If you’re trying to decide between marble vs granite countertops, it’s important to consider the appearance, durability, maintenance and price of each. Though both options will give your kitchen that modern, clean look that you can show off to friends, both also come with a few pros and cons. We’ll outline each of these factors in this post, along with some recommendations for next steps after you’ve made your decision!
Key Similarities Between Marble and Granite Countertops
Before we dive into what makes each of these options different, let’s outline the positive features that make both granite and marble excellent candidates for your countertop upgrade.
Marble and granite are both natural stone materials that are porous, which means their durability is far better than other options on the market. With this durability comes considerable weight, with both clocking in around 19 pounds per square foot. Because of their weight, these stone slabs have to be cut and installed by a professional. We’ll cover installation cost comparisons later on in this post.
Another key similarity between the two materials is that they’re heat resistant. Since the stones were formed by heat (volcanic activity or heat/pressure), hot pots will leave no blemishes on these surfaces.
Here’s a synopsis:
- Heat Resistant
Marble vs Granite Countertops: Appearance
As far as appearance goes, it’s hard to beat the beauty of either of these options. Where granite might appear more ‘speckled’ because of the blue, green, orange, pink and red grains in the stone, marble has a larger ‘pattern’. There isn’t as much variation in color, and the veins running throughout concentrate the core color even more. Expect to see some gray-blues with darker blue veins or gray-pink slabs with red-ish veins. It helps to see these intricate colors in person, so schedule a time to come in and browse your options with an experienced staff member. They’ll help you find the color and pattern that matches your tastes.
- Composed of silica, feldspar, mica or quartz
- Tightly packed, granular appearance
- Veins, flecks of color or solid
- Range of colors (very light to very dark)
- Variation in color over slab surface
- Made primarily of calcite
- Can be quartz-based or serpentine (green)
- Veins and smoother surface than granite
- Ranging in color and some degree of variation on surface
Marble vs Granite Countertops: Hardness and Durability
We all want a countertop that’s going to be able to stand up against accidents and spills. Luckily, both granite and marble boast a hardness and durability far above other countertop options.
Though both materials are heat resistant, granite has a leg up when it comes to hardness. Where granite can easily resist chips and scratches, you have to be a little more careful with your marble countertop. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to err on the side of caution when applying hot pots and pans directly to either surface.
Durability for granite and marble countertops is dependent on whether the surfaces are properly sealed every one or two years. You can learn more about this process in our blog post on Granite Countertop Care, where we also outline how seals prevent liquids from penetrating and staining porous material.
If you choose to neglect your sealing duties, your likelihood of oil, wine, juice and other acidic substances maring your granite or marble countertop increases. This is especially true for marble, which is particularly susceptible.
Depending on the type of mineral used in your stone, your countertop may be more or less durable. If you choose a marble slab made up of calcite, expect a softer and more porous surface that may absorb stains and lose its finish over time. You can help minimize etching by opting for a honed or matte finish on your marble countertop. If you want something that will stand the test of time, consider quartzites that are labeled as marble (ie: Thassos or Azul Celeste).
In the same way, granite durability can vary depending on the slab. Some igneous granites are nonporous, which means they don’t require sealing and it takes a lot to leave a mark on them. Darker-colored granites are less likely to leave visible marks, whereas dolomites (lighter stones) are more susceptible to marks. You’ll be able to easily tell the durability of certain slabs based on their rating from A to D, with D being the weakest and A the strongest.
Maintenance for Marble vs Granite Countertops
Comparatively, granite requires less maintenance than marble countertops. The most common care necessary for marble countertops is keeping it sealed, wiping up spills in a timely manner, and avoiding acidic materials.
You can reference a full list of Granite countertop care here, but the main maintenance necessities include:
- Sealing after installation (except black stones)
- Wiping up spills as quickly as possible
- Washing the stone with a PH-neutral cleanser
- Reseal once a year
For marble maintenance:
- Seal stones frequently with a sealer compatible with porous stone (2 times/year).
- Wipe up spills quickly to avoid stains, which may be removed with a poultice.
- Don’t place acidic items directly on the countertop.
- Use a PH-neutral cleaner or simple mixture of soap and water. Apply with a sponge and gently blot.
- Use a cutting board on your counter when preparing food to avoid scratches.
- Use pads and coasters under heavy appliances and drinks.
Despite marble countertops being pre-sealed by manufacturers, you’ll need to reseal them periodically. When you seal the stone, you’re essentially closing the pores within to help block chemicals and acids from leaving a lasting mark. As an added bonus, you also benefit from an added shine to the surface.
Marble Countertop Stains and Etching
Something to keep an eye on with marble is stains and etching, which are commonly caused by acidic substances coming into contact with your countertop. ‘True stains’ occur when a substance is absorbed into the pores of the marble. When this stain occurs, you’ll notice a visible dark spot. Etching, on the other hand, is damage to the surface of the stone that causes dull spots that may look like scratches or rings. Etching is caused by acid that eats away at the marble.
True stains can easily be prevented by wiping up your marble countertop when you spill. Etching is a bit more tricky, since it can happen so frequently. This corrosive process is triggered by acidic substances like soda, coffee and vinegar, which create a reaction between raw marble when they come in contact with each other.
One way to prevent etching is to opt for a honed finish that better camouflages etching. Though the finish will have a matte, unpolished look, this works better with a lot of kitchen redesigns. If your countertop already has a stain, you can try removing it with a hydrogen peroxide-soaked paper towel left overnight.
Marble vs Granite Countertop Pricing
Though about the same, granite countertops are slightly cheaper than marble. Expect to pay about $75/square foot with installation for granite and about $100/square foot for marble, though keep in mind that quality and type of stone may cause this number to fluctuate. Not only that, but the price can increase if the job is particularly tricky (ie: seams, corners, oddly-shaped sink).
For rare stones, such as those that are blue, the price can jump as high as $500/square foot. Other variables include fabrication, installation, cutout and edging costs. The bulk of the price difference between these two stones comes in the material itself–marble is more expensive.
Both marble and granite are installed the same way. The steps include:
- Your expert installer creates a template of your counter, which is outlined on the slab you’ve picked for your kitchen countertops.
- Next, a craftsman cuts the slab to perfectly match the outline of your countertops. During this phase, finished edges and cutouts are also added.
- Your installer adds a silicone adhesive to the perimeter of your cabinets, and the slab is placed.
- In some instances, thinner marble slabs require a plywood substrate added to the cabinets for strength.
- Marble can be a bit trickier, because their slabs are smaller than granite slabs (may need more pieces).
Which is Best for You?
When it comes down to it, you have to weigh the pros and cons to decide whether marble or granite countertops are right for you. Whether you’re doing a kitchen remodel for yourself or to increase the resale value of your home, be sure you’re confident in your decision before you commit to a new countertop.
If you need any help making a decision or just want to hop on a consultative call with one of our experts, feel free to give us a call at 913-310-0420.