Marble or Granite? How to Pick the Right Stone for Your Home

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated February 1, 2022
Marble countertop
PBNJ Productions via Getty Images

Granite and marble are both natural stones and popular choices for beautiful, durable countertops that buyers love to see in a kitchen or bathroom

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Standing in the showroom, you might be taken by the gorgeous marble and granite samples around you. How can you choose just one? The natural stones bring drama and sophistication to your home and can make your space feel more luxurious. 

But when choosing countertop materials for well-used surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, don’t get too swept up in aesthetics alone. You also need to consider maintenance, durability, and cost.

Marble vs. Granite Appearance

A photo comparison of marble and granite

Mother Nature is responsible for the beauty of granite and marble. Both are natural stones, and no two look exactly alike.

Both granite and marble look gorgeous in kitchens and bring spa-like luxury to bathrooms. Marble typically comes in white or black with veins of gold, gray, or brown weaving through it. Granite comes in a variety of colors: white, green, gold, black-red, and blue. It often has flecks, swirls, or streaks of gold, green, gray, red, or pink.

Marble vs. Granite Cost

Marble and granite are available as slabs, which gives your countertop or backsplash a clean look with limited (or no!) seams. 

You can also get the stones in tile form, common for backsplashes or seriously fancy floors—as long as you’re not prone to slipping! Though, if you choose tile, your stone will require a little more maintenance. If the grout is worn, liquids can seep into the marble or granite and ruin that luxe look.  

Marble versus granite cost comparison, ranging from $7 to $100 per square foot

A marble slab costs $25 to $60 per square foot on average but can range from $15 to $190 per square foot. Tiles are around $7 to $10 per square foot. You can also choose a slab backsplash for an average of $30 to $50 per square foot.

Granite slab countertops cost $50 to $100 per square foot on average. If you want granite tiles, those cost $5 to $15 per square foot.

Installation Cost

The cost to install a granite and marble countertop doesn’t differ much. Labor for countertop installation costs averages $35 to $45 per hour, usually totaling about $350 to $450. And any extra supplies your contractor might need will only be about $100 to $200.

Installing heavy stones is a job best left to pros, as a natural stone countertop can weigh 1,000 pounds. It’s also easily chipped or damaged when transported by amateurs, and you definitely don’t want to compromise its glamorous look. 

Save yourself the heartache of dinging your countertops before they’re even installed, and find a professional countertop installer near you. They’re well-versed in transporting, installing, and minimizing any seams so your space looks its best.

Granite island and counter
chandlerphoto / E+ via Getty Images

Marble vs. Granite Maintenance

Granite and marble are both durable surfaces, but that durability depends on proper sealing. Sealing a countertop gives it a protective coating; the seal will soak into the porous gaps of the natural stone, acting as a defense from splashed marinara or spilled coffee.

When the seal starts to wear down, the countertop becomes porous and vulnerable to staining and etching from liquids.

  • Etching means the acidic liquid dulled the stone’s surface. Looking at your countertop from the right angle, you’ll be painfully reminded of the day you cut into lemons and forgot to wipe the counters.

  • Staining comes from liquids that seeped into the counter. The longer a little puddle of spilled grape juice sits on the surface, the more time it has to work its way into the porous stone. Even after wiping it up, the faded reddish-purple color becomes a permanent part of the countertop.

Be particularly careful with oil, wine, coffee, tomato sauce, or juice. Marble countertops are especially susceptible to etching from acid—foods you might not think of as acidic, including apples, can even cause damage. For a little extra insurance, always use a cutting board and wipe up after.

Keep in mind that sealing the countertops will slow the liquid’s ability to penetrate the stone, but it won’t prevent it entirely. If you spill red wine on the counter, it will eventually seep in. The seal just gives you time to wipe it up.

Some countertops will come pre-sealed. Others will need to be sealed at least yearly. In well-loved kitchens, you might need to seal countertops quarterly.

On top of sealing, you’ll need to keep up with cleaning. Gentle dish soap and water is fine for granite and marble countertops. Avoid using harsh chemicals, baking soda, and vinegar because they can damage the stone’s natural beauty.

Marble vs. Granite Durability

Fun fact: marble and granite are so durable you can cut your veggies right on the countertops and set hot pans directly onto the surface. But while both stones are durable and resistant to chips and cracks, they can still happen. Small scratches and dings can be repaired easily on your own, and a local countertop repair company can fix bigger issues.

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