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Marble and granite are both popular home renovation materials that add elegance and value to your property. Whether you’re installing a new bathroom floor or replacing your kitchen countertops, these natural stones are both great choices.
Marble, with its distinctive appearance, is considered the ultimate luxury material while granite gives you the look of natural stone and is extremely durable. Use our guide to the differences between marble and granite to decide which one is the right choice for your home project.
On This Page:
- What’s the Difference Between Marble and Granite?
- Marble vs. Granite: Which is Better?
- Flooring & Countertop Care
- Installation & DIY
- Hardness, Strength, & Durability
- Repair & Maintenance
- Environmental Friendliness
- Moisture Resistance
- Heat Resistance
- Resale Value
- Which is Best for Your Home?
- Marble vs. Granite vs. Other Material Comparisons
- Top Stone Fabricators
What’s the Difference Between Marble and Granite?
Both marble and granite are naturally occurring and come from the earth in large slabs. While both are enduring and can add value to your home, they have distinct differences in appearance and properties.
Marble is a metamorphic rock. It started life as limestone and, under extreme heat and pressure, metamorphosed into marble. The primary component is calcium carbonate, which makes it comparatively soft. Marble’s characteristic veining comes from other minerals captured during the metamorphic process.
The most common types of marble for home renovation include:
- Carrara: The most common marble used in home projects, Carrara marble, is white to light gray, with light, feathery veining in a medium to dark gray.
- Calacatta: This marble is rare and highly sought-after. It’s similar to Carrara but the white is brighter and the veining darker and thicker.
- Emperador: Mined in Spain, Emperador marble ranges in color from light to darkest brown. The veining is usually brilliant white, creating a dramatic, impactful look.
- Crema Marfil: Popular for flooring and marble mosaics, Crema Marfil is a Spanish marble. It’s available in varying shades of light beige-yellow with gray veining that varies in intensity.
- Levadia Black: This Greek marble is black with grey to white veining. It’s popular for contemporary countertops and features smoke spot veining.
- Nero Marquina: This is a jet-black Spanish marble with striking white veining popular in contemporary spaces. It is sought after for its scarcity and opulence.
Granite is an igneous rock. It formed from slowly cooling magma millions of years ago. During the cooling process, mineral crystals developed, which is what gives granite its distinctive appearance. Quartz and feldspar are the dominant minerals in granite, along with mica, potassium and amphiboles, among others.
Granite is available in a variety of colors, based on what the mineral composition is. Popular colors for home interior projects include:
Slab vs. Tile
For construction purposes, natural stone such as marble and granite are available in two forms.
- Slabs: Large pieces of stone that cover a substantial area, such as a countertop. To reduce visible seams, slabs are usually cut in a single piece.
- Tiles: Small and uniform, natural stone tiles are thinner, lighter and less expensive than slabs. They are commonly chosen for flooring due to the larger surface area that requires flooring, as well as backsplashes. Grout lines are visible between tiles which provides better traction when used on floors.
Marble vs. Granite: Which is Better?
For bathroom and kitchen remodels, countertops, flooring, or wall cladding, granite and marble are both popular choices that add beauty, value and elegance to your home. Take a look at which one wins in each of the most important criteria.
Most Luxurious Look: Marble
Appearance is a vital criterion. If you’re investing in renovating your home, the final result should be aesthetically pleasing for your own comfort and to increase the potential resale value.
- Elegant and timeless appearance
- Pairs well with a variety of kitchen themes, from contemporary to traditional
- Each slab is unique
- Minimal color choices
- Variation in the colors of the veining
- Seams can be unsightly
- Distinctive natural appearance
- Many different hues available
- Every slab is unique in appearance
- Seams are unsightly
- Only natural colors are available
- Imperfections occur naturally
For the Cost-Conscious Consumer: Granite
Cost is one of the primary factors when choosing a material for remodeling. Natural stone is usually more expensive than synthetic materials, but stone is also longer lasting and more durable.
Take a look at the cost of granite and marble to establish which one fits within your budget. You can also reduce the cost of your project by using a luxurious and costly material only as a feature, such as a kitchen island, backsplash, or focal point in your flooring.
Marble cost per square foot $40-$100 without installation
Factors that influence cost:
- Variety of marble
- Number of cutouts
Granite cost per square foot: $40-$60 without installation
Factors that influence cost:
- Color of the granite
- Size of the slab
Flooring & Countertop Care
Best for Ease of Care: Granite
Floors and countertops need to be easy to clean without damaging the finish. Your floors and countertops should look and feel pristine and be free of dirt and bacteria for your family’s health. Marble and granite are both solid options for ease of cleaning, but there are a few differences you should be aware of.
- Sealed finishes last a long time if cleaned gently and regularly
- Easy to clean with dish soap
- Furniture may scratch flooring: Use rubber or felt furniture pads
- Prone to staining
- Cannot tolerate abrasive or acidic cleaners
- Easy to clean with mild detergent and hot water
- Easy to disinfect with rubbing alcohol
- Can be kept stain-free with the right precautions
- Spills left for a while can absorb in the stone and stain
- Oil-based liquids stain badly
- Acidic or alkaline cleaners can damage the stone
Installation & DIY: Tiles vs. Slabs
DIY Winner: Granite or Marble Tiles
The installation process for granite and marble is essentially the same. The key differences lay between slabs and tiles.
- Less expensive
- Available in different sizes
- Weigh less than slabs
- Tiles provide better traction on floors because of grout lines
- Grout lines show on countertops
- Grout on tiles requires regular maintenance
- Grout on countertops is hard to keep clean and hygienic
- Minimal seams
- Single, smooth worktop area
- Stronger and less prone to breakage than tiles
- Professional installation recommended
- Cabinets may require reinforcement to hold the weight
- Measurements must be accurate – mistakes can be expensive
- Transporting slabs requires special equipment
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Hardness, Strength, & Durability
Flooring and countertops have to cope with a lot of wear and tear: constant footfalls, pet claws, cutting, pots, pans, hard objects falling on them and more. It’s important that your chosen material can tolerate all of this without taking excessive damage.
- Strong, will last a long time if cared for
- Heat resistant
- Prone to scratching and chipping
- Acidic foods etch the surface
- Strong, and will resist chipping and cracking
- Excellent for high traffic areas of flooring
- Resists scratches from kitchen knives
- Will still chip if hard objects fall on it
- Edges and corners are vulnerable to chipping
- Difficult to repair
Repair & Maintenance
Easiest to Repair & Maintain:
Even the strongest of materials need occasional maintenance. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen, and you’ll find your floor or worktop in need of repair. Whichever you choose, if the damage is more than minor, you’ll need to contact a granite or marble restoration specialist near you.
There’s no denying that granite and marble are both tough natural materials, but which is the easiest to repair and maintain?
- Small chips are repairable with DIY kits
- Repaired chips are more visible
- Large Repairs require a professional
- Need resealing twice a year
- Small chips are repairable with DIY epoxy kit
- Repaired chips less visible on flecked pattern
- Needs resealing every year or two
- Large cracks require professional help
Most Environmental Choice: It’s a Tie
Although both granite and marble are natural materials, the mining process isn’t environmentally friendly. Plus, because marble and granite take millions of years to form, they’re not sustainable materials. However, these hardwearing, resilient stones have been around for millions of years, and will last for many lifetimes with minimal care.
Therefore, it’s possible to make a greener choice for your home renovation project by choosing remnant stone or reclaimed stone. It’s reasonably easy to find granite or marble remnants and reclamations. Additionally, reclaimed stone often has an interesting story that’s a conversation starter and that adds a little history to your living space.
Most Moisture Resistant: Granite
You don’t want to have the constant worry of your floors or countertops incurring excessive water damage. You’ll inevitably spill something somewhere, and thorough cleaning involves water, too.
- Resistant to moisture if sealed correctly
- Susceptible to acidic liquids
- Requires resealing twice a year
- Can incur irreparable stains from liquids if the seal suffers excessive damage
- Resistant to moisture if sealed correctly
- Needs regular resealing
- Staining from moisture may occur if left on surface
Better for Handling Heat: Granite
Heat resistance is less important for flooring but is an essential consideration for countertops and fire surrounds.
- Can tolerate heat from an open fire or wood stove with no issues
- Prone to discoloration from hot pans
- Cracking in countertops is possible from thermal shock with sudden temperature changes: Use a hot pad
- Very heat resistant
- Hots pans will not discolor the granite
- Thermal shock cracking is possible with extreme temperature changes
Best for Resale Value: Tie
While you may not be planning to immediately sell your home, resale value is still an important consideration. The money you’re investing in remodeling your home should be equaled or increased in the uplift in your home’s value.
- The elegant look this stone gives your home will reflect in the sale cost
- Keep maintaining the appearance of the marble, worn-looking marble will not provide the same resale value
- Can add 100% or more of the cost of the installation when selling a home
- Choosing dark colors risks the possibility of it going out of style
- Granite is becoming common and is losing its edge
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Ready to start your countertop installation?
Which is Best for Your Home?
Marble and granite are both exceptional, durable choices for your home. They add value and have many pleasing qualities that can elevate a space. The project or room you’re planning a project for is key in determining which material is the best choice. To get advice for your specific property and project, speak to a countertop professional who can give you more information and guidance.
Either stone works well for bathroom countertops. Because it won’t normally face spills from acidic foods, the bathroom is a great place to leverage marble, although you will have to make sure that you keep it sealed to resist the moisture that it will face. For the shower, granite is a better option because, while it does need sealing, it is a little less prone to water damage than marble.
Granite is the better choice for kitchens. With its resistance to heat and higher tolerance for acidic food spills, it will continue to look good and require less diligent care than marble. Marble is a viable option, but be aware that it requires more frequent sealing, careful cleaning, and diligence in cleaning spills.
Depending on the traffic flow, either stone could be a good choice for flooring. Use granite in hallways and entryways where there is a lot of pass-through traffic due to its durability. In lower traffic areas, like a bathroom, the look of marble adds an elegant touch.
Marble has been used to make decorative furniture for thousands of years. For a great looking accent piece, it really shines. If it’s a table you’re going to eat or prepare food on, granite is a better choice.
Marble and granite are tied pretty closely for fireplace surrounds. For the classic white fireplace surround seen throughout history in the homes of the wealthy, marble is the way to go. It requires more cleaning and regular sealing, but its timeless elegance is undeniable.
Marble vs. Granite vs. Other Material Comparisons
You’ll find lots of alternatives to granite and marble, ranging from other natural stones like limestone, to synthetics like solid surface and resin, as well as recycled materials such as glass.
Quartz is really engineered quartz. It’s crushed rocks that contain large quantities of quartz bound in resin. It has the look of real stone and many of the same beneficial properties. However, compared to granite, quartz isn’t as durable. It can fade with prolonged exposure to UV light, and it isn’t as heat resistant.
Vs. Vitrified Tiles & Travertine
Travertine, like marble, is a naturally occurring limestone. However, it is softer and will not hold a shine, but rather settle to a matte finish. It is suitable for flooring and fireplace surrounds, but not typically used in countertops.
Vitrified tiles, on the other hand, are manufactured from clay, porcelain or ceramic. They are non-porous and non-staining and are an economical alternative to natural stone.
Soapstone costs less than granite and marble, so is an economical compromise for those who want real stone but are on a tight budget. It’s heat-resistant and less prone to staining than both granite and marble. Unlike granite and marble, it’s resistant to acids like lemon juice, and it’s non-porous, so it does not require sealing. On the other hand, it’s soft and scratches easily.
Vs. Solid Surface
Solid surface is an artificial material used for budget countertops. It won’t give you the look of natural stone, but it’s less expensive and easy to maintain. While minor damage is easy to repair yourself, solid surface is highly susceptible to heat damage and scratches easily. Solid surface can also sustain significant damage with exposure to acidic or alkaline cleaning chemicals.
Top Stone Fabricators
Finding a good stone fabricator or supplier is critical when looking to add either material in your home. It’s imperative that you do your research to locate a company in your area with an excellent reputation. Don’t shy away from doing background checks and calling references. A good supplier will walk you through the ins and outs of selecting the right stone for your home and will be there through the installation process.
|Popular Granite Suppliers||Popular Marble Suppliers|
|Helios||USA Marble & Granite|
|Granite Granite Inc.||Southland Stone|