11 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Installing Marble Countertops

Not carefully considering different types of marble

Remodels inevitably involve a seemingly never-ending stream of decisions. By the time you arrive at the point where you've decided to commit to marble, you may assume all that's left is to view some slabs and pick one you like. But it's not that simple. From here, you still need to determine exactly which types of marble will suit your space and lifestyle.

Ordering everything else first

One of the potential missteps people make installing marble counters is ordering everything else for your kitchen first. Buying a marble slab is a big undertaking, and it can be tempting to start selecting the rest of your finishes before tracking down the right slab. But although choosing your kitchen details first and your counters second might feel the natural course of events, it can come with hidden costs.

Not being meticulous with your measurements

Before you start shopping around for a slab, you need to measure your total countertop area. The easiest way to do this is by drawing a diagram and then noting down the dimensions. To get the square footage, multiply the length by the depth, and then divide by 144. If you are replacing an old countertop, you may be able to use its dimensions as a guide. Keep in mind that you need to measure from the wall, not from where the tiles or backsplash meet the top of the existing counters. If you are installing new cabinets, you can use the plans to work out your total countertop area — just remember to include an overhang.

Not viewing slabs in person

Once you've got an idea of the type of marble you want and how much you need, you can start calling up stone yards to find out what's in stock in your area. If you want a good deal, it may be best to avoid big box stores like Home Depot, skip the middlemen, and instead head to a local stone supplier or fabricator. While you may be able to place orders over the phone or online, it's always a good idea to visit the showroom or stone yard in person. No two marble slabs are identical, and it's important to view what you're buying before committing.

Picking an edge profile at random

Once you've selected a slab, the next choice is what type of edge profile you want. This is an important decision that will have a big impact on the look and feel of your counters, and it can also be a critical safety consideration. Very square corners can cause more severe injury than rounded ones. None of us want a bruised hip bone from bumping against the kitchen island, and sharp profiles can be particularly hazardous for children and the elderly. Angular edges are also more prone to chipping than curved ones.

Assuming polished finishes are more durable than honed

For decades, polished finishes were the default for kitchen countertops. But the ongoing trend toward texture and organic aesthetics has triggered a big uptick in the popularity of honed finishes. While honed finishes are very "of the moment," a lot of people worry that they won't be as durable. Although the surface of honed marble is more textured and porous, it can actually hold up better against etching. Etching happens when an acid eats away at the sheen, leaving a pale discoloration. Because honed marble doesn't have much sheen to begin with, this can make etched areas less visible.

Not checking nearby pipes and electrics

If you're doing a purely cosmetic upgrade, you might not have budgeted for electrical or plumbing work. But before you install your new surfaces, it's always a good idea to thoroughly check any nearby plumbing, gas lines, or wiring. This is a wise move no matter what type of countertops you're installing, but it's especially important if you're opting for a premium option like marble. You don't want to have to rip out your beautiful, new (and costly) marble counters because there's a plumbing leak or electrical fault you can't access.

Not removing old features first

Another thing that needs to happen before you can get those gorgeous new countertops installed is to remove everything that's destined to go during the remodel. If you're replacing the backsplash, you'll need to get down the old tiles and clean up the back wall. If you're ripping out the old countertop, make sure you meticulously clean up any residue. Untidy areas of leftover glue can make it harder to neatly apply a new layer of silicone. Irregularities in the top surfaces of your cabinets can also create points of torsion, placing strain on your newly installed countertop.

Not making sure your counters are perfectly level

One of the most common mistakes to avoid if you're doing a DIY installation is not meticulously leveling the surface. If you already have existing cabinetry that you're dressing up with new marble tops, you're probably thinking your cabinets are already straight and flat. They may be generally level, but natural stone is far less forgiving than synthetic countertop materials. If your previous kitchen surfaces were made of laminate, they might have lasted for decades on a set of cabinets with sloped or uneven edges. Swapping them for real stone without checking the levels could cause your new marble counters to crack. Plus, no one wants sloped countertops.

Forgetting about reinforcement

Choosing, buying, and getting a marble counter cut is a big investment of both time and money. If you're installing your own countertops, all of this will (literally) hang in the balance as you shift the stone into place. There is a very real risk that the cut slab might break if it's not handled with the utmost care. This is why professional installation is often recommended. Should the counter crack while it's being installed, the cost won't be on you, provided you're working with a legitimate installer. If you do have the skills to go the DIY route, you need to take every precaution to avoid breaking the slab as you carry and place it onto the cabinets.

Not considering remnants

Another mistake homeowners make when installing marble surfaces is ignoring the possibility of using remnants. If you have a lot of countertop real estate to cover, you won't be able to use remnants for the job. But your projects might create remnant pieces that you can strategically utilize in other areas. For instance, you can use narrow offcuts to install marble floating shelves, clad a recess, dress up your fireplace — the options are almost endless. Skinny pieces can also make a perfect low-profile backsplash.

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