This Your Foolproof Guide to Choosing the Right Marble Countertop

Updated 04/14/19

Marble surfaces are everywhere lately and it's not hard to see why. This choice is a classic that never seems to go out of style and it makes any room look expensive, instantly. But like any big decision, you should weigh the pros and the cons before you run the plastic.

When it comes to picking a stone to finish off any space you want to know what you’re investing in and whether it’s a true fit for your lifestyle. You also want to get cozy with the idea of the many different types (and price ranges) marble comes in. Well, consider this your official (and foolproof) guide to choosing the right marble countertop for you. Read on and soon you’ll be well-versed and ready to pull the trigger.

Is Marble Right for You?

a kitchen with marble countertops
Aubrey Pick ; DESIGN: Katie Martinez

Not All Marble Is Made Equal

Is it just us or is marble the ultimate “adult” addition to your home? Not just because it adds a polished sophisticated feel, but because you will never set another glass down without a coaster again, slice a lemon without a cutting board, and you better hope no one gets clumsy with the red wine. The first question you need to ask when looking for the right marble surface for you is how porous the stone is. Different marbles have different attributes and choosing one that’s less porous can save you a lot of money, and anxieties, in the long run. Opting for a marble such as Carrara, which is less porous, could have the longevity you’re seeking.

Beauty Is in the Imperfections

Marble is a material made by Mother Earth herself (minerals fused by heat over time, building into the strong rock face we know and love). Naturally, it comes with its own quirks and characteristics and no two slabs will ever look the same. Calacatta tends to be more white (and pricier) while Carrara can contain more grays and blues in its veining. When it comes to the veins—one of marble's most charming traits—having a professional who knows how to cut and place each slab, then work those quirks to your advantage may be as close as you will get to perfection.

a kitchen with marble countertops
Elizabeth Roberts Interior Design ; DESIGN: Elizabeth Roberts

Know Your Cuts

So how do you cut to ensure you get the look you want? There are two types of cuts: Crosscut and vein cut. The former allows for the veins to be displayed more at random in an open-flower-like pattern while the latter has a linear appearance. When it comes time to lay your stone, make sure you communicate thoroughly with your contractor about how you want the seams (where two pieces of the stone meet) and veins to match up.

Caring for Your Marble

Once you’ve done your research, picked your marble, confirmed a cut, you should get familiar with what the upkeep might look like. Acidic or oily substances like citrus, vinegar or cleaning products can leave markings on your marble called etching. This can dull the surface of your countertops and can be difficult to get out without professional assistance. To avoid this you will want to use a sealant from the get-go and should be aware that over the years you may have to reapply to keep up its attractiveness.

Marble floating shelf—Athena Calderone
Eyeswoon

Pick Your Finish

Okay, so maybe your marble countertops coincide with one of the busiest rooms in your abode — not all hope is lost. The finish you choose can play a big part in the upkeep. While a polished finish may be more likely to show wear and etching, a duller finish will take the years a lot more gracefully. The same can be said for the way the corners are finished: narrow-cut corners may be more likely to chip than a rounded-off one.

Marble counter
Lincoln Barbour ; DESIGN: Jessica Helgerson

You Don't Have to Go International for Good Marble

While Italy, Greece, and Spain have long been a go-to source for high-end marble, getting a little more local can still generate quality at a friendlier price. Quarries in Vermont and Colorado are not to be overlooked.

What Marble Is Right for You?

Marble kitchen
Christopher Sturman ; DESIGN: Jessica Helgerson

Now you’re basically a pro when it comes to these timeless surfaces. But don’t head to the store just yet, we want to get you familiarized with a few of the most common types of marble you might come face to face with so you know when you’ve found your perfect match. 

Marble counter design
Elizabeth Roberts Interior Design ; DESIGN: Elizabeth Roberts

Carrara

Hailing from Carrara, Italy, this is possibly the most popular pick when it comes to putting the finishing touches on your home. Not only because it’s cost-effective and will stand the test of time (and dinner parties) but due to its beautiful attributes. A stark white stone with blue and grey veins that can really hold its own amongst an all-white kitchen.

Calacatta

Also quarried in Carrara, Italy, Calacatta is known for being on the pricier end. It brings a distinct look—most commonly white with thick dark veining but can also be found in Calacatta Gold (a golden yellow undertone to the vein) and Calacatta Michelangelo (which can be identified with its abundance of natural grey details).

a kitchen with marble countertops
Benoit Linero ; DESIGN: Jean Charles Tomas

Statuary

This marble contains a lot of similarities to Carrara in color, however, it's often identified by its natural glossy appearance. An elegant choice.

Levadia Black Marble

Also known as Titanium Black Marble, this Greek stone is a contrast to the many milky options we see so frequently. Its smoky white veins make it a stand-out choice.

a kitchen with marble countertops
Lincoln Barbour ; DESIGN: Jessica Helgerson

Emperador Marble

Emperador can be found in Spain and is desirable for its unique rich brown coloring. If you are looking to make a statement yet remain in the realms of earth tones, it could be the marble for you.

Crema Marfil

Crema referring to it’s creamy-hue (sometimes even leaning towards a blush tone), this is another memorable option for those who don’t want to go crisp white with their surfaces. It is also a great fit if you’re wary about the surface showing wear—the tan undertones tend to mask subtle staining better than others.

a kitchen with white marble countertops
Tessa Neudstadt ; DESIGN: Katherine Carter

Yule

Yule marble can only be extracted from Yule Creek, Colorado and has all the charm of a classic white stone. Being that it is more local, the cost of installation can come down significantly.

Danby

Danby marble is another option local to the USA—Vermont to be exact. With its low absorption and multitude of details, it’s a top choice for those seeking that effortless, elevated finish to a room.

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