Q: What problems come along with unsealed marble counters in a kitchen?
My wife is dead set on getting unsealed marble counters. I have heard that unsealed marble is a very tough material to keep in good shape. We have young kids and like to entertain. How realistic is it that these counters will remain in good shape? Any pros or homeowners have experience with seeing unsealed marble 10 years down the road? I want counters we can live with, not ones we have to be afraid of damaging. Any thoughts that will either convince me I'm wrong or will help me convince my wife to go with sealed marble or another material? Thanks for the help.
A: Unsealed or Honed?
There are two types of finishes for marble counters: polished or honed. I'm assuming you're referring to a honed finish.
Marble is a beautiful stone, and a popular material for counter tops these days. Unfortunately, it's not ideal for a kitchen that gets a lot of heavy use, and particularly bad if you have kids around.
It's much softer than granite, and more prone to scratch. It's also more easily chipped, and this happens a lot around under mount sinks where pots and pans are lifted in and out. Marble is also very porous, and must be sealed regularly.
The biggest enemy of marble is an acidic liquid--citrus juices, tomatoes, heavy cleaners, etc. Marble reacts with acids and etches. No matter how careful you are, at some point one of these liquids will end up on your counter, and will quickly remove a polished finish. Honed finishes won't show these places as much, but you'll still notice them.
If you start with a polished finish, don't expect it to stay pristine--and the polish will actually draw more attention to wear and stains. That said, if ever there was a material for which the word "patina" was meant--it's marble. Over time, a honed finish will take on a beautiful character from wear and use---but if you're a neat freak, it's probably not the material for you.
Flag / Report
A: Not all Marbles are created equal
The green and white marbles are the most dense and can be used as kitchen counter tops. You will see these in some commercial settings too, but they are not surfaces to be used for food preparation. Sealers do not make the marbles more durable, nor do they make porous and softer stones acceptable.
Honing a surface roughens up the surface and exposes more surface area, so a sealer will help prevent the surfaces from grabbing residue and staining. Granites are easier to maintain even when honed, and I'm not including quartzite which can have large cells and fissures that wick.
Flag / Report
Answer This Question