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Marble vs. Granite

To be or not to be? Granite or marble? 

That is the question burning through every new homebuyer or remodeler's dreams. 

The ultimate answer is: Yes, please, some of both! 

But to understand which applications are best for which stone variety, we first need to understand a little more about the stones themselves.

Granite is an igneous rock, and it was formed deep under the earth as hot molten rock cooled very slowly. During the cooling process, minerals like feldspar and quartz crystallized and bonded together. Because of the way it was formed, granite is very strong, and resists water and food acids. It looks like a bunch of crystals packed together very tightly. Some granites have larger crystals, and some have very small crystals. Granite is an extremely common stone all over the world. It is found on all seven continents. And the presence of different minerals during its formation causes granite to take on an almost endless variety of colors, from white to black, red to blue, and every blend of color possible.

Marble is a metamorphic rock. It began its journey as a coral reef beneath an ancient sea millions of years ago. The reef eventually became buried under earth and rock, and the calcium-rich bones of the little creatures which lived in the reef became calcium carbonate, or limestone. Then, the limestone was buried even further beneath the earth's surface, and, under heat and pressure, the calcium carbonate crystallized into marble. Marble is also very commonly found almost everywhere on earth. Because it is composed of calcium carbonate, it is easily soluble in food acids, and semi-soluble in water. Calcium carbonate is a soft mineral and can be scratched by metal tools like knives. The presence of other minerals in the calcium carbonate is what gives marble its rich color variations and veining. Marble comes in almost as many colors as granite, and comes in a much wider range of patterns.

When we compare marble to granite, we find that granite is stronger than marble, does not lose its polish after long term exposure to water (like marble does), and does not easily stain in the presence of food acids like fruit juice, coffee, and wine (like marble does).

On the other hand, marble is more aesthetically dramatic and beautiful. While granite comes in almost every color imaginable, it has a relatively uniform look across a slab. Marble has a random variety of color swirls and veining, often including crystal pockets. And while, compared to granite, it may not be as tough or resilient, it is still a very strong stone, and the fact that so many marble buildings from ancient Rome and Greece are still standing proves its durability.

We can safely say that granite is still a superior choice over marble for kitchen countertops. After ten years of use, marble countertops tend to be scratched by knives, stained by food acids, and dull from water and cleaning solution, which wears away the polished surface. A deep cleaning and resurfacing can completely revitalize such weary countertops to their original glory. But a granite countertop will still look practically brand new after 10 years of use. And even though it may not be as beautiful as marble, kitchen countertops are, above all else, utilitarian. And granite is beautiful enough, and incredibly practical, which makes it the superior choice.

Table tops, while also utilitarian, are also considered decorative. And they certainly receive less abuse and spills than kitchen countertops, especially if the table is outside the dining room. In this case, marble is the superior choice because of its superb beauty.

For flooring, it's a toss up. Heads or tails? Granite or marble? Marble will wear down more quickly than granite, but since constant contact with moisture and acids is not common with flooring, marble is often chosen over granite because of its beauty and legacy. Marble graces the floors and stairs of virtually every palace in Europe . Its heritage alone gives it the upper hand on the floor.

Likewise, marble rules the bath. Marble vanities are expected in a beautiful bathroom. Marble is particularly attractive when wrapped around a Jacuzzi tub or garden tub, or on the walls of a shower. Marble vessel sinks are becoming the ultimate symbol of style and refinement in a bathroom. But granite still has its place in the bath. Honed granite is popular on bathroom floors, and polished granite still holds second place for tub surrounds.

So when it comes time for you to ask yourself the ultimate question (granite…or marble?), you know what the proper answer is! 

Both, please! Plenty of granite in the kitchen. Plenty of marble on the floors and in the bath. You'll be adding unsurpassed beauty and value to your home.

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