Shopping for Marble Countertops

In our first home, we had some dark charcoal with metallic laminate. I had never renovated a kitchen before, and basically chose the best looking cheapest material. We never had any issues with it, and really for the space, and resale value it was perfect.

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BUTTTT, I knew going into our ‘forever’ home I wanted stone…on a small budget. I went to the big box stores, like Lowes and Home Depot first. Home Depot has the new Martha Stewart line of Corian- it’s pretty good. However, every sample I looked at of Corian and Granite, it felt like something was missing. Corian and Granite both have their merits. Heat and scratch resistance (to a point) are pretty hard to ignore, but their was nothing organic looking about them to me. They were just soooo uniform. I dreamed of this rustic, euro home, and that just didn’t fit my bill.

On to marble. Beware, when you are shopping for marble, everyone and their grandmother will try to talk you out of it. You will constantly hear, ‘it stains’, ‘it chips’, ‘are you crazy?’ If that’s what you’re looking for just stay strong and thank them for their advice. I was almost talked out of it, just out of shear annoyance with the buying process, but then I remembered that in Europe, they have been using it for hundreds of years. I know I constantly wipe down my counters after use, and from having laminate, I’m used to putting treveats down before setting a hot pan on the counter, so why not.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this…

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If you like the look of marble, but are on a budget, or have reservations, there are some alternatives.

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I can tell you though, that nothing compares to running your hand over actual stone.

Back to the buying process- after visiting the big box stores I learned that Home Depot was the only one that offered marble; and they only offered Carrara. Carrara Marble is beautiful, but through reading, I’ve learned that it is not the same stone that people have come to think of. Many people envision this:

carrara

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Creamy, soft with hints of gray. GOOD LUCK. Carrara Marble these days is VERY grey. It’s just where mining is within the quarries. In 5 years that could change, but you’ll have to exhaust yourself trying to find that. You’ll find a lot of this:

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Those are actually pretty light in comparison to what I saw in the stone yards. Even honed (where they strip the shiny finish off and it’s left matte), it would be a lot of pattern, but it is the cheapest.

There are tons of other kinds of marble out there, just google and see which one sways you. I fell hard for Calcutta Gold. Of course it’s one of the more expensive ones, but it’s beautiful. There is a lot more cream/white in the background with more dramatic veining.

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Calcutta Gold traditionally has grey, bits of green, and copper running through it. SOLD. Next step was to find a fabricator. It is extremely important to shop around. Fabricators range in pricing to buy and install your stone. To give you an example, the first fabricator I started working with gave me a quote for almost $8,500 for Calcutta Gold, and the fabricator I ended up going with was half that.

After you have a fabricator, you can shop for stone. We are lucky enough to have a Stone Mart in our area, but there are many local options as well. Again, you will be bombarded with ‘don’t choose marble’ even at the stone yard. There you will see beautiful slabs laid out with the different grade levels (pricing ranges per sq. ft). The higher the grade, the more expensive the stone. Remember they won’t give you pricing, only the fabricator can give you pricing. Here are some of slabs:

CALCUTTA GOLD

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MARBLE/GRANITE MIX

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SUPER WHITE MARBLE

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CARRARA MARBLE

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The green jacket was held up to give a comparison for the cabinet colors. The Calcutta Gold they had was really busy, but since Stone Mart has multiple locations, I had them call the other locations and send me pictures of other Calcutta Gold slabs they had in. Keep in mind, Stone Mart doesn’t charge to ship slabs to their locations. Luckily, they had a beautiful slab that I had them hold for me until I put down a deposit with my fabricator.

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The veining was soft, and subtle; exactly what I was looking for. In the meantime, cabinets were sprayed Benjamin Moore Dark Olive.

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