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Countertop Question

I know that this concern has been discussed here many times but now it is MY concern: granite vs marble. I love the look of marble but having once had two unsealed white marble bathrooms I swore, never again. I am wondering now whether with a good sealant marble countertops would survive a) blueberries b) tomatoey spaghetti sauce and c) the yellow stuff in the middle of lilies. As for granite, one is reasonably careful but inevitably something will get dragged across a countertop, probably either Cuisinart or toaster. Will it not scratch? After 20 years of Corian I am tempted to go with stone for its beauty but I want practicality too. Comments invited.

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  1. We remodeled a couple years ago and went with granite. So far so good and no scratching or other mishaps in spite of things being drug across it, hot pans being placed directly on it and a numer of other potentially harmful things. We got a slab with a lot of movement in it where scratches or other blemishes would tend to not be as visible.

    Do you have any interest in quartz or CesarStone countertops? We almost went with CesarStone except the best color for our project was apple green which we thought might have been a problem to live with long term and might not be practical for resale.

    1. Your answer may be found in the nearest cemetery. The marble stones are the ones worn and flaked, while granite of the same age weathers hardly at all. Granite is after all igneous, whereas marble is basically tempered limestone, and so is not only softer but subject to attack by anything acidic.

      I'm arguing strictly from a geological viewpoint, though, not from experience, since I don't like hard, rigid surfaces, but would like to have steel or bamboo instead of the tile I have now. Too easy to break stuff on, if you're as clumsy as I am sometimes.

      1. Marble cannot be sealed. It’s to pours and will just soak up the sealant. Granite can be sealed but there’s a lot of controversy if it really does any good in protecting the counter. Most granite is a few million years in the making and is very dense. Once polished it becomes durable and can be restored by re-polishing it. So don’t worry about surface scratches. I’m in the specialty countertop industry and sell Wood, Glass and Metal countertops to kitchen and bath dealers. The hot trend right now is to personalize your countertop system with several surfaces. Built in cutting boards, baking stations with marble tops, things like that. So, mix it up and have fun

        1. I think you are wise to beware of marble for something that gets as much use as a kitchen counter top. Enjoying a kitchen requires enough clean-up work as it is!

          Before going with granite, please take your Geiger counter to make sure it isn't emitting high levels of radioactivity. Not a joke. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/gar...
          I wouldn't install any granite I didn't check first. You don't have to avoid granite, just make sure you don't get a bad slab.

          There is also something lovely about mixing surfaces in a kitchen - and just putting the marble in key places, like where you knead doughs, for example. Or as a back splash or decorative accent.

          It is hard to match the practicality of Corian-type surfaces. Ours looks as good today as when it was installed over 10 years ago - a periodic scuffing are all it takes....sometimes I use a touch of bleach instead of scrubbing, but I'm not sure that the bleaching is ok with all colors of corian, though! I just happen to love classic white, very conveniently it seems.

          Only one thing gives me pause before recommending Corian and its sisters for a new installation: I have recently discovered that Corian doesn't actually recycle well.

          Thank goodness I like my timeless, shaker-style cabinets. When I have the urge to redecorate, I'll confine myself to paint and maybe back-splash work.

          8 Replies
          1. re: cookware junkie

            I love our Corian as well. (Our cabinets are shaker style as well - love them.) No one thinks our countertop is Corian until they realize that the sink is integrated. It looks like stone.

            Everyone makes such a big deal about granite, but because so many people have it now, it no longer seems like such a luxury item :)

            1. re: SusanB

              Isn't that the truth? It is almost ho-hum, lol. And you're right, some corian/quartz surfaces do look so much like stone that it is hard to tell the difference without a closer look. It takes a discerning buyer to select the ones that look the most stone-like, but it is certainly possible.

            2. re: cookware junkie

              I’m aware of that report. It was proven by MIA that Constantino’s and Cambria (both Quarts Manufactures) hired the scientice that produced the report. It was a huge scandal in my industry five years ago. It was also proven that there’s more radiation in the soil under your house than in your granite countertops. Is there some granite that’s has a high radiation in it? Yes, and some has gotten to market. Rare, very rare. I like natural earthen materials myself.

              1. re: Woodfireguy

                Fascinating. Like the soy people did that faux research using hydrogenated coconut oil to scare us away from healthy fats, when soy oil is incredibly bad for your heart, and soy - unless it is properly fermented - is bad for digestion, and endocrine balance, etc.

                Follow the money.

              2. re: cookware junkie

                Years ago in a different apartment we put in Corian using a speckledy-sandy gray one and it didn't show a thing. Then 9 years agp we bought our present place which already had everything done in plain white Corian which shows scratches and gouges and needs to be professionally re-surfaced every three or four years.

                1. re: Querencia

                  What on earth are you doing on your counters??????????

                  Corian isn't a substitute for a cutting board or trivet.

                  1. re: cookware junkie

                    I have never used my Corian as a cutting board---I use cutting boards. I have never set a hot pan on my Corian---I use the ceramic stove top for that. I keep only a toaster and a coffee maker and a small radio sitting directly on the countertop. Under my Cuisinart I have a piece of 1 1/2-inch thick marble with little rubber feet glued on the bottom. I had the Corian professionally refinished four years ago. I am obsessional about taking care of my things. Nevertheless, the surface of this pure-white Corian shows a lot of scratches from daily use. And I find your tone kind of snotty.

              3. I have had white marble in the bathroom, honed limestone in the kitchen and now a grey/beige/white speckled polished granite in the kitchen. My favorite for looks was the limestone though I now really like the granite. For good or bad, it has never stained and it is difficult to even tell when this stuff is dirty and sometimes I don't know it unless I run my hand over it. I never had the limestone stain from any of the things you mentioned--as well as from a red wine bottle that sat out all night with red wine pooled around the base. What did mar it was any kind of strong acid like vinegar and citrus juice and other things we didn't even think of as acidic. Those left permanent whitish marks. For the perfect stone countertop, I think I'd go with the speckled that we have but honed instead of polished because I like that look. A number of people have told me that the nightmare stone is polished black granite, which shows everything. By the way, we've had our granite for two years and haven't resealed it at all.

                2 Replies
                1. re: escondido123

                  I have CeasarStone in my kitchen and bath. It is idiot proof. I does not provide the "flow" of the high end granite, but I think it is very attractive.

                  By the way, Escondido123, do you live in Escondido, CA? I was born there!

                  1. re: Jane917

                    Yes I do, lived here for 12 years in an old house downtown. Great place!

                2. We used a soapstone on the peripheral counter tops and considered white marble on the island. I am a person who could tolerate and even like the idea of the patina of life on the marble countertop, but I was afraid of the marble being a little too subject to stains, scratching or chipping. The soapstone has worked out well and has had a few scratches and a small chip by the sink but with the dark color no one sees it. We ended up with a matt finished silestone for the island which is great. It looks the same as the day we put it in.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: wekick

                    I like the idea of soapstone, and I'd like it even more if it didn't need chemical sealants. Does it?

                    1. re: cookware junkie

                      No. I never did seal mine. It is inert but does darken in over time. You can put mineral oil on it and buff it off and it will darken it. There are different types of soapstone and some harder than others and some veined more than others. Mine is charcoal gray with cream and bottle glass green veining. They will give you samples and definitely you want to pick your own slab and be there for the templating.
                      Search soapstone on this forum and you can read quite a bit.

                      1. re: wekick

                        Great stuff. Handsome, non-toxic, inert, naturally resistant to bacteria, only needs to be cleaned with warm soapy water, oiling can be done for aesthetic purposes, but isn't really needed at all...what's not to like?

                        Here are some links to pix I enjoyed as a surfed....





                        1. re: cookware junkie

                          The only disadvantage as it is with any stone is that some people set stuff down too hard and it breaks. I have to put drink pitchers on a board.

                  2. Looked at an expensive house for sale last year that had a large kitchen with marble counters and island. The island had an enormous, deep crack running its entire length. (The house is still on the market, BTW.) I have Cambria quartz in my kitchen, and love it.

                    14 Replies
                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I have Cambria, but I have learned the hard way that I don't like the patterned quartz look. It hides every speck of toast, coffee grounds, etc. on one's counters, never knowing whether to clean up or not. One becomes either too diligent or careless cleaning up.

                        1. re: Rella

                          That is true. It hides debris "too" well.

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            If it seemed I thought that hiding of dirt was a bad thing, well I consider it a blessing.

                          2. re: Rella

                            We live in in a really humid area that has nice weather most of the year...if I don't want cockroaches and ants exploring my kitchen, I need to keep my kitchen counters clean. I chose white counters so that a) light would be reflected into a somewhat dark area and b) so I would know if the counters were clean or not! and c) yeah, I like white.

                            Sorry for your dilemma, and hoping that you live in a less pest-ridden zone than I do.

                            1. re: cookware junkie

                              Yes, we had a light 'pink' formica previously and it definitely needed clean-up time. I didn't choose the stone-type for that reason because I didn't realize it. I believe I would've chosen a lighter color had I known it.

                              I lived for a few years in Hawaii and I know pests! However, we are free of them in the house (although I did find a snake in the finished basement a few years back before we got rid of the pool - and snake eggs nesting inside the holes, then coming into the house.

                              Now, it's just critters outside. Ooops, I forgot ants -- yes, I try to catch them coming in. Nuisance!

                        2. re: pikawicca

                          I noticed that the granite joints are separating at the home of a friend. I'm not sure if it is a case of the home settling (it was a new build), shoddy installation, or both.

                          I put a little "note to self" in the back of my brain to avoid joints if I ever use stone counters.

                          As for a cracked island - sounds like a story is in there somewhere...

                          1. re: cookware junkie

                            Not sure what happen at your friends house. I assure you that a qualified granite fabricator can fix it. Avoiding joints in an average kitchen is almost impossible but it can be done. The average granite slab and most surface material comes in 68” X 120” slabs. (This an average size, check with your fabricator for the actual size of the material you want) So, design your base cabinets around that and your there. I just want to through this out there. Man-made materials are just that, Man made. Unfortunately this means plastic. If you like a material, go for it. I would never talk someone out of what their heart desirers. I can tell you this, what gets all the press in the trades, natural earthen materials. They are timeless and will always look like they belong.

                            1. re: Woodfireguy

                              Yes, most things can be fixed....at a price. I guess it just hasn't been in their budget yet.
                              Their joints are on an angled, elevated breakfast bar, so at least is isn't in the prep area.

                              It will be interesting to see if your prediction holds true when it comes to the timelessness of stone. A friend has shiny stone floors in her entry, which definitely didn't look timeless with its oh-so-subtle inset shape of Texas. Also, she didn't care for the shininess (hmm...nothing a good stone fabricator couldn't fix?). Anyway, my experience of shopping for my first home (being related to a realtor at the time meant that I got to view no fewer than 42 homes, lol) showed me that all the timelessness in the world can't make up for gosh-awful design choices...and that some things that may be sold as "timeless" may not actually be considered as such at resale.

                              1. re: cookware junkie

                                We once looked at (and rejected) a house that had an intricate custom design of poker chips set into the front hall floor in various woods. It must have cost a fortune. Right up there with Shiny Texas.

                              2. re: Woodfireguy

                                Woodfireguy, I have to agree with you, natural materials are my first choice when guiding clients in counter decisions. I will say, I DO NOT recommend marble. I had a client insist and it was a mess within a month.

                                1. re: JEN10

                                  Someone told me that in Europe they look upon those stains as memories :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    I have not heard that here.

                                    By the way, contact lense moisturizing fluid and cleaning fluid will stain Marble counters. It can be observed after two weeks time as concentric circles, and cannot be stained, cleaned, or bleached out.

                                    Granite has a 2,000 year + history of use in Europe for tables and counters. It is never sealed as a rule and usually rough cut without Bullnose treatment. Timeless.

                          2. I think they all have their strengths and weaknesses. We've had Corian in our kitchen for the last five years and I have mixed feelings about it. Ours is pretty scratched up even though we never cut on it or even move much around on it. Simple wear and tear has left it decidedly marked up. My sister in law has Silestone that is older than our counters and it looks pretty bullet proof. I know they have not be as careful as we have and the stuff looks basically brand new.

                            I just picked out granite for our new kitchen.. Brazilian black leather...and I chose it exclusively for its looks. I saw a few engineered stones that I liked very much, even some concrete counters that I thought were gorgeous, but at the end of the day this particular granite was just such a perfect match that I had to go with it. Went to a big big stone shop in our area, out in an industrial area, and paid $20 less per square foot than the cheapest granite price they have at IKEA so I feel like I got a good deal.

                            Honestly at this point, the prices of granite and engineered stone are pretty comparable. Yes some granite like Red Dragon is exorbitantly but there is plenty of granite out there that is cheaper than quartz and Silestone and whatnot.

                            I have heard that granite and engineered stone have comparable scratch resistance but that natural stone has more resistance to heat as engineered stone is bonded with polymers that can burn. Both of them I am sure are more scratch resistant than Corian, although Corian can be inexpensively resurfaced.

                            If your stone is properly sealed, it won't stain in most normal scenarios.

                            1. We've done two house exchanges with a family in SF. They went for tumbled granite in the kitchen and it's great looking and a real workhorse. I'd have sworn it was marble.

                              1. damissus and I installed granite 7-8 yrs ago in our remdeled kitchen. Replacing corian.

                                So far, no problem other than a few, .very few, quartz chips. Not a big deal. Miniscule.
                                As I recall, the granite was Dakota Red, or something like that.

                                Never a problem with hot pans, roasters and the like sitting on the countertops, and we do that frequently.

                                After trying a number of recomended cleaners, we have used WD-40 that last few times. Cleans,polishes, and gives a "like new" finish. Probably not recomended, but works for us.


                                1. Many thanks to all. Have now signed on with a contractor and am off tomorrow to select a slab of granite. Am staying away from marble. Too much like marrying a high-maintenance Gorgeous Person.

                                  1. I've been doing solid surface, quartz, marble, and granite countertops for 10 years. Marble sucks! It scratches way too easy, stains and etches easily. 98 percent of what is sold as granite in the US technically isn't granite. Some of it is great (absolute black which is gabbro, uba tuba and tropical brown which are charnockite) and some of it is absolutely the worst stuff you can use for a countertop (metallica which is phyllite). For this reason I can only say granite is usually better (99.9 percent of the time). I think zodiaq is now making marble looking quartz. Quartz is the best and safest to recommend material. They make a crema marfil that looks exactly like crema marfil marble!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Jgobigred

                                      We put quartz in our master bath a few years ago, and yes it is trouble free, but in my opinion it is so boring, it's too homogenious for my taste. We then put granite in the other full bath and I like it so much better. We just put in a new kitchen counter top and it's granite with a lot of flow and movement, just beautiful. There may be some quartz available now that looks better than what we put in a few years ago, but I haven't seen anything as interesting as the granite that's available. I agree 100% marble is too soft for kitchen use. We were considering a travertine floor for our kitchen and after doing a lot of research, decided to go with a through body porclin tile because of potential for staining.

                                      1. re: Jgobigred

                                        that's interesting! I have Blue Pearl. What is that, geologically?

                                        I've had it 14 years and abuse the crap out of it. As far as I can tell it looks exactly like it did 14 years ago. I have considred having it polished, but honestly, I'm not sure if it's any less shiny than it ever was.

                                        1. re: danna

                                          I can't remember off the top of my head what type of stone it is but almost everything pearl is an awesome choice. They also never need sealed!

                                          1. re: Jgobigred

                                            I didn't go with Silestone or Cambria, they were out of my budget. i came across this brand Haysonstone which was so much more affordable...its been 5 years and its still looking great. I love my haysonstone quartz countertops... so deinitely check them out if you are in for a affordable quartz countertops www.haysonstone.com