Is marble bad for kitchens? 10 things no one tells you about using this porous stone

Marble is a classic and timeless material that has been used in homes for centuries. Its beauty and elegance make it a popular choice for kitchen countertops. However, marble has some downsides, especially in a heavily-used space like the kitchen. Here are 10 things most homeowners don’t realize about using marble in kitchens.

1. Marble stains easily

Marble is a porous material, which means it can absorb liquids and substances that can leave stains. Anything from wine and coffee to oil and vinegar can potentially stain marble countertops. Acidic substances like lemon juice, tomato sauce, and vinegar can etch the marble and damage the surface. Staining is one of the biggest concerns with marble in kitchens.

Once marble is stained, it can be difficult to remove it completely. You’ll need to act quickly to clean up spills before they have a chance to set in. For light stains, a mix of baking soda and water or a marble-specific cleaner may do the trick. But deep-set stains often require the help of a professional stone restoration company. Preventing stains in the first place is key for maintaining beautiful marble countertops.

2. Marble is prone to etching and scratching

While marble is a durable material, its calcium carbonate surface makes it vulnerable to etching from acidic liquids like wine, coffee, and fruit juices. Etching damages the surface and leaves a rough, matte mark on the stone.

Marble can also be scratched and chipped from cutlery, pots and pans, and appliances placed directly on the surface. Using cutting boards and taking care not to drag kitchen items across the countertop can help minimize scratches. But avoiding etching and scratching completely is nearly impossible in a working kitchen.

Professional refinishing and polishing can help reduce the appearance of etching and scratches. But marble will likely need repeated treatments over its lifetime. The patina marble takes on over time from this wear and tear adds to its charm for many homeowners.

3. Heat can damage marble countertops

As a natural stone, marble is sensitive to sudden temperature changes. Exposure to heat can cause cracking or discoloration. Placing hot pots, pans, or baking sheets directly on a marble countertop can damage the surface.

To prevent thermal shock, use trivets, hot pads, or other protection when setting anything hot on marble. Don’t expose marble to extreme temperature swings. Slow, gradual temperature changes are safer. Also take care with heat-generating appliances like electric skillets and instant pots. Keep them on a protected surface.

4. Marble requires frequent sealing

Since marble is porous, it needs to be sealed periodically to prevent stains and damage from liquids. Sealing fills the pores in the stone, creating a protective barrier. Most experts recommend sealing marble kitchen countertops every 6-12 months. A high-quality impregnating sealer designed for marble is best.

Sealing marble is crucial for countertops that will have exposure to water, oils, and acidic substances. But it does need regular reapplication. Some sealing products can change marble’s natural appearance as well. Proper sealing and avoiding over-cleaning helps marble retain its luxurious patina.

5. Bacteria can thrive in marble’s pores

The porosity and natural texture that make marble so appealing also provide places for bacteria to lurk. Germs can hide away in tiny pores and crevices in the stone.

While sealing helps reduce bacterial growth, marble requires careful cleaning and disinfecting to limit microbes. Essential oils like tea tree oil make effective, non-toxic cleaners. Good hand hygiene when handling food and proper cleaning of kitchen tools and appliances also help reduce bacteria on countertops.

6. Marble can support molds and fungi growth

Like bacteria, molds and fungi can grow in the microscopic pores within marble surfaces. With routine deep cleaning and sealing, growth is preventable. But marble’s susceptibility to mold still makes it a poor choice for moisture-prone areas like near a kitchen sink.

Signs of mold or fungi may appear as small black spots. A marble cleaner with light bleach can remove the growth. Avoiding excess moisture and promptly drying spills also helps deter mold. For bathrooms and damp areas, less porous granite may be a better option.

7. Marble is heavy and may require reinforcement

Marble kitchen countertops are made from large stone slabs that are very heavy. Most marble weighs between 150–175 pounds per cubic foot. That substantial weight adds up, with just a small section of countertop weighing several hundred pounds.

Proper kitchen support structures are vital for preventing cracking under the load. Cabinets and bases need reinforcement to bear the weight. Marble slabs may need additional bracing too. Discuss required structural enhancements with your installer before purchasing marble.

8. Marble can chip on the edges

The overhang at the front edge of a countertop is vulnerable to chipping and breaking, especially with a heavy material like marble. Damage often occurs from impact of falling objects or bumping into the overhang.

Choosing thicker marble slabs can provide more durable edges. Many fabricators also apply edge treatments for added protection. Polished, rounded, or brushed edges make chipping less likely. Edge treatments do add to the marble’s cost but help prevent permanent damage.

9. Variation in marble texture and veining

Marble has naturally occurring markings and veining that make each slab unique. But significant differences in adjacent pieces can disrupt the visual flow of countertops. Veining may clash across separate slabs.

To achieve a cohesive look, pay attention to vein and texture patterns when selecting marble slabs. Work with your fabricator to bookmatch pieces, using adjacent cuts from the same slab. This helps align patterns and keep countertops harmonious.

10. Marble needs gentle cleaning solutions

Harsh cleansers and abrasive pads can damage marble surfaces. Powdered cleansers, alkaline solutions, and acidic chemicals wear down the stone. Scouring pads also scratch the surface.

Instead, use a pH-neutral cleaner made specifically for natural stone. Warm water, mild soap and soft cloths are effective for routine marble cleaning. Always avoid vinegar, citrus, bleach, ammonia, and alcohol that can etch or discolor the marble. Gentle cleaning preserves its beauty.

Marble’s drawbacks don’t make it unsuitable for kitchens, but they require some maintenance and care. Understanding its vulnerabilities in a kitchen setting allows you to prevent damage and enjoy the timeless elegance of marble countertops. With proper sealing, cleaning, and use, marble can be a regal focal point in your kitchen for decades to come.

Is marble bad for kitchens? 10 things no one tells you about using this porous stone

Marble is stunning but delicate. Its vulnerabilities in the kitchen are often overlooked. Knowing how to care for marble helps protect its beauty. Follow these key tips:

  • Seal regularly with an impregnator to prevent stains
  • Clean up spills quickly to avoid permanent damage
  • Use trivets and boards to prevent scratching and etching
  • Avoid exposing marble to sudden temperature changes
  • Use gentle cleansers designed for natural stone only
  • Ensure adequate kitchen support for marble’s heavy weight
  • Select thicker slabs and apply edge treatments
  • Look for similar veining patterns when choosing pieces
  • Repair etching and scratches to maintain marble’s appearance
  • Discuss required structural reinforcements with your installer

With extra care, marble can be a regal yet functional element in your kitchen. Its elegance and timeless, luxurious look make it a worthwhile investment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Marble in Kitchens

Is marble really that bad for kitchen countertops?

Marble does require some extra maintenance in kitchens but isn’t necessarily a bad choice. With proper sealing and care, marble can perform well as kitchen countertops. The key is being aware of its vulnerabilities to staining, etching, and scratching and taking steps to prevent damage. It also needs gentle cleaning with non-acidic products. With its classic beauty and elegant look, many homeowners feel marble is worth the extra effort.

What are the best types of marble for kitchen countertops?

The more durable and dense types of marble like Carrara, Statuario, and Calacatta hold up better to heavy use. Thicker slabs around 3cm are also recommended for added strength. Marble with smaller, tighter veining is easier to keep looking uniform. Stay away from softer, more porous varieties like Arabescato and Nero Marquina for countertops.

Does sealing really make a difference for marble kitchen countertops?

Yes, sealing is critical for preventing stains and damage on marble countertops. The sealer penetrates the stone’s pores and creates a protective barrier that repels liquids. Sealing also inhibits etching and discoloration. Marble countertops should be sealed every 6-12 months for the best protection. Be sure to use a reputable impregnating sealer specifically formulated for marble.

What kind of maintenance is required for marble kitchen countertops?

Daily maintenance involves cleaning up spills immediately, using trivets and cutting boards, and avoiding abrasive cleaners or materials. Weekly, clean with a gentle marble-safe soap and soft cloth. Every 6-12 months, reseal the countertops with an appropriate sealer. As needed, use a marble polish to remove etching or scratches and restore the stone’s appearance.

How often do marble kitchen countertops need to be polished?

Marble should be polished on an as-needed basis when etching, dullness, or scratches start to appear. This may be once every few years in a kitchen. Have professionals do the polishing, as it involves abrasives and specialized tools to hone marble’s surface. Avoid DIY polishing that can damage the stone. With proper care and prompt stain removal, your marble can go years between professional polishing.

Is marble too high maintenance for kitchen countertops?

Marble is more high maintenance than granite or quartz countertops. But with some preventative care and gentle cleaning practices, it can perform well in kitchens. The extra effort of sealing and polishing to keep marble looking pristine may be worthwhile, depending on your priorities. For those preferring low-maintenance surfaces, quartz or granite are better options.

How do you remove stains from marble kitchen countertops?

Start by dabbing the stain with a soft cloth and plain water. For oil-based stains, use a small amount of dish soap. For tougher stains, make a paste with baking soda and water and gently rub onto the stain. Acetone-based nail polish remover can also lift stubborn stains. Avoid acidic cleaners which may worsen etching. Deep stains may require professional cleaning.

Can you put hot pots and pans on marble kitchen countertops?

No. Marble can crack or discolor from sudden temperature changes. Always set hot cookware on trivets. Allow pans to cool somewhat before setting directly on marble. Avoid subjecting marble to extreme heat like hot skillets or boil-overs. The thermal shock can permanently damage the stone.

How do you get pen or marker stains off marble?

Rubbing alcohol works well for ink stains. Pour some onto a cloth and gently rub the stain. Rinse with water afterwards. Alternatively, try using acetone nail polish remover. Avoid harsh chemicals like paint thinner. If needed, call a professional stone cleaner for tough marker stains that react differently than food and beverages.


Marble undeniably requires some extra care in kitchen settings. But understanding its vulnerabilities allows you to take the right precautions. With regular sealing, prompt cleanup of spills, and gentle cleaning practices, marble can be a practical yet beautiful addition to your kitchen. Its classic elegance and luxurious appeal make marble a coveted choice. Just be sure to enter the decision with eyes wide open about the maintenance required. With its timeless charm and striking visual impact, marble kitchen countertops are an investment that pays dividends for years to come in added home value and enjoyment.