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.
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.
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 5o 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.