Building 101 – Countertops

Marble! Everyone loves the look of marble and when we built our townhome I insisted that I have marble everywhere. I remember talking to my mom one night about my plans to deck our house out in marble. I thought she would gush with me about my ideas, but instead I was met with a silence long enough that I thought my phone dropped the call, and then got a very mom-esque “do you have ANY idea how high maintenance marble is”?

Say what?! She went on to describe how porous the stone is and how you have to treat it like a newborn baby. Well shoot. Of course I had to consult the Google-machine for evidence and low and behold. It. Was. All. There. Stains, cracks, chips, more stains. Uggghhhhhh.

Photo by Alex Qian on

Now don’t get me wrong. Marble is great and it works really well for some people. But I am married to arguably the messiest husband on the planet and now have a son who is far from role model status of the clean kids club. So honestly, it was not going to work in the spaces I wanted it. Read: Kitchen and bathrooms.

So what are your options for countertops, especially if you covet the marble look like me? There’s hope and it comes in the form of virtually indestructible quartz.

I had zero idea what quartz was when we built our townhouse. I thought my options were laminate, granite or marble and I assumed marble was the most high end look I could get. So when I had my first design appointment and they introduced me to quartz, my mind nearly exploded. There were at least a dozen variations to choose from and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did.

The design studio only had small sample slabs so when I asked to see a full slab, they coordinated a visit to their quartz supplier so I could see it in person. Not only did I get to see a full 9 foot slab of my sample in real life, they guys at the distribution center invited me in for a little tour.

I got to see what felt like 6 million different quartz slabs of all kinds of variations. Talk about overwhelming! But then it got really cool! One of the guys brought me back to their stain lab. I wasn’t able to take photos, but here is how it went down.

They had a large room with three different style slabs installed in the middle and six more installed around the perimeter. Then they had this huge kit of stain makers. If you can name it, it was in there; pasta sauce – check! Red wine – you know it! Crayon, sharpies, pens, oil paint – yep! Coffee grounds and brewed coffee – absolutely and SO much more.

Then he told me to pick my poison and let me select six stains I thought would be the most common in my house. I grabbed a sharpie, a blue ink pen, a blue crayon, the pasta sauce, coffee and of course the red wine.

“Okay”, he said, “do your best damage.” Oh. My. Goodness.

I drew my name in junior high style black sharpie bubble letters, then colored it in with the blue crayon. Then I threw pasta sauce splatters all over the place like an angry toddler. I preferred to drink the wine, but he assured me it was past its prime, so I made lovely wine rings all over the place. Then I drew random lines all over with the blue pen while he helped me to pour fresh hot coffee – one to drink and one to spill.

Wow. What. A. Mess. Here is a photo from this websites comprehensive stain testing for inspiration.

We decided to let our artwork settle in for a little bit, so he took me on a tour of the warehouse floor where I got to see a full size slab of the Frosty Carrina I had picked out for our townhome. It was love at second sight! He then showed me a few new products they had just released and after that, we made our way back to the stain lab – about 30 minutes later.

Here’s a shot from my Egg Free Banana Bread Post of my beautiful Caesarstone Frosty Carrina in action.

Back in the lab, the scene reminded me of what could happen if you left a bunch of over caffeinated teenagers unsupervised. I was optimistic about most of the stains, but thought there was no way the sharpie marker or the red wine were going to come out 100%. Basic dish soap and water easily pulled out 95% of the stains. Then he used a specialty cleaner to buff out the sharpie and wine remnants and just like that – the whole room looked exactly how it did when we first walked into the space.

Well, that whole experience was a game changer for me. I confirmed my quartz selections at the design studio that Friday and for the past five years, have LOVED them so, so much! If you’re curious if I put marble anywhere in our townhouse, the answer is yes! I did a small hearth of marble tile and it has held up surprisingly well considering it’s in a high traffic area in our home!

MSI Surfaces in Calacatta Verona – Photo courtesy of First Class Marble and Granite of Franklin, MA

So, should you consider other countertop surfaces, sure! Do I recommend getting anything but quartz? Honestly, that is your call. But I can tell you in full confidence that I am putting only quartz in our new house as well!

Would you like help learning more about quartz, including how to decide which style to install in your new build or remodel? I would love to help you out! Reach out via my consultation request form and we can chat more about what you’re goals are!

Next up in the Building 101 series is Building 101 – Doors and Millwork.

Until then, stay well friends!