Deciding which stone to use for your countertops can be a challenging decision. There are so many determining factors, including functionality, durability, appearance, price point, and personal preference. If you are stuck between marble and some of the marble look-alikes, we’ve given a synopsis of each to better explore their individual strengths. If you’ve never considered anything but marble, we invite you to consider some of its competitors.
The Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops
Marble is a beautiful natural stone known for its decorative veining which can be either faint or dark, thin or bold, subtle or striking. The natural texture this provides lends sophistication and elegance to any room, and because marble comes in so many different colors, it is easily incorporated into any design scheme.
Each slab of marble is one-of-a-kind, and the classic stone is reminiscent of the best things to come out of Italy and Turkey. The fine quality and long history of marble only adds to its charm, but it also makes marble one of the more expensive countertop material options. While many kinds of stone that look similar are less costly, high-end marble usually performs better, so you get what you pay for.
Caring for Marble Countertops
Because marble is a natural stone, it is naturally porous, so any juices or other liquids spilled on raw marble will seep into it, causing it to stain. To avoid this, marble countertops should be sealed when they are installed and then at regular intervals each year. The process is not complicated—it involves rolling on a sealant and allowing it to cure—but it does require remembering to take care of it.
Marble Look-Alike Options
If you have always wanted marble countertops, we are not here to discourage you. Marble is a beautiful and high-quality material to use, especially for rooms like the bathroom or laundry room where the countertops do not need to be nigh-on indestructible. However, we do invite you to keep an open mind about other materials that look similar. Consider all the options to find the perfect material for your space. Marble look-alikes have a lot to offer too.
Marble Countertops vs. Granite
Marble and granite have a rivalry that is as old as time itself. Both have many strengths and are beautiful in their own right. While granite has a characteristic look, there are some varieties that look very similar to marble. No matter its patterning, though, granite does beat marble in a strength contest. If your number one priority is durability—perhaps if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and need countertops that will hold up under heavy use—granite may be the better option.
Perhaps granite and marble’s biggest similarity is the maintenance required to keep them looking spotless. Both are natural porous stone and will stain easily if they are not properly sealed. This sealing needs to be refreshed regularly for best results.
Quartzite: The Forgotten Marble Look-Alike
Unlike the name suggests, quartzite and quartz are not interchangeable. Quartzite countertops are formed of natural stone and are tough and resilient, even more so than granite. They stand apart because of their impressive heat-resistant qualities. For this reason, quartzite tends to be one of the more expensive materials on this list. Quartzite comes in a plethora of colors and textures.
Which is Better: Quartz or Marble?
Moving out of the realm of natural stone, quartz countertops are made of manufactured material that can be made to look like marble. Quartz is sometimes called engineered stone because it is formed of a composite of approximately 90% crushed quartz gelled together with roughly 10% polyresin. Despite being manufactured, quartz feels like natural stone and can mimic marble’s characteristic veining.
Perhaps quartz’s biggest appeal is the fact that, unlike the natural stones, it is not porous and so does not need to be sealed to prevent staining. It is still a good idea to wipe up spills quickly, but liquids are less likely to seep into quartz countertops. While they can have an impressive appearance, however, these marble look-alikes do not have the same quality as marble or granite.
Talk about Tile
Porcelain can also be crafted to look like marble. It is made by pressing clay and because it is so dense is often used as tile flooring. While it is not as common as a countertop option because grout can be an inconvenient obstacle as you cut vegetables or roll out dough, marble look-alike porcelain tiles can make a beautiful backsplash. Because they are not as porous as marble they are less likely to stain.