beekeeperswifeJanuary 12, 2012

You've been in your kitchen for a little while is life with marble?

It's on my short list, but then I get so scared. How's it holding up, or better yet--how did you hold up having it during the holidays--company, kids, etc.



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Yeah, I'm not breezy either but we've had our huge marble countertop for over three years of heavy use. I still love it. It is one of the best things about the renovation we did. To me, the heart of it is the warmth--marble, especially honed, is warm to the eye and the touch in a way that our polished granite counters in the basement are not. It's bright, sunny, and opens the room up. It's also subtle and "classy"--I've used this line before, but to me it's the Audrey Hepburn of counters.

It's also a living material to me in a way again that granite or manmade solid surface can never be. That's because how you interact with the counter determines how it looks. Our counters have been sealed twice, once by installers and again by me about a year later. Which means I'm a year overdue to reseal. Still, we've never had any significant staining, despite red wine, rust, and anything else we could throw at it.

What makes the counters your own over time is the etching. When we first installed the counters I was obsessed with preventing it. Warning signs, forbidden activities (no squeezing lemons over the counter), cutting boards and kitchen towels spread all over. And, a few weeks later, etching. By now, the entire surface is etched. As always, you can only see it if you bend down at just the right angle. But I know it's there and I'm happy to point it out when asked. But each of those etches is a remembrance of sometime when one of us was cooking on the counter. Over time they will cover the entire surface and I have no plans to rehone. I like it.

I love the marble. Can't imagine doing any other surface. But be prepared to be etched and learn to love it.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:29AM
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And sorry don't mean to hijack, but Breezy what hardware did you choose? I saw a post of your gorgeous kitchen, but it was pre-hardware. If I missed a big reveal, can you let me know when you answer Bee's question?


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:39AM
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clinresga, what type of marble did you get and what did you seal it with initially?

breezy, what did you seal yours with?


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:42AM
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beekeeperswife, I, too, would love to hear from breezy, but in the mean-time, please allow me to share my experience. I have never posted on this forum, but have read daily for over a year or more. 6 months ago we finished our white kitchen with honed carrera marble countertops (all surfaces). When I saw this post, I just could not resist chiming in and here's kitchen has a HUGE window with tons of natural light and this is the one element that I wish I had taken into consideration when choosing marble (hind-sight is 20/20, right?). Do I see all of the etches on the left or right side of the kitchen that is mainly lit by artificial light? No. Only if I get at an angle and look for them. Do I see all the etches where all the natural light is reflecting off the marble at the center of the kitchen and island? Not only yes, but OMG, OMG, OMG...(o.k. take a deep breath)! I tried the green scrubbie that I've heard about on the forum with no luck. Looked worse than before. However, a few months later I decided to use a more coarse scrubbie and voila, etches (nearly)gone! It's a lot of work re-honing with a scrubbie and a lot more sealing, but in my situation (with the lighting) it's worth it. I have not re-honed where the lighting doesn't magnify the etches. So, in a nut-shell, strongly consider your lighting. If your kitchen has very minimal natural light, you'll probably love marble. It seems that everyone has their own opinions on this subject, but this is my own personal experience so far. Would I do marble again....the jury's still out!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 12:34PM
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@babs: Calcatta. I used 511 Porous Plus sealer.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Bee, I have seven year old marble that is very etched and I still love it but I do believe if a person has to ask how someone's marble is holding up they are probally not a marble person. It does not stain, I have never resealed and have no stains, but there is no way to prevent etchings, scratches and dings. After a few weeks or even less it will not look as it did when new. If you do not mind patina on wood furniture or scratches on wood floors or finger prints on stainless appliances you may be ok with marble but if you like new shiny things better than worn comfortable things than it is not the material for you. I always think it is a good idea to see a real life used kitchen before deciding if you really like marble. Good luck on deciding.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 2:34PM
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Bee, my white honed Vermont Danby is about 6 mos. old. No stains but etching all over. We don't baby it but are careful and use cutting boards. Also, we are empty nesters and don't cook much but hang out in the kitchen.

My etches are not in rings from glasses but like little and big dots. I suspect that the etches are from the spray cleaning bottles of the bi-weekly house cleaners. I just wipe them with a wet sponge, or rarely with Dawn. But, after this time, I don't mind, either because I don't have the energy to fret, it's importance has paled, or, more likely, I think that all the dots are blending.

Also, I have the weird idea that, at some future date, I could wipe some sealer on it and all will be fine.

It is not noticeable to any guest as everyone thinks it's beautiful and just comes that way. because it is white it doesn't look like anything is wrong, at all. It is very natural and soft. Perhaps it's a falling-in-love process or loving your baby.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 3:30PM
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I would love it too but scared as Bee is. Can someone post a picture of what "etching" looks like? I am not a very clean cook and sometimes I am lazy after cooking a big meal and the dishes sit until the next day. I am sure marble is not for me. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 4:03PM
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I guess I'm more interested in how the human is holding up. I think if my shiny granite had spots on it where the shine was gone, that would drive me crazy. But if I start out with a honed marble slab, and it gets some etching on it, hopefully it's just one of those things that is there but not eye catching.

I am not one who likes rings on my wood furniture. If I had fingerprints on stainless that I couldn't clean off, yes, that would drive me nuts. I don't mind that my ss sink has sratches/patina on the bottom. I purposely didn't use a grate there. However I didn't like it when my previous gorgeous black Kohler kitchen sink got scratched. That did not add any beauty.

And what about that school of thought about taking lemons and rubbing them all over to just get it over with? Someone here did want to try it. Thought someone read Meg Ryan did it in a magazine article.

I have some marble samples around here, probably not sealed. And also they are not honed. Maybe I'll get the lemons out and play around a little.

And I see slabs with scratches in it at the showroom. I look at those and think it must have been due to a customer putting down a granite sample on it. I can't imagine that the way I live now I would scratch a counter. We don't cut on counters, And in general don't drag things across the counters.

I could go with Bianco Antico again. I do love mine. But I'm just not seeing any slabs lately that I love. Maybe I'll head over to my local granite yard again tomorrow and take a look at some other things besides marble. Just in case.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Well, there you go. I just took my sample of polished marble, put blue tape down the middle. Cut a lemon in half and rubbed it all over it. Let it sit for a very short time. Wiped it off. Put one drop on other side to see what that looked like. Well, it evenly dulled it down on the one side. And on the other side I see the spot that was left.

Next I took lemon juice and didn't cover the newly etched spot completely, I wanted to see what would happen if I only put a small puddle of juice on it. Then I blotted it up so as not to rub it into the previously etched areas. And there is no difference.

So does this mean, once etched etched for good? I don't mind the etched. It looks like it's honed. lol

I'm going back to try another acid. Maybe if I drop vinegar on the etched side it will etch it differently.

I've called the granite fabricator near me. I told her I wanted to come in and see some things tomorrow. Just in case.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 5:15PM
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Marble is so soft it sctatches if you drag a canister or the coffee maker closer to you it also dings if keys are tossed down on it. If an object does not ding it when it falls it will leave a flush white mark at the point of contact. It is not possible to evenly etch an entire counter so the lemon idea does not work, in reality you end up with overall uneven patina. Etches are visible even on honed finishes. It is like worn velvet not new velvet. It you do not like etched wood you would probally notice and dislike etching on marble.
I think Greendesign said it once, that people who live with and USE their antiques are the people who will be happy with the reality rather than the ideal of marble.

Bee, I do not mean to offend you with what I am about to say but I have watched your designs thru the past few years with respect and envy and I was suprised to hear you were thinking of marble. Your aestetic is so "shiny" and very polished and perfect, I am not sure if you really would like real life marble. Ofcourse I do not know you and might be totally off base and maybe you will love marble but I think you should play with a honed sample first if you are unable to see it in a real kitchen, not just the show room.

For the record, I love my marble and will reuse it in a my next kitchen but I also eat every meal on an antique etched and scratched, but clean, table and I prefer old velvet to new in my home.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 5:19PM
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The fact that you're calculating how etched twice-etched will be demonstrates that marble is wrong for your kitchen.

You want it to behave in a just-so way. It won't. You could end up with counters covered with can-bottom rings or the vivid imprint of your great-aunt's dentures.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 5:35PM
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But a girl can dream......

roarah, no offense taken. You are right. I am a shiny girl. But I also do love worn marble. Maybe I can't handle it in a kitchen situation.

I think once I heard that the one fabricator my builder uses classifies it as Level 1 ($45/sq foot) I thought, well, why not? I've always dreamed about it.

But really, if it drives me nuts, that would be bad. Right? We essentially are empty nesters, but when they all do come home it's a free for all around here and nothing is safe. I'm not sure at what age they become gentler humans.

I think I've made up my mind.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 5:43PM
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If not marble BKW what about Super White granite? I swoon ever time I see it. Most slabs I've seen have more gray than marble does but I know you like gray. just a thought from one Bianco Antico lover to another.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 6:50PM
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I love the Super White. But I have what I would call "textural issues" with the slabs that look like they have pods. I enjoy the stone when it is more swirly and less "eggy".

But, yes, it's been a contender. Had a sample, gave it back. It was bothering me.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Hi Bee. Sorry it took me so long to respond. Between the kids, house reno stuff (smaller now), and trying to get some pics of my kitchen taken, I wasn't able to get here.

How's my marble holding up? Pretty well. I have quite a few little white chips like Roarah describes that don't break the surface and a few that do. I also have scratches and some etching. DH opened a bottle of some sort of hard berry lemonade our first night and dribbled it on the counter. Small etch. I've found other etches from who knows what here and there. They are difficult to see and don't bother me. So far no major spills to leave giant etches. Zero staining.

The worst damage was the day when moved in when my well-meaning DDad set and slid our cooler full of food from the fridge at the temporary house on the peninsula near the fridge so it could be unloaded. I walked in the house for the first time that day and saw it. That cooler gets drug all over driveways, gravel, parks, beaches, etc. I immediately removed it to find a rats nest of major, deep scratches!!!! My fabricator had to come back the next week to fix some issues so I had them hone down hue scratches. They're gone, but that large area is now more honed, and therefore less shiny, than the rest of the peninsula. I sealed with 511 Porous Plus as others mentioned. Be sure to get yours from a fabricator and not HD. The two products aren't the same.

How am I holding up? Surprisingly well. Like you, I stressed over the choice. I fell in love with my Carrara immediately after looking at stones for over a year. I had planned to stretch the budget to get BA, but the slabs I was seeing weren't what I wanted. I don't know anyone with granite, never mind marble to see it IRL. I even started a thread here asking if someone in the Seattle area could show me their marble tops so I could see what etches actually looked like. Nothing.

I started a thread on purposely etching your marble with lemon as we'd heard Meg Ryan did. Someone here has actually done that, btw, and it was beautiful. (I had the same experience as you with rubbing lemon test.) I'll find the thread. Basically, when you rub the lemon all over, you're removing, or honing, a thin layer of the surface. It looks even, like the etches are gone. The stone, however, can certainly etch that beyond that point as there is still surface left to react with acid. I'm convinced that any future etches won't show as much as they did before the lemon rubbing, but YMMV.

I don't run around like a lunatic watching wine glasses with guests around. In fact, it's been DH warning others about the marble! I sometimes casually mentioned to my little munchkins to be careful, but don't want to nag them either. My oldest, DS, is very careful by nature anyway.

I think of marble just like Clinresga. It's so elegant. Love the Audrey Hepburn reference. She was an idol growing up. Now that I'm living with Carrara, I can't imagine having anything else in my space. It's just "me."

All that being said, I don't do prep work on the marble. I use my walnut island for that. I chose not to use marble on the island for two reasons. One, concerns about etching from all the good stuff with which I like to cook. Two, I wanted something less cold where kids and guests would be sitting at the counter.

I'll also hunt down some of the threads where Marcolo, Johnliu, and Hollysprings posted pics of severe etching. Based on watching my stone, these pics, while useful, are on the extreme end of the spectrum.

Chicagoans--I followed up with my old hardware threads with my choice, the RH Aubrey. I also just posted some new pics of the progress. We're far, far from done, but you can see the hardware. Thanks for asking.

Babs--I sealed with 511 Porous Plus. See my mention of it above for details.

I hope the novel I just wrote helped. ;) Good luck with your decision!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 2:34AM
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Here's my thread about purposely etching marble. It was farmhousebound who treated her stone like this.

Here is a link that might be useful: That thread

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 3:51AM
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Here's a thread showing some etches, both severe and mild.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 4:04AM
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We baby our marble less than others, it seems. To date, we have not seen any of the fragility that roarah noted. We drag our toaster and coffee maker in and out of their hutches daily and have not had any scratching. And all of us constantly dump keys and everything else on the counter without any chipping to date. Don't doubt that it can happen, but we don't treat it any differently than we did the solid surface we used to have.

And despite etching etc, unlike breezy, we do all of our prep on the marble. And we cook a lot, and with lots of marble-unfriendly foods like citrus, wine, spices etc. It's etched, and I'm proud of it. Nothing drives me crazier than going on one of those "tours of homes," seeing some six figure kitchen which clearly has never been used (typically the giveaway is the alphabetizing of the food in the pantry, and the immaculate oven). Ours is a working kitchen, and like breezy, this counter is "ours."

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Hey Bee, just wanted to add that while I have my BA tagged, I had a moment of weakness and REALLY wanted to switch over to the quartzites. If it wouldn't have meant me re-painting all my cabs that I just finished, I would have done it in a heartbeat.

I am like you, I like Superwhite, but can't get past the egg shaped circles in some slabs. But keep looking....I found a few slabs that were super awesome :) But they had a different name, which seems to be escaping me at the moment. I think Alpine White maybe...yep thats is. Look at They said it was granite, but it was a quartzite. Some were more white and "veiny" (which I prefer) and others were much more gray and "rocky" looking for a lack of a better word. But they moved in and out very quickly!

I would imagine your choices are very similar to ours being just a state away.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:04PM
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bee, I would recommend a visit to Alpha Stone Gallery. We looked everywhere throughout New Jersey, Philly, Baltimore to find granite and marble slabs we liked and they had things we did not find anywhere else. We got the blue bahia at European in New Jersey but all of the other slabs in our house came from Alpha. They have really unique marble (if you decide to go w/ marble) and they also have some very pretty granite slab options in the white family (Lanka white, Madre Perla, etc.).

See online gallery here.
They aren't fabricators, they are a distributor/wholesaler so I am sure they can work w/ whatever granite guy your builder sends you to.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Breezy, I just realized I didn't say thank you. That was a wealth of information. Thanks for taking the time to give so much feedback.

And thanks to everybody for all of the advice. I think that even though I really love the look of marble, and I admire it on everyone else's counters, I might have a difficult time holding my tongue when anyone besides myself and my dh are in the kitchen! And do I want to be that kind of mom?

Beagles & Missy, I will check out those two sites. I asked my local fabricator to get me a price on the White Princess.

Gotta run, there are 4 more showings of the house today. And 3 more tomorrow, 2 yesterday.....WILL SOMEONE JUST BUY THE DARN THING?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 8:10AM
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I put Vermont Mountain White in my new kitchen in the Fall. I LOVE the way it looks and that I didn't import it from another country! I called my fabricator and attempted to get them to look at the Vermont Quarry website about pre-treating the stone. I am QUITE sure they didn't. They did, however, treat it with a 511 Porous Plus.

I have had no issues with staining. I have had etching, but followed the instructions on the Vermont Quarry website and the etching went away.

On the other hand, I have found the stone to be very soft! Around my sink there are nicks and chips. I dropped a glass on the counter and it took a divot out of my marble. That, so far, has been my only complaint. If I were to do it again, I might not have put in on my island, but just on my perimeter.

It is beautiful though!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Beekeeper's wife and all--I've been trying to decide whether or not to put polished "Bianca Carrara" marble in my kitchen off and on for about a year now. I didn't like the look and feel of honed marble (reminded me of the fingernail on a chalkboard), but loved the look of the polished marble. I got a sample of polished marble, put all the acidic things on it that I usually use in my kitchen, lemon juice, vinegar, raspberry jam, ketchup, etc., so I could see what etching looked like. They all etched it--basically little spots with no shine. I found a simple product "Bar Keepers Friend" (an amazing cleaning powder, takes out rust, etc., in a gold can like Comet & Ajax--you can get it at Home Depot, Walmart, etc.) took the etching out when using the terry side of a terry and nylon mesh sponge, ("O Cedar - Mesh & Terry Non-Stick Pad"). You can also buy marble polish online, which will take etch marks out too. When I was trying to decide on countertops a year ago, I really wanted to do polished "Bianca Carrara" marble, as I have the same marble on my fireplace surround in the adjoining family room and that look would flow well into my kitchen--cherry mantle and cherry cabinets. I called several fabricators who tried to convince me to do granite, but I never found anything that had the look I wanted--too busy, too dark, etc. I have cherry cabinets and Brazilian cherry floors in my kitchen that have gotten a little darker since orig. install as cherry does. I had concerns about the radon most stones and countertops with stone in them released, since my DH had thyroid cancer some years back. All advised to do "honed" if I went with marble, but I didn't like the idea of having to seal it every few months. I finally talked to one fabricator who told me he had another customer who had put in the polished "Bianca Carrara" marble in her kitchen, and she said I could come look at it. It was breathtaking, and I absolutely loved it (2cm with mitered edges to make it look two inches thick). Still, I was afraid I might not like how the kitchen looked after living with it--stains, scratches, and etch marks, so I stalled. Finally, I thought I'll just go with white Corian, because I've had it in my kitchen downstairs for 12 years now, and it still looks almost like new, even with tenant use. Got three bids and couldn't believe it was the same price for the Corian as the marble countertop bid from the same installer who did the lady's I went to see and loved. The Corian bids were more than double what it cost me for the 2nd kitchen downstairs 12 years ago--inflation I guess. I stopped by to see the lady's kitchen again who had the polished "Bianca Carrara" marble on all her kitchen countertops that I'd seen a year ago. She had white shiny subway tile full height backsplash & decorative tile work over the cooktop. I thought if I saw how it looked after living with it for a year that would help me decide if I could live with marble in my kitchen. It was still gorgeous! We discussed how she treats it. In talking with her, I realized that she just enjoys it and doesn't really baby it. She told me she has three small children who eat at the island 3x a day, has pizza once a week and gets sauce all over it, cooks a lot with cilantro and limes, has had backpacks dragged across it, etc. She told me she has never sealed her marble, since installation and the fabricator didn't seal it either. She just cleans it with water. She's had no staining at all, but there were a number of small 1/2 inch diameter etch marks and one larger one about 2 - 3 inches in diameter where she had spilled lime juice. I was surprised that the etch marks were barely noticeable and didn't bother me much. I couldn't even see them unless I squatted down and got just the right angle. I am pretty picky by nature, but all I could see was the beauty of the polished marble. She had undercounter cam and ceiling lights and 3 hanging lights (probably a 60 watt bulb in each of them) over her island in her kitchen. No windows in the kitchen, but several big windows on the north, east, and west in the adjoining breakfast/dining room. I loved her countertops the same as I did when I saw them a year ago--etch marks and all. Her marble, which had beautiful veining and nice gray and white contrast, came from Dal Tile. I believe the lack of staining and not needing to seal the marble was in part because it was polished marble and because of the nature of marble--stains just seem to evaporate and fade. She said her children had spilled something red--maybe Kool-aid or punch on the bar once that looked like it had stained and a few days later it was gone. On the marble sample I have, I put ketchup, mustard, and raspberry jam on the backside of the marble sample too. They etched and stained it, but both have faded and disappeared now. I accidentally set a chunky red candle on the polished side of the sample piece of marble at Christmas time and haven't been able to get that stain out, and I can usually get any stain out of anything--just a caution about red candles to all who have marble countertops. I haven't tried the paper towel and warm iron trick yet, which is supposed to take candle wax out of tablecloths. Also, there were a few scratches in her countertops, but again, nothing I couldn't live with. My current countertops are tile, and there are numerous little chips and nicks in it. The lady said that her Mom had green marble countertops in her kitchen and had them repolished after many years of use, and they looked like new again. Since my husband had thyroid cancer years ago, I didn't want to use anything for my countertops that released radon. From doing extensive research all granite, quartz, and quartzite, release some when the stone decomposes slowly over time, but marble does not as it is calcium based. I am going to go with the polished "Bianca Carrara" marble! I use my kitchen too--I can raspberry jam (that etches), peaches, apricots, and peaches, in it, and we have a large vegetable garden every year and have tomatoes, which etch marble too. After all of my extensive research over the past year, I've come to the conclusion that no countertop surface is bullet proof or perfect. They all scratch, chip, have to be sealed, are noisy, cold, or have some other drawback, so why not get the look you love and just enjoy it!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 5:33PM
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