When I bought my first house last year, I was determined to have marble countertops — Carrara marble, specifically. And with Carrara falling on the relatively cheap end of materials (an average of $40 per square foot), several houses in my tiny budget had them.
Of course, I looked at homes with other options — drab granite, rustic butcher block, and one unfortunate bout of Formica. But there was just something that kept drawing me back to marble.
“Marble really is a timeless choice,” says Felipe Tobar, CEO of Donjo Construction in the Washington, DC, area. “Color schemes and styles come and go, but marble’s properties complement any trend.”
It's also strikingly functional: Marble is dense and heat dissipates through it quickly, so it stays cool to the touch on hot days. That also means you can roll dough directly on your countertop, or set down a hot tray of cookies, without fear of damaging the marble.
So, in the end, I got what I wished for. And you know what they say when that happens.
Marble does elevate my kitchen's look. My countertops are gorgeous — both from a distance and up close, down to that gray-blue vein and the hint of gold sparkle. But they also have some serious drawbacks I never considered before I committed to them. Here’s the truth behind that Pinterest-perfect stone.
1. It won’t stay pristine
For all its advantages, your marble countertops won't stay beautiful unless you’re some kind of miracle worker.
“Marble is prone to scratching and staining," says Gill Chowdhury, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty. "Chopping vegetables directly on it will show. Liquid, particularly acidic liquid, can also stain the surface.”
"Marble is one of the softer natural stones out there, making it easier to scratch and chip," says Malorie Goldberg, principal designer at Noa Blake Design in Marlboro, N.J..
I’ve tried, in vain, to keep my marble looking shiny and full of hope, but I’m fighting a losing battle. The first incident happened a mere three weeks after I moved in: I cut some lemons on a cutting board and left them out. The juice slowly trickled over the side, slipped underneath the board, and left a dark mark no power on Earth will remove.
And then there was the bowl of tomato soup, which left a permanent, bright red circle in the middle of my countertop. It's just there, mocking me.
Why can’t I win? Well...
2. It can be seriously tricky to clean
Marble isn't just less durable than other countertops, it also can’t be cleaned like them, either.
The first few months I had my countertops, I cleaned with either water and vinegar, or an organic citrus-based cleaner. I was protecting the environment.
But I was also slowly ruining the marble.
Over time, I noticed the countertops had less and less shine. Finally, I headed to the internet: I learned that acidic liquids of any form — including organic cleaning products — are bad for marble.
Even when wiped away quickly, those acidic cleaning solutions will leave deep and narrow scratches across the surface. They can also eat away at the protective coating, making everything more prone to staining.
To clean marble, you'll need to find a cleaner specifically meant for the stone — and that can run you at least $10 for 16 ounces. It adds up.
3. You'll need to work hard to protect it
All is not lost: A seal can help protect your countertops, and it's relatively inexpensive — costing anywhere from $15 to $25 for a spray bottle you can apply yourself. But you'll have to seriously commit to regular maintenance.
"Sealing any natural stone is incredibly important in protecting not only its durability but its shine," Goldberg says. "Most pros suggest sealing marble every three to six months to maintain its luster and prevent stains."
If you opted for another kind of stone, sealing could be done much less often with the same results.
4. Unmaintained marble could be bad for resale
Maybe the small nicks and cuts in your countertops don't bother you. But if your marble isn't in pristine condition, you'll likely need to hire a pro to buff out the blemishes before you sell your home. And it's not cheap: Restoring marble countertops will run you a whopping $1,200 on average.
Even then, a restoration job might not give your marble that first-day sheen.
“In five to 10 years the product you are installing is likely to look much different and have less appeal to a prospective buyer than other stones, which may age better,” Chowdhury says.
For example, many professionals consider quartz almost foolproof. It's resistant to both stains and damage, and holds up for years.
Will marble cause monster headaches?
I still love the look of my marble, but I wish I knew what I was getting into before I bought it. My biggest advice? Before you indulge in marble countertops, consider your lifestyle.
“If you use your kitchen heavily, then marble may not be the best choice for you,” Chowdhury says.
And even if cooking isn't your jam, consider the things that can go wrong — for instance, if you have young kids or are just kind of lazy about home maintenance (we get it).
Still though, there’s just something undeniably gorgeous about this milky white stone.
“If we ever get to remodel our kitchen [at home], marble is still on the top of our wish list,” Topar says.
The is article originally appeared on Realtor.com as "The Stone-Cold Truth: 4 Lessons I Learned After Living With Marble Countertops."