Granite Countertops vs. Marble Countertops: What’s the Better Choice?

That is a question without an easy answer—because they are both excellent choices! Both natural stones, there are many similarities between granite countertops and marble countertops, but they do have some distinctly unique qualities.

Marble

While marble often gets a bad rap when it comes to durability and staining, the upkeep isn’t really that difficult. When cared for properly, you can keep your marble countertops looking gorgeous for years to come.

Staining: Yes, marble can stain if not properly cleaned. Will five seconds of red wine leave an indelible mark? No. If you leave a countertop spill to sit overnight, probably (maybe—I’ve cleaned up pizza grease the next morning without incident). However, marble is more porous than granite and can/will stain more easily. Bottom line: If you clean up after spills, you’ll be fine.

Read more about marble stains in our Preventing Stains and Etching on your Marble Countertops blog post.

 

Homeowner Tip: Honed countertops (the matte finish as opposed to the shiny polished finish) are much more kitchen-friendly resisting stains and etching slightly more than its brilliant counterpart.

If you do find yourself with a stubborn stain, check out our Tips for Stain Removal blog post.

Chipping: As a natural stone, marble is fairly durable. However, if you were to drop something heavy on your countertops (say, a plaster bust of George Washington or a bowling ball), it is possible for marble to chip. Again, using your common sense around basic care will protect you from countertop casualties. If you do find yourself with a bothersome chip, contact your installer as they have many tricks to repair damage of all kinds.

Etching: Etching are the scratch marks and dull spots that are caused by a chemical reaction from acidic cleaners or certain foods and drink that come into contact with your marble countertops.

In addition, cutting directly on the surface of your marble countertops will absolutely leave marks. Don’t do this. It also doesn’t seem very sanitary, just saying.

Read more about marble etching in our Preventing Stains and Etching on your Marble Countertops blog post.

Heat Resistance: Personally, I don’t quite understand the requirement to be able to lay hot pans directly atop your marble countertops. However, you CAN lay a hot pan on the surface for a very short time, but if left on for too long, it can discolor the marble. If you have marble in your bathroom and use hot styling tools, not to worry. For discoloring or heat damage to occur, it must be an extremely hot item that has prolonged direct contact with the marble.

Maintenance: Unlike granite, marble countertops don’t require a sealant, ever. Simply use a marble/stone specific cleaner to keep your countertops sanitary and protected.

 

Granite

Granite is often touted as the most durable of the natural stones which make it a great option for busy kitchens. The variation of granite offers an incredibly large selection of colors and patterns and can be used in a variety of ways including countertops, fireplace surrounds, outdoor entertainment surfaces, tabletops and more.

Staining: While granite is much less porous than marble, granite can stain if not cared for properly. The easiest way to prevent stains is to be vigilant about sealing your granite (once upon installation and then re-sealing annually). Once protected with a sealant, your granite countertops are much more resistant to staining. If you clean up spills quickly, you won’t have to worry about substances leaving rings or stains. If you’re worried about the maintenance around spills and staining, choosing a darker colored granite over a lighter stone will better hide imperfections.

If you do find yourself with a stubborn stain, check out our Tips for Stain Removal blog post.

Chipping: Granite countertops are extremely durable and resistant to chips and cracks. However, if you do find yourself with a bothersome chip, contact your installer as they have many tricks to repair damage of all kinds.

Scratching: Only materials harder than granite can scratch your countertops. Avoid sliding rings with precious stones like diamonds, topaz or sapphires across the surface of your granite. Other than that, your granite countertops are very resistant to scratches—you can even cut directly on the granite surface without causing any damage.

Hazing: Hazing is the cloudy appearance that dulls the shine and polish on your granite countertops. This occurs over time from using the wrong type of cleaners. Sprays with acidic components (i.e. containing citrus like lemon or grapefruit) can eat away at the polish and some cleaners may leave a film. Use cleaners specifically for granite countertops to keep your surfaces looking their best.

Heat Resistance: While granite itself is extremely resistant to heat, the sealer on your countertops is not. Yes, you can place hot pans directly atop the surface, but prolonged contact may cause damage to the sealant leaving your countertops more susceptible to stains and acid damage.

Maintenance: In order to keep your granite countertops looking like new for years to come, a sealant must be applied upon installation and every year thereafter. Your countertop installers will apply the first treatment and you can purchase a sealant for later use (ask your installer for recommendations on brand and application techniques).

Both granite and marble are excellent choices to elevate the fashion and function of your kitchen or bath. Choices between stones should be based on your tastes and lifestyle.

Did you recently make a choice between granite and marble? Send us photos of your choice and let us know how you like it!