Need countertop opinions...white granites vs. caesarstone

stacylhJanuary 22, 2013

I am seriously in lust with carrara marble, but the maintenance and etching issues don't make it a feasible choice. However, 90% of the kitchens that I've "ideabooked" on houzz feature the marble.

My dream kitchen would be similar to this one:

Traditional Kitchen design by Toronto Interior Designer Jane Lockhart Interior Design

Ironically, this kitchen does not have carrara marble, but has Caesarstone Misty Carrera on the perimeter cabinets.

The current plans include:
*White cabinets (either BM Dove White or Chantilly Lace); undecided whether the island will be dark stained or painted white
*Medium stained 4" white oak flooring
*Light gray walls (with blue undertones/possibly BM Stonington Gray)
*Whitish or grayish blue backsplash (subway tile/marble tile)

I would love opinions regarding a caesarstone countertop vs. white granites, specifically:

*Bianco Romano
*Kashmir White
*White River

I believe the Caesarstone will be quite a bit more expensive than these granite options, but do you think it's possible to pull off the kitchen look I'm wanting with any of these stones?


P.S. I would love to see pics of your white cabs with any of these granites or caesarstone. I visited over 10 LARGE granite yards today and I am royally confused because the shading was so varied from one place to the other on the same granite.

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All white granites will vary from yard to yard or from lot to lot within the same yard. It wouldn't be fair for me to tell you that Bianco Antico granite is right for you because you may never see a calm, whitish, less speckled, no pink slab if you looked for two years. The best thing to do is what you're doing: go to slab yards in your area to see what's available and what it looks like. Heck, even granite names vary from yard to yard and region to region.

I looked for the stones you listed plus many more said to be a good white granite alternative to marble. None were white or even approached white. Most were very busy with too many spots, speckles, and colors that i didn't want in my kitchen. And I looked for over 18 months. Marble was what I wanted, so Carrara I got. I'm in love.

Man-made quartz is your best non-marble, white option. Quartzite is also an option, but the price will be very high and some will have the etching issues you are trying to avoid. In my area, quartzite was VERY expensive with very little inventory.

Side note: BM White Dove and Chantilly Lace are very different whites. WD has grayish, yellowish undertones, whereas CL is a clean and very white white. I found CL much too stark and found WD very sickly in my light. After stepping warmer from CL, I found Simply White. It has a touch more warmth than CL. It's perfectly white, but not stark.

And have you tried Stonington Gray in your light? Many (including me) find it to be a very true gray.

Your kitchen sounds a lot like mine. Gray walls. Medium white oak flooring. I debated stained vs white island too!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 2:13AM
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Breezygirl, have you had any issues with your marble? I've got three young children (son-9, and twin girls (both "artists")-age 5). We are planning to homeschool next year so my island, especially, will be used a ton.

I literally had to shield my eyes from the marbles as I strolled through the numerous granite yards yesterday because once I saw them, my mind just kept telling me that the white granites weren't good enough..haha!

As for the white cab color issue, since I want grayish walls, I felt that the gray paint definitely pulled out the gray undertones of White Dove and I don't want the appearance of gray cabinets. I want WHITE :) Of course, once I find the perfect countertop, the white I've chosen may change somewhat...I'll definitely take a look at Simply White.

I would love to see pics of your kitchen...thanks!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Simply White is a beautiful white. It was my second choice and I know I would have been equally happy with it. It became a toss-up and Cloud White won.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 10:14AM
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I've got a very similar design vision in mind. I have white cabinets, a stained island and a mid toned oak floor. I've found my quartz quotes (Cambria, Caeserstone) to be very comparable to my granite quote. But, I've also found quartz quotes to vary by 80% for the same material.

I was going to choose Super White and then I determined the supply at my local supplier etched. I've decided I would not be happy with the patina. There is a new generation of sealers available to prevent etching (so they say) but no local fabricator has invested in the UV-light curing equipment needed.

I've scoured the slab yards in the area. I found some White Macaubus and some Antartide quartzite. The former is in limited supply and is more expensive and the latter looks like it will etch.

We have seven slabyards in the area and I've been to every one multiple times over the last several months, awaiting something new. I may visit the next set of yards 80 to 100 miles away. A lot of whites are splotchy or too patterned. The most pure white I've found is Namibia White, but I can only find it in pre-fab (yuck).

So, I'm now considering the grays and gray/greens. Cambria Fieldstone is my backup (it is medium gray). I personally don't like any of the marble-like quartz. My best granite choice right now is Ilha Bela, a white-gray granite with swirls that have a dark green tint.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 1:45PM
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Oh, gooster!! What's a person to do?!?! Such a hard decision. I'm having a hard time reconciling my dream kitchen vision with reality :(

Here are the granites I found yesterday that I will likely have to choose from:

Dealer called it "Casablanca":

DH and I are drawn to this one but I'm concerned about the black streaks and the airyness (sp?) I'm wanting in my kitchen.

Kashmir White - loved how this slab looked and the colors. However, dealer/fabricator had sold this particular slab and only had 2 others in the same lot and I need 3...dang!

Bianco Romano - this one was pretty but I'm thinking there's too much cream (vs. gray) in these slabs

Super White - lovely stone but mixed reviews about staining and etching has me wary, especially since it's a Level D price. I'm thinking it would look really nice honed.

Another Kashmir White at a different dealer...very pretty (the one upward mark is only dirt, they tell me). It is definitely a top contender:

These are all beautiful stones and I will have to choose one; but I dream of carrara :( However, I don't want to be "that mom" to my kids.

Thoughts, anyone?

This post was edited by stacylh on Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 17:07

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 2:48PM
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Granite and some quartz we looked at priced out similarly in our area. There is a new CS flavor coming out in March called London Grey that looks pretty closeto carerra. Link below

Here is a link that might be useful: London Grey 5000

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:23PM
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Oh stacylh how I feel your pain!. How disappointed I felt when my Super White failed the etch test and scratched a bit too easily for my taste. It is harder and less etch prone than Carrara... the slab yard gave me a sample of both to run tests on...

We have both Kashmir and Bianco Romano in the area of NorCal that I'm in. They are both too creamy for my vision. Casablanca is very nice, however. However, like me, you probably want more veins and less speckles.

Thanks zeitgast for the tips on the new product introductions!. I forgot that the manufacturers probably have additional new colors coming out.

Linked below is a better pic(s) of the London Grey, which shows more distinct veining. It does have some creams in it as well:

ETA: There is a whole string that I didn't read earlier on these new products. Sadly, I think it will be too late for me unless my cabinets are way delayed.

Here is a link that might be useful: CS London Grey

This post was edited by gooster on Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 16:07

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Have I had any issues with my Carrara? Well, it etches as expected, but they don't bother me. I splattered marinara from a burner last week so added many tiny dots of etching across the marble. I don't mind. I do have a lot of sunlight from my three windows. With all the sun, it's really difficult to spot the etches. The etching potential does not stop me from cooking from scratch daily with lots of acidic ingredients. I do have a few little white dings marks in the surface, but they aren't holes necessarily. Just little white marks. My littles are 7 and 3 years old. I let them cook with me without worry.

Here's part of my kitchen before the counter stools and new warming drawer front.

You can click on that pic to link to other photos in my photobucket or follow the link below to a thread here with more photos. can't see my gray family room walls in this shot. Sorry.

Here is a link that might be useful: My unfinished kitchen

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:05PM
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depending on your schedule you might want to wait. Silestone's parent company Cosentino will be releasing a new product this fall that is ceramic based.

According to my source their specific intent is to provide the exceptional beauty of marble without the maintenance and vunerability issues.

The primary deficiency of the various quartz clones of marble is their substantially inferior reflectivity. It is simply impossible to achieve the depth of shine of marble in a quartz since roughly 30% of the quartz surface is resin which doesn't polish.

The ceramic based product is expected to correct this deficiency.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:23PM
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oldryder, that product sounds wonderful, but I an anticipating cabinet install in late Feb-early March.

breezygirl, your kitchen is beautiful!! May I ask where you got your cabinet hardware and what stain color your floors are? Both are lovely.

gooster, it's almost sickening to me to finally be able to get my dream kitchen and then realize it really is only a dream. Nothing can truly mimic the timeless beauty of marble, but I wouldn't be able to afford to replace mine for a VERY long time and my family is very messy during mealtime and would have it stained and etched after the first day! I don't think my heart can handle that! And, I'm already anal enough about other household things that I don't want to add one more thing to our lives to make me more of "that mom".

I'm leaning toward the kashmir white at this moment. I've had one fabricator quote it at $45/sq. ft. installed which seems like a decent price.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:46AM
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$45/sq. ft. for kashmir white would be an excellent price in my area assuming the fabrication and install quality is at least decent.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 10:37AM
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Marble will not stain if it is properly sealed. After 14 months I have no stand and I've spilled all kinds of things on it. Coffee, tomato sauce, red food coloring, salad dressing, turmeric, chili powder, etc., etc. it should not stain.

Have you seen marble etches IRL? They weren't aren't a monstrous pock shouting at you from across the room. I have two young kids, as I mentioned, and while I'm a nazi mom about maaaaaaaany things, I am not about the marble.

If you are the type of person that will not wear linen because it wrinkles and wants everything to look brand new all the time, then you're right. Marble is not for you.

I'm not trying to talk you into anything, but I think in your heart nothing else will do except marble. I was this way also. I couldn't commit to granites I liked because they were not marble. And man-made products look too fake to me.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 11:27AM
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Ahh, breezygirl, you are quite tempting :)

I may see if I can get a small chunk of marble that is sealed and run my own tests.

I guess the thing that really holds me back is the fact that I found one of my daughters with an arsenal of those "Big Dot" markers that someone gave her as a gift a while back going to town dotting a paper towel, that, of course, seeped through to the laminate countertop I have now. A good dose of 409 took it right up, but how would marble fare?

I'm not really as worried how marble would fare in my kitchen on the perimeter, but I'm definitely worried about on the large island that is planned. I notice that you have a wood countertop on your island.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:05PM
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If you haven't even tested a chunk of marble, do that before ruling it out!! And if you're still concerned about stains, make sure your sample is sealed. Do a forum search for marble staining, and you'll see that anyone owning marble will tell you it does not stain when properly sealed. My marble unsealed sample didn't stain either, but some folks have had staining on unsealed samples. You owe it to yourself to see what a real marble etch looks like.

Yes, I used a different material on the island. I did so for two reasons. First, my cabinets run around the peninsula into the dining room giving me a ton of surface to be covered. The perimeter alone was two slabs. I thought having all that surface in one type of material would be too much, especially since I didn't want to do the trendy white perimeter/stained island thing so all my cabs were to be white. Secondly, I, too, was afraid of all my messing acidic prepping on marble so wanted something not marble. I had trouble finding a stone that looked good with the marble, which, btw, wasn't as expensive as most of the granites I liked. Granites I saw would have been too busy to pair with my Carrara. Man-made quartzes look fake to me and were very expensive. The limited soapstone available around here was much too green and soft and was very expensive. Black walnut called to me just as the marble did. I got what I wanted and because I'm so happy with my Carrara, the etching does not bother me.

Just experiment with a sample!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:40PM
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You asked about my floor and my pulls. I have that info on the link to my kitchen that I posted earlier, along with many more pics.

My pulls are the Aubrey from Restoration Hardware. I used the 4", 6", and 8" sizes. The crystal knobs are from Rejuvenation.

The floor is 3" white oak, site finished with a custom mix of 75% Jacobean and 25% Coffee Black, which is the equivalent of Dark Walnut in more commonly used stain brands. They are finished with Bona. I wanted slightly darker than how they turned out, but I love them now.

One more tempting marble pic. :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:47PM
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On the granites - if you are serious about one or more of these, you really need to bring a sample home and see how it looks in your space. The lighting in your kitchen can make a stone look very different than it does in the stone yard. Your photo of Kashmir While, for instance, looks a lot like my Kashmir Gold, but it's probably just your photo.

There's a Cambria quartz that is much like marble for color. If you can get some quartz samples, that might help you make up your mind on if you'd like that. And it doesn't hurt to get prices to see if quartz would really be a lot more expensive.

On paint colors: again, try them in your space. After many paint samples on our bedroom walls, we decided on the Stonington Gray. It's a great gray, but I do find that any green in the room (bed covers) brings out a green undertone. You'll probably find the same with your wall vs. your white cabinet choice. You might want to do sample boards of both potential cabinet colors and potential wall colors propped up in the kitchen to see what they look like both in the space and with each other.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Thanks, everyone!

suzannesl,your granite is lovely and definitely very similar to the Kashmir White I saw.

I've got sample boards in progress to carry with me to my next visit to the granite yards. Hopefully, I can get this all resolved soon :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 1:49PM
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I am waiting for the stone place to show up at my house right now. I love my super white, but it etches really easy. Pomegranate season has really taken its toll. The juice from fresh pomegranates will etch within minutes, and my kids LOVE them.

I'm still not at the point that I regret my countertops. They're beautiful and truly make me happy. BUT I wish I would have done an alternate surface for the island. Or maybe I should have had it honed? I'm not really sure, but I do find it hard to let my kids be kids at the island. I had pictured using the island surface for small crafts, homework, and lots of snacks and meals, but I'm not there yet. Maybe once the countertops are "broken in" and patina'd more I will be okay.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 2:35PM
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You definitely need to run your own tests. Staining is not my concern, because sealing is easy and staining has not been severe (and a poultice will work). But the true marble samples I took home etched instantly, even when sealed. The Super White lasted longer. Honed definitely won't show the initial mark, but a severe etch may leave pitting (and the material may still scratch). Try also sanding or buffing the spot with a scotch-brite and see if you are happy with the result.

I'm still debating and am being tempted, but each person's situation is different. Just don't try googling "marble countertop etching" and see the horrors of heavy multi-year use.

Another option, if you don't have a separate work area, is to do "drop in" butcher block, wood or other material..

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Yes, its a fact. Marble etches. Period. Even when sealed. There are some heavy duty new sealers on the market which supposedly prevent etching. I've never seen one that leaves the marble looking like marble. If a sealer is strong and thick enough to prevent etching, it's going to leave undesirable coating on the stone that would be worse, IMHO, than etching.

You can find many horrid etch marks if you google, but I really doubt that's from normal home use. I've not seen anyone here with horrible pitting. I suppose you could squeeze 20 pounds of lemons for lemonade, spill it all over the counter, not wipe it up, leave for your 10 day Hawaiian holiday, and come back to a pitted marble surface. Who does that though?

There are plenty of threads and posts here from long-time marble users who don't have anything near the nightmare Gooster described seeing. Many times etching isn't even visible depending on the natural light in the room. Mine are there. If I look for them by bending down and cocking my head sideways, I can usually see them. Most of the time I'm standing up in the kitchen. :)

Sorry if I seem cranky. I just get tired of reading/hearing about how marble is the kitchen evil to be avoided at all costs. Many love it. Some can't deal. Test samples for yourself IRL and not rely on hearsay to make such an important decision.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 3:21PM
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I just had Silestone's new color "Lagoon" installed in my bathroom remodel yesterday (1/23/13) and it's gorgeous! I've been a KD since 1988 and this color is by far the best Carrara Marble look-a-like I've ever seen.

Here is a photo. But photos do NOT do justice to this beautiful material. I have a Caesarstone Misty Carrara island top in my showroom. The LAGOON is MUCH NICER!!!!!

I will post more pics once the bathroom is 100% done.

I'm starting my kitchen remodel in March and I plan to use Lagoon for my kitchen tops as well!!!!


    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Wow, konky, that looks great!! I wish it was more grayish/blue to fit into my overall design plan.

Thanks, breezygirl, for all your wisdom regarding marble. I'm definitely going to investigate on my own and not rely solely on hearsay.

That being said, the granite yard that had the Kashmir White that I really liked just advised me that they have enough of the same lot to do my kitchen and gave me a fabulous price on it ($4717 for approx. 100 sq. ft. of it...yay!!) They also do marble as well so I plan to visit them again tomorrow and get samples of both to test for staining, etc.

I am definitely going to check out the silestone for my bathrooms (which will be an entirely different beast to tackle!!)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Thanks Stacy. It does have some grey. No blue. Definitely check it out for your baths though.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Just an update from my post yesterday. The stone people came out and used a mixture that wiped away my etches. It was fantastic. I'm sure there will be more next week, though. I'm relieved to learn that it is such a simple process to remove the etches. They really don't bother me that much (kind of like how Breezy feels), but it is nice to know that if someone were to spill something all over the island and leave a giant etch that it can be removed without too much hassle.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 2:20PM
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I went back to some dealers today and was able to get some samples of granite and marble. However, they are not sealed, so I need to get some sealer on them before testing.

That being said, I went back and looked at all three slabs of Kashmir White on hold for me and I really feel that it will work well in my kitchen. They all have quite a bit more gray than cream, which I prefer. I may not be able to go as light and airy as I'd like but I still think it will beautiful since I will be having tons of white cabinetry.

I am still undecided about whether to stain or paint the island but I think the deep garnet flecks in the Kashmir would go nicely with a rich dark cherry. The room has quite a bit of natural light.

The bianco carrara I saw today was absolutely gorgeous but my husband is still deadset against maybe once the kids are grown I could switch it out :)

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful insight!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:45PM
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How nice to be making decisions! A reason to celebrate, in my book!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:38PM
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This is such a great thread, I am struggling with the exact same dilema, Stacylh. Thanks to everyone for their input.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:16AM
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I have Carrera in my upstairs bath. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so soft looking. It makes me sigh when I look at it as it just surprises me how beautiful it is. However, I must say that I do worry about it. I am not one of the easy going types who could live with etching. The reason is because it is just so beautiful it would be like the young Brad Pitt with acne. It would be a shame, a tragedy!!! I know I could never live with that in the kitchen. As much as I drool over it I would have a cow if it didn't always look as it did on day one. Call me shallow, superficial, I don't care! It's too expensive to think of it not holding up to the look it had on the first day.

I have been looking at some of the white granites and find they vary so much. I love some of the Bianco Romano slabs but others are just plain and unexciting and so nothing for me. If you could find the right slabs it would be a contender. I don't mind the yellow in them, it's the ones that don't have any veins or character and are just speckles that I don't like.

I am having to replace my kitchen granite since we had a sink failure and also the granite I have is all pitted and chunks of quartz or mica whatever are falling out. The guy who sold it to me is out of business and the fabricator who agrees it has "issues" and probably was not resined and has too many cracks and pits has offered to give me a great deal on replacement which turns out not to be so great, it's still in the $4K range, but it would be closer to 6K if full price. I'm sick about it. But that is why I am still in the market for granite. For some reason I have had such bad luck with everything we have done in our reno. I am not happy with any of it. I should have used a KD and not tried to do this on my own. But back to slabs, it's hard to not love the quartzite and marble but I just know I couldn't live with it and not obsess. I admire those of you who can!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:23AM
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I have silver cloud, though I believe it is hard to find! Mine is very white with grey and black! Ill try and put pictures up!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:05PM
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I wanted Marble too but even the folks at the stone yard told me with three kids, I'd be very sorry unless I want the heavily patina look. They showed me a slab that was already heavily patinad (sp?) and I was totally turned off by it after seeing that.

I too have shaker Dove White cabinets and walls will be BM Solitude, a grayish blue. Here is what I went with, it's called White Ice in New England. I just posted about it because i"m torn between this and a white subway tile with it.

I looked at River White but it had way too much purple/red dots and undertones to it. Pictures online of what I thought I'd look were way different in person. Delacatus is also pretty but the contrast of the dark veins on white background was too overpowering for me.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Love the ice white...I am narrowing in on this as my color choice as well and will probably combine it with a white or faux marble caesarstone type of perimeter. And will add a marble backsplash. I think it is a very cheery choice of granite and I too like the creamy aspect of it more than some of the more grey granites I've seen such as white springs, etc.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 1:11PM
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