How to Choose Marble for Kitchen Countertops and Everything Else You Need to Know

marble countertops

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Many people would hesitate to choose marble for their kitchen countertops simply because other people say they are more trouble than they are worth. Before you turn your back on marble countertops, you might want to know some home truth about them as well as how to choose marble for kitchen countertops. Here is everything you need to know.

It is a classic

Marble is in a class of its own when it comes dimension stone.  Marble comes in many colors and patterns, although the classic white marble is the most popular among homeowners. It is not surprising as the white of marble is as pure as you are going to get in nature, and it is quite lovely and unique. In fact, you will not see anything precisely like marble in any other natural or engineered material.

It has its downside

Despite the many perfections of marble, it does have its downside. Some marble slabs that come from Carrara in Italy are quite dense and very small pores, which make them quite tough and resistant to stains. However, their very nature makes them vulnerable to acids.

Marble is primarily calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate. These are very reactive to acids, even weak ones such as white vinegar or citrus juices. Contact with acids will etch the surface of marble, literally eating away at it and leaving dullness on the surface. This will happen even with sealed marble, although sealing does give you a chance to wipe away the acid before it has a chance to get at the marble.

That said, choosing your marble slab carefully and providing reasonable care means you can safely choose this beautiful and functional stone for your kitchen countertops, and it will serve you for many years.  The nice thing about marble is you can polish or sand it down to get rid of those pesky etch marks and stains.

It comes in many varieties

While most people limit their choices to white marble, there are many variations. Colors range from pure white to black, and some of the lovelier shades in between include taupe, red, gold, and green.  When it comes to kitchen countertops, however, you might want to choose white marble because it hides most etch marks, which tends to be whitish. Of course, the best way to hide etch marks is to avoid making any!

The most popular choices for white marble are Statuario and Calacatta because they are usually high-quality stones. However, you can choose local marbles such as Colorado Yule and Vermont Danby and get the same quality.

How to choose marble

Choosing the right marble slab can be challenging as each one is unique. You need to choose slabs when you already have a precise idea of where they will go. While you cannot make the veins and patterns to order, you can choose slabs with markings that will form an interesting design. Of course, the best way to keep your countertops from looking hodge-podge is to have no seams. If they are unavoidable, try to look for book matched slabs so you end up with joined pieces that look like mirror images.

Assessing veins

Marble slabs typically display linear or stripe veins, but this is a result of the way the quarry cut the marble block. This type of cut is the vein cut or striato, like cutting meat with the grain. These slabs will display the familiar long veins seen at a linear angle.

Another type of cut is crosscut or fleuri cut, which in meat terms would be cutting across the grain. The resulting slabs will look more like a flower than a vein, and you will see significantly more color in the slabs. Slabs cut in this way are the best for book matching, so they typically end up in walls and countertops where matching is more important.

You can choose slabs cut both ways, relegating striato cut slabs for the floors. You can also choose to reverse it, placing striato slabs on the walls and fleuri slabs on the floor. It is all a matter of preference.

Choosing a finish

Back in the day, you can choose a polished or honed finish for your marble countertops, and that was pretty much it. However, new technology has made it possible to offer more finishes for stone countertops, including leather or orange peel textures.

That said, polished or honed finishes are still the most popular choices for practical reasons. A smooth finish is easier to maintain, although a highly polished finish does make etch marks very visible. You can choose a honed finish to better camouflage small imperfections in the stone without having to deal with heavy textures on your countertops.

Choosing the edge

The edge profile you choose for your marble can transform the look from modern to traditional, and vice versa. Simpler edge profiles such as a straight edge usually comes free of charge, but treatments that are more complex can come at a significant cost. However, thanks to modern machinery, it is much easier to carve complex edges to marble countertops without costing an arm and a leg.

That said, some edge treatments are more popular than others are. Most people prefer the simplicity of an eased edge because it softens the sharp angles of the stone. Others prefer the bullnose edge for its classic look.

Aside from esthetics, practical matters also take precedence. Since marble is tough but somewhat brittle, keeping sharp edges makes it more prone to chip when struck with a hard object. Curving the edges with an eased or bullnose treatment minimizes that risk.  If you want your countertops to look thicker, put in a mitered edge with an eased or bullnose profile.


You need to know how to choose marble for kitchen countertops and everything else that affects it to maximize your investment. You can benefit from the expertise of countertop specialists to make it easier. Granite ASAP is your best resource for marble countertops if you are in the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC. We offer free estimates and quotes for any of your kitchen countertops and remodeling needs.

We carry over 100 colors of marble and granite slabs available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom. We also carry some of the best engineered stone brands in the country. We can offer you products from the Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI brands, each one carrying the manufacturer’s warranty. You can choose what you want, and we will deliver it ASAP!

Feel free to ask any questions over the phone or get in touch using our contact form today!