Why would a remodeling contractor try to talk a homeowner out of marble countertops in a bathroom?
I first heard several years ago that a contractor had done that. I thought at the time that there must be some warranty issue the builder wanted to avoid. I didn’t follow up, but I had learned how much remodelers hate call-backs.
I heard a similar anecdote third-hand a couple of weeks ago.
Is marble – with its classic, timeless beauty – truly a problem?
No, but you do need to do your homework and understand its unique properties.
Veteran remodeler David Tyson explained why a contractor might not want to install marble in some settings. I was right: It’s about call-backs. He hasn’t refused to use marble, he said, but he has learned to alert customers to its peculiarities.
“Marble is soft, for one thing,” said Tyson, a certified remodeler and long-time leader in local professional organizations. “It’s easily cracked. The other thing is that, because it’s soft and porous, it’s easily stained.”
Tyson had a client who – after his warnings – went to the marble shop and brought home a small chunk of the stone she was considering. She poured red wine onto the sample. She let the wine soak in for a couple of days, he said, then scrubbed to see if she could remove any stain.
“She was able to clean it up enough that she wasn’t concerned about using it.” If you have concerns about marble, Tyson said, you can do the same.
Marble countertops can crack, especially where the stone has been cut down to a thin or narrow strip. But he said top installers have learned to reduce problems by reinforcing vulnerable areas with steel, set into a channel on the underside of the slab. Talk to your installer about such issues.
If you’re considering marble, as Tyson suggested, do your homework. You’ll find plenty of information online. Here are a couple of good places to start: The Marble Institute of America (www.marble-institute.com) offers guidance on cleaning and sealing; the National Kitchen and Bath Association (www.nkba.org) explains the pros and cons of different countertop materials.
Your installer will certainly provide information.
Here’s the other thing about marble, Tyson said: It can be even lovelier with the patina of age, like a fine antique. Visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, or the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Or even your county courthouse. Notice the worn stair treads.
“Marble has timeless beauty,” he said, “even with a crack in it, even with a stain on it.”