Difference between Marble and Granite

Date: June 25, 2022
Author: Jon Smith
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Two of the most popular countertop materials are marble and granite. Each has its own unique benefits, which is why they are loved by homeowners, interior designers, and real estate agents. If you or just beginning your countertop search, you may have difficulty differentiating between these two types of countertops. Marble and granite are both natural stones that are quarried from the earth. The main difference between these two types of countertop materials is how they are formed.

What Makes Up Each Type of Stone?

Each type of stone is comprised of different materials. Granite is primarily comprised of silica and quartz. Marble on the other hand is primarily comprised of calcium carbonate. Granite is formed when magma cools deep within the earth. Marble is formed when limestone is placed under intense pressure and heat.

Marble and granite are both heavy natural stones that are heat resistant and available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Because they are both created in nature the patterns and colors can vary greatly from slab to slab. Both types of stone are porous, and staining can occur. Annual sealing can minimize the risk of staining and keep your countertops looking great.

Distinguishing Between Granite and Marble

Although granite and marble are similar in appearance, under closer examination you can tell the difference between the two stones. Granite typically has flecking across the slab, while marble has veins that run across the stone. The colors found in granite and marble are based on the mineral content of the area. Both types of countertop material are available in a wide range of colors including black, brown, white, grey, green, blue, and pink.

What is the Mohs Hardness Scale for Each Type of Material?

According to the Mohs scale, granite has a hardness rating between six and seven. Conversely, marble has a hardness rating between three and five. As you can see, granite is harder than marble and can withstand what you throw at it. Marble, on the other hand, is softer and is better suited for low traffic areas like bathrooms.

Marble can be used in the kitchen; however, the homeowner must be diligent about routine sealing and daily maintenance to keep their countertops looking great. Today, marble quarried in Vermont like Danby marble is more durable and has a higher hardness rating and minimal water absorption.

What is the Stain Resistance of Each Type of Material?

Marble is quite porous and will absorb liquids upon contact and cause permanent staining. Some of the common substances in the kitchen that cause staining include tomato sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, wine, and vinegar. Granite on the other hand is more resistant to staining. No matter which countertop material you choose, regular application of a high quality sealant is necessary.

How Often Should You Apply a Sealer to Your Natural Stone Countertops?

Granite countertops are somewhat stain resistant, which means they require less frequent applications of a sealer than marble does. On average, you should reseal your granite countertops once a year. however, there are some sealers that only need to be applied once every three years.

Marble is more porous and requires more frequent applications of a stone countertop sealer. on average you will need to reseal your marble countertops at least twice a year; however, if you notice liquids absorbing into the marble rather than pooling on the surface of the marble, you will need to reapply a fresh coat of sealant.

Test your countertop to determine if you need to apply sealer. Pour a small amount of water on the surface of your countertop. If the water beads and remains on the surface of the countertop your current sealer is still effective. However, if the water absorbs into the stone countertop you will need to reapply a sealer.

How Should You Clean Your Countertop?

All that you need to clean granite countertops is a mild dishwashing liquid and soap. Wash the surface with soapy water and then rinse with fresh water. Finally buff dry with a soft cloth.

Marble requires careful cleaning. You must use a neutral pH cleaning product to avoid damaging the marble. Finally never use an abrasive cleaner on marble as it can mar the finish. Use a marble safe cleaner and then buff dry with a soft cloth.

How Much Does Each Type of Countertop Cost?

Marble and granite countertops cost approximately the same amount. On average you can expect to spend between $40 and $150 per square foot. This price includes materials and installation costs. It is important to note that the color and the appearance of the countertop can impact the cost of the project.

Can They Be Used Outdoors?

Both marble and granite countertops can be used outdoors when properly installed. You will want to use a sealer that offers UV protection to maximize the life expectancy of your outdoor granite or marble countertops.

How Long Will They Last?

When properly cared for, your granite or marble countertops will provide you with a lifetime of beauty. To extend the life expectancy of your countertops, always wipe up spills immediately, always use cutting boards, never place hot pots and pans directly on the countertop surface, and never sit or stand on your countertops.

Final Thoughts

Granite is more durable than marble; however, both types of countertop materials are porous and can stain if left untreated. Many individuals prefer using granite for kitchen countertops and using marble for bathroom vanities and other areas with light traffic. However, you can use both types of natural stones in all areas of your home if you properly care for your countertops.

Routine maintenance, which includes a daily wipe down with a mild pH neutral detergent, monthly application of a topical sealant, and annual or semi annual application of an impregnating sealer will keep your countertops looking great. Remember to always wipe up a spill immediately to help minimize the risk of staining.

Deciding on a countertop for your kitchen or bathroom requires you to understand the difference between marble and granite. We have explained the key differences between the two types of countertop materials. We believe the final decision should be based on what you like and what speaks to you. If you loathe routine maintenance, you may prefer granite countertops. However, if the tranquility of marble draws you, opt for marble countertops.

Whether you opt for marble countertops because of their elegance or prefer the more traditional look of granite, the choice is ultimately yours. You will not go wrong with either of these natural stones. They both provide you with the unique, unmatched beauty that only occurs with natural stone countertops.

Take your time choosing between the two types of countertop materials. You should never rush it. Take samples home, place them on your current countertops and look at them for a couple of weeks. We know that during this time, you will find ones that you really don't like. When this happens, take them off your countertop. Continue this until you are down to one. If after a week or two, you can't decide between a couple of choices, talk to a countertop specialist. We can give you professional advice on the best countertop material based on your unique needs and interior design.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.
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