t discolor from coffee, wine, tomatoes, berries, etc., so in certain lights it looks as perfect as the day it was installed. Look at it differently, and it shows all the etches that have accumulated from it being a work surface for someone who cooks a lot.
    In the end, I’d probably do it again, since the man-made surfaces (quartz, solid surfacing) also have their drawbacks and they are nowhere near perfect or as “bullet proof” as their sales pitches claim. A similar argument could be made against wood flooring–it scratches and becomes dented from just living with it, but it’s just the price of the beauty of natural surfaces.

    Nothing is perfect and nothing lasts forever. (Remember Keats’ ode “Ozymandias”?)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 21, 2017 - 5:13 PM

      Hi Diana,

      So glad that you’re enjoying the posts and thank you so much for such a wonderful comment. I love your explanation of your experience with marble counters. And you’re so right. Nothing is perfect; I find beauty in the old, worn, tarnished, things of this world.ReplyCancel

      • nancy keyes - May 21, 2017 - 5:36 PM

        Hi Laurel,
        I agree with every word you and Diana said! I would do it again and again. XOReplyCancel

  • Nina - April 18, 2017 - 3:25 PM

    Lol, I HATE marble counters, marble bathrooms, marble anything.

    Problem is, when you’re looking at most new urban condos, they are all chock-full of marble finishes these days.

    I would rather buy a place that needs work, rip everything out and put in my own finishes than buy new with marble.

    Unless you’re willing to hire a professional to come into your home once a week to maintain your marble, or unless you’re willing to become a slave to your marble, forget it.

    Plus, marble floors are terrible for your feet (ever notice all those temperpedic foam mats at home goods stores lately — it’s because of all the plantar fasciitis from marble floors, seriously). And marble is cold and hard and the stuff of tombstones…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 18, 2017 - 3:29 PM

      Hi Nina,

      I thought that tombstones are usually made of granite. :] But, what material do you prefer for counters and bathroom floors?

      As for maintenance, my point is that the marble IS going to etch. It IS and if one likes that then there is no issue. The problem comes with those who are expecting the marble to stay exactly as it did when it was installed. That’s not going to happen.ReplyCancel

  • Ozanne Tremblay - April 15, 2017 - 5:46 PM

    Carrera mable,
    First I want to say thank you very much Laurel for your blog, it’s not only educative it’s very entertaining.
    n.b.: english is my second lanquage, I apologize for all my writing mistakes.
    My carrera marble countertop, the backsplash and the table are 34 years old. I remember the Italian saleman told me that marble is not good for countertop , but that’s waht my husband and I wanted and 34 years later we would make the same choice.
    I agree with you for the etching. The first year I was a bit cautious but with the time the surface is all etched or I should say honed, so no more worries. We replace the sink 5 years ago and it let a few iron stains. My husband sand it with marble powder but it didn’t desapper completely. We looked to replace the hole counter before I remember that we choose marble because it’s like good quality leather, it get a nice patina with the time. By the way we never apply any protection. We have 3 kids and I cook a lot. The cold surface is really nice for making pastries.

    I find out about Laurel few weeks ago when I was looking for a white paint colour for my pantries and she has the kindness to answer me. She used white dove. I’m not decided yet I’M still juggling bettwen distant gray, decorator’s white or white dove because my other cabinet are dark brown oak.
    Any suggestion would be welcome.
    thank youReplyCancel

  • Jenna Tagliaferri - April 15, 2017 - 2:22 AM

    Thank you for talking me out of marble. We will find a similar look and have it honed since I have the type A personality and my chef husband gets sauce in places that I may not find for weekd.

    I just designed a home, inside only, due to historic issues, in Newburyport, MA. We just moved from the South, and I am very Southern and didn’t want anything to do with moving up here…the weather, the accents, the cost, etc.

    So I have been taking notes from you blog and ordered your rolodex, but still have 1000 questions. We just sold a house that I waited ten years to completely remodel and I was only in in for three years before having to move up North. It was pure suffering, as I lived in a 10×10 room with my husband and two cats for 7 months while it was being remodeled. I was so happy when it was finished as I poured everything into it…alas, my bedroom en-suite is with custom binnds in now a playroom for someone children…so sad.

    This time is different, as we are all living in a condo in NH while the house is being built, at a snails pace compared to Atlanta. Anyway, I will get to it.

    I used Simply White throughout the house for the trim with light and dark colors and it seemed to work well. The only thing I didn’t like about it in the kitchen was that I used another slightly darker BM white paint, it may have been Cloud White, but I am not sure, but it didn’t look good against the Simply White trim. I had Chelsea Gray bottom cabinets at the time.

    The big question for the kitchen…can I just use Simply white for the trim and the upper cabinets, or will it be too bright? I am trying not to have that dingy look when the two whites meet, and I always do cabinets to the ceiling.

    There are a so many more questions, but if I could just get this one done, I can move to the next one. I am painting the bottom cabinets gray again, but a much darker gray with the white uppers.

    Best,
    JennaReplyCancel

    • nancy keyes - April 15, 2017 - 7:59 AM

      Hi Jenna, How about a little pep talk? I moved from the NE to Atlanta many years ago kicking and screaming (Ansley Park) We had a wonderful life there but always wanted to come back and be near the beach and the city. We had a neighbor/friend there, very Southern with a big wonderful family. Her husband was transferred and she was devastated. We both moved and we live in neighboring towns. When ever I see her she says she would never want to be anywhere else. So, I hope you will love it someday! Good luck! I know the feeling.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2017 - 2:33 AM

      Hi Jenna,

      I’m sorry, but unless I’m in your home, it’s impossible to say. There are a lot of terrific designers in Boston, however. And probably some right in your town too.ReplyCancel

      • Jenna Tagliaferri - April 15, 2017 - 2:40 AM

        So, you have never seen upper white kitech cabinets the same clolor as the trim?

        That is all I was asking.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2017 - 10:34 AM

          Jenna,

          The cabinets should always be the same color as the trim if possible. But comments are not for questions unless they pertain to the post.

          Dear Nancy has some kind words for you. I’m gearing up for the next onslaught. Thank you for your understanding. I wish that I could help everyone individually. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Bezanson - March 31, 2017 - 9:14 AM

    Definitely saving this post for when it’s time to put in some “real” countertops! I love all of the quartz options you shared.
    We did a budget friendly renovation of our kitchen last fall. It’s amazing what paint can do to a room! We purchased a new bridge faucet, electric range, and light fixtures. (Our almond colored fridge and black dishwasher are still working fine, so I couldn’t convince my hubby to replace them!) We “extended” the cabinets to the ceiling, and added an undercounter bookcase where there had been an awkward counter overhang.
    The real dilemma was how to tackle the hunter green laminate counters?! Yes, I too, had fallen in love with the look of marble counters. So, I painted my counters to resemble marble! $100 later, and way too much time trying to create the perfect veins (I finally handed the thin paint brush over to my husband after hearing his critiques of my veining technique!), and we have beautiful “new” counters. I know this solution won’t last forever, but thought it would be fun, and thrifty, to give it a try.
    (I used a Giani Granite countertop kit. They showcased my kitchen on their FB page.)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 1, 2017 - 10:23 AM

      Hi Sarah,

      I took a faux finish painting class some 28 years ago. WHAT? 28 years? Well, it was. But I recall that making marble was the most fun project we did.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Jane - March 19, 2017 - 3:56 PM

    Hi Laurel! I love this post because we installed Carrera marble during our kitchen remodel five years ago and we love it. In your informal Myers-Briggs we are definitely the kind of people who can handle the marble. I could show you a pic right now of the dirty dishes piled in the sink from last night’s dinner party 😬

    My husband, who is a little bit anal, tried so hard at first to keep the marble from etching, but he eventually just gave up. He wanted the marble in the first place, while I was more apt to listen to the MANY nay-sayers who said that we would regret it. I’m happy to say I’m thrilled we took the chance! Something a contractor said helped us so much: he said that marble (and brass, which we used for our faucet and cabinet hardware) are living finishes, meaning that they will change over time. We should embrace the changes and roll with them, not fight them. That mentality changed my whole perspective. So now when one of us our our children spill tomato sauce on the counter, we just say, “Hey, it’s a living finish!” (But full disclosure, we make them lay dishcloths down before doing ANY cooking in the kitchen! 😂)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 19, 2017 - 5:41 PM

      Hi Mary Jane,

      I love your contractor! Oh, if only they were all like that! Some are, but many are not.ReplyCancel

  • nancy - March 19, 2017 - 1:02 AM

    I read of some movie star that had all white marble counters installed and immediately poured lemon juice all over to get the etching over and done with.

    I really detest all this granite but I really love white marble.

    People worry so much about child labor and torching The Earth and I don’t believe all this stone we adore so much is good for either situation, I don’t know how the news doesn’t get out.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 19, 2017 - 1:08 AM

      Hi Nancy,

      I love the white marble too.

      I was wondering about pouring lemon juice over the entire thing, but I still think that it’s probably going to be uneven and splotchy. But maybe I’m wrong.

      As for child labor and stone mining.The stone comes out of the earth in massive blocks. I can’t imagine that children could be operating the machinery to do that kind of work. But maybe I’m wrong.ReplyCancel

  • Missy Ann - March 15, 2017 - 9:27 AM

    Hi Laurel, Love your blog! Especially appreciate you sharing so much knowledge! This post feeds my love of marble! Please continue to share and educate me as I am a dreamer of all things design, decor, home, and architecture. YOU ROCK! P. S. Love your son’s music.ReplyCancel

  • Larissa Mills - March 14, 2017 - 12:53 PM

    HA!! And here I thought you meant you had to be anal in order to HAVE marble! Well either way… i think marble gets a bad rap. But secretly I’m glad people are deterred from getting it as it makes those of who do have marble all the more special. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 1:22 PM

      Hi Larissa,

      I think it gets a bad rap because after being in this biz for 25 working years, there are those folks who will FREAK if something isn’t pristine and doesn’t remain pristine forever! Or even IF they imagine that it’s not pristine. And we’re talking a lot of money here. So, from the stone people’s standpoint and the designer, the liability is pretty hefty. That’s why they make us sign waivers.

      It’s not for the 99.5%, but the .5% who will go ballistic with lawyers and whatnot.

      In all of my years of having my own business (21), I only had one client like that and she WAS a lawyer, and not JUST a lawyer, but a LITIGATOR for a blood-thirsty firm in Manhattan!

      Oh, did I mention that this evil being is also a sociopath? There are plenty of lovely professional litigators, I’m sure. It’s just that this one had a lethal combination of a severe personality disorder AND the knowledge and means to put the screws to me for imaginary “flaws.”

      It was a dark, difficult time of my life.

      I lost a lot of money because of her craziness. Money we desperately needed because my husband was out of work.

      But, that’s what’s at the bottom of the warnings. Not doing so could put a company out of business!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - March 14, 2017 - 12:26 PM

    oh that’s such a great informative post and comments too!

    we put a marble in our master bath. no hard decision-I was after color, and didn’t like anything else. it’s not white though-it’s warm gray and golden rust a bit..it reminds me of a funny furry animal. Etches, yes. We have one etch..for now. I bought a special polishing paste but hadn’t got to it yet, so no recommendations from me yet.
    I didn’t want marble looking Quartz in the kitchen, and didn’t strive to have the look, went with plain Quartz. Actually I dreamed of butcher block. But our cabinet maker was very much against it, and since he was a great cabinet maker I signed and went with his advice. I think I like patina. I’m also used to having limestone in a kitchen-oh my.
    But I’m a mix on your test, so I think I’m an A in the beginning when something is new, and gradually become less and less A..first A minus, then B..then you get the picture:)ReplyCancel

  • Larissa Mills - March 14, 2017 - 12:22 PM

    I normally agree with just about everything you write but not this time. I have honed marble countertops (the honing is the key) and they are as gorgeous today as they were 8 years ago. And I do not wash my hair every day and hate to do the dishes at night when it’s late! I have a family of 4, including a 10 year old son and a messy preteen daughter.
    There’s nothing like real marble.

    XOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:42 PM

      Hi Larissa,

      Are you talking to me, Laurel? I’m wondering what I said to make you think that I don’t like marble because I agree with you completely! It’s the people who wash their hair every day who should avoid marble. ;]

      And the folks who are messy and wash their hair infrequently or never lol can have marble! (the Cs, Ds, and Es)

      But in case you didn’t realize it… The test is tongue in cheek. ;]

      I thought it would also be a good idea to present alternatives for those who need to have every hair in place at all times.

      But I couldn’t agree with you more. There is nothing like the beauty of real marble!
      ReplyCancel

  • Karen - March 14, 2017 - 9:03 AM

    I am about to have marble installed in my kitchen, the decision was pure agony! For months I had settled on marble-look quartz (it was Polarstone, in my opinion the best-looking one out there – all the others looked “printed” on). Then I stopped at a stone yard, and the owner (from Italy) and I chatted about real marble….and I was converted! The natural, stunning, authentic beauty won me over and I decided then and there to go for it. I am doing the Bianco Venatino honed marble on the island (10′ x 6′ with waterfall edges) and backsplash along the wall, and solid white quartz for the countertops along the wall (so the durability is where I’ll be cooking). I appreciate vintage and age, so feel the etching and possible chipping won’t bother me. My only steadfast rule I can forsee will be NO SHARPIES at the island (I have a 4 y/o and a 5 y/o). I can’t wait for the install!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:13 PM

      Hi Karen,

      Sounds great, but just one thing. If one has children under the age of eight, I say NO SHARPIES AT ALL anywhere in the home! (unless they are under lock and key and then go straight back into their safe!) lolReplyCancel

    • Karen (again) - March 14, 2017 - 9:05 AM

      PS: our quote for the Polarstone came in at $15k, and the natural marble and prefab quartz slabs is $12k.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:15 PM

        Hi K A,

        Well, there it is! I don’t think anyone can say that they did quartz to save money! But that is a big difference! 3k pays for a lot of back massages! ;]ReplyCancel

  • Monica - March 14, 2017 - 12:27 AM

    I used honed Calacatta marble in my kitchen remodel 6 plus years ago. I absolutely love it. Every morning I walk into my kitchen it still feels fresh and new. I seal my counters once a year and I don’t have any stains just a couple tiny etch marks. I actually find them easier to keep looking nice than my old black polished granite counters which showed every finger print and dust speck.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:40 AM

      Hi Monica,

      Great point. Black anything is worse than white anything! :]
      ReplyCancel

  • Gina - March 14, 2017 - 12:02 AM

    I recently renovated my kitchen. I narrowed my counter tops to 4 different quartz options and saw each of these slabs in person:

    1. Cambria “Britannica” (you have it shown here in your post: a bad attempt at trying to look like marble. I so wanted to love this slab but it looks like someone drew the veins on the slab. And the veins are all the same – there’s no effort to use different colors or shading.
    2. Dekton “Aura”: LOVED this slab; comes in a huge size – much bigger than a regular quartz or marble slab; Dekton is man-made and practically indestructible BUT it is extremely thin and because of the thiness it looks like a formica slab. Also it’s not polished – has a honed look. The thiness totally turned me off.
    3. Cambria “Torqay”: in person slab looks cheap and it doesn’t really have veining – more like weak and blurry smudges.
    3. Dupont Zodiaq “Calacatta Natura”: THIS WAS WHAT I CHOSE. The slab looks EXACTLY like your photo above of the Calacatta Gold from the Bronxville kitchen. It cost a fortune but to me it was worth it for the look and durability.

    Just my 2 cents. BTW, love your blog!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:15 AM

      Hi Gina,

      Cathlin who commented about 100 comments ago, lol used that one too and loves it as well! Hooray for Dupont! Oh wait, hers was a different pattern– london cloud, I think, but it was Zodiaq.ReplyCancel

  • Travis - March 13, 2017 - 10:03 PM

    Hi Laurel. I was inspired by your article to go out and compare the quartz products to real marble. I am going to be doing a kitchen remodel and was planning on using marble but thought perhaps I should give the marble-like quartz products a quick look. You are always very helpful and maybe I can have marble according to your personality test as I do use paper plates more often than I would like to admit! I was unimpressed by Dekton–it was very flat looking with no depth and to me looked very fake. The Zodiac colors were okay but looked like that took a white background and stamped the veining right on top of it. After visiting 5 locations, I was fairly unimpressed by the “fake” stuff. I stumbled on Nobel Gray by Caesarstone which wasn’t really one of their marble substitutes but to me it had a similar look and it had the depth and movement that the very white products lacked. I feel that is the problem with the quartz, the white has no depth like actual marble. So out of the many products I looked at the Noble Gray seemed to me to have a marblesque feel and felt like it had the movement of a natural product. I put it up next to a piece of marble tile and of course it is obvious which is which but I am curious as to your impression. I thought it was actually pretty and I enjoyed looking at it closeup and found it kept my interest. I posted a few photos of it from the full slab to extreme close-ups and hopefully I am putting the link in here correctly. Is my untrained eye being tricked or what do you think of the product?? Thanks!

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/24/1e/1e/241e1ebb7201c2effb0ac6f93a9bf9ce.jpgReplyCancel

  • J - March 13, 2017 - 6:06 PM

    Hi. I love you blog which I recently discovered. While I see this post deals mostly with white stone and stone alternatives I cannot say enough about Vermont Green marble. We have the very dark one (it comes in lighter and brighter shades) with white cabinetry. It was installed before we moved in 15 years ago. We’ve polished it only once in all that time. We were told it is more resistant to wear than granite. Frankly the stone has worn better than the white custom cabinetry which we’ve recently had sprayed. The veining in the stone is beautiful. Prettier in my opinion than granite.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 6:11 PM

      Hi J,

      I had a client who did the Vermont Green marble and it is very lovely! And another one did a green granite which actually looked more like marble to me as it had a lot of big gorgeous veins. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah McGee - March 13, 2017 - 3:03 PM

    We put in Statuary Marble tops in our kitchen about three years ago and haven’t looked back.

    I agonized for months over the decision, but in the end, nothing had the life that the marble has. From the the way it feels, to the movement to subtle glow it gives…

    We have left everything from tomato sauce to red wine on it over night (spots that we missed cleaning up) and it hasn’t ever developed a stain that lasted longer than a couple days. I think it has something to do with the the porous nature of the stone, it seems to move out of it over a few days. However, it etches like a sumfabeetch, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

    That being said I’m full-blooded romantic and I loved the idea of feeling like I live in French Patisserie. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 6:08 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      I could live very happily in a French Patisserie!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - March 13, 2017 - 1:26 PM

    Geeze, where’s my brain! I wanted to add that the “little thing” your son composed for you is really wonderful. Was it a group of his music friends, or did he play all the instruments then layer it? Or whatever that’s called. Bet that got your audience’s attention! Hope you played it LOUD.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:42 PM

      Hi Andrea,

      No, that’s all him. He want to college for jazz trombone at New England Conservatory, but he also plays piano and drums super well.

      The slide with the music on it got messed up. We even rehearsed it. I don’t know what happened. It did get played but not on cue. And yes, it was loud. :]ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - March 13, 2017 - 1:15 PM

    The marble in my kitchen is 20 years old and etched. I can’t cook without lemons or tomatoes. My marble is on the island, where I do food prep, and on a small baking area and I LOVE it. It’s also on the backsplash up to the bottom of the cabinets. The problem I have is with the butcher block countertops everywhere else. I would change it to marble in a heartbeat.
    Anything used is going to look used. IMHO we are too obsessed with everything looking new.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:39 PM

      Hi Andrea,

      Yes, many people are obsessed with things looking new and perfect. At least in the USA. I’m not sure why, but of course I respect their need for that. ReplyCancel

  • Petra Young - March 13, 2017 - 12:14 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    We are currently redoing our main level, including kitchen (oh how I wish you still did online consultations!). I desperately wanted marble but we chose Neolith Calacatta Gold for all the reasons you mention above. For a “faux”, I think it easily looks closest look to real thing. I agonized over honed vs. polished but it’s a dark space so I thought the reflection might bounce more light around. Install is about a month away!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:25 PM

      That sounds terrific Petra! Best wishes with your install!ReplyCancel

    • Petra Young - March 13, 2017 - 12:47 PM

      Oops – if this came across as “asking for advice”, that’s not what was intended. Was simply sharing my opinion around the search for the best marble look-alike!ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:26 PM

        Not at all… That comment comes after every post. I guess it’s a little lame because those that do ask for advice and your comment was not even close have already done that. I’m working on getting the announcement seen before the comment gets made. ReplyCancel

  • Rose DiNapoli - March 13, 2017 - 12:00 PM

    Hey Laurel – it is Rose DiNapoli again……..thank you for your nice comments about my work, it means alot coming from you.

    With regard to the acid washing, it was done by a fabricator – Dominion Marble and Granite in Ashburn, VA. They are the only ones that I have come across in my area that use this technique, essentially the acid wash pre-etches the finish kind of like honing does, but it goes further. I have talked to some fabricators that do not offer an acid wash who say that honing is equally effective for staining. Even if that is true, I prefer the patina and the feel of the acid wash and can attest to its durability.

    Thanks for all good info.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:24 PM

      Hi Rose,

      Thanks again for the info. I presume they provide a test sample. It sounds wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Donna - March 13, 2017 - 11:21 AM

    Hi Laurel:

    Thank you for this great post! I’m a big fan of your blog, and this was an amazing overview of a topic that always confuses an amateur like me. Redoing kitchen counters is on our “one of these years” list, but I’ll be sure to bookmark this for future reference.

    (PS: We relocated to Norwalk CT, eighteen months ago, and currently have my daughter, son-in-law and two young grandsons living with us while they search and save for their own home – which partially explains why certain decorating decisions are delayed. Anytime your blog comes out, I shut the bedroom door, plunk myself down at the computer, and enjoy some “Me time” reading your offerings….so thanks for that too!!)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:23 PM

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much! As the mother of two (now young men), I can fully appreciate the need to shut the door! lolReplyCancel

  • Luiza - March 12, 2017 - 11:00 PM

    This thread in the GardenWeb Kitchen forum (now part of Houzz)describes how to tell marble from quartzite, because names vary greatly and people often confuse them: http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/2692150/countertop-geology-part-six-lets-talk-about-rocks-some-more?n=505

    All the Countertop Geology threads linked are absolutely fascinating (at least to me!), and there is a lot of rock eye candy to be seen.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:07 PM

      Hi Luiza,

      Thanks so much for that! Great info. This post has turned into a primer of sorts for stone countertops. Love that!ReplyCancel

  • M - March 12, 2017 - 8:53 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I am new to your blog and already a big fan!
    I wish I had read this post before installing marble in our powder room. It has etched terribly, and looks just awful.

    We put white macaubus quartzite countertops in the kitchen–tight budget but it was well worth the splurge. Looks fantastic, and shows no signs of wear and I am a messy cook! I love it as much as I did 2 years ago when we had it installed.

    Thanks for all your great posts, inspiration and humor.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 9:09 PM

      Hi M,

      Thanks so much and glad to know that the quartzite worked out well for you!ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - March 12, 2017 - 8:32 PM

    I went with the marble. Yes, it does etch a little. I use white cutting boards all the time. But I love it. The french have been using it for decades, and it has held up to time in french country homes. I can put up with a few marks here and there. Like a fine patina, nothing looks as good as marble.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 9:06 PM

      Thanks for your input Sherry. That sounds terrific and I agree.ReplyCancel

  • Marilynn - March 12, 2017 - 7:32 PM

    Love marble sadly am a slob and make my husband clean😜 He literally follows me around and picks up after me. So we said no to marble and have honed black absolute granite. Sigh . Now talk to me about wood countertops. Had to have them and literally trashed them within 2 years. OyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 9:03 PM

      Hi Marilynn,

      I hear you! I’ve done honed absolute black granite and it looks very nice. Similar to soapstone that’s aged.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - March 12, 2017 - 6:24 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    About 10 or 11 years ago we added a second master bedroom suite to our house. I chose some very large – I’m going to say 12″ x 12″ marble tiles for the new bathroom. I don’t know what the marble is, but I thought the color variations in it were beautiful. Sort of a soft rosy terra cotta, but that doesn’t really describe it. It was polished marble, and I thought it was stunning. Well, lo and behold, it became etched, and rather easily. I knew this would happen, but what I did not realize was the maintenance involved in keeping up that beautiful flawless polished look. I still think the marble is beautiful, but I have to say, I would think twice before I put marble in a kitchen or bathroom again. There are so many beautiful ceramic and porcelain tiles out there. One just has to decide how much etching vs. polishing you care to live with.

    I digress a bit, but I have been collecting quite an extensive number of images, both digital and magazine tear sheets, as inspiration for a possible future remodel, or even just a re-fresh. You must have an incredible number of them, and since you are the interior design whisperer, I was wondering how you organize them? By materials, by styles, by rooms, by vendors? You probably have a software program for professional designers that is meant specifically for this sort of thing. The wonderful thing about these amazing things we call computers, is that there is endless room for storage, but being a visual person, I seem to lose things in the vast electronic abyss. The nice thing about a physical picture is, if I keep them in an organized fashion, I can find them. The downside of course, is that they take up so much space.

    Once again, thank you so much for your always informative post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:30 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      I am a “D” personality. I keep everything now either on the blog and/or pinterest. Each has a search function. It’s the KISS method of organization. :] Not my strong suit, unfortunately.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - March 12, 2017 - 5:49 PM

    Hello! Great timing with this 🙂

    We did Dekton zenith on our cooktop wall and island. Was thinking of using the kairos as a back splash – as a marble alternative but the price here is $160 per sq.foot. OUCH. Have also considered Maxxfine — they have some interesting marble looks in a much thinner product.
    Anyway — they had a heck of a time cutting it. The island cracked once and the cooktop twice during fabrication and templating. We are still waiting on cooktop cut out number 3. I do really like the product — doesnt stain, doesn’t etch, can put anything you want on it – hot pots directly down with no adverse side effects. There is only two places in the province that are fabricating Dekton right now – Would be interested to hear if you have had any struggles with it as a marble alternative?
    There is only 2 other cabinetry folks around here that have attempted to use it besides us.

    Being An A — the Dekton certainly has put my mind at ease- it’s been installed for 6 months now and looks pristine — and no sealing required ever 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:14 PM

      Hi Susan,

      That’s interesting and you’re certainly a lot more patient than some would be.

      I’ve never used the product. I’m not a heavy kitchen designer. While I’ve been involved with several kitchens in my 21 years, it’s not the bulk of my business.

      And we’ve always done some kind of natural stone – honed black granite, oiled soapstone, plain soapstone, granite once or twice because the client wanted cherry. That was a while back, marble a couple of times as I said and poured concrete. Oh wait. We did quartz around the perimeter a couple of times. But a plain quartz.ReplyCancel

    • Susan - March 12, 2017 - 6:04 PM

      Laurel — Please delete my post – wasn’t intended to solicit specific advice – was merly trying to add to the conversation of the goods and bads of marble alternatives.
      Thank you.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:09 PM

        No worries. Answering this first. You didn’t come close to stepping out of bounds. You can’t believe what some people are asking for. It’s usually on the paint posts.

        That response comes with every post to try and discourage asking for advice. I need to get it on here somehow before people ask these questions. My webgeek is helping me with that. Sorry, for any confusion!ReplyCancel

        • Susan - March 12, 2017 - 6:15 PM

          Thank you for the kind response – I re-read my comment and went OOPs! Did I just break the rules with my question on other folks opinions as Dekton
          ( porcelain slab) as a marble alternative OH MY GOODNESS –Sue Don’t be that ask for free specific advice person!
          As always – find all of your posts enlightening and enjoyable.ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:23 PM

            No, opinions are one thing and something everyone can benefit from.

            This is an example of what isn’t appropriate.

            “My counters are (some stone I’ve never heard of), floors are gray something or other,(that sounds awful) cabinets are dark cherry, (what? With gray floors?) the room faces northeast, what color should I paint my walls? I’m looking for a gray with no hint of blue or green or any other color than gray. Thanks in advance.

            Impossible to answer these questions because first of all… often I’m already heaving at what they’ve chosen. LOL and two, I can’t see what other horrendous choices they’ve made. I can’t get involved with any of that.

            What amazes me though is that so many people seem to think that there’s a revolving carousel of colors in my head that I can just plug in a color to their unique situation.

            If only that were so!

  • kathy - March 12, 2017 - 2:52 PM

    Great post! Thought I’d weigh in on the subject since I’ve done quartz in 2 kitchens and several bathrooms as well as Carrara in a kids bathroom.
    I LOVE carrara marble and agonized over the decision. We decided to use LG Rococco quartz in our recent kitchen renovation with creamy white cabinets and a dark grey island. I’d say it resembles the real thing but lacks the depth of real carrara. In my opinion the LG Rococco is a little more realistic than other brands of quartz I looked at. I used Silestone Lagoon in a kids bathroom with white cabinets, white subway tile and a “cararra” porcelain floor tile that looked very much like the real thing. It was beautiful and 5 years later looked brand new. Silestone Lagoon quartz has much less veining than the Rococco. Quartz is maintenance free and virtually indestructible. Perfect for a bathroom used by teenage boys.
    The carrara marble we used in our recent bathroom reno is etched after just a year. While I love the depth and richness of marble, it’s definitely not for someone who is bothered by etching, water rings, mouthwash bottle stains, etc.
    That being said, if I were to do it over again, I’d go for the real thing in my kitchen. The patina and imperfections add charm and character.

    What a wonderful mom you are to have sacrificed your own needs to give your son music lessons:)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:04 PM

      Thanks so much for all of that Kathy!

      The music lessons didn’t feel like a sacrifice. Best money we ever spent. Luckily, some of it was off-set with scholarships. Otherwise, it would’ve been impossible.

      We did fix things up nicely and as a result sold our townhouse in two weeks for full asking price. I didn’t want to put too much money into the place because we wouldn’t have gotten it back. ReplyCancel

  • Susie - March 12, 2017 - 1:55 PM

    The idea of a poured concrete countertop intrigues me….I wonder what it’s like?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:55 PM

      Hi Susie,

      I had a client who did it 21 years ago and then again in her next home 12 years ago. It’s really cool and perfect for her more contemporary aesthetic. It is quite expensive and it can crack. It will get a beautiful patina though. ReplyCancel

  • maureen whitehead - March 12, 2017 - 1:53 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I got white marble installed in my kitchen about a year and a half ago. I would say I am a C. I did a lot of research beforehand, including pretty much all of your links. My marble is Blanco Statuarietto Goia, which is a softer white than the carrera, and goes well with my half toned white dove of my cabinets and trim.
    The installer that sealed it didn’t do it well, and even water was making marks. I instantly sealed it myself with DryTreat Plus, and now it really is very stain resistant.
    Clearly, etching happens, I really don’t have much as we are careful with acidic things, but I just tell myself that it is part of it’s character, and you really have to look at it in really good light at an angle to even see it.
    You can also do some home removal of some etching. For selling the house you can let it be known that you can get it all cleaned up professionally to remove the etching so it looks like new if they want.
    I also have a long scratch by the stove, where someone slid a chopping board across it.(must have had something scratchy underneath) Not fond of that one, but I know with sanding etc. I can remove it if I work at it. I just put the chopping board over it so don’t notice except when I wipe it down.
    I mainly just wipe with water to clean and now and again go over everything with Bar Keepers Friend.
    Would I do it again…absolutely! I adore my marble. I intend to put it in my Master suite next.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:47 PM

      Hi Maureen,

      Thanks so much for all of that. I’m going to put a link to get DryTreat Plus in the post as well.ReplyCancel

    • maureen whitehead - March 12, 2017 - 1:55 PM

      Just wanted to add that mine is honed.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:56 PM

        Hi Maureen, Thanks! I prefer it honed, but from what I understand, even polished will begin to look honed after a number of years.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Dickson - March 12, 2017 - 1:26 PM

    Hi Laurel, I used Carrara in my ensuite 2 houses ago and found that my contact lens solution caused some etching. Who would’ve thought? So this time the kitchen and bathrooms are Cambria ‘Torquay’. Cathy. PS Thank you for your wonderful blog – I look forward to every new post and recommend you to my friends for your great and well-thought out advice. And your humour!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:40 PM

      Thanks so much Cathy for kind words and recommendation too! But contact lens solution? How weird. I mean, it goes in our eyes, you’d think it would be okay, but maybe it’s a PH thing.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy wilson - March 12, 2017 - 12:45 PM

    I had my heart set on Carrara marble countertops and a big slab of dark walnut over island last year with all white shaker cabs, hand made white tiled backsplash and wood floors throughout. Since I am prone to being a slob iI decided on quartz that resembles marble after extensive research and taking a hard look at lifestyle. Actually marble here in Florida is cheaper than Quartz… I found a reasonably priced creamy white with subtle gray veining at TERRASTONE called Swiss Peaks which I am pleased with so far. I’m glad I kept the wood floors in the kitchen, another item I was constantly encouraged to change! THANKS FOR YOUR GREAT BLOG! Any possibility of allowing readers to post pictures in the comment section ? Would be great fun to see some of your readers kitchens! (And other rooms too)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:36 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      That’s a great idea to allow people to post images in the comments, but I don’t have the capability to provide for that. The best I can offer is if you have a link to the image, like if you’ve put it on pinterest or facebook, or something like that, it would work.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Carlin - March 12, 2017 - 12:36 PM

    Hi Laurel LOVE your blog and humor…..and the marble topic is a great one.
    I just re-did my kitchen and concluded that if I didn’t do marble I’d be forever longing for it. And as you said the fakes aren’t cheap either!!! I used Imperial Danby (cheaper than Calacatta), and my kitchen designer recommended a product called Clearstone. It is a composite coating that is applied by a professional and it seals the marble from staining or etching. They pour it out and buff it and the final result is about a quarter inch thick.

    The upside: I can put lemon juice, wine, ANYTHING on it will not etch or stain. It has a 10 year warranty that says so. Downside: it slightly “grays” the marble, it does scratch easily (which can be buffed), is NOT heat resistant (like a wood table – watch your coffee cups!) and costs nearly as much as the marble itself. It also is a 3 day installation (like having your hardwood floors done requires you to leave for a portion of the install because of fumes). That said, I have a trivet made of my marble that is un-treated and it looked like I’d had it for decades after the first week.

    I think the concept is pretty new and it was risky to say the least but as of now I’m glad I did it. As my kitchen builder said, if your budget allows and you are going to invest in marble (and are an “A” or “B” as you said) you HAVE to protect it or you’ll drive yourself nuts!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:32 PM

      Hi Nicole,

      I did find some information about that while I was researching this post, but left it out because I couldn’t find enough information about it. So, I’m really glad that you chimed in with that.

      What I’m wondering is… Does it look like a coating? I imagine it feels differently. Some people feel very strongly about being able to put hot things down without having to worry about wrecking the counters.

      But if it doesn’t look funny, then it sounds like a viable option for type As and Bs. :]ReplyCancel

      • Nicole Carlin - March 12, 2017 - 6:16 PM

        Thanks for responding! I know, there wasn’t a lot out there online when I was making my decision so it was VERY stressful! It does not look like a coating (there is a pic somewhere on my website of it if you want to see) but definitely feels a little more “rubbery” than a marble or granite. it’s not cool to the touch either. For finish, you can choose if you want polished or honed (I did a hybrid). I guess the polished is WAY too reflective but I didn’t want a true honed either.

        If more companies offered it in the future it would be great because the price would drop and then it might gain popularity. Assuming it lasts for me! It’s only been 6 months or so….ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 6:27 PM

          Hi Nicole,

          Is it the pretty gray kitchen? I can’t see anything from that distance, but it’s all incredibly beautiful!ReplyCancel

          • Nicole Carlin - March 13, 2017 - 7:55 AM

            Yes! It is really White Dove but that picture makes it look gray. I can send you close up pics of the marble if you wanted to see.

          • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:21 PM

            Hi Nicole,

            It’s okay, I probably won’t be able to see anything from a photo anyway.

  • Deb Tedford - March 12, 2017 - 12:25 PM

    We have a 2″ thick honed Carrera marble center island countertop. It is beautiful and I do not mind the slight etching – it only shows if you look sideways, in the right light, and I am too busy using it to worry. I bake and cook a lot, so marble is an ideal surface. Keep in mind that every good Italian kitchen has a marble work surface to roll out pasta – their priority is delicious food, not a pretty kitchen, but the kitchens are both beautiful and functional! I think you need to decide your priorities – looks or function. My longterm goal is for the marble to develop a lovely patina through use, but if I do need to sell sooner and it would be helpful, the 2″ slab can be removed and a fraction of an inch taken off for rehoning for a relatively small sum. Best of all worlds!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:27 PM

      Hi Deb,

      That is a fabulous idea about rehoning the 2″ slab. But you never know… the person buying your home may love the patina just as much as you do!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 12, 2017 - 11:35 AM

    I wanted the look of marble, but knew I couldn’t deal with imperfections. I went with quartz from Quartz Master and I LOVE it.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/_96QMEzN4z/?taken-by=maryshill4
    I love your blog Laurel, and never miss a post! Also, ever since you mentioned Maura Endres’ IG account (m.o.endres) I’ve spent hours going back and looking at every single image – OMG, just gorgeous!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:23 PM

      Hi Mary,

      That is a very beautiful kitchen! I can’t see the quartz too well, but from what I can it looks terrific. Love those pendants and the size and shape of the kitchen is my favorite. Thanks for sharing that!ReplyCancel

  • Stella - March 12, 2017 - 11:31 AM

    Once you get over your fear of etching and chipping, marble is the most beautiful material for this use. I think it’s very American preoccupation to obsess about keeping things perfect and without age. But aging things can also be perfect. Here in Italy we have marble outdoors which is centuries old and it is lovely. It’s okay for things to show their age.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:21 PM

      Hi Stella,

      Ya know… you are SO right! And it’s something that’s always driven me nuts in the profession I’m in. In fact, I have a little clause in my letter of agreement that states that some items are meant to have an antique, aged appearance and that these signs of distress are NOT defects.

      Of course, 199 out of 200 clients get that, but it’s for the 1 out of 200 who doesn’t and then goes on to make my life a total misery.

      But… somehow, I don’t have that sensibility. I LOVE old, worn, aged, decayed. But authentically so. I was a pig swimming in a puddle of mud while in Venice. I wanted to stay for all of eternity! But alas, it was really only a few hours. No choice in the matter.ReplyCancel

  • DEBORAH GIBSON - March 12, 2017 - 11:27 AM

    I have been an Interior Designer for over 35 years….I have had formica, butcher block, polished granite, honed granite, polished marble and now have honed Calacatta Gold…and YES!!!…I love it…I have it on a very large island and on the perimeter lower cabinets as well…no upper cabinets but I do have a very, unusually tall backsplash, 15 1/2″ tall, due to wanting the backsplash to be about the height of the back of my restored 1952 Chambers Range…I would always give the pros and cons to a client about using marble and then let them make an educated decision…I do find the honed holds up better in terms of seeing etching. I knew the pitfalls going into using the marble in a kitchen but I also knew that a bit of”character” here and there would not bother me….(back to Laurel’s personality test to check your level of courage).. it really depends on how sterile you wish for your kitchen to look…if you want the magazine perfect look in your kitchen I do think polished lends itself more in that direction…I have really not had very much luck trying to find a knock off look to replace a white looking marble…they all seem to look to fake to me ..I do think that as time progresses there will be another fashionable kitchen look rather than all white and then there will be a new idea for what to use on your countertop….nothing against an all white kitchen here…the ones I see in print are just spectacular, but I do think in the coming years lots of us will be soon wanting a little bit more of something other than all white…we will just have to wait and see what the next best thing is!….BUT…I absolutely love my honed Calacatta Gold and I am so glad I did let that be my one big splurge when recently building my new home!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:17 PM

      Thanks so much for all of that Deborah. I really and truly think that a classic, not overly done white kitchen will never go out of style.

      Some idiot wrote me. “Bookmarking this so I can come back in two years and laugh my head off.”

      Two years? Gosh, that’s not enough time for anything to change– except cell phones. lol

      I do think that there’s a trend to a somewhat more rustic version ala devol that uses all natural materials and simple Shaker door style. Many of their kitchens are not white. But a pale, pale gray is very pretty too. I just abhor a ton of upper cabinets as I’ve stated ad nauseum. haha.

      Uppers over counters. But I have them. My kitchen is a galley and there’s no choice, but they are only on one side and not that many of them.ReplyCancel

  • Rose DiNapoli - March 12, 2017 - 11:23 AM

    Laurel – Great post, this issue comes up all the time.

    There is one other thing that you can do if you want marble countertops without the maintenance. You can have the marble acid washed, which means the slab is put in an acid bath for about 48 hours and when it is removed it has been aged by about 100 years. The marble has a beautiful honed patina – think of a marble floor of an old cathedral in Italy, a very clean marble foor. The other thing that the acid wash achieves is that it removes seams, I wanted a thick slab for my island so that it would resemble an old baker’s table, so my fabricator joined two separate pieces at the angle and after the acid bath, the seam completed disappeared. I installed these countertops in 2010 and have not had a single stain.

    Here is a link to a photo of my kitchen from HOUZZ (please ignore the counter stools, I had yet to purchase stools and these were borrowed for the photoshoot, they are so wrong…):

    https://www.houzz.com/photos/2725109/Bradenham-contemporary-kitchen-dc-metroReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:06 PM

      Hi Rose,

      Oh wow! Where have you been all of my life?! That is the best comment ever. Your kitchen is wonderful. I wish I could see a closer up view. But what I want to know is… Why isn’t this common knowledge?

      Does the fabricator do the wash and will most know how and what to use? And did they make you sign your life away? I would always do a sample.

      BTW, I LOVE the stools! I think that they’re perfect.

      And I WANT the next kitchen with the antique glass cabinet. That is my dream! How talented you are!ReplyCancel

  • Carol Totaro - March 12, 2017 - 11:21 AM

    Thank you for your wonderful post on beautiful marble countertops. In my dreamlife, my kitchen would be done in marble. I once had a instructor who said that if you are worried about marble…go to Italy! and come back home, become Italian and do marble! I have a small marble top table in my bathroom. It gets gooped up with hair spray, creams, maybe some perfume. I just wipe it down with some warm water and liquid ivory. And it’s shiny and beautiful again. Just joyful to have something that pretty in a very basic bathroom. Makes me smile. Now to win the lotto and redo my kitchen! Thanks for a great post Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 4:00 PM

      Hi Carol,

      That reminds me… I was in the most beautiful old palazzo, the first night we were in Venice last year. Gorgeous old marble everywhere. So beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Diane - March 12, 2017 - 10:59 AM

    I put honed Vermont Danby marble in my kitchen that we renovated two years ago. It’s absolutely not for everybody, but I love it! Every time it etches I just think of Italy! They have marble that is 100’s of years old everywhere. There is nothing like the way it feels and looks. It’s not pristine, but I’m happy to live with it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 3:58 PM

      Hi Diane,

      Yes, I know of that marble. Martha Stewart has used it. Some say that it is less prone to etching but some say that’s not true. But I’m glad that you’re happy with it!ReplyCancel

  • Paula - March 12, 2017 - 10:56 AM

    I went for a “marble” look for my kitchen countertops, and used quartz from LG’s Viatera line. Mine is Minuet, which has a lighter appearance, and Rococo is good if you want more of a pattern. There is a lighter one than Minuet – called Cirrus, but it was too white for me. I am very happy with it, and it doesn’t look “fake” to me. There are a lot of man-made surfaces that definitely look that way.

    I went for River White in my bathrooms – as you can tell, I don’t care for dark countertops. I ended up with Colonial White which looked exactly the same as the River White sample I had. I agree that it doesn’t really look like marble to me – mine also has some green tones to it (which I like, but wasn’t going for a marble look in the bathrooms).

    You might want to check out LG Viatera – their Musica and Legacy collections – they have some that are obviously man-made looking, but also a LOT of natural looking ones.ReplyCancel

  • judy - March 12, 2017 - 10:53 AM

    I have marble in my bathroom and kitchen and I LOVE IT! I have polished Carrera in my bathroom and have never had a problem after 4 years. It’s gorgeous and I don’t even maintain it well. I’ve never re-sealed it either…it surrounds my tub, my outer shower area, and tops the double vanity. Hairspray, toothpaste, etc. has not diminished it one bit. In the kitchen I chose Honed Statuary Marble that looks much like Calacatta Gold. I LOVE IT TOO! Yes there’s etching but it doesn’t show unless you hold your head down to the surface level and look across it. I never have issues with stains…EVER! I followed to a tee Joan’s For the Love of a House post on her marble and upkeep and I agree with everything she says. Her post is cited in the one you cited by Holly Matthis. It MAKES the kitchen without a doubt! I’ve had tons of parties and entertain regularly without a single problem. Lots of spills, wine, flowers, you name it… all over the marble. Barkeepers Friend is excellent for getting out any stains. The most stubborn stains are from yellow flower centers and even they come completely out with a little paste made from Barkeepers Friend. I also use DuPont’s Stonetech Professional Revitalizer Cleaner and Protector. Since it was installed, I have cleaned the marble with this anytime it needs it. It puts in a little extra sealing each time it’s used. Consequently I have not re-sealed it since it was installed 3 years ago! My next kitchen will have marble if it doesn’t already. It’s just too beautiful not to try!! I don’t understand some of the horror stories here because my experience has been nothing but wonderful. Besides a few other features that I splurged on in this kitchen, the Statuary Marble is by far the one I’m most proud of and consider the best decision I made! Hope this helps anyone doubting their choice!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 3:53 PM

      Hi Judy,

      What a great comment! In fact, I just put in the products you recommended with links to purchase if anyone’s interested. Very helpful.

      I think that you should go into the marble selling business! lol You certainly have me convinced!ReplyCancel

      • judy - March 12, 2017 - 6:03 PM

        That’s funny! Thanks Laurel; maybe I should!ReplyCancel

  • Teena Covert - March 12, 2017 - 10:51 AM

    I have been been debating whether to buy quartz or marble for the past year. During this search, I learned that some marbles are much harder than others. Of course this doesn’t address the etching issue. I found some information on the Vermont Quarries Corp. website which addresses etching. It is listed under downloadable, and gives step by step instructions to fabricators and homeowners, http://s98756.gridserver.com/downloads/treatment_interiors.pdf. I think this would only work on a harder marble. The fabricator would have to use the method described for it to work as well.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 3:06 PM

      Hi Teena,

      Thanks for that info. I’ll have to take a look at it later.ReplyCancel

  • Mel - March 12, 2017 - 10:47 AM

    We bought a house witih a marble kitchen – beautiful – polished calacatta gold. Its not a huge fancy house – but it has a beautiful kitchen and 1.5 years later I still love it. We had no idea about the upkeep issues! Yes, it does etch effortlessly – staining not such a problem. Would I buy marble for a new house? I love how it feels and looks – the fakes have that plasticky light feel and the quartzite well it looks like its trying to be – but isn’t – marble. I have always disliked the patterns in granite – unless it is completely plain. In our last house, we had wood and stainless steel – more durable and easier to maintain and it looked good – although a different look. I just like ‘real’ products and probably I would go with marble again despite the upkeep. I heard you can have it re-polished in place … so we tell ourselves we can do that one day … before we sell the house! (I don’t know if that is true or if it would work well/be extremely expensive, etc – has anyone done that?). We have honed marble in the bathroom and that still etches … I think for bathrooms mosaic marble tiles are good because the etching doesn’t show so much.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - March 13, 2017 - 12:45 AM

      We have had / do have our marble repolished twice since we bought our house and are due for another go-round. It’s not expensive IMO – $150 for master bath countertop on double vanity, slabs on shower walls adjacent to vanity. It came with the house as did granite in the kitchen. At the time of purchase, I thought I loved the marble and was a little snobbish about the granite (“everyone” has that!). Ten years later, THE MARBLE MAKES ME NUTS AND I LOVE THAT GRANITE. It is such a workhorse and has taken everything that can be thrown against it and still looks as good as the day we moved in. I have dubbed the marble our “drama queen” who “freaks out” (etches) if my husband walks into that bathroom. He tries, bless his heart, but is all boy. His shaving cream droplets, his contact lens solution, his post-shave balm, his hair products, even – I swear – his phone?? have all left dull blotches on his side of the vanity. I on the other hand have only messed up my side once, despite my “chemicals” (hair dye, nail polish remover, etc.) I had the flu one year 🙁 and got up in the middle of the night to take some more Nyquil and didn’t realize I’d failed to tighten the cap – then knocked it over – before stumbling back to bed in a haze. Everyone talks about the character of the etching but in our case, we have beautifully polished marble on my side, randomly etched marble on his side and water streaks in the slabs on the shower walls. After reading these comments, I am tempted to take lemon to everything so that it’s all etched and be DONE with it! I just want consistency even if the etching doesn’t really go with the sleek, modern white cabinets and walls / big windows.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 1:07 AM

        Hi Kate,

        The solution as I see it, is pretty simple.

        Switch sides.

        lol

        But you know that as soon as you do, over goes the nail polish remover. hahaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 1:08 PM

      Hi Mel,

      Oh, how I love that Calacatta Gold which for those who don’t know, the “gold” is usually very, very faint or not there at all! My client’s island felt like buttah! Indescribable really. Honing it takes the temp down a little, it seems. Not sure if that’s true or not. We had it honed but it was still silky smooth. I think for quartz to work, it is also better if it is honed or matte or whatever they call it. And yes, some patterns are awful and some are damned good. There needs to be the appearance of depth and shading and I’m sure that’s not easy to do.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Lopez - March 12, 2017 - 10:46 AM

    I agree with your mini-meyersbriggs, if you are obsessive then marble is not for you!

    As Lori says accidental spills and stomach upsets will leave gastly etched pools that will not buff out. I even had a cleaning service ruin a Carrara entry with the wrong cleaner as almost all cleaners etch to some extent.

    I won’t even mention the porosity and absorption factor which make it hopless when used as a floor in the WC.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 1:02 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Yeah… we did have that porosity issue in our bathroom… uhh…no marble floors with males in the home. lolReplyCancel

  • Jula Cordeira - March 12, 2017 - 10:22 AM

    The other issue that should be considered is the shade of white that quartz countertops are. It is hard to get a bright white , like that of marble,in quartz since it has resin in it.
    It will often go slightly greige so the cabinet shade of white has to be adjusted.
    If your cabinets are bright white, the counters can appear slightly dingy.
    I’ve had clients willing to splurge for quartzite and have been very happy with the result.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 1:00 PM

      Hi Julia,

      Thanks for sharing that. So many times I’m asked “what should I paint my____?” And without knowing the other givens, it’s impossible to say. It’s still impossible without being there and seeing the other 100s of things I need to know!ReplyCancel

  • Molly - March 12, 2017 - 10:19 AM

    Installed honed Carrara kitchen countertops seven years ago and would do it again in a minute. House was built in 1920 and is agreeable with the character and patina of the imperfections. We try to avoid arguments with this house, so just installed a Carrara master bath vanity top.
    And for the paint-obsessed, Carrara is a chameleon. We’ve used BM Cloud White, Super White and Smoke Embers with success. Steer clear of direct or indirect pink or yellow and it’ll be fine.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:59 PM

      Hi Molly,

      While I’ve never had marble in the kitchen, we did have a Carrara marble bathroom in our townhouse that came that way. The floor, I loved, but the tub surround was grayer and didn’t match. #builderdidntcare. But you are so right about it being chameleon. When we were fixing it up to sell, we painted the walls Benjamin Moore Horizon 1478 and it looked terrific!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Stonehewer - March 12, 2017 - 10:13 AM

    Great post, Laurel,
    I did honed Carrara in my kitchen an d lived with it for seven years before we sold the house. I always loved it and never noticed the etching. Seriously, to see it you would have to squint, bend down, cock your head at a certain angle, etc. Who has time to obsess like that? I m a solid C in your personality test. Lol.
    In our kitchen now I did one counter in honed black granite and the other in Aura, about half the price of the Calacatta it resembles. I removed the cabinets and did the wall, counter to ceiling, in Aura. It is really gorgeous. No one can tell it is not the “real” thing, not even two architects who came over last month.
    And yes, we are all rooting for your kitchen Reno. I’m sure a ton of companies would be delighted to sponsor you or you could just crowd source your readers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:33 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for the great comment! Believe me, it has occurred to me to put up a donation link. “Help Laurel Fund Her New Kitchen.” (and bathroom, living room, bedroom, closets…) LOLOLOL !!!

      As for sponsors. That one is not easy with some brands who don’t believe me, even when I show my stats what kind of volume this (not-so-little-any-longer) blog is getting. And engagement. Because traffic without an engaged following is meaningless. Well, that’s all shop talk. I do have some connections now.

      Still thinking about it. Honestly, I think I would have to move out for a couple of months.ReplyCancel

      • Christine Stonehewer - March 13, 2017 - 5:38 PM

        Geez! Your readers love you. We’re engaged already! Personally, I would cough up some bucks for the Laurel’s kitchen fund just to repay you for all the pleasure your blog has given me.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2017 - 6:09 PM

          Oh, that is so kind Christine! I very much appreciate that!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - March 12, 2017 - 10:10 AM

    I inherited black Corian (pure black which they no longer make) in my kitchen, and it is quite soft and scratches for just about any reason. The scratches show lighter, so they are very visible. Over time, the scratches flow one into the other, and almost form a uniform “worked-on” surface.
    I consider myself more of a “b” personality, but I have to say that I never minded the scratches on the counter. I feed many people every day out of my kitchen, and it’s simply a place of work, and my counters reflect that. Don’t get me wrong, the kitchen does not look bad — when everything is clean and the counters are cleared off, it’s a wonderful kitchen. But if you want to put your eye to the counter, you will see all of the scratches and dull spots.
    I offer my experience to say (1) that a picky personality can make peace with a well worn countertop, and (2) Corian purchasers of darker colors face the same issue. Not that anyone who reads this blog would buy Corian : )ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:22 PM

      Hi Stephanie,

      I think that readers here do buy Corian but that the favored material these days is the quartz product which is like a hybrid of Corian and real stone, but much more of the latter.

      And I think also that the scratches would give the black Corian a lot of character so it mimics soapstone or honed black granite somewhat.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - March 12, 2017 - 9:58 AM

    Hi Laurel –

    We’re remodeling our (new to us) 1992 home… banishing band-aid colored walls, polished brass, golden oak and melamine cabinets. Kitchen demo begins Tuesday – eek! I really love marble (who doesn’t?) and am total type D, yet know I’d stress about every move my kids and guests make. To see you’ve given quartz your ‘blessing’ as an alternative confirms my decision – quartz it will be. Thanks for another great post! Your blog is my fav. I can’t wait to open your posts Sun and Wed mornings to see what witty humor and beautiful eye candy you have in store for us. It’s a treat, Laurel! Thank you! XOXO from MinnesotaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:19 PM

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks so much! And I enjoyed writing this post and learned a lot too.

      Like I said earlier, even type D-s can have their areas of stress. And resale is also a consideration unless one is planning on staying put for quite a while.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - March 12, 2017 - 9:48 AM

    I have marble in my kitchen and I love it. The first etches were hard to look at. I had a knot in my stomach thinking “what did I just put in my kitchen?!” Now there are so many they blend together. It occasionally drives me crazy but most of the time I love my countertops. I looked at the marble substitutes and none truly compared to real marble.

    I think of the marble countertops like I do real hardwood floors. I wouldn’t choose engineered wood floors in my home even though they are more durable and practice. I’d rather have real wood with all of the scratches and marks. It’s so much more authentic.ReplyCancel

    • Jenny - March 14, 2017 - 11:52 AM

      They’re not more durable lol. less durable if anything-you can refinish the engineered wood floors couple times tops.
      also depends on the wood (whether all way through, or top-layer)-ours are walnut..very soft, you get all the marks you want and don’t want.
      But what can I say-I love walnut. I’d rather live with marks.
      Ours are engineered though-slab foundation. Some things are better not to fight-they’ll win.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 14, 2017 - 12:34 PM

        Hi Jenny,

        Well, I think that you’re both right. Engineered flooring is more durable in that a good quality one may never need to be refinished or at least not for 20 years or more. Plus it’s a more stable product, particularly in climates that are moist or have substantial temperature differentials where a lot of shrinking and expanding goes on.

        It also depends on the finish wood and thickness of the top layer. Lots of variables. But there are many situations where it makes more sense to do engineered over regular hardwood.

        At first, I thought this comment was meant for this post, until I reread the comment preceding it.

        https://laurelberninteriors.com/2015/07/12/all-about-hardwood-flooring-the-common-cleaner-thatll-ruin-them/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:14 PM

      Hi Katherine,

      I love your comment because I very much agree with that philosophy. I mean, I’m the woman who had two grimy little boys and an all-white living room!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Meyer - March 12, 2017 - 9:47 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I have been struggling with the issue “to marble, not to marble” for a couple of years now. To help solve the issue, I am starting with the master bath…floors, shower, countertops…and I will see if it drives me nuts. (I thought about how much I adore the bathrooms at the Ritz in St. Louis, and those all-marble baths have gotten lots of use and still look fabulous). Also, I LOVE the test questions (haha about washing hair…I tolerate Milwaukee winters only because I can legitimately “put a hat on it”!). I also LOVE that you provided examples of faux marble that aren’t completely “cringey”, as my 14 year old daughter would say. Ultimately, I imagine I am going to go with honed marble in my kitchen…the warmth, elegance and beauty of marble without the need for a pharmaceutical cocktail every morning! Thanks for yet another amazing post!!
    xoxo LauraReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:09 PM

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks so much!

      Just so you realize, (if you don’t already), marble in the bathroom is not the same as the kitchen because of the acidic food issue, for the most part. ReplyCancel

  • Gerri Ferguson - March 12, 2017 - 9:41 AM

    I just installed marble countertops in my kitchen and I LOVE them. And so does my husband. They are honed and leathered. Already distressed and pitted. Also agonized extensively over the choice to do marble vs quartzite vs quartz and looked and looked until I found slabs that were just right. Nothing beats the look/feel of the real stuff.

    Friends have quartzite, and I would have gone with that, but all the slabs were more on the cream/gray side than whiter. I think that is what is coming out of the quarry right now.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:06 PM

      Hi Gerri,

      Oh yes, leathered. That is when it’s honed but with a slight sheen. I did not know about the pitting. I’m wondering what kind of marble you have. I tried finding images but it’s difficult to see the differences in a photo.

      I guess it depends where the quartzite is coming from. The colors can vary widely.ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - March 12, 2017 - 9:13 AM

    Oh Laurel, wish you had given that test a few years ago…An “A” all the way! In the mid 80s when we did our first gut kitchen reno I was determined to use white marble. We went to pick it out and the sales people told me if I used marble I would have to sign a waiver that I had been warned that it would be a disaster. They beat me up so much that I caved and used granite. I always regretted it and in time began to abhor the speckled granite. We now have honed Carrara. It is etched and drives me a little crazy but I read that when it is 10 years old the etching will become a patina. So we are waiting! I can’t say I regret it but it is not for everyone! XOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:56 AM

      Hi Nancy,

      I kept thinking about you as I was writing this because I’ve sensed that you are an A. Maybe not that controlling, even though I’m a D, I have that controlling thing in some areas. But have learned to give it up when it’s not possible.

      And it sounds like that is what you’ve done too. The more I think about it, I really would love to have a little marble before I die. We’ll see…

      But yes, the sales people make you sign a waiver.

      I wonder if anyone has ever written about how to speed up the patina process. Lemons might really be the answer. I know that it works to age unlacquered brass.

      You’re going to love this. A long time ago, like maybe 18 years ago, I had a client– a single gentleman with great taste (but three stinky dogs. ew) Well, anyway he saw a very expensive brass fixture- several thousand dollars for over his dining table from Ann-Morris Antiques and had to have it, so I got it for him. It was new unlacquered brass which is still pretty shiny. So, he took a lemon and rubbed it over the entire thing!

      And guess what? It worked! Instant patina!ReplyCancel

      • nancy keyes - March 12, 2017 - 12:49 PM

        I love that he did that! I am fearless about that sort of thing! When the quite expensive fixture arrived for the garage it had too much “patina” on it and looked like it was almost painted. I got rags and light steel wool and “unpatinated” it.
        In the Atlanta house my contractor was hanging an antique fixture for me and we needed an little extension. He handed it to me and said “you have 20 minutes to make this look 100 years old. I rubbed dirt on it and a little paint and baked it in the oven to step up the process. Too much info, but I love the thought of rubbing lemons on a fixture from Ann-MorrisReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:38 PM

          Hi Nancy,

          I know! I would do that too… for myself that is… for a client, it would make me too nervous. But one time, I turned brass sconces into an antique bronze and they turned out great. Rub n buff… shoe polish… I dunno… It was believable.ReplyCancel

  • Terri - March 12, 2017 - 8:58 AM

    I’d recommend anyone considering marble counters ( or soapstone) read Joan’s blog at fortheloveofahouse. She does a great job of explaining pros & cons and why she loves both. I have soapstone & I love it though it etched too. I think etched and chipped countertops are signs of a loved & well used kitchen. Try to think of them as character marks like gray hair & laugh lines.ReplyCancel

  • Paula - March 12, 2017 - 8:36 AM

    I went for a “marble” look for my kitchen countertops, and used quartz from LG’s Viatera line. Mine is Minuet, which has a lighter appearance, and Rococo is good if you want more of a pattern. There is a lighter one than Minuet – called Cirrus, but it was too white for me. I am very happy with it, and it doesn’t look “fake” to me. There are a lot of man-made surfaces that definitely look that way.

    I went for River White in my bathrooms – can you tell I don’t care for dark counter tops? I ended up with Colonial White which looked exactly the same as the River White sample I had. I agree that it doesn’t really look like marble to me – mine also has some green tones to it (which I like, but wasn’t going for a marble look in the bathrooms).

    Bottom line, check out LG Viatera counters – they have some fake looking ones, but also a LOT of natural looking ones.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:37 AM

      Hi Paula,

      Sounds great! The Viatera Minuet quartz is very pretty.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 12, 2017 - 8:15 AM

    I put marble in my bathroom almost 10 years ago. It does not receive the same kind of use that a kitchen counter receives…obviously. But it’s etched!!!
    From water! It’s a honed finish and it’s etched all over it. I don’t mind. Well…maybe I do somewhat. But I still love it. But I would never use it in a kitchen.
    There I have a white quartz. It’s not trying to imitate marble. It has no veining, just little grey flecks. I can never tell when it needs to be cleaned. I love that! Nothing shows!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:31 AM

      Mary,

      Oh yes, water can also etch! I actually love marble that looks old and distressed.

      In “the bronxville kitchen” we did the Calacatta on the island, but the counters (and there aren’t a lot of them) are plain white quartz.ReplyCancel

  • Marthajones - March 12, 2017 - 7:36 AM

    Help I am so confused What types of countertops would be best for my kitchenReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:29 AM

      Hi Martha,

      Sometimes it’s best to narrow it down to what you don’t want. But so much depends on the style of your home, but cabinets, the other elements, colors, geography of your home.

      And… in the end… what do you like?ReplyCancel

  • joanna - March 12, 2017 - 5:57 AM

    Play it again Sam….ReplyCancel

  • marguerite - March 12, 2017 - 5:53 AM

    The builder of our condo used Cambria Britannica for the kitchen counters and island. Would have preferred torquay but that said I’m happy and love the fact that I don’t have to fret about etching.

    I highly recommend quartz although in a perfect world I’d be a marble gal.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:26 AM

      Hi Marguerite,

      I have quartz too but not crazy about the color that came with my place. It’s vaguely reminiscent of cat gromitz. lol But it sure does hold up beautifully!ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - March 12, 2017 - 5:38 AM

    Hello Laurel, I have a granite dining table, and while I don’t know if it etches, it stains like crazy–water is absorbed directly into it, along with any coloring material. Granite is also much harder than marble and may chip dishes. On the other hand, my apartment has all old marble floors and sills, and I love them and there isn’t any problem with them, although I realize that a floor is not the same as a counter.

    I know that I will be hung at dawn and forever banned from your comments section, but I am going to state that I like both Formica and stainless steel. They are soft and easy to maintain and work with, and after seeing so many trophy kitchens, rather nostalgic. My last house in Ohio had Formica counters that were probably installed in the 1940’s and still looked like new. That said, all the kitchens you show today are very appealing!
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:25 AM

      Hi Jim,

      lol, I won’t ban you for using formica or even snub you. After-all, did I not put up an image of Wilsonart several weeks ago?

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2017/01/18/nate-berkus-design-trends/

      Yes, I did. Not everyone can afford or want to spend gazillions of dollars for kitchen counters.

      I have silestone now because that is what my place came with, but for the other 56 years of my life lived with formica in every home I lived in!

      Maybe that’s why I became a designer… so I could create for others, what I didn’t have the means to create for myself. ReplyCancel

  • Susanamantha - March 12, 2017 - 3:50 AM

    I chose a quartz top for my kitchen island in zodiac and I love it. The veining is subtle and the white on top of the dark wood island is a very nice complement. I always encourage people to find a showroom inorder to see an entire slab of marble, quartz, or granite. What looks gorgeous in a 10 or 12 inch square can be obnoxious in a full slab. I had seen an absolutely beautiful quartz sample with a touch of purple. When we saw the full slab ina showroom, we were flabbergasted. Purple everywhere, not just an accent color after all. Whew !! We dodged a bullet. So glad we went with the zodiac.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - March 12, 2017 - 3:24 AM

    I am definitely a D! I have builder grade granite that I put in 10 years ago and I am so over it (first world problems!). I fantasize about putting in marble all the time.

    If you put in honed marble, you really take care of the etching problem, because its basically already etched. I’d still be hanging over my children’s shoulders when they make lemonade, which is like, all the time!

    As far as quartz goes, I think most of the ones trying to look like marble look to fakey. London Gray by Caesarstone, though, looks absolutely gorgeous installed.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:12 AM

      Hi Kristin,

      Honing definitely minimizes the issue, but those that have honed counters say that it still etches.ReplyCancel

  • Lori Payton - March 12, 2017 - 1:13 AM

    One more comment on my part. We put a beautiful marble tile in our front foyer last year, then of course our cat got sick and choose that area to vomit. Took the finish right off the marble. Same with any toothpaste left on marble vanities. You can only seal something so much and it costs to have the marble guy at your house all of the time. Nothing is beautiful if it has stains on it. Marble is too fragile for kitchen counters, other than perhaps a backsplash. There are some very nice granite’s around that are not nearly as speckled as those installed in homes years ago. I would never put marble on a kitchen counter.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 1:20 AM

      Hi again,

      Yeah… the stomach acids will do that. And yeah, sealers won’t protect any stone that has etching abilities from acid. I did find a product that does cover the stone, but it sounds about as appealing as putting plastic slipcovers on upholstered furniture!ReplyCancel

  • Lori Payton - March 12, 2017 - 1:03 AM

    Great information. I think that marble is best suited for fireplaces and bathroom vanities although even with that, toothpaste can leave a stain. Real Quartz or a marble such as Antique Brown with maybe a marble backsplash look nice. We used Antique Brown on the counter and Calcutta for the backsplash. Looks great.ReplyCancel

  • Carole Baker - March 12, 2017 - 12:50 AM

    twenty years ago, used grey and a white marble slabs in my kitchen and bathrooms. Before installation, I sealed them three times and then each year for the fifteen years that I was in that house. Sealant was italian and very pricey. The marble was really lovely, but there was invariabley a frisson of fear that my sealing was not perfect and that wine and tomato juice spills would ruin it. Now I am older, I would use an engineered stone combined with stainless steel benches.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:59 AM

      Hi Carole,

      Unfortunately, all the sealer in the world, doesn’t protect from etching. Staining yes, but maybe you meant the former.ReplyCancel

  • Dian Mills - March 12, 2017 - 12:35 AM

    My kitchen has marble counter tops in a chocolate brown with beige and cream veining. It isn’t totally maintenance free but since it’s dark nothing shows on it. I love it and it is gorgeous. The movement of the veining is what makes marble so beautiful and I would highly recommend it. Several people I know have it and love it! Also everyone comments on the beauty of the marble. Marble comes in a variety of colors.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:46 AM

      Hi Dian,

      Yes, it does, but most of the time, I love the white marbles best. I’ve also seen some darker granites that are marble-like. There’s a green one. I forget what it’s called. But clients of mine did it a few years ago and it is stunning.ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - March 12, 2017 - 12:24 AM

    Great post Laurel! I think you missed one question. Do you obsess over paint chips and paint samples so much that your walls are splotched and spotted for months? Do you not bother to finish the edges in a room because you know you change your mind and repaint? If so, even if you are a D, you may not be able to live with marble! You were on my mind today and I was all over your blog. Finally I said, “fine fine Laurel, I’ll try your beloved quiet moments but because I drive my family crazy I’ll throw healing aloe in as well just to see”. Also, I did drive them to their SAT’s but now they refuse to talk paint with me at all. In fact for xmas, my bday and mom’s day I get notes, “Dear Mother, You may talk paint with me for 30 minutes, Love daughter 1, 2 or 3.” : ) Thank again Laurel. xoReplyCancel

    • Janet - March 12, 2017 - 3:11 AM

      Glad to know I’m not the only one that paints swatches and leave for long periods of time! I average 15 large swatches per room to see the colors on all walls as sunlight changes, or should I say as seasons change 🙂

      Love your holiday gifts from your kids…..hysterical.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 11:11 AM

        Hi Janet,

        In recent years, I recommend not painting directly on the walls, but putting the color on separate pieces of heavy poster board and taping them flat against the wall and moving them around.

        It’s also best to look at them one at a time. Most don’t do that but it’s better to do it that way.ReplyCancel

        • Janet - March 12, 2017 - 1:39 PM

          Thanks Laurel. I can be anal at times and figured the wall would take paint colors differently than poster board but I will take your suggestion next time and save myself a lot of time and teasing:)ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 5:41 PM

            Hi Janet,

            Be sure to do two coats of paint and tape it FLAT against the wall.

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:40 AM

      That is too funny Brooke! I was definitely “that lady.” And it’s such a relief to know that I’m not the only one. At the time, 20 years ago, I felt quite crazy. ReplyCancel

  • Cathlin - March 12, 2017 - 12:14 AM

    I agree wholeheartedly! Friends that are building/remodeling ask and I’m always saying that if they can be happy with it then just do it! I love the idea of marble but it would destroy my marriage and my relationship with my tiny kitchen helpers 😄 went with quartz, London Sky (zodiaq) after agonizing for years. Actual years. It has some slight mottling to it and I like the veining while still being very white. It also doesn’t have that printed spotty look where it’s almost like you can count the DPI? I think my only guests that know it’s not actually marble are the couple friends I have that obsess about materials like I do. 😀 I don’t think I can upload pics here on mobile? no matter 🙂 Your advice is great.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:19 AM

      Hi Cathlin,

      That sounds really pretty. I need to look it up. I knew that people would chime in with their versions. Hooray! ReplyCancel

        • Cathlin - March 12, 2017 - 12:26 AM

          Thanks! I’m really happy with it. The tricky thing with the quartz is the samples are really compressed, which I think is wild because my brain doesn’t look at that and think “imagine it’s 6′ bigger”! I recommend friends get as large a format sample as possible as a result.

          Also, I should say that if someone is only going to be happy with marble then quartz isn’t going to fool them. It’s still quartz. But I really love it for what it is 🙂ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 12:44 AM

            Hi Cathlin,

            All great advice. Big samples are a good thing with everything decorating and yes, it may look like marble but it’s still man-made. But it’s also a lot less stressful for some people.

            I have a about a one foot sq piece of Calacatta Gold. It is so gorgeous. But as an experiment, I rubbed lemon juice on about an inch at the bottom and yep. It etched like crazy and not evenly either! I was wondering what would happen if one just through lemon juice on the whole thing! Most likely not advisable.

          • Cathlin - March 12, 2017 - 12:55 AM

            No you might be onto something 😄 I’ve a friend that purchased the marble counter that had been used in a bar for over 50 years. All the patina was there! You couldn’t possibly detect any *new* etching because that piece of history was done and dusted. Unfortunately nobody will cut the slab for her so she needs to build a kitchen around this marble 🤔 Another friend with Carrera and a passel of kiddos just doesn’t care! Enviable laissez faire. my heart hurt every time a lime wedge was left on it during a busy party.

          • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2017 - 1:01 AM

            Hi Again,

            Oh what an interesting story. I’ve never heard of building a kitchen around a counter, but why not if it works. The marble sounds fabulous. And I know that I’ve seen this kind of marble. Gosh, a lot of the old buildings in Manhattan have white marble stairs.