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You’ll go with either a marble or granite countertop in the kitchen. Congrats! Given that there are many attractive solutions among countertop materials, this has no doubt been a hard decision for you.
But hold your horses!
There is still one more thing to do: choose one between the two. That won’t be easy either. After all, it’s no coincidence that both granite and marble are extremely popular countertops. Both materials are appreciated for a number of advantages. Does this mean that they are flawless? No. Does this mean that whichever material you choose will be the one and the same? No, no, no.
Yes, they are both natural stones. And yes, they are both attractive and durable. But, we are still talking about two different materials and therefore, you can’t expect both to satisfy you for the same reasons. Each has its own special properties and thus advantages and disadvantages. The point is to weigh the pros and cons of marble and granite countertops and see which contestant wins you over.
To help you organize your thoughts, this is a quick overview of the marble and granite countertop pros and cons.
Meet Miss Marble
It will be hard to find a single soul that doesn’t appreciate the beauty of marble countertops – whether they decide to install them or not. The random veining pattern formed by the interlocking crystals of limestones over years and years of transformations under the earth’s crust is truly unparalleled.
If you know a thing or two about countertops, you most likely know that natural stones are unique. Not two slabs are the same since the stones are quarried and influenced by the minerals in the mining region.
Now, there are two more factors which influence the appearance of marble slabs.
- Not all marble slabs are cut the same way. And the way they are cut defines their appearance. The slabs are either cross-cut or vein-cut.
- The finishing method also defines the looks of the marble countertops. They can be leathered, river-washed, or tumbled. The most popular marble finishing methods are honing and polishing. As you already guessed, the polished marble countertops are glossy while the honed ones are matte. What you might NOT know is that honed marble hides etching better than polished slabs but it’s more porous than its polished counterparts.
This brings us to the bad face of marble.
Irrespective of finishing method or cutting technique, marble will still be porous and soft. To avoid a misunderstanding here, let me point out that marble is very strong. I mean, look at all the ancient monuments that have survived the ages all around the world. They are made of marble. But when we are talking about your busy kitchen, you need to consider the material’s vulnerability to damage. Marble is soft and that’s why it has been used for the creation of sculptures. It is easy to carve. But you don’t want that in your kitchen. Do you? What you need to know is that marble is easy to scratch and chip.
You also need to consider the marble’s susceptibility to stains. Even if it’s sealed.
Yes, sealed marble won’t be porous anymore. And so it will resist stains but it can etch. That’s another form of stains. It’s the white marks formed from acid beverages and foods.
Now, if you live with its disadvantages, you will love its advantages. No other material compares with the elegance of marble. It’s known as the cool guy in the world of countertops – and not just for its glamor looks. It’s indeed cool by nature. And so, it makes the perfect surface for those who like to work their dough on the slab.
Marble might have its vulnerabilities but holds well under heat. Should you feel free to place a hot pot on the counter? Don’t. Marble is heat resistant but the sealer is not. All the same, it will hold well and in spite of its softness and sensitivities, marble will last for a very long time.
Let me recap the pros and cons of marble countertops to refresh your memory
Luxurious, timeless, elegant, the marble counter will resist heat pretty well but needs sealing and sealers & heat don’t get along. So you need to watch it there. The countertop will last years with good maintenance but it’s still prone to chipping, scratching, and etching and is rather prone to staining too. Will you love it? You will adore it! Will it increase the resale value of your home? Oh, yes, it will.
Meet Miss Granite
It’s the king of hardness. No wonder why it’s the number one countertop choice for high-traffic kitchens. It will take a beating after beating and still be there to serve you. That’s to be expected from a natural stone countertop whose one of its main components is quartz – that’s the ground mineral (don’t confuse it with the engineered quartz countertops although the mineral is still its main component). It also consists of feldspar and other minerals found in each mining area while the stone is formed when magma solidifies as it slowly cools creating crystals in several patterns. That’s why granite countertops are distinguished for their specks, flecks, and rather dense veins in a patch of colors. It’s all due to the crystals.
Just like marble, the appearance of granite countertops varies based on the finishing method. Here the most popular finishing techniques for indoor kitchens are honing and polishing while outdoor granite countertops are often flamed or brushed. These latter techniques make the slabs a bit rougher and matte, which is often a good thing for outdoor kitchens.
As a natural stone, granite is porous and thus needs sealing. That’s the bad news. The good news is that once sealed, granite is etching and stain resistant. Two more main advantages? Granite is highly hygienic and resistant to heat.
Let’s recap the pros and cons of granite countertops to make it easier for you
Granite is one of the most durable choices among countertop materials and comes with many advantages. It won’t etch, stain, or get affected by the heat. Since it doesn’t stain, it stays free of bacteria and that’s very important for kitchen countertops. On the other hand, it’s so hard that it can chip but that’s a small price to pay for a material that will last for a lifetime without making your life difficult. Will it steal your heart in terms of aesthetics? It depends on whether you like dense patterns and dark hues or not. Will it increase your home’s resale value? Yes it will although its darker colors and perplexed patterns might be considered out of style by many compared to the timeless beauty of marble.
Time to compare marble vs granite countertops
Do we compare apples with apples? By all means, no! There is no denying that the two natural stone countertops share some similarities. They are both porous – hence, both need sealing. They both provide limited color options but unique patterns (the good and the bad when it comes to natural stones). And they both have a great appearance.
At this point, it’s vital to pinpoint that the appearance of marble and granite countertops is entirely a personal matter. So, we cannot actually compare them in terms of their looks although marble always gains extra credits due to the clearer appearance compared to the dense and thus busy patterns of granite. But hey, it’s all about what you like!
Marble is strong but granite is stronger. Marble might last as long as granite but it will give you a hard time. Granite won’t. Okay, let’s just say here that since both materials must be sealed, they both need some maintenance over the years. And they both need some attention on a daily basis because in spite of what the natural stone can tolerate, the sealer can become damaged.
Back to the durability of marble and granite. Marble is soft. Granite ranks 7 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness (mainly due to the mineral quartz). And so, marble is prone to cracking and scratching. Do I imply that granite is bullet-proof? Not exactly. Have no doubt that granite is one of the most durable materials when it comes to countertops but if you compare marble vs granite vs quartzite countertops, quartzite will win. Ooops!!! So, granite is not as durable as you thought. Give me a sec here. Granite is very, very durable. You will love it. Your knife won’t. It’s so hard, it might damage the knife blade. And here’s the interesting thing. Due to its hardness, granite is also susceptible to chipping and cracking. If you drop something heavy on the countertop, the slab might crack. Did you just start flirting with marble again? Wait a minute. Marble can also crack, especially at the edges. Which one is best when it comes to durability? Granite.
Granite is more resistant than marble. It will resist etching, stains, and heat. Marble is more sensitive when it comes to hot pans, it can etch, and although it will resist stains if sealed, it’s not as stain resistant as granite.
Both granite and marble countertops need sealing. So, they both demand some work from time to time. But given the higher resistance and hardness of granite, taking care of this material is easier than marble whose stains must be immediately cleaned making every day cleaning a bit annoying. As for the frequency of sealing, it often depends on the quality of the slab and the finishing method and so it’s best to ask your fabricator but overall, marble needs sealing once annually while granite once every two years.
The short answer to the granite vs marble countertop cost comparison is that marble is more expensive than granite. To make this short answer a bit longer, let me add that the cost of the countertop depends on many things one of which is the quality and rarity of the stone. And so, you can find cheaper solutions among marble slabs. Then, the cost depends on your location, vendors, and similar external factors which always influence the price of countertops (regardless of material).
The bad news here is that both granite and marble are heavy. And this increases further the price. The transportation will be expensive. The installation will be harder and thus will cost more, especially if the cabinets underneath need reinforcement. When you are checking and comparing prices, always remember that the cost is also influenced by the extra work done on the slabs – cutouts, edge, sealing etc.
Let’s check the differences between marble and granite countertops.
|Natural stone, unique, beautiful||Natural stone, unique, luxurious|
|Very durable||Strong but soft|
|Prone to cracking and chipping||Prone to scratching and cracking|
|Resistant to heat, etching, stains||It etches, it stains easier, not heat resistant|
|Easy to clean||Stains must be cleaned at once|
|Needs sealing||Needs sealing|
|Dense patterns, darker colors||Consistent colors, lighter colors|
It all comes down to your priorities. If you like to invest in the luxury marble brings to the kitchen, go ahead with the knowledge that the countertop will demand intensive cleaning and some attention since it doesn’t start to compare with the highly resistant and durable granite. But if you wouldn’t care less about the looks and prefer a counter that will make your life easier, granite is your countertop. Not that it lacks beauty but truth be told, the classic elegance of marble is beyond compare.