Monday, September 21, 2015

Stone Counters That Look Like Marble (And My Pick!)

Hello there and welcome to a new week! It's going to be a great one -- perfect weather and tons of progress on the kitchen happening! The new counters will be installed this week and I'm currently working on building up the cabinets to the ceiling. I am SO excited about those, I think it's going to turn out great.

As promised, I'm sharing more about my recent search for stone countertops and those that resemble marble. (I shared the process of looking for and getting new stone counters here.) I knew I didn't want marble because of etching issues (more on that shortly), but there are a ton of options with a similar look!

Marble is all the rage -- many call it trendy but I think it's anything but. It's stood the test of time and is truly a beautiful stone.

Here's a piece of honed (not shiny) Carrara marble:
carrara marble
I have always admired and loved it -- but I've seen marble in many real homes (not a model home) and it etches -- here's an example of what some foods will do to it: 
etching on marble
Anything acidic will etch the surface and it will look more dull than the rest. Even water will do it -- some joke everything etches. I bet it feels like it at times. Sealing is supposed to help but it still happens. When you look at them straight on you can't see the marks most of the time. But if the light catches them right then it's crazy obvious. I knew it would drive me nuts.

The first stone warehouse I visited, I met with an employee who showed me around and I mentioned I loved the look of marble but didn't want to use it because of the etching. She literally breathed a sigh of relief, I'm not even kidding. It seems she has to tell many visitors why it's not the easiest material to care for.

If you are pretty laid back about this kind of stuff then the look may win out for you. Thing is, I'm pretty laid back about our house but if I'm spending this much I don't want it to have issues almost immediately. I don't want to worry about it, so I knew I wasn't going with real marble.

(Side note -- we have (very inexpensive) honed marble in our bathrooms and have never had an issue with them. I don't know if it's the color or the honed finish that helps, or just that they are super cheap version.)

So because so many love the look but don't want to worry that much about the counters, I gathered a few stones that have the look of marble but not as many worries. With granite you do have to have it sealed to protect it, but from my understanding if it's sealed well it holds up really well.

First things first, if you are looking for a granite that looks a lot like marble, you won't have as much luck. There are a few, but if you want a true veining look you'll want quartz or quartzite. Those are man-made and it's amazing what they can do!

There are a few granites that have a similar look and they are:

Casa Blanca
Bianco Romano
Kasmir White (I hear it stains easily)
Glacier White
River White (more on that shortly)

There really aren't that many that have that same look. Quartz and quartzite on the other hand -- there are tons!

This Taj Mahal quartzite was a favorite:
stone that looks like granite
And very expensive. :) 

White Macaubus is another that has the veining: 
white macaubus quartzite
 Ibiza White has a smaller detail that looks similar too:
ibiza white quartz
Some stone yards will have their own quartz that has the look of marble. One of the places I visited had some that looked very similar:
quartz that looks like granite
Some of the other quartz counters that have the look of marble are:

La Viatera Rococo
Cambria Torquay
HanStone Tranquility

When you are looking at quartz be sure to check them out up close. Some of them look more like squiggly lines than veining. I didn't care for those as much. Some had a dotted look to the background -- I don't know how else to describe it. It didn't look as authentic as others. 

So the funny thing is, when I started looking at the marble and marble lookalikes, I decided I didn't really want it. Many told me the same happened to them -- when you see it up close and see other options it's easy to change direction.

The marble and marble lookalikes are gorgeous, but too light. I wanted more contrast. If I paint the cabinets white (I'm still deciding on the color), I didn't want the kitchen to be all white. I wanted some more variation, some more movement. If you do want an all white kitchen, or at least very light counters, these will work great for you!

Turns out one of the very first stone I came upon in my first location (I visited four) was the one. I knew the moment I saw it: 
river white granite suede finish
This is River White granite and I was in love. I loved the movement, the colors (a lot of dark gray) and that it still had the light feeling of granite. 

I quickly realized every single piece of River White looks different though. This one (above) was a suede finish and I LOVED it. It's not shiny, and it had some texture to it. 

But when I later saw the polished version there was no comparison -- I wanted it to be a little blingy: 
river white granite
Like I said, every slab looks different. Some don't vary as much in coloring, some have more brown spots. I like those brown spots -- the only thing I've worried about is that sometimes those can look purpley. I'm a little nervous about that.

I've seen this countertop in bathrooms with no natural light and didn't love it as much. I've seen it in kitchens with tons of light and loved it -- thankfully our kitchen has tons of light! The suede version I saw had very little of the brown, but had a lot of yellowish spots that I didn't care for. The polished version doesn't have those but has more brown spots.

But it was the one and only stone I loved over and over again so it's my pick. I found out later that it is prone to staining as well. Of course. :) The fabricator we are using does a 15-year sealing process and I've heard wonderful things. I'm going to do some more research on products to use on it (someone recommended a cleaner and sealer in one) so let me know if you have tips.

My slab is the last one they have and they said they are becoming harder to find -- my fabricator can't get more for two more months. So needless to say I'm totally nervous about the install this week. Crossing my fingers that it goes great!!

I'll share that with you soon and more about the finish and edge that I picked. (You can see the River White Granite I picked for our kitchen here.) I'm working hard to get the upper cabinets built up before they arrive (I don't want to step on those!) and we have to pull out the sink and current laminate counters before the install. It's going to be a busy week! I'm being super ambitious and thinking I could possibly start the backsplash by the end of the week too. So exciting! Or crazy. :)

If you know of any granites or quartz counters that have the marble look that I missed, please share. If you have any of these in your home, feel free to share your thoughts!

Cbeck out our finished kitchen renovation with all projects completed!


  1. Wow didnt even know this kinda thing existed!! Good to know for the future for in our kitchen!

  2. That is so pretty. The nice thing about blogs and Pinterest is that you can develop some ideas and rule out things before you go shopping. I am like you: I love the look of marble, but having it in my home would absolutely make me a bad person, and I don't want to be a bad person who gets upset about counters. I picked Cambria Torquay and I am so very happy with it. I was so glad to be able to take samples home to see what they looked like flat and in my space with my light. I had read that granite "gets busier" when it gets flat, and it looks more subdued on edge at the stone yard. I am looking forward to seeing yours installed! Love your changes so far.

  3. We have White Fantasy "Granite" and it is so gorgeous. Geologically it is actually a Marble Breccia - or in layman's terms you can think of it as a marble that's been beaten up. Tons of beautiful gray and white contrast. Unfortunately, it etches because it's still made out of calcium carbonate which reacts with acid and is a softer mineral than quartz or feldspar that makes up a true granite. The purple spots in your granite are garnets :)

  4. These are gorgeous! My husband and I are purchasing our first home and I really dislike the counters (they're formica). We went on Saturday to look at some quartz slabs and I absolutely loved them, but realized that the formica is just going to have to stay for a while. Even the cheaper of the stone options are expensive for a small budget! I'll just have to admire yours for now.


  5. Looks great!! Its going to suit your place perfectly, its going to pick up on all that gray and look so nice with the island :)

    *crossing fingers the install goes well* Sending over lots of positive vibes you get everything done! Can't wait for more :D

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Décor

  6. We redid our kitchen (from the 1960s version with harvest gold sunburst formica counters and plywood cabs) to a nice Ikea version with a farmhouse sink last year. I was planning on butcher block counters but when I went to order they were out of stock everywhere on the east coast and no plans to have them in stock anytime soon. I went with a cheapo formica as a temporary option, called Pragel "Mineral Effect" and people who are just looking into the kitchen assume we went with granite, truly. Marble would be my first choice but for the $$ I'm pretty happy with the durability of my formica. I plan to top my small island with marble to satisfy that itch. When I get sick of my placeholder countertops I'll probably replace them without hesitation.

  7. That is SO exciting!! Like you, I LOVE marble, but when not in our budget we made wood countertops. But, my bathrooms still have the old ugly laminate so I started looking at quartz and am working with MS International to get "carrara grigio" for my bathrooms. It most closely resembled the marble dresser top I have that I love, so that's what I'm going for. Can't wait to see yours!! I only wish I could put it in the kitchen too.

  8. I just went through the same thing in my marble but was afraid with my boys and husband! We ended up with White Ice Granite and I love it! I just posted about our kitchen if you have a chance to pop over and see it. I love your choice of River White! It really is a beautiful stone. Best of luck with your kitchen!

  9. This post's timing was perfection! Thank you! We are ankle-deep in home reno and a probably a week away from knee-deep. (trying to avoid the whole in-over-our-heads depth) and I was just on the phone this morning with countertop fabricators and at a loss for which direction to go. This gave me some! Thanks bunches! -Melissa Moad from

  10. We are renovating our kitchen and put polished marble counters in. I loved it too much and nothing else compared. They've been installed for about 6 months now and do have etches, but no stains. Usually things like that would bother me (i.e. imperfections) but with the marble the etches do not bother me. In my mind it's just gradually aging or getting it's patina as they say. The counters you picked are lovely. Did you take a sample piece from your slab home with you to see it in your kitchens light? I found that every piece of counter I took home looked so different in my home versus the warehouse. I'm sure you're going to love your new counters when they are installed. You might even caress and talk to them like I do mine. Totally not creepy or weird.

  11. Sarah! That's what we got! River white! I love love love it! and mine does have some of the purple-y-dark reddish in it, but I love it all the same! Our slab came from our fabricator - they polished it and installed it. Every day I walk in there and just sigh at the beauty.. (haha!) I can't wait to see yours!!!!

  12. we just did our kitchen.... one thing i would recommend is that if possible, look at the slab very close. tell the fabricator what area you do not like and he can possibly 'hide' it to the back of the counter. we have very slight orangy tingish spots (think splatter tomato sauce). the are at the front end of the counter, if I was smart, i would have had that flipped over the back of the counter where it is most likey under canisters or such... or at least out of vision range.... drives me nuts!!!

  13. We have River White and LOVE it!!! I picked it out at Home Depot but actually went to the stone fabricator yard 2 hrs South of us in Detroit. I got to pick out which 2 stones I wanted and put my templates where I wanted to on them. I put the sink cutout area right over one of the purple-ish spots. I knew it would get cut out. They even made a lazy susan out of the left over granite for us as a gift. The light gray and white reminds me of marble but I get the quality of the granite. So happy I went with River White!

  14. Sarah, I have enjoyed reading your blog for several years now. But the last few weeks, there's been some kind of technical glitch that makes it very difficult to read. I will start reading, and then the page moves up and down repeatedly. I'm guessing it's an issue with an ad or a type of ad -- I can't narrow it down more than that, because I can't get the page to stay in one place long enough to even see what types of ads are on the page (to see if there's a correlation). In fact, I wasn't able to read this post at all. I hope you're able to get this fixed -- I'll be so sad if I'm not able to read all about your kitchen reno.

    p.s. I'm on Firefox on a Mac.

  15. Hi Sarah! We use a quartzite called Sea pearl. We wanted the look of marble but the durability of granite. We have a 9 foot island in the kitchen we redid this January so it had to be sturdy. We just installed the remnant and the guest bathroom. I absolutely love it. I would attach a picture if I could. I sing you are absolutely right about the amount of light a space gets affecting how the colors will appear. I think the granite that you chose will be gorgeous!

  16. Decisions!!! You are right to take your time! I have green marble in our main bathroom and it has aged and etched some but I still love it! It was a seconds piece I got for a song back in the 1970's and has held up well. We will be replacing our kitchen counters soon - it's been on the To Do list for two years and while I love the LOOK of granite I'm not sure I want it for myself. We are so clumbsy I'm afraid I would break so many things!!!

  17. I worked for a Cambria fabricator for a short while and the benefit that Cambria offers over the granite is that the Cambria quartz is completely non-porous, unlike granite, so the quartz is actually directly food-prep safe. Granite requires a special cleaner and a sealant, whereas Cambria can be washed with a mild soap and water and maintain it's shine. Definitely benefits to both, the granite does offer a little more natural movement and look and can be found a little more inexpensively.

    I know you've already picked, but perhaps for your readers - Cambria just came out with two new styles right before I left, Brittannica and Ella - and they offer a similar look to the white Carrara marble as well but with the more contrast you were searching for.

    And yes, you are totally right - marble is beautiful but the upkeep and the ease to ruin it would make me unlikely to use in a kitchen too.

    The slab you picked is very nice and I'm sure will look great in your kitchen, especially with the gray island contrasting!

  18. This post is so handy! I'm shopping for marble counter tops for my new future home (haven't even shopped for a home yet, whoa Nelly!) My current kitchen came installed with brown granite counters I'm not mad about, so I've compensated with marble slabs (one for serving, one for display, and one for cutting) and they etch like MAD. I do like the way the etches look on small slabs of marble but I think I'd go crazy if it showed up on something as large as a counter or table top. This is good to know. x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  19. we installed Silestone. Looks like marble, but very durable!

  20. I recently used River White in a client project and it is really lovely. I wan't a fan of granite but this one is different!

  21. I think you made a really lovely choice. I doubt you will ever regret it. We had granite installed about three years ago and I love it so much!! VERY carefree. I tried many different granite sprays and most of them smell stinky and my kids would complain about the odor. But then I found Seventh Generation granite and stone cleaner. Works great, has a quality spray nozzle and the "mandarin orange" scent is actually pretty! Enjoy those counters and thank you for sharing them with us!

  22. We built our house at the end of last year and I went all out with Carrera marble in the kitchen and bathrooms. I LOVE it! It's honed and sealed and does have a few rings from etching but nothing serious and you can only see them in the perfect light. I wouldn't change it at all! To each their own, but I think some people just get so scared about marble.

    I live in a pretty cookie cutter neighborhood and knew that if we ever wanted to sell our house we would need to stand out. And I obviously think my stained cabinets with marble backsplash and marble counters stand out for a GREAT price!

  23. We had River White installed when we did a major kitchen reno 2 years ago and I love it just as much as the day my kitchen designer sent me a picture of the slab saying "this is perfect, go see it and reserve it." I think you will love it too!

  24. hi i blogger from Indonesia delighted to be in the page you were so amazing I found your blog on google

  25. I love what's happening with your kitchen and can hardly wait to see the cabinets painted and your gorgeous granite installed. We had granite installed when we moved into a new home four years ago. It's sealed and it's held up beautifully. For cleaning, I found a cloth that is actually brilliant; It's used damp, just wipe it across the granite and leave it to dry. The streaks disappear. No smell, no fuss.

  26. Love it! I spent a lot of time earlier this year looking for something just like it with no luck. Apparently here in the Pacific Northwest, lighter granites aren't as popular. I ended up choosing Cambria Berwyn. It's not as light, but I love it. Glad you found just what you were looking for.

  27. The last house I lived in (a rental) had a marble look alike formica counters. If someone is on a tight budget they should take a look! It even had a square edge.
    Maggie S

  28. I used Silestone Lagoon in my bathroom renovation and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! I had marble counters in my last house and they stained from just water - it drove me nuts! The Silestone Lagoon is a lightly veined marble - I didn't want anything too busy.

  29. Love River White granite! I tried to find it for my last kitchen reno and I couldn't find it anywhere. I have marble now. Surprisingly, they have been super easy to care for. Actually, I don't do anything special for them and they stay looking nice. It's only been six weeks so we'll see how they turn out in the long run. The stained on site floors are my kryptonite of all things. You just never know!


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