Yes or No to Carrara Marble Countertops in the Kitchen?

adler carrara marble white kitchen designer

Carrara marble. Quarried in the Italian province of Carrara, this gorgeous stone is used to make tiles, tabletops and countertops in homes around the world. Carrara marble is becoming more and more popular in all-white kitchens like this one by trend-setter designer, Jonathan Adler.

carrara marble white designer kitchen

Carrara marble, like other marbles is porous. Because of its light color it is more likely to show stains than other marbles and stones. It also needs regular care in order to maintain its beautiful surface. In addition, cleaning Carrara and other types of marble must be done properly with a pH-balanced stone cleaner. To learn more about cleaning marble, go here.

retro modern turquoise designer kitchen

We love the look, but is the maintenance worth it? I ask the question because a client of mine {with three young ones} is considering Carrara marble countertops in her kitchen and has received strong advice both for and against. I’d love to hear from designers and home owners who have experience using Carrara marble countertops in the kitchen… thumbs up or down? 

It’s also not too late to enter to win a $50 gift certificate to fab stationary store, – go here.

{image sources: 1. Jonathan Adler, 2. James Radin, 3. William Diamond and Anthony Baratta  – all via House Beautiful}
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34 Responses to Yes or No to Carrara Marble Countertops in the Kitchen?

  1. Paige Loczi March 4, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Cristin, had you considered eco by consentino? they are Non-porous, do not require sealers and are made from 75% recycled content.

  2. March 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    We have cararra in our master bath and I actually had no idea it needed special care. It's been there for a year. I use 7th generation spray cleanser and it still looks great.

  3. Natalie February 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I have used Alabama white marble (identical in look to calacutta but not as expensive, plus it's local for this Alabama girl) it kitchens and bathrooms for my clients-both as countertops and backsplashes. Months and years later they still love it. Here is my opinion that I tell my clients: you have to be an Informed consumer. understand there might be stains if you leave red wine or acidic liquids on it overnight or for extended amounts of time. This is not a counter for lax perfectionists. Make sure you have the counters sealed and honed. Personally, a light patina that develops with age and use is perfectly acceptable…if not desirable if you are like me and love the character of old marble ( like one commenter said: think Europe and all things charming and OLD). it's definitely a personal decision but my experience with it has been nothing but positive and unparalleled in GORGEOUSNESS. 🙂

  4. Andrea Johnson February 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I love it but I always tell my clients that they have to be okay with marks and stains. For me personally I love going with a quartz look alike. You get a gorgeous countertop without the maintenance of marble.

  5. Andrea @ White Picket Fences February 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    It depends on your client and what kind of person she is. Does she want a brand new looking kitchen forever or does she want it to age with her and her family. You can't stop stains on marble they are bound to happen (think of it as patina) but if she is okay with seeing that red wine stain from the time so-and-so did this, then she should go for it. However, if she is ocd about spots, scratches and stains then I would recommend a different material. It is a beautiful material so there is no right or wrong it just depends on her personality.

  6. designchic February 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    There's some negative to every countertop surface. I would definitely go with the marble…nothing more beautiful!!

  7. laxsupermom February 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    As much as I adore Holly at Things That Inspire(and I do,) I have to respectfully disagree – All stone does not etch. All marbles etch, limestone etches, some granites and quartzites will too, but most granites and quartzites won't etch and the soapstone counters that I chose absolutely will not etch. I actually posted a science experiment of leaving a lemon half face down on the counter overnight – nothing. The steatite that they are for the most part composed of is inert. That's why they were used as labarotory tops for ages.

  8. Seagrass Interiors February 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Hi Cristin! Great post and question! I'm a designer and an owner of Carrera marble counters! I say absolutely YES! Here's the key – DO NOT go with polished. Have them honed (matte finish.) When I first installed mine a couple of years ago I went with shiny. I did not like it for a couple of reasons – the reflection was distracting and showed every spill and water spot. Second, the “etching” that everyone warns about removes the shiny finish. I had very little problems with staining (and stains can be buffed out) but a ton of problems with etching. Having them honed completely took care of this. I could not be happier and I'd put it in my kitchen again in a heartbeat!

  9. Irene Turner At Home February 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    So, here's my speech to my clients.
    “it's only in America that we think that stone needs to be perfect. Stone is a natural material and is always perfect in it's imperfection. No where else to they have shiny perfectly finished stone counters. In Europe, especially the Mediterranean countries the same Carrara marble counters are still there. In fact, the only reason the Coliseum looks the way it does is because most of the Carrara marble was looted and used for stairs, counters in fact any kind of building possible. So…IF your client is very particular that the counters stay perfect, do not use Carrara. If they are European in lifestyle, or A Slow Home lover, and know that the stone will morph and dent, change color and actually do it's job while it's being used normally, then go for it.”
    I used it for one client who was from Portugal and understood that she should not worry about any stain the first 5 years. After that, it will start to look patina'd and do what it does naturally.
    There, I said it.
    Irene Turner

  10. Fran February 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Great post and I completely value all the comments!! Saving this one for the archives. While I'm not considering marble now….I know down the road it'll be a decision I'll be facing!! Thanks!

  11. Things That Inspire February 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    From a marble research obsessed person, having just gone through this decision! I looked long and hard at all different types of marble. I found that in Atlanta, there simply wasn't much pretty Italian marble coming in – the cararra is mostly gray, the calacatta is heavily veined. But, I still decided that marble is the look I want. I cook a lot, and was worried about how my husband would react to the 'patina' that marble achieves. After I posted on my own marble search, several readers told me about three marbles that are composed differently than Italian marble – they are actually less porous and absorbent than granite, and don't stain (they etch, as all stone does). Imperial Danby from Vermont, Georgia marble, and Nova Blanca from Greece. I ended up going with Nova Blanca, as there is a distributor here in Atlanta, and I found some slabs that were white with taupe. These three marbles look different than Italian – they don't have the big veining, rather they are softer looking, more like ripples. My slabs arrive at the fabricator next week, as they were just honed at a place in North Carolina. I am looking forward to seeing them again!

  12. kerry February 26, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    I've had calcutta which is similar to carrara for 9 years. Have NOT sealed it since the first year and still LOVE it. I cut on it, put hot pans,plates and it has had every kind of spill you could think of. It's the only thing I would do exactly the same if I were redoing the kitchen now. BTW, I have 5 children ages 11-2 so it gets a lot of use. Let me know if you have any other questions – I really love it!

  13. Elizabeth February 26, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    Nothing is more beautiful (in my opinion) than a pure white Carrara marble kitchen. It is not for everyone though. I would say DEFINITE YES in my house though!

  14. CalypsoInTheCountry February 25, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE the look but it wouldn't work for me with messy kids and my fear of scratching it. Even my granite has a little chip in it.

  15. Jo February 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    They are SO beautiful and I wanted them SO badly but everyone {including the designers} talked me out of them. For simple reasons, such as staining and durability. We spoke with 4 separate kitchen designers, and friends with them currently in their kitchens. They all expressed the same concerns. In fact, one person wants the marble out as soon as possible. The theory is that if you have a family and you really cook in your kitchen than this is not the option to go with. Well, we do and I didn’t want to worry about scratching, staining or even chipping in some cases, so we are going with a very light granite. They came today to template the counters and island. They will be beautiful without the additional worry.

    Hope this helps a little ~

  16. The enchanted home February 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    I feel like a non qualified expert:) We too are planning the kitchen and I have been to enough marble showrooms..both retail, wholesale and warehouses to open up my own…and suffice to say nothing in the world would prevent me from using my beloved, there is no substitute marble! I had carerra in my old house and I am a cook, the kitchen is just not a “pretty room” in my house..but we use it like theres no tomorrow..and you know what it was wondeful and I loved it every day that I walked into it. Just make sure you get a good sealer put on and do it once a year. Make a cuttting board your best friend…and no lemon or red wine on the surface (learned the hard way)
    In my new kitchen..going with Calacutta and can't wait….lets not forget virtually every restuarant and pizzeria in Italy and France use marble in their restaurants!! If it holds up well enough for them, its more than fine for me!
    Visit my post today, you will love it..all about kitchens!!

  17. Wendy February 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    i absolutely love the look but with small kids i went granite… have a great weekend!

  18. Mr. Goodwill Hunting February 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    I am not real sure myself. But I do know that it look really clean. How bad is the upkeep? Do they have a housekeeper or cleaning service?

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  19. Mandi Smith T February 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Yes to the look of marble, but no b/c it's not practical. It stains. If you cook alot or drink red wine, you are going to have stains. Some people are totally ok with the stains, but not for me personally. M.

  20. seema February 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Yes.. I would go for it.
    Even good option to keep your place clean and bright rather then dark and dirty.

  21. Ideezine February 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm #


    I would go with the marble, protection aware, and love what you love and live with what that is. Children are adaptive and if you put a layer of protection down and show children the process they'll become better at the routine than you do.

    Always make it fun and living is fun!


  22. Kristen | Cottage Modern February 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Great post! I get asked the question on the marble vs. granite debate all the time, and although we're seeing marble everywhere, it has a bad rap with so many people for its staining and scratching. A great designer once told me that the best answer in these situations is to tell people to “buy what you love and know and live with its limitations”. I think this is great advice–I'd rather spend thousands on a surface that I'm in love with than spend the same amount on something that I'll always see as second best. I found a great link to someone who did extensive testing on marble samples to see how it held up. Check it out if you need help further convincing your clients that marble isn't as “bad” as everyone says 🙂
    Have a great weekend!

  23. Amy R. February 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I really, really wanted marble in my kitchen and bath. All of the stone dealers strongly advised against it, telling us horror stories and such. I caved in and went with granite, mostly because I knew my husband would not be careful with the countertops. Now, I still wish I had just installed the marble. I always look at and think I should have just gotten what I wanted.

    Amy R.

  24. laxsupermom February 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Yes, Yes, Emphatically YES! The beauty of marble belongs where people can see it. Think of all the marble floors, steps, walls, and yes counters all over Italy and much of Europe. Marble is doable for certain people. It's a stone you need to go in eyes wind open with just like with the soapstone in my own kitchen.

    Sealed properly with something like Miracle 511 Porous Plus sealer it shouldn't stain. Etching on the other hand is another story. I would never polished marble as a kitchen counter, because that's just asking for a nervous breakdown. Etches will show something awful on the polished surface. Honed marble, however, will not show the etching nearly as much. A well honed marble counter is very family friendly.

  25. tale of many cities February 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    YES PLEASE!! i am dreaming of carrara marble!!

  26. { L } February 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    YES YES, my vote is yes. 🙂 Very beautiful.

  27. The English Organizer February 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Kitchens are such functional places that I think beauty has to take just a bit of a back seat. If your client is willing (or has paid help) to care for these on a daily basis, then the marble might be OK… I'm pretty sure I read that Centsational Girl spends an hour a day to keep hers looking good… not my idea of fun.

  28. Carissa Stevens February 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    OMG. 100% YES!!!! I would have totally gotten them if I could afford them. I think they are UH-MAZE-ING! I say go for it!

  29. Muffy February 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    I have it & I was SO worried about stains as I am not really a neat freak. However, stains haven't been a problem at all! I've even found a tomato sauce stain a day late & was able to get it out very easily. The problem I have had that I did not anticipate was the scratching! You can't put plates directly on the surface due to their scratchy bottoms. Who knew? Of course, the scratch doesn't show too bad bc it's white on white. But just something to consider. My countertops are sealed, btw.

  30. Heather February 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I think it's beautiful! Maybe they could have an area that's butcher block so it would be a less costly replacement if it got messed up?

    That turquoise kitchen is terrific!

  31. Tiernan February 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    We love it! It always looks great and it is timeless… If you don't mind using a cutting board its totally worth it… When acidic things spill just make sure you clean it up quickly! My favorite kitchens have Carrara Marble!

  32. Kristin February 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Not sure the answer. I think it depends on the client.
    Each one will have to weigh the cost of maintaining the counters vs. its beauty.
    Keep us update on the result.

  33. Kathysue February 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    This is an ongoing debate in my own brain. I have carrara in my guest bath and on my entry floor. Love,love it. however, On my counters I am reluctant. I have to be honest about how I now use my counters and I cut,chop and my kids draw,paint and craft on them. Carrara will stain and etch with any juice or acid base liquids, any natural stone will do that. I enjoy the ease and comfort of my kitchen so I am afraid at this point I say NO on carrara for all of the above reasons. If you can live with stains, etching etc, I say go for it, if not , buyer beware!! Sometimes what seems to be perfect aesthetically is just not practical. KS

  34. A Vintage Vine February 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    That is a beautiful material! I'm curious to see what people think too! Thanks for sharing