101 on Choosing a Marble Slab

If you are finally remodeling your kitchen, or designing your dream kitchen, the question of countertops should be one of the first topics.

And when it comes to countertops, marble remains the top choice for many. If you’re in the market, here are a few tips.

First, call in advance and make sure the facility has marble slabs in your color, type, square footage and dimensions. Ask them to pull out a few, and if you see something that catches your eye, ask to see it close up.

Since every slab is different, select the exact pieces for your project. Decide where the veining goes so there are no surprises later.

Also, consider how pieces are installed to avoid seams. If you have seams, book-match so adjacent pieces have a mirrored appearance.

It’s possible to cut some marble blocks two different ways to achieve unique veining patterns like cross-cut or fleuri-cut, resulting in an open flowered pattern. Vein cut, or striato, slices the block to achieve a linear, striped appearance.

There are many ways to finish stone, including brushing and polishing techniques. An orange-peel-like texture gives a leather, brushed or river-wash finish.

Of course the most popular finishes are polished, which looks glossy or honed.

Also, make sure you know the difference between cracks and fissures. Cracks are a sign of damage. A fissure is a natural occurrence and doesn’t change the plane of the marble surface. You should be able to slide your nail across a fissure without it catching. They don’t change the integrity of the slab.

Consider rounding the edges of your slab since hard stones like marble are brittle and 90-degree corners can chip.

Finally, finish with a penetrating sealer for long-term performance. Acids like lemon will still etch the surface, but with a honed finish remove it with a Comet paste using a Scotch-Brite pad.

If polished marble gets stained, remove it with an alkaline poultice. This will strip the sealer, so reapply after.

That’s the beauty of marble — you can always sand it or polish it. With many other materials, once it’s damaged, that’s it.

So trust your instincts, get advice and you’ll have just the right marble for years to come.

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