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Building your dream home involves some tough decisions, even with the biggest budgets. In this series of ‘Building on a Budget’ posts, we’re discussing some of the best ways to be cost-efficient when deciding certain details. Our previous post discussed hardwood vs. vinyl wood tiles, definitely have a read if you haven’t already.

Today we’re going to discuss a big one, marble vs. quartz counter tops. Let’s dive in.

OVERVIEW

Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. The characteristic swirls and veins of many coloured marble varieties are usually due to various mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert which were originally present as grains or layers in the limestone. Marble is the creme de la creme in the world of dreamy counter tops, due to its natural beauty. There’s a reason why famous sculptors such as Michelangelo, used it as their material of choice.

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in Earth’s continental crust, behind feldspar. In reference to counter tops, it is an engineered material that consists of about 95% quartz mineral with the resin being made up of polymer resins and pigments. Because it’s a man-made material, it can come in a nearly unlimited variety of colours and textures.

DURABILITY

Marble certainly is tough, but it can easily scratch, specially when touched for a long period of time by something acidic. A slice of lemon laid down on a polished counter top overnight can leave a mark in the shape of the lemon slice, duller than the surface around it–this process is called etching and is the biggest pitfall to marble counter tops. It’s porous nature means it can absorb liquids fairly quickly, therefore it must be sealed and re-sealed regularly.

Quartz on the other hand, has a Moh’s Scale of Hardness of 7 (diamond being 10) meaning it is extremely durable. The resins used in the manufacturing of quartz counter tops provide a non-porous surface that is essentially stain proof (no sealing needed!). They are also heat and scratch resistant, unlike many other stone-based materials.

MAINTENANCE

Marble requires special cleaners and it needs to be re-sealed on a regular basis to prevent stains and etching. However, sealing does not prevent marble from absorbing liquids, it just slows down the process–meaning you need to wipe up anything super quick to avoid issues. So it’s really important to factor this in to the space in question, how many times do you kids spill in the kitchen and walk away? Eek!

Quartz on the other hand is low maintenance. Its non-porous surface doesn’t require sealing or special cleaners. Simple soap and water can typically do the trick!

DESIGN

Marble is gorgeous, there’s no arguing that. It’s been used for centuries in the most lavish designs for a reason. And if you have the budget, you can find some pretty incredible one-of-a-kind slabs to be the center piece of your space.

Quartz is designed to be consistent. Dozens of colours and patterns are available to match almost any design. You can even find some that mimic the look of marble.

COST

Quartz is less expensive than marble, ranging in price from $40-100 per square foot, while marble can range in price from $50-150 per square foot. At first glance, one would assume their costs are similar, but when you factor in the maintenance and other factors above, is the marble really worth it?

 

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