Each year, Americans remodel more than 10.2 million kitchens and more than 14.2 million bathrooms. These remodeling jobs are on top of the 1 million kitchens and 2.3 million bathrooms designed for new homes.
Choosing a countertop is one of the most important options you can face in your kitchen or bathroom remodeling or construction. Two popular countertop materials are granite and marble.
So, what’s the difference between granite and marble? Is granite or marble better for a countertop? Find answers to these questions and more on this guide.
Marble and Granite Basics
Both marble and granite are natural stone materials, and both are extremely common in kitchen and bathroom design. They also fit well as decorative accents throughout the house.
Marble and granite are quarried from the soil as natural stones. They are, however, various forms of soil. They, therefore, have different uses which need different treatment.
What Is Granite?
Granite is an igneous rock. Igneous rock forms when magma in the earth’s mantle or crust cools and solidifies. The heating and cooling process that produces igneous rock occurs deep in the earth and takes millions of years. This process of slow cooling results in extremely hard rock material.
The main minerals in granite are quartz, feldspar, and mica. Each of these minerals is likewise exceptionally hard.
What Is Marble?
Marble is a metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rock forms when a third type of rock—sedimentary rock—transforms.
This means that what you see as marble in a factory or showroom started off as limestone. Limestone is a sedimentary rock made up of sediments and organic material embedded in the soil. Under extreme pressure and fire, the limestone transforms—or metamorphoses—into marble. In the process, the initial limestone shifts and absorbs other minerals that contribute to the esthetic appeal of marble.
Marble is mostly composed of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a lot softer than quartz, feldspar, or mica. Marble is not quite as strong as granite, therefore.
What Are the Differences Between Granite vs. Marble Countertops?
The differences between granite and marble extend beyond the material’s origins. Understanding these differences enables you to choose the material that’s best for your needs.
It can be challenging for the untrained eye to tell the difference between granite and marble countertops. They both lend a luxurious and elegant look to space. Both are also offered in a number of color combinations. And, a close inspection shows certain variations.
Next, the color variations in marble are generally larger, acting as veins or swirls. Colors tend to be more consistent, too. For eg, a lighter gray or blue slab might have deeper blue veins.
Granite, on the other hand, typically shows a more flecked and granular look. Colors within a single slab can also display greater variation.
Granite, as a whole, appears to be more commonly found in a larger variety of colors, whereas marble slabs are typically light white or pastel in color. With a little search, however, you can even find some darker marble slabs.
Of course, these generalizations are generalizations. Because granite and marble are natural stones, no one “rule” can capture all variations.
Compared to other countertop materials, both granite and marble are highly durable.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) estimates the anticipated lifespans of various home features. According to InterNACHI, homeowners can expect natural stone countertops to last 100 years or more. This is more than double the expected lifespan of other countertops.
Still, ensuring the longevity of marble and granite requires paying attention to their unique composition and needs. The two materials are not equally hard.
The Mohs scale rates the hardness of minerals from 1 to 10. Mohs hardness of 1 indicates the softest material that is easiest to scratch. In turn, Mohs hardness of 10 indicates the hardest material that cannot be scratched. In fact, the hardest minerals like diamond, which is a 10 on the Mohs scale, can scratch glass.
Granite is a 6 or 7 on the Mohs scale. This means that producing any scratch on its surface would require significant force. In general, granite countertops resist scratches, scuffs, discoloration, and heat damage.
Marble is 3 to 5 on the Mohs scale. This indicates that marble is smoother and more easily destroyed than granite. Popular cooking activities, such as chopping, will scrape the surface of the marble. Hot dishes and pans can also cause harm.
Marble, on the other hand, is better in the low-traffic areas of your house. These could include bathrooms and architectural accents, such as fireplaces. Bear in mind, however, that heated bathroom equipment, such as curling irons, can also harm marble. In any setting, therefore, extra caution is required.
Another factor determining the longevity of a countertop is its ability to withstand stains. Again, there are major variations between marble and granite.
Since marble is more porous, it absorbs liquids easily. When these liquids are acidic, sticky, or deeply colored, they can easily—and permanently—stain the surface of the marble. Popular cooking liquids, such as wine, tomato or lemon juice, sauces, and vinegar, face specific hazards.
In the meanwhile, the composition of granite is practically impermeable to these and other stains. This is particularly valid when the surface is well treated.
Proper cleaning of granite and marble countertops includes daily sealing. When the natural stone countertop is built by a skilled craftsman, the first sealant is added. He will also inform you on the potential sealing schedule that your laptop requires.
If you have selected a marble countertop, you may need to seal the surface at least twice a year. Some homeowners find that their countertops need much more regular sealing. If you find the surface that absorbs water, a fresh coat of sealant is probably needed.
Granite countertops need less regular sealing. Depending on the product you are using, you will need to reseal the granite counters every one to three years.
Again, these time frames can vary. Therefore, it’s important to remain observant. You can even check the surface’s porosity between sealings by observing a small amount of water on the counter. If it pools or beads, your seal is strong. If the counter absorbs the water, it’s time to reseal.
Another aspect of maintenance that impacts longevity is cleaning.
Granite countertops are very easy to clean. They simply need regular cleaning with liquid dish soap and warm water.
Cleaning marble countertops is a more delicate process. Again, this is because marble is porous and can absorb—and incur damage from—harsh cleaning products. When cleaning a granite countertop, avoid abrasive cleaners, and choose a product with a neutral pH. Failing to follow these guidelines can dull or even discolor the surface.
Granite vs. Marble: Which Is Better?
Both granite and marble countertops contribute significant value to a home. Natural stone countertops also consistently appear among the top features homebuyers seek. Plus, granite and marble add elegance to your home’s aesthetic.
While they offer similar benefits, enjoying those benefits depends on choosing the material that’s right for your needs.
In fact, there is no “right” answer to the question whether granite or marble is better. The response to that question depends on the following questions: best for whom and for what purpose?
If you’re aiming for a low maintenance floor, granite is better off. Granite is also usually best suited to surfaces that are exposed to scraping, cutting, grinding, or heat. In other words, granite is the most natural alternative for kitchen countertops.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t pick a marble countertop for your kitchen. However, if you do, it means agreeing to tougher precautions and more rigorous maintenance. If you and other household members will make the effort, marble is a choice. If you still remind your children to use a trivet or counter mattress, you could stick with granite.
Otherwise, choosing between marble and granite is a matter of preference. Do you like the swirled appearance of marble or the flecked, crystallized appearance of granite? Can marble slabs accommodate your color preferences?
Also, talk to a professional. Describe your needs and expectations. Be honest about the wear-and-tear you expect your counters to endure and the maintenance you’re willing to do. A professional craftsman can recommend an ideal product.
Choosing a Countertop Material: Nothing Is Written in Stone Except the Value You’ll Add to Your Home
In new construction and remodeling, both marble and granite countertops lend luxury and value to a home. Choosing between them can be a daunting task. However, you’ve already begun to tackle it by exploring the key differences between granite vs. marble.
As you continue sorting through your options, count on the experts at Rock Solid Creations. Contact us today with questions or to request more information.