A recurring theme in our posts revolves around whether the selection of stone is an “art” or a “science”. The answer is – it’s both! A great example to illustrate this concept concerns the use of marble or granite. Today we will focus on potential residential applications of these two types of stone.
To address the science aspect, a brief geology lesson is in order. The differences among the three types of rocks – sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous – have to do with how they are formed. Granite is classified as igneous, which is the category of rock that was formed from the cooling of molten materials beneath the earth’s surface. Metamorphic rocks get their start as sedimentary or igneous rocks, but they are altered under heat and pressure over a long period of time. Marble starts out as limestone (a sedimentary rock) that has been through such a change process, which transforms its texture. The science side of the equation helps us to understand why these rocks perform the way they do. In general, granite is harder and more dense than marble, but in no way does that make it less useful as a residential stone. Please note the noir-ish marble imagery at the top of this post and the granite sculpture that is Mt. Rushmore below.
The marble or granite choice has aesthetic considerations as well. Both are beautiful in appearance, but of course, beauty is subjective. A useful way to examine these two types of stone is by their application in current residential design. This is where the art aspect coincides with science. So let’s take a tour through the typical home to illustrate this juxtaposition in action.
First, we need to distinguish between kitchen countertops and bath vanity tops. In general, granite is usually the better choice in the kitchen because of its greater density and ability to resist scratches and stains. Marble is more vulnerable to contact with acidic foods and harsh elements found in household cleaners. But it’s also important to understand that granite is not entirely stain resistant and its lighter color values can become stained in the presence of aggressive agents such as red wine and ketchup. Marble is less typically found in the kitchen, but it can still succeed in this setting given certain parameters. A good example of a white marble that can perform in the kitchen is a very dense stone quarried in Danby, Vermont.
In contrast, marble is generally more prevalent than granite in bathroom vanities. This is due to several factors, not the least of which is the less demanding nature of the space from a functional standpoint. In most instances, marble will present the design team with a greater range of fashion forward color values to work with.
In residential designs, marble is a more typical flooring choice than granite. The understated elegance and subtle veining of marble make it fairly easy to incorporate into a design plan. In many cases a granite floor may appear a bit utilitarian for current flooring design trends. With that said, client expectations should be considered when selecting a particular stone especially as it relates to overall color value, color range, and required maintenance. A perfectly fine marble installation can be hopelessly compromised if the client has unrealistic expectations for how the material will perform and the care that is required.
Like flooring, marble is more prevalent than granite as a wall covering in the residential realm. In particular, marble is a sound choice for bathroom walls. As noted in the flooring section, although a wonderful selection of color, pattern, and veining is available to choose from, the design team must take care to properly set client expectations. Of additional concern is to make certain to consider all aspects of waterproofing. This would of course be true of any stone used in a wet area.
In conclusion, the title of this post, Marble or Granite, is somewhat oversimplified. The choice between these two materials is not just a matter of selecting one or the other, but carefully considering which one is best suited for the particular tastes and tasks at hand. With that thought in mind, reach out to an expert for specific advice that will guide you to success. Thanks for the reading!