6 Secrets About Carrara Marble Counters You Never Knew

Carrara marble counters are amazing, and I love them in our kitchen.  After living with them for a year, I have no regrets.  They are simply beautiful, and their imperfection makes them look loved and lived in. Carrara marble kitchen countertops are a classic choice for a timeless kitchen. In this article, we discuss why Carrara marble counters are the best choice for bakers, how to fabricate and install for success, cleaning guidelines, how to fix chips, and best matching colors for paint and countertops. Italian homeowners and restauranteurs have been using Carrara marble for tables and counters for thousands of years, and when you visit Italy, they are everywhere. One of my favorite Carrara marble counter examples is in Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, CO. They use beautiful Cararra Marble for their tables and pizza counter.

Marble Counter pros and Cons
Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, CO has beautiful Carrara Marble table tops and counters.

The pizza counter is used and abused all day long, and I fell in love with it.  Before I saw this workhorse restaurant marble countertop, it was really hard to see what “etching” and “chips” would look like.

Carrara Marble Countertop, Pros and Cons, Pizzeria Locale
Photo by M. Marceny

I asked the waitress how they clean it, and she said she was diligent about wiping up spills, but chips do happen, and all it does is add to the personality and patina of the finish. They clean with soapy water and wipe with clean dishtowels. Carrara marble counters are one of the least expensive stone countertop options because of plentiful supply.  Quartz makes a good replacement, but it doesn’t have the cool feel of marble, and its just not the same. Marble is perfect for bakers that make pies and bread because of the cold surface temperature.  

Marble counters stay cold, for better baking

Marble is a dense, hard stone, so it conducts heat differently than other surfaces.   It has a high thermal mass, which means it can keep its temperature easier than other materials.  The counters actually stay at room temperature which feels cold to the touch because it is cooler than body temperature. This is important because marble is an excellent surface for baking and kneading pie and bread dough.  The marble can absorb heat from the dough without getting warm itself.  Plus, it feels really good when you touch it.

Marble countertop pros and cons, marble counters for bakers
Photo by M. Camilli

 

How you finish and fabricate marble is important

Choose a honed finish to minimize visual impact of etching.  You will occasionally end up with an etch finish, from spilled wine, lemon, vinegar or any other acid.  The contrast will be much less with a honed finished than with a polished finish. Choose an eased edge for a simple finish.  Chips will not be as obvious and will seem like part of the plan. Have your marble fabricator seal the stone with a 15 year marble sealer.  You will probably need to seal again, but this is not a place to save money.

Marble counter installation
Photo by M. Marceny

Clean with soapy water for best results

For everyday cleaning, I wipe the counters down with a wet paper towel – I don’t trust sponges because of potential bacterial contamination. Then, dry with a clean soft kitchen towel.  Water is the universal solvent, and does an amazing job for daily clean-up. I clean with soapy water weekly, and rinse with water. Fill a plastic spray bottle with water and a tablespoon of dishsoap.  Spray onto the counters, and wipe with a wet paper towel.  Dry with a clean soft kitchen towel.  There are marble cleaners on the market, but I really prefer the most natural alternative to avoid build-up on the surfaces. In the case of marble, simple soap and water is more effective anyway. DO NOT use acidic cleaners with vinegar, orange, lemon or lime juice, or any other acidic ingredients because it will etch the marble surface. Occasionally I find a stain from tomatoes, oil or even curry.  I can easily remove stains with a baking soda and water paste that I leave overnight.

Classic kitchen with Carrara marble counters and a farmhouse sink.
Photo by M. Camilli

Protect your counters

Use trivets or oven pads to protect marble counter surfaces.  Marble is heat resistant (like quartz or granite), but accidents can happen if there are temperature extremes between the surface and a pot. Don’t forget coasters to protect from drinks.  As I tell my family, this is a house not a fraternity. As with any other hard surface, use cutting boards to protect from knives. 5.  Carrara marble chips aren’t a big deal compared to quartz or granite surfaces. Chips happen with every hard counter surface.  Unlike granite or quartz I don’t need to call in a fabricator or buy expensive kits to fix the damage. I can simply sand the edges and consider it character.  After seeing the beautiful counters at Pizzeria Locale, I’m very happy to just sand the rough edges and accept that chips will happen.  If I’m lucky, my counter will one day look like the counters at Pizzeria Locale. Carrara Marble Countertop, Pros and Cons, Pizzeria Locale

Cool colors for walls and cabinets look best with Carrara marble counters, but you can style with any color!

Classic kitchen with carrara marble counters
Photo by M. Camilli

Best Complimentary Colors

The best neutrals for marble are cool grays such as Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray (HC-170), and Wickham Gray (HC-171). Avoid warmer neutrals such as greige, beige and warmer taupes.

Stonington Bray Benjamin Moore HC-170
Stonington Gray Benjamin Moore HC-170
 
 

The best whites are blue whites such as Benjamin Moore White Diamond (OC-61) and true whites such as Chantilly Lace (OC-65). Off-whites can work too if they are not too warm or dark.  Stay away from darker and warmer whites and creams.

Chantilly Lace
Chantilly Lace Benjamin Moore OC-65

Blues and blacks such as Benjamin Moore Hale Navy (HC-164), Carbon Copy (2170-10), Onyx (2133-10) and blue-greens such as Gentleman’s Gray(1061-20) are the best colors for cabinets.  When it comes to styling, you can use marble to showcase anything!

Hale Navy Benjamin Moore HC164
Hale Navy Benjamin Moore HC164

 

Classic kitchen with carrara marble counters and flowers.
Photo by M. Camilli

 

Articles about Marble Countertops

In case you want to read more about marble and haven’t decided to install yet, you can research with the following articles:

The Verdict

Carrara marble counters are perfect for a busy kitchen with our blended family with 5 teenagers and young adults.  They are used constantly for many uses, from baking, cleaning and cooking to using the island counter as a home office. For homeowners Carrara marble Counters are either a work of art that gets lovingly cared for, or a complete hassle to maintain.  They are not as desirable for homeowners that expect their counters to look as new as the day they were installed because of the patina and etching they develop.

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Carrara Marble Counters, Kitchen Remodel, Timeless Kitchen Finishes

14 Responses

    1. Hi Melanie,
      The white cabinets are a clean white, matched to Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. The lower cabinets are Sherwin-Williams Cyberspace.
      Hope that helps!
      Michelle

    2. Is the table the same color as the cabinets? It’s gorgeous with the wooden chairs! They are the same color as my flooring we just installed in our bathroom. I’m thinking of going bold with the cyberspace on a tall wainscoting and white subway tile in the shower.

      1. The table is the same color as the cabinets – its actually the island. Cyberspace is the color. I think Cyberspace would be beautiful in the shower.

  1. Hi from Denver! Can you recommend any softer whites for cabinets that would go nicely with Carrara kitchen counters?

    1. Hi Megan,
      Carrara Marble is pretty cold. We usually recommend clean whites such as BM Chantilly Lace or SW High Reflective White. BM Oxford White is also a clean white and a skosh warmer.
      Thanks,
      Michelle

  2. Our marble had quite strong gray and black streaks, paired with walnut base cabinets and warm white upper cabinets. What wall color do you recommend?

  3. Hi!

    You mention that off white is okay with Carrara but not warm white. What is the difference between off white and warm white?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Kenya,
      Quartz has a completely different color profile than Carrara marble. Those recommendations really vary based on the specific product. Because of the manufacturing process for quartz, the base colors are creamier, and they can have just about any undertone. In fact, I have rarely seen a quartz product that has the same color profile as Carrara marble. The only exception I can think of is Silestone Miami White, which has blue undertones and no veins. Quartz companies name their products quartz or Calacatta but they don’t look like the original product. Don’t get me wrong, the products are all lovely, but not the same.

      Thanks,
      Michelle

  4. Hi Michelle,
    My partner & I bought a refurbished apartment, which we’ve been living in for 4 months. The kitchen has lovely long countertops with Carrara marble that is light grey with darker grey markings. It is the most beautiful countertop I’ve worked on & so proud of it – it’s gorgeous!

    Unfortunately, I chipped the edge with a large pot (will never do that again). The chip is very small, I.e. 1mm, which I tried to fill with ‘Loctite’ Self Mixing Instant Epoxy mix. I cleaned the area to fill as much as possible and, with online instructions, created a border with sticky tape leaving the epoxy to dry for 3 days.

    Although the mix did dry it ended up creating a clear rubbery fill which slightly spilled out of the chipped edge. There were instructions to clean the spill with a new scouring pad which doesn’t have any effect on the marble surface. The problem though was that when running my fingers over the edge I also removed the mix in the chip

    I’d really love to be able to fill the chip correctly with a hard filler & could try again, but I think it will only dry and come away from the edge as before.

    Do you have any better suggestions?

    1. Hi Barbara,
      Try calling a stone expert in your area. You can usually find them through the fabricators. Or google something like stone refurbishment.
      Good luck!

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Driven to help clients fall back in love with their homes with intentional paint color schemes. She started the company based on her passion for color and its ability to make a house a home.

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