Q&A: What is marble?

Marble is a beautiful stone that has been used for thousands of years for everything from crafting buildings to sculptures to fireplace mantles and bathroom vanities.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Geologically, marble is a metamorphosed rock made of carbonate minerals. It is essentially a limestone or dolomite that has been subjected to high levels of heat and/or pressure within the earth. This causes the rock to recrystallize and also often creates unique new mineral patterns. Because of the presence of calcite, marble is prone to etching by acids which react with the calcium carbonate. In nature, this means that marble is often host to beautiful caves and ocean formations as the acids in the water slowly wear away the solid rock. In your home, this is also something to consider. Marble countertops can and will etch when acids such as lemon juice, wine, or tomato sauce, are spilled on them. For more information on etching, see our blog post on the subject here.

Catedral de mármol - Chile

Pure white marbles result from very pure limestone or dolomite and have been prized for millenia for their beauty. White marble has been used to create everything from the Taj Mahal to numerous statues such as Michaelangelo’s David. The reason it has been such a prized material for sculptors is that, in its purest state, it has a soft, skin-like quality – an ideal material for carving and one that results in a truly unique, lifelike finished product. The softness that makes marble great for scuptors, is also one of marble’s weaknesses for homeowners. Because it is softer than say, granite, marble is more prone to scratching than other countertop options.

Eschine, da villa dei papiri, peristilio rettangolare

Most often, marble is not pure carbonate minerals. These impurities create all variety of veining and patterns in the marble, and can give it colors ranging from black, to brown, to green, and nearly everything in between. This means that whether you love the white with grey veining of Carrara or Calacatta marble, or want something darker like Eperador or Verde Dark, there’s probably a shade of marble for your project!

Marble Bath Tub Surround Wall

Marble is present all around the world, from Spain to Italy to China, India, and even here in the US! Huge blocks of stone are cut and excavated from the earth before being sliced into slab and tiles for use in homes around the world. Below is an image of a Carrara marble quarry in Italy. Note the size of those bulldozers compared to the giant marble walls!


For more information on marble, please see our page here on marble, and also this one on marble care and maintenance. Or, give us a call at (503) 234-5361!

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