Granite Vs. Marble: What to Know Before You Choose
Natural stone countertops are the most beautiful and functional part of any kitchen. Some feature dramatic swirls, others have charming speckles or long meandering veins. Natural stone comes in multiple types, each with its own qualities and characteristics. Two of the most common stone types are granite and marble. While these two stone types may seem similar, the differences are numerous. Selecting the right stone for your kitchen is important. Here’s what you need to know before you make your selection.
Granite is one of the hardest and most durable types of stone available, so it’s a natural choice for countertops. It comes in many colors, though the most common colors are white, black and shades of brown. Granite is highly resistant to chips and scratches, even with consistent use in the kitchen. Its long-lasting durability makes it a natural choice for people who do a lot of cooking.
Pros and Cons
- Pro: Granite countertops are so durable that they can continue to look their best in the kitchen, even after many years of use.
- Pro: Granite comes in a range of colors and patterns, to match nearly any kitchen.
- Pro: Granite’s natural speckles can easily hide stray crumbs, so they always look their best.
- Con: Granite that isn’t properly sealed can become stained by cooking oil, red wine and other dark liquids. (see maintenance requirements below)
- Con: Granite can be etched by acidic cleaners and foods.
Marble is a lovely stone with a delicate, other-worldly beauty. Though marble can be found in a variety of colors, most commercially available marble is snowy white and soft gray. Compared to granite, marble is a softer material that’s easily scratched and etched. Marble needs to be protected from surfaces that could scratch it. Use of trivets under pots can help.
Pros and Cons
- Pro: Marble has an artful beauty that makes it a favorite among homeowners seeking a traditional, elegant stone for their kitchen.
- Pro: Properly maintained, marble will last for decades or even a lifetime.
- Pro: Marble is impressive to visitors, especially when paired with a traditional kitchen decor.
- Con: Marble is comparatively soft. It can be scratched and etched when exposed to acidic food products like vinegar and wine.
- Con: Like granite, marble needs to be periodically sealed in order to be stain resistant. (see maintenance requirements below)
Marble and granite, though one is softer and one is harder, have similar maintenance instructions. Here’s what you can expect to do to maintain your granite or marble countertops when they’re installed:
Clean countertops daily. Clean your countertops with a dry cloth to wipe away crumbs, or use a sponge dampened with warm, soapy water for a more thorough cleaning. Dry your countertops with a microfiber cloth. Liquid dishwashing soap is adequate to clean granite and marble. Never use an acidic or abrasive cleaning product to clean marble or granite.
Wipe up spills immediately. Wipe up any spills from your natural stone as soon as they occur, especially if your countertops haven’t been sealed in a while.
Seal marble and granite regularly. Granite and marble are both porous, which means they can absorb spilled liquids and oils. When sealed, both stones will repel liquids and resist staining. Both types of stone must be re-sealed on a regular basis in order to maintain this resistance to liquids.
You can tell when your countertops need to be resealed by observing what happens when a small quantity of water is poured on the stone. If the water beads up on the surface, it’s properly sealed. If the water soaks into the surface of the stone, it’s time to reseal. To test the stone, pour a tablespoon of water onto the surface and leave it there for 15 minutes, then wipe away the water.
If a wet mark is left on the stone after the water is wiped away, this means it’s time to reseal. The water will eventually evaporate, but any oil or darker liquids that are left on the stone will create a stain. Reseal your countertops as soon as possible to avoid this problem. How often your stone needs to be resealed depends in part on how often you use your countertops as well as the quality of the sealer.
Stone sealer is available for sale in home improvement stores and hardware stores. Resealing is easy and doesn’t require a handy man or contractor to do the work; just follow the instructions.
Granite or Marble: Making a Decision
Be realistic. Consider your cooking style, how often you use your countertops and what level of maintenance you’re able to maintain when your countertops are installed. Marble can be a higher-maintenance material, but is suitable for a homeowner who can take care to protect marble from scratches. Granite is a durable stone that is well-suited for homeowners who do a lot of cooking and need a high-performing stone.
View the options in person. The beauty of natural stone is that every slab is different, and every type of stone has unique characteristics. Viewing the options in person can help you make a decision. If your stone fabricator gives you the choice, take home samples to view them in your kitchen. Consider the color and markings of each stone.
Select your countertops from a fabricator that offers many options. Choose a stone fabricator that offers a wide range of options. Having many choices will help you find a stone with a look that you’ll love.