Marble has been prized as a building material since ancient times. And for good reason. It’s a beautiful and luxurious natural stone that creates a sense of elegance and grandeur.
Marble is a wonderful choice for kitchen benchtops, tabletops, bathroom vanities, flooring and decorative walls and features.
While undeniably beautiful and sought after, marble is not without its quirks. Talk to any good marble supplier, and they’ll tell you that there are a number of pros and cons to consider before investing in marble benchtops.
Pro: Incomparable aesthetics
There’s a reason that marble has been used since ancient times for some of the world’s finest artworks and monuments. It looks stunning. There is an elegance and luxurious depth to high-quality marble that is unmatched by other materials. Whether it’s for kitchen benchtops, flooring or a feature wall, marble exudes a sense of style and luxury that other stone surfaces simply cannot match.
Con: Susceptible to staining
As a porous natural stone, marble is extremely susceptible to staining by common household agents such as red wine, oil and coffee. These stains can quickly seep into the pores of the stone and be incredibly difficult to remove. While regular professional stone sealing will help to prevent staining, it will never completely eliminate the risk of staining. That means that for the life of the surface, you will need to be vigilant to protect it from stains.
Pro: Natural stone
Unlike engineered stone products, marble is a completely naturally occurring stone. After quarrying it is simply cut, polished and finished. That means there is no heavy manufacturing requirements or chemical processing needed to create fine marble slabs.
Con: Marble is delicate
For a natural stone with a reputation for longevity, marble is surprisingly delicate. Marble is much softer than other tougher stones like granite. As a result, it is prone to scratching, etching (i.e., damage to the surface caused by mild acids like lemon juice) and chipping. And you don’t need a heavy blow from a kitchen knife to damage the surface. Even scraping against a marble benchtop with a belt buckle can be enough to leave a permanence mark.
Pro: Marble is readily available and affordable
Many people think of marble as an exclusive, high-end product that is not readily available. While premium marbles, like the finer varieties quarried near Carrara in Italy, can be scarce and incredibly expensive, most building grade marbles are readily available from high-quality quarries all over the world. Unless you’re opting for a premium Italian marble like statuario or calacatta marble, marble prices are comparable to other high-end natural stones like granite.
Con: Marble is heavy
Like most natural stone surfaces, marble is incredibly heavy. This can make installation challenging. If you’re renovating a kitchen, you may need to add reinforcing structures to support the weight of a marble benchtop.
Pro: Wide range of colours and patterns
As a natural stone, you can rest assured that every slab of marble is unique. The natural colouring and patterning has developed over millions of years of geological formation. This natural process also means that marble is available in a huge range of colours and patterns, from shimmering black marble to pure creamy whites, reds, greens, browns and more.
Marble veining can vary from subtle capillary-like veins to bold lightening-like patterns. Whatever colour and veining patterns you’re after, there is a type of marble that will suit your tastes.
Con: Can degrade over time
No matter how well you care for and maintain your marble benchtop, over time it will degrade. Staining, etching, chipping and other wear and tear will build up over time, leaving you with a worn looking surface. This breakdown of the surface can be slowed with regular sealing and conscientious maintenance, but it can’t be completely eliminated.
Pro: Develops character over time
For some people, the gradual degradation of a marble surface is a clear negative. However, for other people, the patina that marble develops as it ages is one of its prized characteristics. As the surface wears over time, it develops a deeper and more individual character that tells the tale of a well loved kitchen benchtop.
Understanding the pros and cons of marble will help you to make the most informed purchase and ensure that you end up with the benchtop surface that best suits your home and lifestyle.