Choosing Marble Countertops for Your Kitchen

Selecting a countertop is a milestone decision during your kitchen renovation. Countertops are both the finishing touch for the space and a major component of the renovation budget. In fact, few finish selections for the home create as much discussion as kitchen countertops. There is a range of materials to consider, from natural stone like marble, quartzite, and granite, to man-made materials like quartz and porcelain, and people have strong opinions on what surface materials they like—or don’t. Are you Team Natural Stone, or are you Team Man Made Materials? We asked Carlotta Cubi, executive vice president of Cumar, Inc., to share why she is enthusiastic about natural stone countertops, especially marble.

Why choose marble for your kitchen countertop?

Marble Countertops Are a Classic Choice

Classic marble countertops endure the test of time. “Marble is a choice that will never look dated or cheapened by over-use,” says Cubi. “Twenty years ago, granite like Ubatuba and Tropical Brown were all the rage, as granite’s accessibility and popularity grew, and it started showing up in every condo and spec house, the stones lost their appeal. Marble is a classic choice that will always look authentic and never dated.” Another plus? Marble countertops work in all styles of kitchens, from a cozy traditional kitchen to one that is sleek and contemporary.

Natural beauty can never be replicated. Popular quartz and porcelain manufacturers have done a great job mimicking the veining of some marbles, but they just don’t compare to the real thing. The natural crystallization of marble, or any natural stone, can’t be replicated. The subtle natural variations found in marble brings an organic feel to your kitchen that few other materials can achieve” says Cubi.  When you look at a natural countertop like marble versus manmade materials, you see the difference in the way it reflects and absorbs light bringing an organic feel to your kitchen,” says Cubi.  “I like to compare a marble countertop to a leather handbag. Quality genuine leather has a look and feel that manmade leather will never achieve, and the more you use the handbag the more it breaks in. Like a good leather handbag, a marble countertop will break in and become even more unique.”

Marble isn’t for everyone. Here’s why.

Marble Countertops Require a High-Level Craftsmanship

One thing to consider when choosing marble for your kitchen is that real stone does require a high level of craftsmanship. According to Cubi, “Geologically, marble has more natural fissures, so if you don’t know how to work with these natural variances, you could have problems down the line. Also, because of the beautiful and natural variations, you need to be more conscious of layouts and veining. There really is an art to it, and you have to know how to work with the stone, not against it.” Well-trained professional marble fabricators can look at the slab and know how to use that specific piece of stone in the best possible way. In contrast, quartz patterning is the same on every piece making it more predictable and easier to work with.

According to Cubi, larger kitchens with both marble countertops and backsplashes require the highest level of expertise. You have to decide how the marble is going to be used in the space and the direction of the veining becomes an integral part of the kitchen design. Add in a slab backsplash, and things really get interesting because the pattern of that stone needs to work with the adjoining countertops as well.

Marble Countertops Do Require Maintenance

Anything worth investing in often has some type of maintenance attached to it. Fortunately, maintaining your marble kitchen countertop doesn’t require much. Cubi says that “in the end, it is up to the homeowner to decide how much effort they want to put into maintaining the original look of the stone. Some people like the way marble wears with the occasional etching or staining—this patina is part of the appeal of the stone. Others commit to a regular maintenance program that allows the stone to continue to look brand new. “Personally, I don’t do anything to maintain the marble countertops in my own kitchen since I love how the stone subtly changes over time. And to be honest, any etching or wear just isn’t obvious, so it doesn’t really bother me”

If you want to preserve the original look of the stone, Cumar, Inc. typically treats the stone with a high-quality sealer at the time of installation. After that, regular sealing a few times a year will go a long way in maintaining the original look of the marble. You can also schedule an appointment with the Cumar restoration team every few years to keep the countertop looking flawless.

The team will treat the countertop for staining and etching with a variety of solvents and poultices, while fillers specifically matched to your stone will fill nicks and cracks so that they disappear. The entire countertop is buffed and polished to have it looking like new. A sealer completes the work to prolong the just-new look.

Cumar, Inc, Everett, Mass., cumar.com

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