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Quartz vs. Marble Countertops

December 20, 2019

Countertop trends have evolved over time, but marble and marble-look surfaces have long been an indicator of style. I love the look of the clean, neutral tones and how they can totally brighten up my kitchen. With all the options for countertops out there now, choosing between marble and quartz, which are almost indistinguishable by look, was definitely a challenge.

When I was choosing a new countertop for my kitchen, I knew I wanted something that was elegant and durable. With Pacific Shore Stones, I could trust that no matter my choice, the surfaces would be of the highest quality. What I love about Pacific Shore Stones is that they hand-select all of the stone and surface products they use for customers. They’ve developed relationships with quarries across the world and send their staff there to examine and choose the best and most interesting pieces of material to source in their warehouses. Their Charleston location (as well as their other stock locations) has tons of inventory and super helpful staff.

When I built my house, I was dead set on getting Carrara marble in my kitchen. We thought Harper was old enough, but every time Harper would get a glass of water, it would leave a watermark, and soon enough the counter was scattered with these little rings. It’s hard to notice on a passing glance, but they’re definitely there! After six months they were starting to drive me crazy!

We opted for honed marble instead of polished marble in an effort to make upkeep easier. Honed marble has the same finish as typical polished marble, but the process stops before the final polish is applied. This leaves the stone with a matte finish and a velvet-like touch that’s supposed to be more resistant to scratches. On the other hand, without the finishing polish, this made the marble even more susceptible to absorbing stains.

The Carrara marble was on our island, but the countertops on the rest of our countertops under the cabinets were already quartz. That gave me the unique opportunity to compare quartz and marble side-by-side in the same space at the same time. Compared to the quartz, the marble involved a lot more upkeep. As a mom, quartz ended up being the best choice for me, but there were several factors that went into the decision.

What’s the Difference?

Marble is a naturally occurring, metamorphic stone composed of calcite. Pure marble is white, but the other minerals present at the time it was created gives it its distinctive veins and swirls. My favorite type of marble is Carrara marble, which is found in the city of Carrara in the Tuscany region of Italy. When we were taking a train from Orvieto to Cinque Terra, we passed a stop for the city, which was so cool!

Quartz is a manmade composite, composed largely of quartz and mixed with pigments and resins to create different patterns and colors. Since quartz counters aren’t limited to colors and designs occurring in nature, you can find all kinds of designs and patterns to match whatever aesthetic you prefer, from bold to minimal, classic to modern. You can even find quartz made to look like marble, including an imitation Carrara quartz.

Upkeep

Hands down, the number one benefit of quartz for me is that it doesn’t stain as easily as marble. Marble is a porous stone, which means that any water or liquids that spill on the surface can soak into the stone, leaving a permanent stain. Acidic liquids in particular like lemon juice, tomato sauce, and vinegar will “etch” the marble, creating dull spots in the otherwise shiny stone. There are sealants you can (and should!) apply and reapply, but there’s no guarantee that it will prevent stains from setting in.

Quartz is non-porous and doesn’t require sealing, which means that it’s a lot less upkeep from the beginning. As a mom of an independent nine-year-old son, this gives me the extra degree of confidence that I don’t have to be fussing over my counters all the time and I know my investment will look good for a long time.

Cost

When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, marble and quartz are about the same price, but the price can change depending on the quality of the stone and the labor. Per square foot, quartz tends to be cheaper than marble, but because it’s heavier and more complicated to install, you could get hit with increased labor costs. For me, I knew that I was willing to pay for a durable, high-quality counter, so the quartz was worth the extra investment.

Look

Marble is iconic for its white background and grey swirls, but there are so many more variations. It’s a classic for a reason, and it’s fascinating that these patterns occur naturally in the stone. Pacific Shore Stones knows how to source the best looking stones for whatever you’re wanting in your counters. However, since these patterns are naturally occurring, there will always be a degree of variation in the slabs you get. There might be swirls or a spot that you like less than the sample you chose from once you have the slab installed in your kitchen. If you have a particularly large section of counter, the seam between the two pieces of marble may also be especially visible.

Quartz, on the other hand, is manmade, so the patterns can be made to mimic marble with any kind of variation, and it’s easier to match seams during installation. It’s very possible to get quartz that looks just like your favorite marble, so the options are really endless. The people at Pacific Shore Stones can help you compare different looks between marble and quartz to help you get exactly what you want. This is especially good if you want to avoid the kinds of “surprises” that marble may bring. I don’t mind the variation of marble, so I was glad that the quartz I chose didn’t look too manufactured or repetitive.

Below you can see the island countertop with the marble, then the updated quartz look.

Overall, I loved the look and function of both my marble and quartz counters. They each brought something a little different and a little special to my kitchen. Making the switch to quartz just makes sense for me right now. The upkeep is simpler long-term and I don’t have to worry as much about protecting my investment from staining or etching. Whether you’re looking for a low-maintenance option or a timeless classic, Pacific Shore Stones can help you find the best fit for your lifestyle and look with high-quality, individually sourced stones and surfaces. Their extensive industry experience, large variety of selection and commitment to customer service made them a great company to work with for my home.

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