Pros vs. Cons of Marble Countertops

Marble countertops are a luxurious and beautiful addition to any kitchen. However, like all countertop materials, marble has both advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before making a purchase. This article will examine the pros and cons of marble countertops to help you decide if they are the right choice for your home.

What is Marble?

Marble is a metamorphic rock that originated as limestone and was subjected to extreme heat and pressure, causing it to reform into marble. The swirls, veins, and colors in marble come from impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert that were present when the limestone formed.

Marble has been used as a high-end building material and sculpture medium for thousands of years. Some of the most famous marble artworks and architectures include Michelangelo’s David, the Taj Mahal, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

For countertops, marble slabs are cut from marble deposits and polished to a smooth, shiny finish. Marble is a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops, floors, walls, tabletops, and other surfaces.

Pros of Marble Countertops


The #1 reason homeowners choose marble is for its classic beauty and elegance. Marble countertops make a gorgeous design statement in any kitchen or bath. The natural veining patterns and multitude of colors available in marble add depth, dimension, and visual interest. No two marble slabs are exactly alike, so your countertops will be entirely unique.

Marble is ideal if you want your counters to be a true focal point and work of art in your home. It pairs beautifully with other high-end materials like stainless steel, nickel, glass tile, and natural wood cabinetry. The white, grey, and neutral tones of marble are versatile and fit well into both traditional and contemporary design schemes.


As a natural stone, marble is very dense, hard, and resistant to scratches, stains, and heat. With proper sealing and care, marble countertops can last for many decades. Marble’s polished surface stands up well to heavy daily use. It does not easily chip or crack like some other natural stones.

Marble is arguably more durable than many synthetic countertop materials such as solid surface, laminate, and even quartz. Its main downside is etching from acids, which is largely preventable with immediate cleanup of spills. Overall, marble is an extremely durable material that shows well over time.


Marble countertops increase a home’s resale value and appeal. Homebuyers are willing to pay more for properties with high-end finishes and luxury details like marble. The enduring popularity of marble for fine homes and iconic landmarks proves it is a sound investment that does not go out of style.

Replacing worn laminate or dated solid surface countertops with marble can yield a high return on investment. As a premium material with prestige, marble adds monetary value beyond just the project cost alone. It signals a property is elegant and well-maintained.

Easy Maintenance

Marble is relatively easy to clean and maintain, especially when sealed properly. Regular wiping with a damp microfiber cloth and mild soap/water solution is all that is required for daily maintenance. Compared to alternatives like grouted tile or porous granite, marble rarely needs deep cleaning.

Occasional re-sealing every 1-3 years will keep marble counters looking like new. As long as acidic substances like wine, fruit juice, and tomatoes are wiped up promptly, etching and permanent staining are preventable. With proper care, marble stays beautiful and avoids damage.


Marble is quarried worldwide, so it is widely available through stone suppliers and countertop fabrication shops. There are hundreds of marble varieties to choose from in a full spectrum of colors. White Carrara, grey Calacatta, and bold green serpentines are just a few popular options.

The extensive availability of marble makes it easy to hand select slabs with the exact veining patterns and colors you desire. There is an abundant supply, so you can usually find enough marble to complete large projects. Custom fabrication shops can cut and install marble countertops without long lead times.

Cons of Marble Countertops


Marble is porous and prone to staining from acids, oils, and certain liquids. Water and other liquids can soak into the surface and cause dark spots or rings. Acidic substances like wine, tomatoes, and citrus will etch away the polish if not wiped up promptly. Oils may penetrate and leave greasy discolorations.

This porosity means marble requires much more vigilance against spills and stains compared to non-porous options like quartz and granite. Extra care must be taken to keep marble counters in pristine condition for the long haul.


To prevent staining and etching, marble must be sealed before installation and periodically re-sealed over time. Sealer fills the pores in the stone to create a protective barrier. However, sealers wear off after 1-3 years depending on use. Re-application is vital to prevent gradual damage.

Some people find the regular sealing required to be a nuisance. DIY sealing can also result in splotchy areas if not applied evenly. Improper or lack of sealing will lead to permanent stains that ruin the appearance of marble.


Marble rates only 3-4 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, while granite rates around 7-8. This makes marble a softer stone that is more vulnerable to scratching, chipping, and etching. Pots and pans can scratch the surface if not lifted during use. Dropped objects may chip or crack marble.

Marble requires some extra care while in use to prevent accidental damage to the vulnerable surface. The softness also means marble develops a patina or worn look more quickly than harder stones.


Marble is one of the most expensive natural stone countertop options. Material alone will cost $80-$200 per square foot installed. The rarer the variety and finer the quality, the higher the price tag. Professional fabrication and installation will add thousands more.

Budget at least $10,000 for a full set of marble counters in an average sized kitchen. This high initial investment means marble is out of reach for many homeowners’ budgets. Weigh the cost versus the length of time you plan to live in the home.

High Maintenance

In addition to regular sealing, marble requires frequent cleaning and care to prevent damage from stains, etching, and abrasions. Spills, especially acidic ones, should be wiped immediately before they have time to etch the surface.

Using cutting boards instead of directly slicing food on counters is recommended. Always lifting pots/pans instead of sliding across the marble is important to avoid abrasion. Compared to lower maintenance options like quartz, marble can feel high maintenance.

Limited Colors

While marble does come in a diverse range of natural colors and patterns, the overall selection is still limited compared to engineered options like quartz. For a seamless, bold, or uniform look, marble may not offer all the options you desire.

The colors available are also mainly in the white, grey, brown, and black families. If you prefer a vibrant tone like emerald or sapphire blue, marble will not accommodate such shades. The range of colors and patterns should be considered before selecting marble.

Marble Pros and Cons Comparison Chart

| Pros | Cons |
| Beautiful, unique aesthetics | Porous and prone to staining |
| Very hard and durable | Requires frequent sealing |
| Increases home value | Relatively soft stone vulnerable to etching and abrasions |
| Easy to maintain when sealed | Very expensive material and installation costs |
| Wide range of colors and patterns | Limited color selection compared to engineered stone |
| Readily available | High maintenance requirements |

Marble Countertops – FAQs

How do you clean marble countertops?

Use a damp microfiber cloth and mild dish soap and water to wipe down marble daily. For tougher stains, use a poultice made with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and water. Re-seal every 1-3 years. Avoid abrasive cleaners that will damage the finish.

Do marble countertops stain easily?

Marble is prone to staining because it is porous. Acids will etch and liquids can soak in if not wiped up immediately. Always use sealers and coasters under glasses to prevent stains. Prompt cleanup of spills will keep marble counters stain-free.

How durable is marble?

Marble is very hard and dense, making it quite durable in the home. It resists scratches, chips, cracks, and heat damage well. When properly sealed and cared for, marble counters can last for decades with minimal signs of wear. The main durability concern is chemical etching.

Is marble expensive?

Yes, marble is one of the most expensive natural stone countertop options. Expect to pay $80-$200 per square foot for marble slabs, plus thousands more for professional fabrication and installation. Luxury varieties like Calacatta can cost up to $300 per square foot.

What are the best marble types for countertops?

The best marble varieties for countertops are White Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuario because they resist staining well and are available in large slabs for seamless installation. Avoid heavily veined varieties, which can look too busy. Stay away from colored marble, which shows etching more.

How thick should marble countertops be?

A standard thickness for marble countertops is 3 cm or 1 1/4 inches. Thicker marble around 2 inches is best for heavy duty use in a kitchen. Bathroom vanity marble tops can be a minimum 2 cm thickness. More thickness increases durability and prevents cracking or chipping.

Do you need to seal marble?

Yes, it is highly recommended to seal marble countertops before installation and re-seal every 1-3 years. Sealer protects porous marble from stains and etching. Marble is still somewhat prone to staining even with sealer, so prompt cleanup of spills is also crucial.

What finish is best for marble countertops?

A polished finish provides the classic, elegant sheen most people want for marble counters and vanities. Honed marble has a matte, satin-like finish but shows etches and stains more easily. Tumbled or distressed finishes have an antiqued look but feel rough and require more sealing.

Can you cut on marble countertops?

It is best to avoid directly cutting foods on marble counters, even if sealed. Use a cutting board instead to protect the vulnerable surface. The slight scratches from cutting will gradually ruin the polished finish. Sliding a knife across marble is likely to etch the surface.


Marble countertops offer timeless elegance and luxury but do come with some maintenance requirements. The marble pros of beauty, durability, value, and easy maintenance make it a fabulous choice if you don’t mind the cons of potential staining, sealing, cost, and care. For many homeowners, the visual impact of marble outweighs the extra work needed to maintain it.

Consider your lifestyle, budget, and how much upkeep you are willing to do before deciding between marble, granite, quartz, or other countertop materials. If you choose marble, proper sealing and maintaining good habits like using cutting boards and coasters will keep it in tip-top condition for decades. Marble countertops will add beauty and value to your home when properly cared for.