Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marble...



I receive a lot of emails asking about my marble... a lot.  So, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about it in a post.  Please note, that this is only my personal experience with marble.




Per Wikipedia... "Marble is a non-foliated metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.  Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however, stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone."  
What that means to you and me is that marble is a porous stone.

Being a product of nature, no two slabs are alike and depending on the type of marble and where it was quarried marbles will stain, etch, chip and scratch differently .  Due to the natural conductivity of marble it remains cool to the touch and is a favorite surface for bakers to roll pastry or pizza dough.

My marble on the island is Bianco Venatino.  I chose it for its bold veining and the movement that the veining provided as a design element to the kitchen. The marble island is my primary prep space and gets a lot of use.   

To answer the repeat question I get- Yes, I love my marble.  Love.
I wanted marble for years prior to installing it in the kitchen.  I first fell in love with the stone on our trips to France.  Walking into patisseries and restaurants and seeing marble floors and counters that had been there for a hundred years or more was such a beautiful sight.  I loved the worn patina that years of use had given the surface.
But, before I put a marble island in the kitchen I did my homework.  I researched and read everything I could- the good, the bad and the ugly and I knew what to expect when living with the stone.   As with most things in life- knowledge is power, so I was also ready for the 15 times every single salesperson at different stone yards asked me if I was familiar with marble's properties?/did I know it would stain?/granite would be much safer/was I sure that I wanted marble?, etc... .
All of those questions are standard  "industry prose" and you need to educate yourself and then stick to your guns if you want marble in your kitchen.   I would bet a paycheck that all the people who try to talk you out of marble don't actually own and live with the stone.


Honed vs. Polished.
I have honed.  I feel honed marble has a certain je ne sais quoi that is difficult to describe.  I also felt the soft patina of honed marble was more in keeping with my 150 year old farmhouse as opposed to polished (shiny) marble.   Polished marble is definitely starting a come-back, but know that it "etches" 100 times worse than honed and I personally would never use it in a kitchen, or even a bathroom for that matter as many toiletries will also cause etching.

When my marble island was installed it was sealed by the company that installed it.  I have not chemically sealed it since.   My personal experience has been that once sealed,  marble does not stain.   I have discovered red wine drips/raspberry jam/marinara sauce, etc... left for hours/overnight and have no red stain at all on the marble.
What marble does do, with abandon, is "etch".
Since marble is a calcium based stone when anything acidic comes in contact with it a chemical reaction will occurs and the stone will "etch."  An etch is a dulled (appearing as a light, matte gray) area on the surface of the marble that can not be wiped off.  It doesn't matter what sealer you use, you will get etching spots from anything acidic:  lemon/lime/orange juice, various fruits and vegetables, i.e. tomatoes (salsa is a big culprit for etched rings for us ;), coffee, wines- red or white,  vinegar or any product that contain the smallest amount of vinegar, etc... .  And, it doesn't matter how careful, or neat and tidy you are in the kitchen, you WILL get etching- no ifs, ands or buts about it!
I can't tell you how many times I've heard people tell me that they had no idea what caused that etched ring on their marble.  It's always a mystery!  It is simply a property of marble, so you either need to be okay with that or pick another counter material.   The first six months are the worst as you notice (and angst over)  each and every little tiny (and large) etch spot or ring.  Then it all softens, blurs and becomes muted and you get what is affectionately called "patina"!  I knew my marble would not stay perfect and that is exactly why I chose it.    I have a house full of antiques and I personally value the wear and tear, and "signs of life"- the patina that a surface such as marble can provide to a space.  My experience with etching is that I have found that the etching tends to fade over time; so an etch that was there six months ago is no longer there.  I can't explain that aspect of the stone, but I like that it seems to forget etches from the past with the passage of time.   A "design" urban-legend has it that Meg Ryan poured lemon juice all over her marble the very day it was installed in her kitchen to etch the whole thing in advance.
If you, or your spouse/partner, want a "perfect" surface then you might what to rethink marble.   You must either accept that along with the beauty and durability of marble comes etching (think rose/thorn;), or you'll make yourself and your family a nervous wreck.  Having a surface in your house, especially a utilitarian kitchen surface, that you are terrified of using for fear of harming is like having a beautiful sofa that no one can sit on.
It is important to say that the etching (rings /spots) are really only seen at an eye-level angle or perhaps in just the right light.  You don't walk into the kitchen and immediately see the etching- you really have to look for it to notice it.  I would also like to add that the bold veining and the abundance of veining in my particular marble really helps to camouflage the etching.   Also, I have no chips, but do have small surface scratches, but again- you really have to look for them to see them.


Here are some photos of examples of "etching" on my marble island.  The first three photos were all taken several days ago, at the same time.  Our kitchen gets lots of light all day since we have windows on the east and west walls and is very bright.  Having said that, notice how I really had to darken the first two photos and take the photos at eye level for you to even see the etching.  (I wish I knew how to put those cute little pointer arrows on a photo;)  You can see a round ring in the middle of the photo about six inches from the edge.




Slightly different angle shows the large ring (what was that from??!), two large triangular etches below that and several "dots" etchings.  Same surface, but see how the light and the angle cause you to see it more than the other?





Again... same day/time, but from a standing view above which is how you normally "see" the marble in its natural (bright) light.  Notice how you don't see or notice a single one of the etch rings or dots in the photos above!




This photo was taken probably six months before the above photo.  Notice how the etching rings and dots that were on the marble then are no longer visible on the photo of the island now (above).




 If you decide to install marble I would research and find the very best sealer on the market ( I do not know the name of the brand of sealer that was used on my island.)  Many people re-seal their marble every six months to a year.   Again, the sealer is to prevent staining, not the etching.  I have chosen not to chemically re-seal my marble because I haven't had any issues with staining and I want it to develop a used and loved patina.  If the etching is getting to me (like it did in the above photo ;)  I use my favorite Bar Keepers Friend to eliminate or reduce them.  I mix the powder with water to make a paste.  I use a damp sponge to apply the paste to the etching, rubbing in a circular motion.  I then let the mixture sit on the etch for 10-15 minutes, and then wipe clean several times using clean water and buff to dry.
 ( Note:  Do this at your own risk.  This is NOT an ordained etch removal that any stone fabricator would tell you; it is simply what I have found works for me.)
I have read that hundreds of years ago, before the invention of commercial sealers, that the Italians and French would seal marble with olive oil.
.
I have heard of so many stories of people who were talked out of marble by a salesperson.  That's unfortunate, but in my opinion, that was their own mistake.  In building/renovating you must have a very clear vision of what you want your space to" feel" and "look" like because at every single turn some salesperson/contractor/carpenter/painter/plumber/etc... will try to talk you into their vision.
  Research.  There are so many fabulous products available now that you really have to do your homework.  Know the maintenance and upkeep and decide if any product is something that you want to live with.   Know the pros and the cons, if any, of every single thing you put into your home.   Know what you want and don't let anyone dissuade you from your vision. Period.



The most compelling thing I can say to you if you are trying to decide whether to use marble in your kitchen is to remind you that it has been used in France for centuries, and the French are the quintessential experts on all things good in design and in the art of living well!


Again... please note, that this is purely my opinion based on my experience only.
I would love to hear of your experience with owning marble counter tops- love/hate?,
were you talked out of it by someone?,
did anyone try?,
do you have any sealers or products that you absolutely love for marble?!



166 comments:

  1. What a fantastic testimonial! It's a perfect story of a consumer who is educated about her choices and sticks to them. Actually, one could subtract "marble" and insert any other material ... because this is how remodeling SHOULD be done. It's personal, and YOURS, and your care with your choices shows in every part of your house ... not just the kitchen.

    On the direct opposite side of the argument, we got the same questions and doubts from folks when we chose to put Corian in our old-house kitchen. Yes, it scratches and dulls with time ... but it's one of the things that I actually like about it. (sound familiar?) I remember those early days, when we focused on every little scratch and scrape. Now the little scratches have become 'patina', and the big scratches are masked by all of the little ones that have happened since.

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  2. Wow Joan, That was probably the best explanation of marble for counter tops I have ever read (and I have read a lot!).
    I did not know the difference between staining and etching. I do agree that if you are the type of person that needs perfect counters then marble will only cause angst.
    In a home like yours the 'patina' is perfect. My 'new' home was built in 1902 and it is also full of antiques and vintage finds. I am seriously considering marble as well because I know that the patina that will come will look very much in style in my home due to it's age.
    Thanks so much for such an informative post!
    Oh-I love the cute little lamp to the right in the last pic :-)

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    1. Congratulations on your new antique home Lisa!

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  3. I adore marble and my island is marble as well -- part of the pastry marble from an 1889 kitchen at the state facility where I used to work -- it has patina and it is a "workhorse" and as far as I know has never been sealed! I adore it and couldn't think of a finer island than that piece of marble . . . plus it has HISTORY!!!! When we redid our counters (changing out the 4 inch white tile) and I was inquiring about marble for the countertops, several companies tried to talk me out of marble and started listing everything bad about them . . . I'm looking at this 1889 piece of marble which is beautiful and thinking "what are you talking about?" One even said they didn't sell it and when I told them that was what I really wanted, said, we'll they don't guarantee it (so I guess they do sell it!) because it isn't a nice surface like granite! And there is something about the old marbles -- which you see often in Europe or here on old tables . . . I can't explain it but there is just something about it . . . something I love as well. Your piece is beautiful and will develop that patina over time. And a little etching is like a little ding on the furniture -- it's character! We don't live in a perfect world!

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    1. hi Martha, So nice to see you here. Hope you and Linderhof are well. What a gem of a piece of antique marble for your island!

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  4. I don't have marble, but I do have honed granite. I also felt the honed surface was more in keeping with the character of my 1894 farmhouse with its soft, subtle glow.

    The countertop fabricators tried to talk me out of doing a honed surface, giving many of the same reasons; sealing, etching, staining, but after 8 years I love the surface and can't imagine having anything else.

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    1. So crazy that the fabricator was trying to talk you out of honed granite. My experience with honed granite is that it is truly indestructible ;)

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    2. Exactly! I live in a very small town and I don't think they had ever worked with it before.

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  5. Thank you for doing this. I used polished marble tile on the counters of my last house not realizing that lemon juice would etch them. Within a month, they seemed ruined. So I go back and forth on whether or not I want to use honed marble in my new kitchen. I was leaning against it until I saw Kelly McGuill's kitchen which has honed marble she's had for 20 years. No, it's not perfect and it shows signs of being used, and loved, and it was perfect in its imperfection. So I'm much more open to using it now. I'm eager to see other people's comments.

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    1. I think marble would look perfect and be so appropriate in your house Steve!

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  6. I am in the processing of removing polished Black Absolute granite countertops that were installed against my will in 2006. Despite having only two adults in the house with no kids and me as the primary cook who cleans up as she goes, and religiosu applications of sealer, that god-awful supposedly indestructible granite looks TERRIBLE. And being black, even the lint from the paper towels shows on it! But everytime I go into a stone shop to search out the replacement, the salesperson invariably tells me I want granite as it is the best. When I tell them I am repalcing granite, they are shocked. I would love to take a sledgehammer to the darned countertop to get rid of myself! I'm debating doing with a distressed mahogany or walnut counter and on my workhorse island, either a light marble or Corian ... which can be buffed out to lessen scratches, marks, etc.

    Wendy

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    1. "...installed against my will in 2006"!!!! That had me laughing Wendy! Absolute black granite is one of the granite workhorses, it's that "polished" finish that made it look so bad;) Good luck with your new countertop!

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    2. Wendy, when I remodeled my kitchen, I wanted soapstone. But soapstone was out of our budget, so I turned to absolute black HONED granite. I did a ton of research on it, and like marble, everyone had very strong opinions about it. They all said the polished granite showed way more than the honed, and the honed had its own problems, etc. etc. Well, I took the plunge on my honed black granite and it has been fantastic!! Perhaps instead of removing your granite, have someone come in and hone it for you and see if you like it. The upkeep has been fine for me!! Just a thought before you spend a ton of $$

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  7. Love hearing your perspective on this, because I have been going back and forth on them for months and cannot pull the plug!! Same reasons.. concerned about the durability but LOVE the look. I've been shopping and shopping but cannot find something I love half as much. Even the marble-looking granite just doesn't do my dream justice! (Plus, I designed my whole kitchen around having marble... lol)

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  8. I too have a very old house and love the calacatta danby that we had installed. Yes, it etches but I've had no problems with staining.

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  9. thank you for this post! My eye's lit up when i saw your first picture. I have decided for some time now that marble is what i'll be getting for my 5' x8' prep and eat at island, but you really "sealed" the deal for me!
    I was thinking of calacatta, but now i am really interested in a more graphic marble like yours.

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  10. I had thought about marble. I think I talked myself out of it. I would put it in another kitchen but my kitchen is a main thoroughfare (it has a front door, back door, bathroom, and basement door in it) so I was afraid of chipping. Yours looks great. I wouldn't mind the etching. I went with granite, and find that that stains (tomato sauce, in particular) so nothing's bulletproof. My co-worker chose silestone and says that scratches.

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    1. Interesting Durf. Is your granite honed or polished? I had a honed granite island in our last house and I couldn't for the life of me ( and believe me I tried!) get it to stain! I would leave all sorts of things on it overnight and nothing. It was always perfect.

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  11. I read every word. We are weighing the pros and cons of various options, but like you, I've lived with marble and am not afraid of the patina. We once lived in a house with a marble entrance hall - now that had patina!

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  12. This post is PERFECT timing!! We are about to choose our kitchen counters (butcher block island and marble perimeter). We are being told how evil marble is; how it is not appropriate for kitchen use etc etc. However, we now have a salesperson who loves marble and although she told us about the etching etc, she's been so helpful and supportive. There is a new DuPont sealer on the market that gives a 15 year warranty against staining (NOT etching). It is transferable to anyone who buys your home and if any stains occur, they replace the slab (and if they can't match it, they replace the whole counter). It is approx $5/sq ft to apply and must be done by a certified professional. This is a small price to pay for that type of warranty! I loooooove the look of creamy, soft marble and can not WAIT to pick out our slab. I'm sending a link of this post to my hubby, too, so he can read what you had to say-it's been so helpful and really reaffirmed our decision!

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    1. Andrea- Keep in mind a regular (good) sealer will keep marble from staining. That sounds like a lot of $ to me, but if you see it as a good insurance policy I guess it is worth it! Have fun picking your slab, cuz it really is fun!!

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  13. Your marble island and kitchen are gorgeous. I have granite in my kitchen and love it, and a marble cutting board (which has etched areas). I love doing my pastry, pasta dough, and bread doughs directly on the surfaces. Funny, but the industry seems to tell us what we shouldn't do on our STONE surfaces! It's stone , it's tough, it looks beautiful with age and use.
    Have a lovely day!

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  14. The real deal on marble...for all those (including me) who have been on the fence about using marble. I think it looks great!

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  15. Do u think marble would look good with cherry cabinents? It is an orange brown cherry. Admucha@aol.com Thank you! Ann

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    1. I think it would look beautiful Ann. Different white marbles have different tones (pure white, gold, gray,etc.), so perhaps one with light gray undertones would work well with your kitchen. (White seems like it would be too stark and gold would clash with the color of the cabinets.) Do you have a dark granite now? That is what they usually put with the cherry cabinets. If so, I think it would really lighten up and update the kitchen!

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    2. It's green Formica! Ugh! It's are final room to do in the house. The cabinets are too the ceiling and are from candlelight cabinetry. It matches the wood in the house. Could I send you a picture?

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    3. sure! my email is above the photo of our mailbox on my sidebar.

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  16. Oh Joan,
    Of all the kitchens in blog-land, and there are some fabulous kitchens, yours is the one that I feel most attracted to. There is something so welcoming, so perfectly condusive to making anything from a tray of 6 cookies to a 6 course gourmet meal. It doesn't feel pretentious or phoney, or designed to impress; it feels cozy, appropriate, and most of all - like you really love using it! Thanks for this post. We're in the midst of planning a kitchen remodel. So far, the only thing we've both been able to agree on is the beadboard ceiling and the recessed lighting. As you very well know, that leaves just about everything else with a big fat question mark, including the counters. So this was helpful. Very helpful.

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    1. Thank you Artie!xx I know with your great eye for design you and Scott will have an amazing kitchen!

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  17. I love marble too and many times have had to aggressively override contractors who try to talk me out of my vision! I am so glad you mentioned this, it can be intimidating.
    I have honed tumbled marble on my floors in my kitchen, entry and powder room and honed Calcutta marble in the master bath. Recently I discovered that by using a very fine grade sandpaper I was able to remove a significant amount of etching in my entry that had become too difficult to ignore.
    Like you, I love how things age, it is part of the beauty!
    Great post Joan!
    Happy Easter!
    XO

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    1. I have read on-line about using very fine (300-600 grit) WET (must be the kind you wet) sandpaper to get out the etching, but have not tried that process, so I'm glad to know that it works. Thank you Terri!

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  18. Bless you! I've literally just printed this post to put in the file for the kitchen make-over. We are both all about working to bring items of age and patina into our home. After ready your description of the aging process of marble it makes me giddy to think we can get this look.
    Patina and antiques are not for everyone, but for anyone who appreciates the look it does take time, knowledge and patience to research. Thanks for the great lesson.

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    1. Can't wait to see your new kitchen Katherine!!

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  19. I have all marble floors in my apartment, and love the natural and quality look. They are absolutely no trouble, though being older they already have that patina built from small scratches and polishings. I would not hesitate to get marble for a kitchen, especially for an old house.

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    1. Wow Jim- a whole apartment with marble floors sounds amazing!

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  20. Hi Joan,

    I think marble is a wonderful addition to any kitchen, I have butcher block counters in my current house and I have a very large slab of marble to roll out pastry on. The next island will have marble, however I noticed that you use Barkeeper's Friend in the powder and make a paste. Did you know that it comes in a liquid/cream form? I use that on my marble and on all of my All-Clad. I find it at Bed Bath and Beyond and also on Amazon.

    Nathan

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    1. hi Nathan, I have seen the liquid form, but being the frugal girl that I am the powder is cheaper:) I use it on everything. Just cleaned the glass shower door with it last night. It's an amazing product!

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  21. ...i have a huge slab of broken edged granite that my good husband dug out of the reject dumpster...the sweet sweet owner of the marble/granite site told me to help myself... and "we" did...it now resides on top of my island...of course it was never ever sealed...and now shows all kinds of love...i often wonder about the person who has the beautiful matching counter tops that was the source of my piece...i hope she has loved hers as much as i have loved mine...and just saying my friend...that triangular etching...is not triangular...it is a heart...and it certainly represents the love of the house... and its owners...have a blessed Easter... laney

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    1. Sweet laney- you always make my heart smile! And, that is indeed a good husband you have!

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  22. We went with marble- large tiles due to budget constraints. It still makes the impact I was looking for and I'm quite happy with it and all for about $200. Would I love once big expanse of marble, sure. Someday, for now it toally works for us. We've had it about two years and you're right,the first 6 months are the worst worrying about every little etch ring. Then it just becomes part of the equation and doesn't bother you nearly as much, well at least it doesn't bother me anymore. You do only see them from a certain light. My stainless steel sink was the same way....the first scratch was a heartbreaker, but once you get beyond that it's just part of it's charm. We USE our kitchen so these things are unavoidable. We have had NO staining, only some minor etching.

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    1. So true Pamela- I can still remember the first scratch I got on my first piece of All-Clad! Thought I was gonna die;) Now, I don't even notice all the scratches! And, don't even mention the very first scratch I got on the stainless Wolf range! omg...!!!!

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    2. Isn't it funny how it's absolutely mortifying when you scratch something new for the first time........then with time, it all softens and becomes part of the character.

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  23. Ann@TheVirginiarosaMarch 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Joan, your farmhouse kitchen was my inspiration while designing our new kitchen. I LOVE marble! In my newbutintentionlyaged NC mountain farmhouse, my island is a HONED 1816 marble top 4 drawer walnut sideboard. We use it and love every mark or spot from it's past.

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  24. I had a similar experience when designing our kitchen, but we used soapstone. Also not a surface meant for everyone, but I'm so glad I pushed through the sales people (and their misinformation at times) who tried to talk me out of it! We are getting ready to use honed marble to top an old mahogany sideboard we have to make it more utilitarian and I can't wait!

    I love that you always seek out finishes that are both authentic to your home but ones that give it a wonderful warm and lived in feeling too!

    Kat

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    1. Kat, being in New England- which uses a lot of soapstone I, thankfully, didn't encounter a lot of grief when picking it;) I think it's so odd that the industry that sells the product is also the one trying to talk a buyer out of it;)

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  25. Joan,

    I was one of those that was talked out of using marble in my kitchen when we completely gutted our kitchen four years ago. DH was not wild about it either so that didn't help my issue. I used Vermont soapstone on all my surfaces but like you wanted marble on the island. I did not win BUT I am happy with my selection. My island is painted a black stressed and I decided upon Zebra wood from Africa for the top. All the rest of my cabinets are white with glass fronts. You have inspired me to do a post about how I came to select my island. Since I do love the Zebra wood I am not unhappy without the marble until I read a post like yours then I ponder on it. Your kitchen is gorgeous.

    Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn, I'm so glad you are happy with the end result. I have had that happen many times when I "think" I wanted this or that and didn't get it for some reason, only to find that what I instead chose turned out to be even better! It's a good thing :)
      Your comment about your husband not being on board is very valid. I think its important (especially if both people cook;) that everyone is in agreement on materials.

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  26. Thanks for this post! I have butcher block on my island, and want to put marble around the perimeter, needs to look old in my old house. I have dressers with OLD marble tops, and I love the character they have, etchings and all. :) donna

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    1. You sound like the perfect candidate Donna! You'll love them.

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  27. I think your kitchen is stunning....and I love the marble, but since I don't have and island...I have an oak table as that is where we eat..no dining room in my 150 year old house!...I'd be interested in a post about your soapstone.....I just got mine and I love it...do you oil or wax yours?



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    1. Ooh I was going to ask about your soapstone!!! In while I love love marble, for some reason, the soapstone is my fave!

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  28. Your marble is LOVELY! I wasn't brave enough to put it in my kitchen (my kids are kind of HARD on the countertops and I didn't want to be mad at them all the time-mother of the year) so I went with white quartz. I DID put marble in my master bath and absolutely LOVE it. Kudos for taking such good care of yours. It is GORGEOUS.

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    1. I think you decision is spot on Camille. You did your homework and decided the cost (mean mom) wasn't worth it to you. Not being the crazy coaster mom in the neighborhood is a good thing;)

      Would love to hear about your experience with the quartz!

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    2. I'd love to tell you about them. Let me know if you have specific questions. Otherwise I might yammer on and on about how much I love them. ;) Happy Thursday!

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    3. Yammer away:) Does it stain, etch, chip, scratch, take direct heat, clean well, do you have to seal it, if so- how often, etc. Anything and everything! As I wrote "knowledge is power" and you just don't know who might read this and might be interested in quartz and your information could help them make a decision.

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    4. I've had them eight months and so far no etching, staining (I had a close call with a rusty cooling rack, but all is well after a little clorox), chipping, or scratching. I can set my hot pots on it with no problem and, especially having an undermount apron front sink, I just wipe all my junk right into the sink and VOILA. Done. I will say that the seams are not invisible (mine is white, so harder to hide than darker colors of quartz) so if that kind of thing bothers you, take note. They aren't bad, just not invisible. For me it was a SMALL price to pay for countertops I love and are a snap to keep clean.

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    5. One more quick thing (and someone may have already said this) if you are looking for a small-ish piece of marble (small island, vanity, dresser top, etc) try the remnant section of your local countertop people. We paid a FRACTION of what it would have cost to start with a new slab.

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  29. Joan, thank you for this candid post. I love the look of marble but as a family that cooks a lot, we have wondered if it would be a bad choice for us. But hearing about the patina that it develops, the imperfections, the etching that happens from living, that all appeals to me very much. Never mind how lovely it is for rolling out dough, and the classic aesthetic marble brings to a kitchen (particularly a new kitchen - I so fear installing a kitchen that will be dated in 10 years). Many thanks for sharing your experience with it. (And I see your slipcovered chairs in the background that inspired my purchase - I am loving mine!!)

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    1. thank you Lisa; I can't believe they discontinued them- such a great chair:(

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  30. Excellent post. As a former kitchen designer, I have had to have the talk with many a client who wanted marble/limestone/butcherblock, not trying to talk them out of it, but making sure they were aware of all the pitfalls and increased maintenance necessary, and to save myself upset phone calls later. I could usually tell, after a few conversations, and several pointed questions, who was relaxed enough for these countertop options and who was not. My job was to give information, and to help my client make decisions, and avoid expensive mistakes. Your information is excellent! It really helps to see clear photos. This post will no doubt be referenced by many a client/designer.

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    1. I totally agree Pam, as a designer it is a duty to inform and educate the client and would be a disservice to not tell the good, the bad and the ugly! I think you hit the nail on the head, that the reason the very industry selling the product is trying to talk the buyer out of it is because they fear the upset phone call because the buyer doesn't truly understand the stone. That's why its so powerful to know what to expect - even though those first etches will still bum your day;)

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    2. 6'x9' butcherblock island with 3 kids. Relaxed is my middle name. lol! Silestone perimeter- worth every penny. I could drop acid on that stuff and not have a mark. I love it!

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    3. Relaxed is a great point Pam... life is way to short, and so many more important things to worry about it one's life to be worried all the time about a countertop!

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  31. I love all the discussions and information!
    We didn't choose marble for our vanity, as I couldn't find the color I wanted...but we did choose limestone....talk about a living finish!
    Limestone does its own thing, daily. It will etch for no reason, and stain.
    However, we did our homework...and knew this going in. It was sealed, and periodically we "reseal" it, but it isn't as resilient as marble (which I understand is "harder" limestone)..
    We love it anyway. It is a living finish....
    We wouldn't use it in a kitchen, we have Ceasarstone there....which by the way is totally no muss, fuss or care...
    Love your kitchen and all the information...
    Nancy
    http://wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

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    1. Nancy- I greatly appreciate hearing about your limestone and Ceasarstone countertops. We had large (12 x 12") pillow-edge limestone floor tiles in our entry in Dallas and they were tough as nails and did not have the "living finish" (your description is perfect btw, love that) that you describe yours to have! I'm thinking perhaps, like marble, limestone quarried from different locals has different properties. All good and interesting information.

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  32. Thank you for this timely post! Because of severe cracks in my Corian counter tops, we are facing some remodeling of our kitchen. I priced out Silestone, but wow, was it over-the-top! I saw a slap of the Lyra that I wanted, and it was ugly -- just like a fake marble (which is exactly what it is!). Two strikes against Silestone! My home is a new Victorian which we built 18 years ago, and it is full of antiques. I've been looking at marble, and I'm getting the same spiel from the salespeople as you describe! I've researched every surface, and feel that marble is the right surface for my house, in spite of the drawbacks. Now, to find those perfect creamy slabs and to convince my husband. Oh, and to make sure I can pay for it! Thanks for putting my mind at ease and convincing me that my thinking is correct!

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    1. Rhonda, I have found when trying to present a new design idea/product to Dan, or to a client, that to present it with a rational, fact-oriented discussion helps them to "see" my point of view. As opposed to "just because it's pretty/popular" if I can make the topic subjective it makes more sense. I've found that by explaining why you think a product (i.e. marble in this case) would be a good choice in your kitchen and why you don't like the other products you've seen (no one wants fake marble and it's expensive and nothing is worse than spending tons of money on something and HATING it;) will help sell your husband on it. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks for the tips! Ironically, I just got an email from the counter top man, telling me I did not want marble! I'm forwarding him your blog post! :)

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    3. too funny. I shall await hate mail from said fabricator;)

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  33. I love marble counters in kitchens especially in older homes. When we finally, after 18 years, replaced our retched orange laminate counter, we decided to go with copper. Our 1935 English cottage style stucco house seemed suited for copper or wood (we also installed a 2-inch slab wood counter on the original built in on the opposite wall). I had a heck of a time finding a shop willing to create the counter as "they had never done one for the kitchen before, especially for the wet area." Also, like you, they continually tried to talk me out of copper for various reasons. Needless to say, both my husband and I are thrilled with the results. Copper is a living surface and changes daily; something we both enjoy. I can't tell you how many people come into the kitchen and say I could never....what would people think...who cares! The warmth generated by both the copper and wood counters makes me smile every time I enter the kitchen. I am so glad I went with my gut and have never regretted our decision--just wish we'd installed them sooner.

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    1. Karen- Copper sounds like the perfect countertop in a circa 1935 home! I bet it looks wonderful. I've seen copper used in kitchens before and as you said it creates such a warm environment. Nancy (above^) used the term "living" surface, and it is such a great description. I'm so happy to hear that you stood your ground and love your decision- bravo to you!

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  34. I think this is great for anyone toying with the idea of installing marble. One of my friends just remodeled her kitchen and installed marble that had the shiny surface. It began to get stained almost immediately. She had the shiny finish sanded off, essentially leaving the marble honed and it has eliminated the staining problem.
    Karen

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    1. That's a very compelling story for honed Karen. And, good information that a polished surface can be honed "on-site". Thanks for sharing!

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  35. I love your marble counter and agree that something that ages well is best. If I ever had a kitchen built from scratch I'd love to have marble for some of the counters, maybe butcher block for others. As it is, I'm pretty happy using my old enamel topped table as an "island". It's indestructible - I can put pans straight from the stove on it! Thanks for the very informative post.

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    1. Love enamel topped table Laura- sounds charming!

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  36. Wonderful information, Joan! Thank you. I simply adore the look of marble, and would love to have marble counters in my kitchen one day, but I'm not sure I could take the etching. We'll probably go with quartz. Right now we have a laminate counter that tries to look like marble (sad, but that's what was here when we bought the house). I think your advice is perfect for anyone considering marble. They must go into it knowing the facts.
    Claudia

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    1. That's perfect Claudia! Knowing what you can live with and/or not will ensure that you will be happy with the hefty investment in new countertops! Camille (above^) said she will write about her experience with quartz, so be sure to check back to read her comment.

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  37. Your article is so very wonderfully informational. I have bookmarked to my kitchen files. I have Silestone, an engineered quartz and LOVE it. After 10 years of wear and tear, not a flaw...no staining, chipping or loss of aesthetic and no sealing required.

    Many thanks,

    teaorwine


    http://teaorwine.blogspot.com

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    1. Good information about the Silestone, thank you.

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  38. I have honed Calcutta Gold marble on my island, perimeter counters and backsplash in my newly renovated kitchen. I absolutely love the marble. It took me six months and many discussions with fabricators to find the right slabs. I can't count how many fabricators tried to tell me how disappointed I would be with marble. I am sure they were just afraid I didn't know the issues with it and that I would be unhappy and blame them. My stone was sealed with Tenax Hydrex Petroleum Based Impregnator Anti-Stain Repellant #5933 made in Italy. As with your experience, Joan, stains from all matter of food products wiped right up. The only thing that left a mark was lemon juice. It makes a little dull spot that is duller than the honed finish. My installer fixed it with a liquid wax from Italy called Pamir Transparent Liquid Wax Bin A 1303. He applied a generous amount of wax to the spot and used a worn down, previously used 240 grit sanding disc in the direction of the veins, gently rubbing so as not to make the honed finish shiny. Then he wiped off the wax and checked his progress. It took two or three times before the spots and etches totally disappeared -- along with my angst about permanent spots. I am no longer worried about the finish because virtually anything that happens can be fixed. In the meantime, I have grown to ignore and accept any etching that has occurred. I also have marble counters, walls and floors in my bathrooms and would not want anything else. For me, it has an elegance and timelessness that nothing else can replace. Thank you, Joan, for all the advice you provided when I first installed my counters.
    XO, Victoria

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    1. Victoria, Thank you so much for adding the names of the products your installer used on your marble. The application technique is also really helpful information.
      Having seen photos of your kitchen I know just how gorgeous it is!

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  39. Oh My goodness, Joan, great info and post! I cannot tell you how often the stone counter people have tried to discourage my clients from marble, or soapstone for that matter! I even get push back for insisting on honed, whatever the material- which makes no sense as many of the slabs start out polished and they get to charge more money to hone it...I am definitely gong to steal your description of honed and use it when I try to explain it to clients that are unfamiliar!!I will give you credit, however, ;-)Every kitchen that I have designed I have insisted on honed stone at the very least- but the industry has done a very good job of scaring people that it is difficult and hard to keep looking nice, it will be instantly stained with red wine, etc. When that happens I tell people about an very old restaurant in Boston that has the most fabulous 18-20' long bar in the original marble (dates to 1880) don't know if the marble is original, but it is at least 75 years old and it is gorgeous!! any nary a red wine stain in sight! I just love the look of history, and the mellowness of use and I will continue to wave the banner for it!! Cheers! and Happy Easter even though the weather is not looking to "spring-like" still at least 10" of snow in MY back yard, lol
    Meredith

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    1. Meredith- that bar in Boston sounds like the perfect show-and-tell for future client who want marble!

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  40. I just love your style and you have now confirmed for me that when my husband and I do have a home of our own to remodel, we will have marble in the kitchen. So classic!

    Also, to get those arrows and text on your photos, use picmonkey.com

    -Betsy

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    1. Thank you Betsy, I'll see if I can figure picmonkey out!

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  41. Hello Joan! Very interesting post!
    I love marble and have it in my kitchen, after we redid it two years ago. I'm very happy with it, with how it look, and happy for not having believed those who told me that it was not a good choice. It was the only "new" thing for the kitchen as we have only old pieces of furniture, and don't have any cabinets at all.
    I'll leave here the link, if you want to visit it.

    http://tazasycuentos.blogspot.com.ar/2012/08/mi-cocina-desafio-blad.html

    Your house is gorgeous and your blog is fantastic and I always enjoy coming here.
    Besos from Argentina, Silvina

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    1. Silvina, Your kitchen is lovely! I'm happy to hear that you love your marble too. I adore the old shop counter you used as your island. Thank you for sharing.

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  42. I love your marble counter...it's gorgeous. I don't have marble, would have liked to, but I don't think it would have been the right statement for our home. Marble requires a certain elegance in the home...like yours, ours didn't have it. We have a 70's bi-level that we love, and marble wouldn't have fit. We choose corian, with a corian backsplash and we love it...it fits! ;)

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    1. I think you made the right choice for the period of your home Donnamae.

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  43. I use a composite stone for benchtops in my house for the reasons you've mentioned (and there are some great new ones on the market that look quite natural and marble like, and I am pretty fussy about fake v's real). I find that children, plus natural stone has not worked for us. I'm an Architect, and I have specified marble for clients, at their request. I just make sure that they're aware that it will not look perfect. Unfortunately a lot of people don't like patina, they want a slick modern looking kitchen, a totally different aesthetic from your beautiful kitchen, and marble won't give that to them in the long term. One client, despite my strong suggestion they steer away from marble, put it into their very modern and perfect lookin kitchen, and then after a few months had a piece of glass cut for their island to protect it. Which I thought was a little ridiculous and defeated the point of a benchtop!

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    1. Now that's a first Heidi! I've heard of glass used as a counter surface, but never as a protective cover for marble;)

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  44. We recently put marble countertops in our master bath. I asked everyone from the installers to Home Depot what to clean it with and can't seem to get a straight answer. One recommended a spray marble/stone cleaner but I don't really like the film it leaves. What do you use? Are there any brands you recommend? Thanks so much! Mary Lou

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    1. Mary Lou, I really just wipe it down immediately after use (I use a sponge). By clean do you mean disinfect? If so I'm not sure what products are safe for marble, but also disinfect. When I need to clean something off the surface (either in the kitchen or the master bath) I use the Bar Keepers Friend. But again- my marble is honed and I wouldn't recommend it on polished. Sorry to not be of more help. Perhaps someone reading this will have a suggestion.

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  45. Love your post today and plan on sending it to our contractor, who helped us choose marble. I think your unique vision and honest appraisal of marble should be used by all contractors.

    I hemmed and hawed about the version of marble - honed or polished - and ultimately chose the polished version. It was sealed by the installer. To say I love it would be an understatement. Do I have any etching? Well, yes, but on my own, I used the same technique for lessening the damage. I also went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought a padded drying cloth, which I put down on the marble underneath my stand mixer just in case it goes crazy on the marble island. That said, the marble looks great and adds only a look that marble could lend to a classic kitchen. Would I purchase the honed instead of the polished, if I could do anything over again? Well, I'm not sure. My island is all that is the marble; the rest of my counters are black granite.

    I will say that whatever anyone does in their kitchen, each product has its own unique qualities, both pro and con. I'm thrilled to have had a contractor who was good at describing marble's ups and downs, and who was honest about its qualities without trying to sway me one way or another. One thing is for sure: there are many immitators who try to make their manufactured products look like marble, but they do not succeed. There is only one marble and the look is powerful.

    Thanks again for your appraisal. I wish it had been around when I was making my choices. Great work!

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    1. hi Pam, I'm so glad to know that you like your polished marble in your kitchen. Do you know the name of the sealer your fabricator used by chance? When you say you used the same technique for lessening the etches, do you mean the BKF? Would be curious to know if it also works on polished etching.

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    2. Yes, Joan, I used successfully the Bar Keepers Friend on my etching. But as with all things, I would check this out in small places before going forward. Will check on the sealer and get back to you.

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  46. Funny, I was just at counter top place yesterday looking to have a small piece of marble cut for a gorgeous antique dresser with an unfortunate rotten top. I was shocked at the price! Almost $700. Which is about what I had planned to sell the dresser for.

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    1. hi Camille- Yes, the price can be vast depending on which "type" of marble you choose. Try to find a local fabricator/stone yard and deal with them directly. You might even be able to find a remnant at a stone yard that would work on your dresser for a fraction of the cost. Good luck!

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  47. Your marble counter is gorgeous! I agree one of the things I LOVE about vintage items is the patina.It gives each piece a unique quality.Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge!

    Anne

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  48. Thank you for your post today. Your kitchen is gorgeous!! I installed Carrera honed marble about a year ago. I have etching, scratching, chipping but no staining. The etching and chipping does not bother me, but the scratching does. I have purchased expensive cleaners, but they leave a shiny film on my marble. I have been using Ivory dishwashing soap. It is mild and leaves no film. I think it is great for honed marble. My marble installers told me in time the scratches can be buffed out with honed marble. I think honed is much more durable than polished. My friend installed polished marble about a year ago, and it scratches and etches much more. Any feedback on scratches?? Thanks, Joan

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    1. hi Rachel, I have read online about using very fine sandpaper 300-600 grit, - the kind that you WET (it is black) to remove etching and I would think it would also work for fine scratches. Also read Victoria's comment (above^) about the process her installer used to get rid of etches (he used 240 grit sandpaper btw) as I think it would be useful information when trying to get the scratches out.
      You could also try my Bar Keepers Friend that I mentioned in the post, and do consider resealing the marble- the sealer will fill in the fine scratches and they won't be so stark white and as noticeable. Good luck and please let me know if you find a good solution.

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  49. Ha!! I meant to say Thanks, Rachel

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    1. I read it as "thanks Joan" so it took me a minute, but now I see;) That's funny!

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  50. We are in the throes of remodeling an 1800's beach house and have had the marble debate. After extensive research and the same logic you had that it's an old house and honed marble would be perfect, we decided it was a must. We have wanted it from the start and came to the conclusion we wouldn't be happy with anything else. We are having it sealed and as you say, it will keep it from staining, but not etching Like you, we love the patina and think it gets prettier with age...can't wait for it to be installed. Yours is GORGEOUS!!

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  51. Thanks for this post, Joan. I love marble and have always thought I wanted it in my kitchen (we're a few years away from a redo, probably). I appreciate you sharing your experience.

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  52. I, too, have marble in my kitchen...and love it! I have teenage sons & a husband that leave red juice, ketchup, etc on the counters overnight & the next morning I just wipe it off with no staining. As you said, it does etch, but I agree that it adds to the patina. There is a famous designer who once said that Americans are the only ones worried about keeping their marble perfect, & that the Europeans know that a kitchen is to be used & embrace the look of "worn" marble. Personally, I wouldn't want the perfect uniformness of a composite countertop.
    Lisa

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    1. Lisa, I saw something similar while researching marble about the difference between Europeans and Americans. Why we are striving for "perfect" all the time is beyond me!

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  53. We just finished a complete home renovation of a 1960 ranch (at least that's what we call it in Texas). It is typical ranch style in that it is one level with large rooms, but other than that the style was very non-descript so I was able to really take it anywhere I wanted with the renovation. We had original marble countertops in most of the bathrooms. Some would say they looked old and stained, I however loved the worn nature of them. We decided to continue the theme by reusing those countertops and adding marble to the kitchen. I can't remember the name of it, but it has light-colored veining and even some flecks of metal in it. It is absolute perfection. We have been back in our house for 3 months and I have 3 small children. It is already etched and scratched, but I love it. I love to cook and bake and I just hope in many years it will look well used and loved. My hope is that people will walk into my kitchen and feel it is the homiest room in the house.
    I clean mine on a regular basis with soap and water. If something dark or red is left on it, I just make a paste of baking soda and water and let it sit for a minute. Its seen most everything in the few short months we've had it, and the baking soda trick has yet to not get a stain out.
    Love reading your blog!
    Caty

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    1. Love to hear that you are loving it Caty and giving it such a great workout!

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  54. As someone who will be redo-ing her kitchen this year, thank you for this post! I will be re-thinking marble. I would like to know what you use to clean your marble countertop. I try to use all environmentally friendly/all-natural cleaners and a big component of them is vinegar. So, I presume that would not be a good thing to clean marble with.... Any advice would be appreciated~

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    1. Soap and water, wiping up after use. Several environmentally friendly companies have stone cleaners you could try, but really just soapy water (dish washing water) works fine.

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  55. What an excellent post! I have an heirloom marble coffee table of my grandmothers and I could never figure out how to get rid of rings and "etching" and I always tried to polish it to no avail! Now I know I have a honed piece! My old table has certainly obtained a fabulous patina over the years and now I will stop worrying about polishing! Thank you so much for the information! I have a new wrinkle in my brain!!~~Angela

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  56. Great post! We used honed Imperial Danby (Vermont) marble on our kitchen perimeter countertop, and it has held up really well. It was installed 2 years ago this summer, sealed by installer, and I haven't sealed it since. No stains and very little etching (but to be honest I do most prep on walnut island, and it has taken a beating).

    Although I love the kitchen marble, I chose Cambria Torquay ( marble lookalike) for countertops in basement wet bar and laundry room, and that was absolutely the right call there. We are redoing kids bath and master bath this summer and I will likely use Cambria for kids and marble in master.

    I was told that the Vermont marble is less porous than Italian, which was a selling point. I also liked its soft look with subtle veining, since the patterns in my kitchen come from banquette and window treatment fabrics.

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  57. I love your kitchen Joan it is my idea of the ultimate space. I so agree that knowing those two things
    how "you" want your home (1) to look and (2) to feel is the only way to choose a countertop particularly
    marble.
    That means not asking your neighbors nor your plumber nor the helpful people at the stone yard
    their opinions. Educate yourself armed with that make a decision and own it. So I am saying amen sister to you Joan you told it like it is. Great post.

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  58. What a great post! When I was planning my kitchen I was determined to have honed marble and every professional I talked to tried to talk me out of it, several of them told me that I "couldn't" have it....really? Watch me. I absolutely love it, we etched it within hours of installation with a bottle of champagne! On purpose of course ;-)

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  59. Joan, you know how much this has been on my mind lately! I sent this post to that same client and she wrote back asking if I had had you write it specifically for her!!

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  60. I used your kitchen as inspiration for my kitchen renovation in Santa Fe. Although mine is in New Mexico and a totally different feel. I used Calcutta on the island and soapstone on the perimeter--replacing butcher block (which was there originally). I totally agree with you that both marble and soapstone should be researched and their choice depends on the user's expectation. After a year, I am pleased with my choices. One has to accept the more organic nature of these stones versus the more "perfect" qualities of the granite and the synthetics.

    Your blog states the considerations very well. Marble is definitely NOT for everyone. One of my neighbors was aghast when she saw marble in the kitchen. But if it is what you truly love AND are prepared for the consequences, go for it!

    Thanks for your great photos and explanations.

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  61. Thanks so much for this post about marble counters in a kitchen! Marble came with the renovated kitchen in our 100 plus year old house, and since we really use the kitchen all the time, it has become etched over the past 2 years of our living here. I am so grateful for your acceptance of the etching. Everything in the house has a patina, or wrinkles, as I like to call them - but I would not want new! My attitude to the marble and the character of the house is similar to my self-acceptance of signs of age - darkened areas, silver hair and smile and frown lines: Living a life contributed to each of them. I have appreciated your take on decoration and living in an old house. Thanks!

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  62. Joan,
    I think I've told you this before, that your home is a dream but honestly, this post. . . Oh my, that kitchen photo across the marble island looking and your dinnette table and white chairs, well I could look at that photo forever. So so beautiful. I am addicted to my kitchen and we renovated a few years back. It's always so much work, but fun and exciting as well. Your kitchen looks lovely.
    Enjoy it, cook in it, have long talks in it, and be happy.
    xoxo
    Lisa
    Leeshideaway.blogspot.com

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  63. I recently renovated my 3rd kitchen. I was talked out of marble on the first two, and finally I went for it!!! I do love it. However, someone used some really strong cleaner with bleach on it, and it left some pretty bad etching. I don't regret my decision, but I don't think marble is for everyone. I decided to go for it, because I decided I was going to embrace staining, etching & patina. I read tons about it, and the argument about the use of it in Europe (and embracing the age) really resonated with me. I have 4 small children, and still am a little sensitive (don't put your pizza on the island!) but I am glad I went for it. Thanks for the post.

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  64. Joan,
    A REALLY informative post!!! Thanks for taking the time/photos to demonstate these natural occurances in marble.
    xo,
    ~R

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  65. A honed marble island top, with wonderful veining like yours, on soft grey island cabinets, is my absolute dream kitchen vision. Paired with maple countertops and white cabinets everywhere else, and a big farm sink! One day it will all be mine! LOL.....

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  66. Joan... Your post was right on! We remodeled our kitchen 3 years ago (1928 Georgian Colonial). I could not envision anything except honed marble in my kitchen. My experience has been exactly as you describe. Within the first 30 days I sat a bottle of balsamic vinegar on the counter, not realizing it had dripped down the side of the bottle and there it was, my first etch ring. I was upset with myself, because like you, I had researched it and knew exactly what I was getting and though I knew this could happen, felt I would just have to be careful with acidic foods. I don't care how careful you are it will happen and guess what... I don't even know where that ring is today! The one thing I have experienced that I don't think you mentioned is the little spots you get from water that doesn't get wiped up, like splashes around the sink area, which by the way, are hard to see with all the veining. Water spots when left to sit, are what cause some of those mystery spots. I have been told it is the lime in the water that causes the little spots. I have even had a glass of water leave a ring! I do use the super fine wet sandpaper they refer to as emery cloth to clean up etching from time to time. For a little added protection I use a product recommended by my fabricator - 3 in 1 cleaner/polisher/protector for all stone kitchen tops. In light of all this, I would not hesitate to do honed marble all over again...I LOVE it!
    Denise

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  67. I love the way honed marble looks. I agree, it's unfortunate so many people are talked out of marble, it has a life, and develops an age and patina over time, that I personally love.

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  68. We moved into an 1860 renovated house with shiny marble bathroom floors. They are beautiful except I don't know how to get the watermarks off. I've tried everything except sanding. I'm chicken! I need an expert, who does sanding and polishing marble floors?

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  69. Joan,
    Where were you when I was redoing my kitchen?!! Just kidding...I did chose marble (polished) but did so with one that is rarely put in a kitchen. Crema marfil. EVERYONE tried to talk me out of it. I wanted a creamy kitchen that looked like Michael Smiths, circa House Beautiful 2008 and I was not to be deterred. It is pretty, but etching abounds. I would definitely do marble again over granite (have had that and it's not perfect either) but I would probably lean toward more veining. I leaned away from that (I think I was just overwhelmed with it in my tiny kitchen) but today I could handle it.

    Your kitchen is divine....and you've encouraged me to just go with the etching. It shows we live here and enjoy it!!

    Happy Tuesday!
    xoxo Elizabeth

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  70. I am so glad you posted this topic. I have marble samples in our large room out back (site of future kitchen)I have been going back and forth for months. My argument has always been the same...people have been using it for centuries! why cant I have it in my old house! Thanks Joan, my mind is made up! Marble all the way!

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  71. Wonderful post!

    Would you consider using marble in a little girls bathroom? If so, would you use honed or polished?

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    1. I would Shannon, as long as you both realize it won't stay "perfect" looking (although I will say ours in the master bath still looks great after 4 years of use, but we are also pretty neat and wipe it after each use when water splashes) and will need a bit more maintenance. I would definitely use honed.

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    2. Thank you so much. Love your blog!

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  72. How informative and thanks. What is most evident is just how beautiful it is. I've not been in a kitchen where it is used but I love all the photos that I have seen. Your kitchen has got to be one of the most published on line. Thanks for sharing.

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  73. So helpful!

    Would you be so kind as to continue your tour of the inside of your cabinets and what you used in the dead corners (lazy susan or fancy hardware that pulls shelves out?) and a commentary on your soapstone?

    Thanks again!

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    1. hi anon! The soapstone post is in the works and I'm hoping to get a post up continuing the kitchen drawers tour next (within the next couple of days!) Some days "life" gets in the way of blogging;)

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    2. I will wait patiently....Of course if you just want to come over and visit me in our 1887 house in a leafy Boston suburb as I contemplate a kitchen renovation that will keep the footprint as near identical as possible, whilst banishing the formica and trying to keep a few original cabinets....that would work too!

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    3. I do hire out! If interested you can email me.

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  74. Hi Joan!

    Wow. That's a ton of comments.
    I would say you hit a hot nerve!

    I have the carrera on two slabs inset into my
    island and yes, it is pitted and slightly stained
    and showing its age and the wear and tear...
    and I LOVE it.

    Would do it again in a heartbeat.
    :)

    Great informative post.
    Will save it for my clients who often
    ask these same q's!

    xox
    Have a great weekend.
    Alison :)

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  76. I love this~ thank you so much for all the info. We are planning on putting marble in our kitchen as well and I feel the same way about the patina it develops and that it's beauty is worth it! :) Following you along

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  77. wow. i have rings too. i thought those were stains, not etchings. i just pretend they aren't there and it doesnt really bother me. i should try your method though. incredible article. thanks!

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  78. 6 months ago we built our new house and I was so excited to have my dream kitchen which included polished Bianco marble countertops. I had done lots of research prior to choosing our countertops and I honestly feel that if anything, we were talked into our marble countertops with the premise of all the new wonderful sealers on the market. 4 months after moving in, our island was plagued with random etching spots all over. Most were the size of water droplets but one was 2" wide by 4" tall, and we had no idea what caused any of them. One morning we also discovered some leftover spaghetti sauce from two nights ago under a placemat and the sauce had stained the counter, but luckily a baking soda/water paste was able to remove the stain after repeated treatment. Another trouble spot has been our built in soap dispenser next to the faucet, occasionally the soap will still drip out after you pump it and if you let it sit there and don't wipe it up the soap will eat away and etch the counter. This surprised even the salesperson when I told her as it is just ordinary dish soap that she even recommended to clean with on a daily basis. About 2weeks ago we decided to have the etched spots buffed and the counters resealed. It's important to know that the etched spots don't completely disappear but they do look better. Honestly we are not certain that the counter was sealed properly to begin with. Thankfully we have not had any new problems with etching and we may just consider this maintenance that we do on an annual basis. Do I LOVE my marble countertops? Absolutely!! Would I choose them again? I am not sure, they are pretty high maintenance and with two small boys and a husband who likes to make a mess in the kitchen the etching stresses me out. While the aged and patina may look great in some kitchens, it is just not the look I am going for in my kitchen. It's important to do your research, know your expectations and in the end go with what you love!

    We also have carrera marble in our master bath (shower, floor, tub surround and countertops) and I would love to hear cleaning recommendations especially for the shower. I would like to be able to use some type of product to help with soaps scum, grout lines, etc but I know not to use anything harsh or with bleach that may etch the marble. Anyone have a good recommendation?

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  79. Hi Joan,
    Great post! Any thoughts on using honed Carrera marble for a master bathroom shower floor? We have well water that is softened, but can occasionally still leave rusty marks. You mentioned that some toiletries can also etch. Overall, I figure it would probably etch fairly uniformly since it is a small space, but I've never had marble so I don't know that for sure. I found some little marble tiles that aren't uniform in their cut, so they have the appearance of little cobblestones. It's the only tile I've found that I "love" the look of, but not sure if it would be a nightmare to keep up. My husband wants to do a matte black porcelain tile on the floor with white subway tile walls. The overall look of the bathroom will be classy vintage (wood floors, antique dresser with harp mirror converted to a vanity, white beaded board wainscot, etc.) What to do?!...

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    Replies
    1. Heather, I'm not sure if you know this, but we did use honed Carrara marble on the master shower floor, and on the guest bath floor and shower floor (photos of the rooms are one the sidebar.) When I mentioned that certain toiletries can etch marble I was referring to marble used as a countertop. I will say, the marble floor is really pretty! Good luck with your decision.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Joan! I can't seem to find the pictures of your actual showers, just the floor of the guest bath, which is gorgeous! I am assuming that you have well water since you live in the country. I have had well water at every house I've ever lived in, and some are rusty and some are not, but all leave mineral deposits of some kind. Do you have any trouble with mineral or soap scum build-up in the showers? Do you simply clean your shower floors with Bar Keeper's Friend? Are there any daily cleaning products or habits that make the marble shower floors easier to maintain so they require less hands and knees scrubbing? With ceramic or porcelain tile I'd simply spray it with a natural daily shower spray, but I doubt that is a good idea with marble. Thanks for sharing your experience, it is really helpful to those of us in the throes of these decisions! :)

      Delete
    3. We do have well water, but I don't have any issues with rust or mineral deposits, thankfully;) I clean the shower with either Bar Keepers Friend or Mrs. Myers powder (I find those work better than the liquid cleaners.) I don't have any experience with using any types of sprays, sorry.

      Delete
  80. Hi Joan, I've come back to re-read this post, which was so timely! We just picked out the marble for our kitchen-Danbee White from Vermont. I have a sample of it, and am going to town trying to etch it (easily done!) and stain it (haven't been able to stain it yet) so there are no surprises when we get it installed. I've come back to ask you a question about scratching. Granted, I've taken forks and knives and basically hacked and slashed at the marble sample to see what happens. While the Danbee seems to be more resistant to scratching than other marble samples we have, it does mark. Do you find scratching to be a problem? Needless to say, we would always use a cutting board and be cautious, but does things like dragging a heavy appliance (mixer? coffee maker?) accross the marble mark it? Thanks in advance! I can see you've had a TON of comments on this post-wow!

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    Replies
    1. Andrea, Since it is a natural stone it 'will' scratch, but no I haven't had a problem with it scratching. I do have small scratches, but just from everyday use and that's to be expected. I'm always dragging things across it, and have found mine to be quite sturdy.
      kisses to baby Ella!

      Delete
  81. We chose Calcutta marble for our kitchen, and were questioned about our sanity more times than I care to remember...but we went ahead with the instalation anyway and have never looked back! We definitely have etches (and a few chips) but we LOVE it and couldn't imagine having anything else. It's funny about the 'mysterious etches', just the other day I discovered etches with a tiny crosshatch pattern, couldn't figure out for the life of me where those came from until I remembered that I'd made a Coeur La Creme a few weeks ago that had lemon zest in it...mystery solved, crosshatch pattern now part of the patina.
    This was an wonderful post Joan, and from one marble lover to another...thank you!
    xo J~

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  82. Thank you for that great information! (But could you correct the French quote?)

    ReplyDelete
  83. Hi Holly! Could you please tell me what Houston company offers the 15 year stain-free guarantee on their carrara? I'd love to use them for my own kitchen reno project. Also what variation of marble did you use-- it's beautiful! Thank you!
    Alana

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  84. Thanks so much for taking the time to do these experiments and for the photos and posting it all.

    Marble Floor Polish

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  85. I have been honing and leathering marble in Anaheim since 2008 and have been telling clients how to maintain marble for 20 yrs, and you gave your readers the best and most through explanation I have seen. Great job!
    Mark Ortiz
    Perfect Granite Solutions - Anaheim Ca.

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  86. Honed is the way to go, whether it be marble or granite - it has a soft, mellow look and does not show etching as much as polished surfaces do. I have polished granite in my kitchen and have not had any problems but chose honed marble for my bathrooms (even the children's) and love it!!! My contractor tried to talk me out of it but I had my heart set on it. Plus, I grew up in a 1915 era home with honed marble steps in the entry that still look great in spite of all the traffic is has seen over the years (and that was in Boston with all the mess from snow, salt and dirt). I figured if it could handle that, how bad could it be for a counter top? I had also seen it used many times as a counter in restaurant bars and they looked great. My bathroom counters have been used for over a year now and still look great. I am so happy I stuck to my decision and didn't let myself get talked out of it. They were sealed by the installer. Before going with the honed carrara marble, I got a sample of it sealed and tried to stain it with various stuff (mascara, lipstick, etc.) and left it on the sample overnight. I had no problems with cleaning the stains off.

    ReplyDelete

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