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Questions about marble counters

Not long after the new marble counters were installed in the kitchen,
 my husband casually mentioned he was thinking of making a special pasta dinner that night.
He is Italian and he loves to cook so that was not really unusual...

But instantly, I started to feel queasy.
A pasta with olive oil?
Or marinara sauce?
In my kitchen?
With my new white marble counters?

I held my breath as I imagined olive oil stains and marinara sauce splatters.
Then I started to sweat and felt that feeling starting to rise up a little bit.
You know, that panicky oh no, they are going to ruin it feeling where you
actually might have to stop yourself from reaching out and grabbing something
before someone else touches it and damages it.

As my heart started to race with an overwhelming feeling of marble counter anxiety...
I did the unthinkable.

Did I tell him in no uncertain terms to
  put down the marinara sauce & step away from the kitchen? 


I smiled knowing he was going to cook an amazing dinner
and let it go.
The funny thing about kitchens...
 they do get used as most of us actually do cook in them.

So why did I choose marble knowing that my husband would cook with olive oil and red sauce?
Knowing my daughter would make popcorn with her friends late at night and might not wipe the counters down afterwards...
 and that I wouldn't know until the morning when I got up.

Knowing that lemons might be sliced and spray juice on the counter when I wasn't looking
 and that red wine might drip on it?
(Italian husband again- are you sensing a theme here?) ;)

My husband even joked that first week with our marble counters
 that maybe we should just put olive oil all over on them
and rub it in and just get on with the inevitable right now.
We did not of course.
But, he had a point.
If you are going to have marble- you are going to get that patina. C'est la vie.
So you can live with worry about spilling something on them
or just get over it and relax and enjoy them.

First of all- I love patina- and I don't consider it a bad thing.
I like pristine- but patina shows me that something was important to someone. 
It is kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit when his fur was worn away from years of love. 
No, I am not going to run out and rub lemons on it or put olive oil on it 
but I am going to embrace those imperfections when they come.

Marble has been used for centuries as flooring, on counters, in bathrooms, etc.
It shows years of wear and tear and is even more beautiful because of it.
To me, it is timeless and a perfect choice.

Even so, with throwing all that caution to the wind,
 I had a lot to learn about marble when I started shopping for the perfect slab
Enter Arizona Tile.

When I first started working with Arizona Tile, oh believe me, I already knew what I wanted. 
I walked in and said I wanted a pretty, highly polished white marble.
Let's just say that the pretty polished marble train stopped right there.
Thankfully, I was working with Steve- and he was someone
who definitely helped guide me in the right direction and answered questions about
what the best option for our kitchen would be.  

I have a whole bunch of photos that show the prep work and the in between
with installing the counters, etc and will be sharing soon
 but I have already had so many questions
about the marble specifically
 that I thought I would try to answer some of them first.
Know that  I am not an expert -this is just some thoughts
and some of what I have learned since delving into the world of marble counters.

 I love polished marble- will it work in a kitchen? 
Are your counters polished or honed?

Me too... and yes and no.
You can put polished marble in but know that it will etch- and when it does it won't be pretty. 
Think about a water stain on a tabletop- you know how it clouds up? 
That is what happens when marble etches. It's not shiny in that spot. It looks dull.
So what is the alternative and what did we choose?
A honed marble is smooth and pretty- and just one step below polished.  
It isn't shiny though, it is a matte finish.
 I almost went with the polished because it is so pretty- but when I actually saw a gorgeous polished black marble counter in a bathroom recently with all those rings and dings in the finish
I knew that Steve was right.
Honed it was.

Is all marble the same as far as durability?

Originally, I was thinking pretty white marble with grey veining.  
Honestly, one of the reasons I first went into Arizona Tile
to see what they had was their incredible pricing.
They had a huge selection of carrara slabs for less than HALF of what the remnant slab shops were selling them for.
I was amazed- and that was their everyday pricing.  Seriously- no joke.
But with carrara- currently the spot where they are in the quarry is more gray
 and I was really looking for a white background.
So Steve pulled a half a dozen amazing slabs of white marble out for me to look at-
and one of them was the Vermont Imperial Danby Honed.

Aside from the look of it-with all those long veins-which I LOVE-
Danby marble is considered to be a less porous grade of marble
when dealing with stains and absorbing things like oils. 
I didn't know that at the time, but am certainly glad that they did and pointed us in that direction.
He also offered a marble look quartz as an option- which is a good alternative to marble
 if you want the look without the worry.

Did you seal the counters? 
How do I do that? How many coats?

Yes, and 
I Sealed it. And sealed it. And sealed it. 
It is not difficult to seal marble but it makes a world of difference in how that marble is going to look.
I used 3 coats of Dupont Sealer (Lowe's) for our marble.

It was recommended by the fabricator as being top notch and
it is so simple to do- you paint it on and let it dry.
It should be repeated every-1- 2 years per the package but the fabricator recommended
 every 6 months to 1 year.
 Just. Do. It. 
You will be less stressed knowing it is sealed.

Did you install the slab yourself?

We are DIY remodelers and my dad is a contractor & custom builder
 but cutting and installing a slab ourselves was a big no go
When you decide to go with a slab of stone- whether it is marble or granite or quartz or whatever- you will need to have it fabricated- or cut to the pretty much exact dimensions of your counters. 
That can cost as much as some of the materials out there depending on the edging detail you choose and size so you need to factor that in. 
To install slab correctly, it is not a DIY  job. 
Not to mention can you imagine cutting the hole for the faucet or routing the edges
 and having something chip or crack? 
You have to know what you are doing.

My husband watched as the installers scratched their heads trying to get the slab perfectly level,
getting the seams glued together with no difference in height, etc. 
and even just the struggle to carry each heavy 500 lb piece of 3cm slab inside 
and set it down without breaking anything.
He then remarked at how frustrating that would be and how glad he was 
that it wasn't his job to do that.
After years of (sometimes aggravating & arguing) working together on frustrating projects 
I echoed that thought.

How has it been holding up so far?

Even with spaghetti sauce splatters, those random crumbs from toast that fall out of the toaster
and coffee drips... Seriously. COFFEE worries me.
 But so far, the sealer has repelled stains and any coffee or wine drips.
Oh and yes, even olive oil too.  ;) 

That said, I take precautions.
I set the coffee maker on top of a marble pastry board on the counter- just in case it leaks or has an issue and  I also do wipe the counters down several extra times a day.
 Partly because I am in love and it makes me happy
and partly to ensure that there isn't something there that might sit long enough to soak in. 
But we cook and use the kitchen as much as any other family does
and the rest of my family definitely is not as committed to wiping the counters down
and so far, so good.

So overall, if you love marble and want it in your kitchen- I say go for it.
Just seal it several times and know that you will have an
overwhelming marble stain anxiety at first.

 But once you realize that it is all good- and that when you get a stain or a mark or ding
that it is part of the patina of marble-
you will relax.

And maybe even let your family use the kitchen on occasion.

And eventually, you might even stop following them around with a rag
wiping up everything that you think  they might have spilled.

If you have questions - just leave them in the comments or shoot me an email here
and I will do my best to answer them in the next post.

More about the in-between soon and the oops that we did ahead of time
that we had to break out
and re-do again
the counters were installed.

Oh the joys of renovating.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 I worked with Arizona Tile on this project but I wouldn't recommend anything
or any company to you that I don't believe in.  I can honestly recommend Arizona Tile
for any tile or stone needs- their prices are great and their customer service is top notch. 

To see more of the kitchen makeover~ you can find it here:

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  1. I am in LOVE with your marble too:-) That has always been my first choice, then I thought quartz might be a better choice for me but ended up with wood. I do have two large slabs of marble from an old store I use for cutting, and all I did was seal them. They get a lot of abuse, but still have a beautiful patina. I also have my coffee pot in a marble board any leaks will not hurt the wood underneath, lol. I'm sure you will love these forever...they are gorgeous!!

    1. I love wood counters as well- they have such a beautiful charm! Those marble boards come in pretty handy! I thought it was a perfect solution too. Thanks for stopping by Anita!!

  2. You have such pretty kitchen... and home. I love your style and love to come here and be inspired.


  3. Your kitchen is gorgeous Courtney! Love the marble you chose.

  4. We had Mountain Danby marble at our last home and LOVED it! The only staining we had was from oils - wine, sauce, etc always wiped clean! I would do it again in a heartbeat. It's gorgeous, Courtney!

    1. Thank you Julie!! That is awesome to know about your experience and I am sure they were absolutely gorgeous too! :)

  5. Such a funny story! You have a wonderful kitchen... enjoy it! ♥ Alexandra

  6. Haha. I like your husband's solution. . .just get it over with. Seriously, your kitchen is fabulous.

  7. There are so many tricks of the trade to cleaning marble, I had them in my last home that I sold a few years before I was blogging, and I embraced the marble so much so that I purchased well seasoned salvaged marbles, white of course... I wanted the feeling in my kitchen that it had been there 100 years like my Grand parents home, and all the movies that they had filmed in there home, made me want them well seasoned. Being raised in a movie art producers life you learn tricks of the trade to all sorts of paint and removals and cleaning materials, and I did not care if my marble was stained, scratched and beautifully abused. I wanted that old movie picture counter that felt like it was in a French bakery and that pastrie doughs were rolled and flowered daily. Nothing like well seasoned counters, adding all the history and charm of a heirloom cottage home.

    You will enjoy the beauty they offer in rolling out those doughs, and all the beauty of the mess dusted all over them.
    I was really thinking about doing it in this home, but it's small, and an investment home that was to be lived in by my daughter and I for a short time, time gets by and the economy is better making it perhaps a better move investment wise to do so.
    If we don't move soon to Santa Barbara perhaps we will upgrade the counters cabinets for the weight of marbles and see what will become of this move.

    Courtney enjoy those counters, there is nothing like waking up or going to bed at night with the last thing you've looked at is the beauty of marble counter tops.
    You have a kitchen to love.


    1. Hi Dore! Such a sweet note!! I enjoyed reading about your marble experiences and memories and I just love the way you described the look that those well loved pieces of marble have- so perfect. :) Thank you for stopping by!!

  8. I love your counter and am glad you love it also,it is important for us to care for everything we have no matter what but also to enjoy.

  9. Courtney, I love your marble counters. Thank you for enlightening us about marble.
    Mary @ Orphans With Makeup

  10. very, very informative....thanks a million

  11. Your counters are gorgeous and I love your philosophy!!!...Great information here...absorbed every word for the future!

    1. Thank you Shirley! Hope to see you and the other girls at Spring Market! :)

  12. I have Carrera marble and wanted it to be honed. But my husband wanted it polished - ha, he doesn't clean at all. There are a few shadows on the marble now and I'm OK with the look because I wanted the old world charm appeal. So I'm somewhat getting a honed look.
    But I'm going to go back and read your instructions further for the annual maintenance.

    1. I think they are beautiful both ways- and honestly, I don't think the etching is that big of a deal- especially on a lighter marble. The darker marble that we had seen in the hotel that was etched big time- really showed how much of a difference it was because of the color. Either way, with some polish and some honed- it sounds like you both will be happy :) Nella mentioned another product below as well- Revitalizer by DuPont, Cleaner and Protector- I haven't tried it but she really likes it. (You can find her full comment below)

  13. glad for this timely post. I am building a home and have debated back and forth ad-infinitum about marble. Have you dripped vinegar or mustard on those counters? I think mustard is my biggest fear....a huge YELLOW stain on that beautiful white.

    1. No haven't had any mustard or vinegar drips but I would think as long as you sealed them and made sure to wipe it up without waiting too long they would be okay.

  14. We just installed Vermont Imperial Danby honed as well. We went to the stone yard looking for Calacutta, but it was too "patterned" for us. When we saw the Imperial Danby, we knew it was the right one. We are head-over-heels in love with it and would have to say our experience was very similar to yours. I want to get up and "hug" it every morning because it has totally transformed this kitchen of the home we purchased in the late summer into the space I knew it could be. Enjoy your beautiful kitchen...pasta, sauce, and all!!! --clr/bham

    1. I bet it is absolutely beautiful Cheryl!! It is a gorgeous marble isn't it? Enjoy!!

  15. I've been considering marble and my mom was so worried about it's durability even though it's not her house lol. She read reviews about a couple of different sealers and now feels better about it. I wasn't worried. Last spring I walked the marble streets in Athens and remember thinking how pretty they looked despite age and exposure to the elements. Considering I'm not planning on walking on my marble or leaving it outside it should be okay!

    1. That is so funny Jennifer!! :) It does evoke a bit of that marble anxiety! I totally agree with you about the patina of older marble- it is beautiful :) Thank you for stopping by!!

  16. I love marble, but I opted for white quartz in my kitchen and bath counter top areas. Your kitchen has the clean airy look that I like. I enjoyed your pictures.

    1. Thank you! I have heard good things about quartz too- I bet your counters are beautiful!

  17. Courtney: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this wonderful information. The post came at just the perfect time as the representative from our local kitchen center came to our home this morning to discuss our kitchen. Wish you were here for guidance! Anyway, your information helped me considerably to discuss counters with her.
    I have an old wash stand that is most likely from the late 1800's with a marble top. It is just beautiful and has lots of patina to it. I so agree with you about the love, joy and memories that will come with time for your countertops and I do hope that one day in this country we can come to the same ideas and get away from such perfectionism.
    Your countertops are beautiful and timeless! Enjoy them everyday!

    1. You are most welcome Sandra- I'm glad that it helped with your counter choice! I agree with you about 'patina' and how we should look at more things in the same way. Thank you for stopping by!

  18. Hi Courtney, loved to read this...I installed honed marble counters in our new kitchen , yes, even after much debate and nay sayers everywhere...I use my kitchen for cooking, everyday, also from Italian heritage...I can relate to everything in your post, and can't stress enough to seal it often. I just wanted to share a miracle product that was provided by my installer...Revitalizer by DuPont, Cleaner and Protector has lifted every mark, stain and spot from my counters....just saturate the spot or stain and leave it....repeat if has saved all my unnecessary anxiety over marble in the kitchen...N.xo

    1. Thank you for the recommendation Nella! Will definitely pick some up to have on hand! :)

  19. Oh! I've wanted marble counters for such a long time. They give the kitchen that classic look. And Courtney you've unintentionally answered a question I've had for a long time. I know your love of things French -- I couldn't figure out why you had an Italian saying in your dining area. You just mentioned your husband is Italian. Ecco! You answered the question. Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful and a kitchen is meant to be lived in -- your choice is perfect!

    1. Thank you so much Marisa! That is so funny- I guess might be different to see the Italian sign in my all things French loving home. :)

  20. Thank you for this article. Perfect timing! Our Vermont Danby will be installed in a month or so. I've been reading up on ways to care for it. You mentioned wiping the counters several times a day. Is there a specific brand or type of cleaner that you use daily?

    1. Nothing fancy- just a regular kitchen towel or sponge.

    2. Thanks! Do you use some sort of daily cleaner when you wipe them down or just water?

  21. I love your counters!! I just left the stoneyard after staring at Vermont Danby and they gave me a copy of your article. I am still concerned about etching because I have a Crema marfil polished counter in my bathroom that is badly ercged. has etching been obvious on your homes counter or concern for yo?

    1. Hi Martha! How funny!! The Vermont Danby is gorgeous! I have not had a problem with etching on my counters. As I mentioned in my post though, I would definitely use a good sealer several times and just make sure not leave any oils or anything on them. Hope that helps! Thank you for stopping by and enjoy!

  22. I love your kitchen Courtney, the marble is absolutely gorgeous. I love your blog and love your inspiration you give to all of us who loves your blog. Juli

  23. Thank you for sharing this! Your kitchen is beautiful, airy and timeless. I have been stressing over marble in my kitchen despite it being what I love. I have been looking at the Vermont marble as well at Arizona Tile only it is described as a 'satin' finish rather than 'honed'. When I feel the honed Carrara marbles they are much smoother than the satin Danby marbles. Is your honed Danby very smooth? Did your fabricator do anything after purchasing to the finish? Thank you in advance and sharing your photos!

    1. Hi there! Thank you for your compliments! Our marble is a smooth marble to the touch- but not in a polished type of a way. I would say that it is probably more of a satin type finish- that seems accurate. It is beautiful in person - I don't think you could wrong with either- and Arizona Tile is great! They helped me so much when I was choosing the type of marble to use. The fabricator didn't do anything else to the counters after he finished. The only thing we have done is seal them with a marble sealer. Hope that helps!

  24. I so love my honed carrara marble on my kitchen island. It was installed 4 yrs. ago during our home remodel. Everyone and anyone thought I was nuts. I dreamed about this island for decades...and refused to let anyone talk me out of it. I do not have one regret about my decision. I did, however, decide to use white quartz on the perimeter counters to give me some leeway with food prep. (Yes, yes....I was just a little nervous, lol!) I loved the marble so much I decided on polished carrara for my bathroom vanities with small hexagonal carrara tiles on the floor. Yes...there are indeed water stains but I expected them so they don't bother me at all. (Heck..I put those same carrara hexagonal tiles on my shower floor and believe me...they get wet ;) ) Your kitchen is amazing...I also glad you are enjoying it!

  25. This is a great article. Now that it's 2018, and have had marble for quite some time now, are you STILL happy w/ it? Would you do it all over again? Or quartz? Have you been able to relax about it now or has it brought out any OCD tendencies? Lol. :) I have to choose between this or quartz next week and my first love its Danby marble, but can't quite jump off the ledge and do it. I am so scared, because I don't want to regret it either way! Please give me an update on yours! :)

    1. Yes, yes, YES. Absolutely would do marble again. I just put marble on our new island and absolutely love it. If you choose to go with it- just seal it and then enjoy. :)

  26. Hi Courtney! We are getting ready to begin our kitchen renovation and we thought we were going to use a quartz countertop; however, I am very interested in Imperial Danby. You have given terrific information about etching and staining, but I am interested in knowing what edge style you chose? I like the eased edge, but I have read in order to prevent chipping, a 3/8" roundover is best. Have you had any issues with chipping? Thank you!

  27. Courtney, what edge style did you choose for your countertop and have you had any problems with chipping? Thank you!